Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Fort Wayne

  • 12/19/2017 8:40 am in

Indiana was crushed on its home floor for the second time this season on Monday night as the Hoosiers fell to Fort Wayne, 92-72, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The loss, Indiana’s second straight to the Mastodons, dropped the Hoosiers to 6-6 with two non-conferences games remaining.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss:

· It happened … again: In the aftermath of Indiana’s season opening loss to Indiana State, both Robert Johnson and De’Ron Davis talked about things like defensive breakdowns, not playing hard enough and regrouping quickly to get their issues corrected.

A little more than a month later, IU players were responding to another dud performance that looked eerily similar to the loss to the Sycamores.

Like the Indiana State loss, this was no fluke.

Indiana was throughly beaten on its home floor in a game where it was a double digit favorite. The Hoosiers were lucky to lead at halftime. In the second half, they had no answer for Fort Wayne’s barrage of 3-pointers. The Mastodons hit 10-of-17 from behind the 3-point line after intermission and with each make, their confidence grew. Indiana lacked the on court leadership to stop the run as the lead ballooned to 22 points.

For a team that’s beaten Iowa and Notre Dame and hung in against Duke and Louisville, it was a head scratching performance. In the aftermath of this loss, Collin Hartman said Indiana was “not prepared” mentally to play. Twelve games into the season, that’s an issue that raises serious questions about the leadership on this team.

“I think it starts with the older guys, making sure guys are ready to play,” Johnson said. “We’ve been through it the most, so at the end of the day I think, if anybody, it will be up to us.”

· (Unforced) turnovers continue to be a problem: When you examine the first half boxscore, you quickly realize that Indiana was fortunate to lead by one at halftime.

The Hoosiers had 12 first half turnovers that led to 16 Fort Wayne points. The mistakes in the second half, however, were far more costly.

Indiana had six second half turnovers, a manageable number, but Fort Wayne turned those miscues into 13 points. For the game, Fort Wayne outscored Indiana 29-7 in points off of turnovers. And many of the mistakes weren’t even forced.

“They weren’t even turnovers that were, like, forced,” Archie Miller said. “That’s the thing that frustrates you. It’s out-letting the ball to the other team on a rebound, dribbling the ball way too much, dribbling into defense, they can steal it off you. 13 steals is a lot of steals, especially for a team that doesn’t even press, when you think about it.”

· Fort Wayne controlled the pace: Indiana entered Monday’s game ranked in the bottom third of Division I teams in terms of adjusted tempo, according to Ken Pomeroy.

Fort Wayne entered in the top 50 in adjusted tempo. The Mastodons dictated pace and it appeared to make Indiana uncomfortable offensively. In a 40 possession first half, Indiana committed 12 turnovers.

“We personally didn’t have a whole lot of pace the whole game on offense,” Miller explained. “I thought those guys, that’s how they play. They play fast. They play downhill. They got a spread floor most of the time where they have some guys that can really shoot the ball.

“I thought in the first half, our defense wasn’t really the problem. Our offense was the problem in the first half. I think we had 12 turnovers, if I’m not mistaken. If you look at points off turnovers, 29.”

· Upperclassmen must lead consistently: Hartman and Johnson have been through a lot in their IU careers. They’ve won big and they’ve lost games they shouldn’t have. In other words, both know what it takes to compete and win at the highest level of college basketball.

Their leadership of this team, to this point, has been too inconsistent. It must be a constant for Indiana to be successful and continue to improve.

Miller, as is his responsibility, shouldered plenty of the blame for the loss in the postgame press conference. But it isn’t all on him. Indiana had more talent, had the advantage of playing at home, but still looked like it was going through the motions in the second half. Coming off of Saturday’s come from behind win over Notre Dame, it was a stunning step backward for the Hoosiers.

· Fort Wayne deserves credit for winning: Fort Wayne probably won’t play in the NCAA tournament or even the NIT unless it wins its league, but this is a win that many of its players will remember forever.

