Notebook: Late mistakes prove costly for IU in narrow loss at Minnesota

  • 02/16/2017 8:28 pm in

MINNEAPOLIS – Indiana certainly had chances on Wednesday night at Williams Arena, but an inability to get stops down the stretch did Indiana in once again in a 75-74 loss to Minnesota.

All the early momentum was with Indiana. Tom Crean made significant adjustments to his starting lineup, inserting De’Ron Davis and Devonte Green in place of Juwan Morgan and Robert Johnson.

Davis couldn’t stay on the floor in the first half, picking up three fouls in three minutes. Thomas Bryant and Johnson both ended the half without a single point.

Blackmon and Josh Newkirk were the only two effective Hoosiers during the stretch, combining to score 21 of their 29 points.

Minnesota couldn’t buy a basket, hitting on just three of their first 20 shots. The Williams Arena crowd was furious with the officiating, and so was coach Richard Pitino, who received a technical and threw his sportcoat into the bench less than two minutes into the game (Pitino later said he was yelling instructions to Reggie Lynch, but the officials disagreed).

The first 10 minutes of this one were hard to watch. Minnesota and Indiana combined for 14 turnovers, nine fouls, shot 8-32 from the floor, and compiled just four assists.

Neither team was playing remotely well, but Indiana had an early lead. That’s a luxury the Hoosiers haven’t had since their triple overtime win over Penn State two weeks ago.

Minnesota led by four at the half, but the Hoosiers quickly regained the lead.

Blackmon continued to play in rhythm and shoot with confidence, and Juwan Morgan had his best performance since suffering a left foot injury after colliding with an official in the Rutgers game.

After Indiana found themselves leading by five, up 69-64 with 2:26 to play, the defense relented, the offense settled for difficult shots, players committed costly fouls at inopportune times, and the team succumbed to the pressure during a nail-biting finish.

This game was there for the taking. Once Indiana’s lead dissipated, the final 92 seconds were a back and forth affair, with the teams trading baskets, key players fouling out, and every play proving critical.

All Indiana needed was one stop. Two Bryant free-throws with 17 seconds remaining allowed Indiana to retake the lead.

Out of a Minnesota timeout, the Gophers were, according to Pitino, supposed to run a ball screen for Amir Coffey. The play fell apart within seconds, as Jordan Murphy forgot to set the screen. Akeem Springs, who had hit just a single shot all night, was forced to settle for a tough attempt near the corner.

There wasn’t much doubt Springs was going to miss. All Indiana had to do was grab the rebound, and they would have their first win in two weeks.

But it didn’t happen. All five Hoosiers on the court were caught ball watching, and Springs, who had only grabbed six offensive boards in Big Ten play going into the game, came down with a critical one and banked home the game-winner (it was Murphy that was credited with the board, but Springs’ effort put him in position to grab the loose ball).

“He kept missing all day, so it’s nice that he assumed he’d miss another one and chased down the offensive rebound,” Pitino said of Springs.

The Hoosiers had out-rebounded Minnesota throughout the game, but when they needed one most, they couldn’t come down with it.

A season that started with so much promise now looks to be past its breaking point. Indiana, having lost four straight and six of the last seven, must win out to finish the conference season .500.

“I’m betting on myself, to be honest with you,” Crean said. “And I’m betting on my staff. Because we believe in them. As long as they don’t let things inside of their ears or inside of their eyes that dispell that, and they continue to look back at us and trust that film and trust each other the way that they have.”

Davis overcomes foul trouble

In the first half, De’Ron Davis couldn’t stay on the floor.

Davis hit the first basket of the game, and then picked up two fouls over the next two minutes.

When Crean inserted him back into the game seven minutes later, it only took Davis 48 seconds to pick up his third.

After Davis was charged with a fourth personal before the first media timeout of the second, things looked grim for the freshman big man.

But against the size of Minnesota, the Hoosiers needed Davis. Crean gave him one final chance, and he would deliver.

In the final 12 minutes, Davis poured in seven points, grabbed four boards, and drew Reggie Lynch’s fifth foul. On a night where Bryant couldn’t get anything going offensively, the contributions of Davis gave Indiana the lift it needed.

“It’s a huge benefit (when De’Ron) is playing well,” Morgan said. “It just opens up so many different things and gives us another way to play.”

It wasn’t quite enough to give Indiana the victory, as Davis would foul out with 1:06 remaining, but for a freshman going up against one of the best defensive frontcourts in the country, it’s reason for optimism.

(Photo credit: Minnesota Athletics)

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  • IdahoHoosier

    True. Incentives are a powerful thing when used properly. I work with young adults for a living and have had success “getting through” to many, but no matter what I do, there are some who just don’t respect me (or at least act like they don’t). I don’t know the relationships CTC has with his kids, but I do feel for him if he happens to have some strong-willed or obstinate kids on the team. It does happen and makes teaching/coaching very difficult.

  • pcantidote

    Do you know that for a fact? I thought the issue was some weird nuance about being a double major, not necessarily grade related?

  • iugradmark

    Brad, I totally agree. I came into the season wondering if last year was a turning point for Crean or something else. Like many, I wondered if the turnaround last year was going to carryover and put IU on a more upward trajectory. Unfortunately this year has been a major setback again. Yes with injuries but other problems as well as the team just looks out of sorts on the floor from turnovers to defensive lapses… I just don’t think Glass wants to make the change coming off of last year. I think if next year plays out as we expect (off-season roster churn, no major recruits, mediocre finish) that he will finally be done with this 10 year experiment.

  • iugradmark

    When they didn’t fire Crean after the drinking and drug issues, I think they did tell him he had to clean things up and from what I can tell, the program has been clean these past years and since the dismissals.

  • Koko

    The three I mentioned?…..no.

  • iugradmark

    I think you are correct. I don’t think Priller was not going to class but rather has been working on a double major. Nor sure exactly what transpired, but I don’t think it is an indication that these kids aren’t being monitored and making their class commitments.

  • Brad

    Agreed. It’s sad to see that it’s going to take Glass 10 years to figure out what most of us did in 5 or less.

  • pcantidote

    Based on the Kevin Wilson experience, two strikes and you are out. Whose up for throwing these kids a little party? JK ;).

  • jozink

    Yes you guys are correct actually…and I was half joking anyways, but the cost stat is real!

  • Xavier

    I don’t think Prillers ineligibility has to deal with not making grades. His has something to do with his degree. I’m not sure the details but from what I remember, it is a very silly reason.

  • BC

    All you say is true. I’ve also heard Dickie V scream throw the ball into Zeller, Vonleh, and the other night he said at least 3 times that they don’t throw the ball into TB enough. I think a lot of the sportscasters say nice things about TC because that’s just protocol. I think the players listen to Crean but when something that he’s teaching goes against their instincts and what they’ve been taught befor, then it’s easy to get discouraged.

  • BC

    These were the same kids who overcame so much and showed character last year. I acknowledge Yogi, but it takes more than 1. The team looks lost when playing defense, they looked lost year after year.

  • The injuries are really unfortunate in that we simply didn’t get to see what CTC would have done with all of the parts in place — particularly given the improvements we saw in his coaching style last year. Yes, the team has fallen farther than one would hope given CH, OG, JBJ, and JM all being injured through major stretches, and DD, CuJo, and DG also being hurt at various times. But I knew that this team would go as OG goes, and given that he’s only been truly healthy for four games (including KU and UNC), we’re seeing the result.

    Yes, I think another coach might have maintain a more competitive team even with all of the injuries. That seems to be the narrative this year. But even so, I also wonder how CTC would have done if nobody had gotten hurt. And of course, we’ll never know.

  • N71

    No better than I Sweet 16 I’m guessing.

  • iugradmark

    Mark, I agree. I wish we had all the parts. I guess I am less certain in the change of coaching style. I was excited to see the turn around last year but like many couldn’t figure out the source for the improvement. As others have said, was it addition by subtraction, was it maturing of Yogi, was it our favorable conference schedule…That is why I really wanted to see if some of the old coaching demons that have plagued Crean like turnovers, defensive lapses, strange substituting, in-game management, etc. were really put in the rear-view mirror or not.

    I think the injury narrative will be part of what saves his job for another season, but I just don’t see that the problems and style have improved that much from most of his tenure at IU. ITH was calling out problems with defense and turnovers early in the year even when we were winning and healthy and those same issues are the lead of nearly every post game analysis. Either these kids just can’t play better or there is a problem with coaching and emphasis at practice. After seeing it for so many years, I am thinking it is a defect in the coach.

  • Where I disagree with some folks (most folks?) is that IMO, the only games where we were fully healthy in the most important sense — that is, OG was healthy and playing to his ability — were the KU and UNC games (and the two guarantee games in between). OG was sick against IPFW, and yes, that’s not an excuse for the loss, but it’s obvious that the biggest reason our defense improved last year and was better at the very beginning was OG. He’s that disruptive a force.

    I don’t think we can just toss aside the KU and UNC games, because I think they were an indication of what this team could be with a 100% healthy OG and all the other parts in place. Once OG hurt his ankle against UNC, he just wasn’t the same player until right before he blew out his knee. I think in that game he had like seven steals and two blocks or somesuch — again, a disruptive force. And who can fault CTC’s coaching job in the KU and UNC games?

    Anyways, it’s all academic at this point. OG did get hurt (twice), and then JBJ got hurt, and JM got hurt, and other players were hurt at various times. And yes, now we see the old bugaboos resurrected, like turnovers, weird substitutions, etc. It sure feels like the “old” CTC, and I find myself missing the old RMK-coached teams more and more. So maybe that’s my subconscious telling me my pre-2016 concerns about CTC were never really resolved.

  • Everybody healthy? I’d guess better than Sweet 16. But we’ll never know, and that’s my point and supreme disappointment.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Everyone seems to agree that CTC hasn’t changed his style of coaching, for better or worse, through the ups and downs of his tenure at IU. In our year to year equation we have the same coach, same style of play, same “lost defense”, etc. but different players. Multiply all those and the product has varied greatly between success and failure. If we must diagnose the cause of the fluctuations, I think the part of the equation that keeps changing (players) deserves at least a look. I am playing devil’s advocate here and simply enjoy thinking about these things, so take it for what you will.

  • Fifer39

    Very few teams dealing with no injuries. And while I agree OG was maybe the key piece this year, there’s no way the injuries alone explain the complete implosion. There’s still plenty enough talent to be more competitive than we have looked for the last few weeks.

  • Fifer39

    Weren’t you just saying above that you stick with TC for 1 more year if you’re pretty sure of getting a 5 star (coach) after? That’s the approach I’d take. I’d stick with mediocrity for a short time rather than take what would realistically be a minimum of a 3 or 4 year gamble with a Collins or Fife. For all the RMKs, coach Ks, RWs, etc who weren’t sure-fires but did make it, there are probably 40 or more who didn’t.

  • jozink

    I gotta throw this out there now that it has been confirmed. Gottfried was fired from NC State, a school that sits squarely in the shadows of Duke and UNC within the state, and has one championship to it’s name. Although a proud basketball school, nothing compared to Indiana. In Mark Gottfried’s 6 years at NC State, he made the NCAA Tournament his first 4 years in a row, making the sweet 16 twice and has only missed the last two years.

    During that same time period and with the gift of 3 years to build a pipeline and team in advance, Crean has gone to the tournament the same number of times, with 1 additional visit to the sweet 16 and a way to early exit for a 1 seed. We will also miss the tourny twice during his tenure. If we keep Crean another year, how do you explain away the fact that NC State is less willing to accept mediocrity than Indiana? It’s honestly just sad to me to think NC State probably wouldn’t let this level of performance slide, but Indiana will. Maybe they will hire Crean and save us.

  • Fifer39

    Good points, but I think it’s all about trajectory. IU has been so up and down over the last 5 or 6 years it probably makes it more difficult to make the call. If you stacked TCs bad years together ( effectively like Gottfrieds) it would probably be harder for an AD to ignore.

  • Fifer39

    There’s 2 of them I wouldn’t trust to sit the right way round on the toilet.

  • kaponya44

    I have a pending post here with an unintended typo-error..I couldnt find it here after sending and saw in my history that the words “court” and “it” posted as a link since there was a period between them. .It was just the end of a sentence about IU and the beginning of another but I believe that is why it was “pending” still. .lol .Would whoever moderates edit it to break up the link and repost me please.I give my permission to alter the link it made out..it was a solid post I thought.I just don’t want the time spent replying to go for nothing over a typo.Thank you!

  • pcantidote

    I realize that. I was responding to the quote, not elbows.

  • pcantidote

    I believe I said that I can see the merit in sticking it out for another year, but only if it is because we are waiting for a “5 star”.

  • iugradmark

    I think last year probably has saved Crean for another year. I don’t think he is on firm ground and believe they will fire him after next season. Early last year, when IU was flailing, Glass had to say something. The team turned around, won the Big and beat Kentucky in the tourney which all felt like things were headed in the right direction. We had a lot of kids coming back, JBJ was rehabbing, our two freshman forwards looked like they would make the leap, our center was coming back, etc. I just don’t think Glass will fire Crean coming off of the COY performance. Unfortunately, we are probably in a major rebuilding year next year and this wouldn’t be a bad time to make the switch but I don’t see it happening.

  • iugradmark

    In the end, it probably comes down to donors. If they are unhappy and making noise about not giving money, a change will happen quickly. It is probably difficult to be in NC and see Duke and NC on the tube all the time challenging for rings.

  • AndyCapp

    Even if he TRIES to address it (doubtful), I’m not sure that this group will listen or put it into practice during a game. IMO, I think a couple of our normal starters appear to no longer be playing for the team. Not saying that they are not playing hard but their motivation in playing the season out prolly has more to do with improving their NBA stock. Doesn’t appear to be ANY pride in wearing an IU uniform. I’m just speculating since I don’t have a seat in it, but it looks to me from body language and disengagement during a game that Crean has lost the locker room.

  • AndyCapp

    And even rougher for us IU fans to be the fourth best team in the state of Indiana behind Butler, ND and PUke (won’t count IUFW since I believe that was an outlier)

  • AndyCapp

    I have said it before and I will say it again, IMO Yogi deserved Creans COY honors. I think his on-court leadership and ability to carry a game on his shoulders completely masked Creans (normal?) ineffectiveness. Coach made some good adjustments after JBJ went out, and not saying Crean doesn’t have knowledge about the game, but he certainly doesn’t seem to be able to teach it well. Crean’s system needs, is COMPLETELY DEPENDENT ON, having a dominant knowledgeable PG to work well. The absence of one, like this year, results in the dumpster fire we have before us. Sorry to be johnny raincloud but the past few weeks have been unsettling.

  • Chappy Dan

    I don’t agree that next year will be a disaster

  • AndyCapp

    I still can’t believe Glass gave Crean as long an extension as he got. If memory serves correctly (wouldn’t count on it though) but didn’t Glass announce the extension BEFORE we imploded in the Sweet 16 with Cody and co.? There was no body of work, other than gratitude of getting beyond the KS years, to grant such a ludicrous extension. It’s like he bought Crean at the top of the stock market without knowing what he was buying. Really makes me wonder what was going on behind closed doors. I will never know since, sadly, I don’t have Cuban’s money.

  • Chappy Dan

    Wow, sign me up!

  • Chappy Dan

    He could just have CTC recruit for him!

  • Chappy Dan

    Devious!

  • AndyCapp

    I hated Donovan at Florida just because he seemed like a consistent winner when we weren’t. Now if we could get him to come here… 😀

  • AndyCapp

    It might not be if we don’t have a lot of players leaving. Between those that are LIKELY to leave for the NBA and a couple that could possibly transfer (no, I do not absolutely know this, just think it is VERY possible) next year could very well be a disaster.

  • AndyCapp

    Wish I could upvote this MULTIPLE times!

  • AndyCapp

    lol, thread levity. LOVE it!

  • Chappy Dan

    The real tragedy is we never got to see Collin Hartman’s 2017 Indiana Hoosiers.

  • Chappy Dan

    This post is too real.

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  • AndyCapp

    Absolutely agree. Sideline posted on another thread how Hartman’s ppg would not have impacted this team’s w/l record (for which he was rightly, imo, Road House abused) and seemed to COMPLETELY discount all other facets of CH’s game. The greatest thing we have been missing is on-floor leadership, an intangible that doesn’t show up in stats, where he would have thrived or a least made a significant contribution. IMO it’s the dearth of leadership in these late game situations, even more than the injuries, that has us potentially sitting on a losing season.

  • AndyCapp

    Hate to beat a dead horse but CTC has not shown ANY ability while at IU to advance past the S16. Even if EVERYONE was healthy I’m not sure that we would be favored of advancing past it. But to your point, sadly, we will never know.

  • AndyCapp

    Alex, PLEASE remove the above d-bags’ comments

  • SilentBob

    Personally think the recruiting would be elite for Stevens as soon as he came in that door. As someone else said, college coaches don’t come back unless they fail and that has been the complete opposite for Stevens. Has took a motley group of players, lacking a protypical superstar from the bottom to a team that can rival the Cavs in just four years. Took a 5’9 pg with astocious defense and made him an MVP candidate.

    Even if he didn’t go one and done hunting like Crean, as a celtics fan, I haven’t seen one player that hasn’t improved under Stevens. Best coach in the game not named Popovich, and because of that I don’t see him quitting now.

  • SeeingRed

    I don’t see how a dedicated lame duck year helps any party here. IU has made Tom Crean rich, and he will land on his feet. Somebody will hire him. Why on earth would he even want to stay knowing next year is going to stink and that he’s going to be fired? That would HURT his long term prospects, not help. If he agrees to part ways now, he’s still got some leverage and is a much more attractive candidate than he will be after another failed season.

    This ship has sailed, and CTC has to know it’s over. He has to think about his next decade, not the past one. If Glass drags CTC back for a farewell tour next season, it’s going to be nothing short of program poison.

  • iugradmark

    I agree with you on this but unless Crean quits, I don’t think he will be fired and he will be back. He probably still really believes in what he is doing and thinks he can turn things around.

    I doubt Glass believes he is the right guy any longer but he doesn’t want to be the AD that fires a coach coming off of COY honors and that had a lot of injuries. People closer to the program can see that there are other reasons to make the change but I just don’t think Glass wants to be that guy even though he knows what is best for IU. So unless there is a ton of outside pressure coming from the money people, I think we are going to have to live with one more year.

  • SeeingRed

    If Glass doesn’t understand how toxic another year would be, he’s clearly not equipped to do his job. And if CTC doesn’t understand his best move is to get out now, he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed either.

    This is a no brainer for both parties.