Bryson Scott, who started his career at Purdue and will finish it at Fort Wayne, is 5-0 in his career against the Hoosiers. John Konchar, one of the heroes in Fort Wayne’s win over IU last season, was terrific again.

And Kason Harrell, who had been struggling this season entering Monday’s game, torched IU for 28 points, including 6-of-11 from behind the 3-point line.

“Give Fort Wayne a lot of credit,” Miller said. “Executed their game plan on both ends of the floor really well. Wasn’t close in terms of the approach coming out of halftime. It wasn’t close.”

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  • HoosierHopeful

    I think I feel the same way. I don’t want to throw a bunch of blame around, but I just can’t understand this game. Coach’s defensive strategy is most vulnerable to outside shooting. So should you do something to be better against a team like this, knowing our guys aren’t as good as they need to be yet?
    I have been against sacrificing this season for next as many on here have suggested. I think it’s important to use your best guys to build the best foundation possible. I don’t think more progress would be made by putting less capable players on the floor. I just don’t see young players benefiting by getting killed in games. But a game like this makes me wonder what the plan really is. I have maintained hope of a decent season, but it’s hard to claim the team is making progress after a repeat of the first game of the year. Coach seems set on developing his preferred styles, even if it costs him a win. But he doesn’t set his roster to invest in the future in the same way. To me, that means he feels like I do and doesn’t think the future teams would benefit by playing future starters now, or there isn’t consistency in prioritizing wins vs the future of the program.
    I am losing hope in this season (only), and just struggling with how to deal with it.

  • Andy Curts

    Maybe rebuild is the wrong word, restock or maybe replenish. IU had an average team that underachieved last year. The three most talented players all left and there aren’t any superstar recruits. Miller and company are attempting a radical change in philosophy with what’s left.

  • Arch Puddington

    Well, it depends on what you mean by “shambles.” This is the same bunch that lost to IPFW last year, minus its three best players. And this is the same team that lost 10 of its last 14 games last year, got bounced in the first round of the NIT, and then fired its coach — except without its two best players. Oh yeah, and this is the program that hadn’t landed a top 100 Indiana recruit in four years, and whose incoming freshman class included two essentially unranked players.

    So while it is not as grim as when CTC took over, this is a reclamation project, not transition. Archie has to rebuild this program from the ground up — recruiting, identity, style of play, everything. The losses to ISU and Fort Wayne are, as you say, inexplicable. But Archie’s teams never took losses like that at Dayton, whereas the players he is working with HAVE taken losses like that. Its just much too early to say anything more definitive than that our players just aren’t very good. I mean, RJ, our senior leader, had almost as many TOs (6) as our 6’10” center, playing against players much smaller than him, had points (7). Not much much any coach can do when his best players play like that.

  • Andy Curts

    I wonder how much the short turnaround had to do with the poor performance. Even veteran NBA teams struggle to bring their “A” game every night and they’re professionals. B1G not doing anybody any favors with the schedule this year.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Good point. I was thinking about this too. I was never that kind of player or personality, but there was usually at least one guy on every team that got fired up and it definitely inspired or pushed the rest of the team along at times. Unfortunately, if there is no guy like that on the team, I’m not sure you can do much about it until one comes along.

  • HoosierHopeful

    I’ve seen a video of one of his three point drills. Seems like he’s been trying to play it down and hope things work themselves out. So I doubt he’s emphasizing shooting at this point. I wouldn’t be opposed to a focus on shooting and mental toughness. Something like running lots and lots of sprints, then shooting drills, and punishing misses with more sprints! Easy for me to say, that kind of drill would probably kill me. I’m out of shape and can’t shoot.

  • IdahoHoosier

    I’m with you here. This to me is the crux of the situation. Archie clearly wants one thing out of his players (that he isn’t getting consistently). So as a coach, do you make adjustments to cater to the players you have and their tendencies, or do you continue to demand they perform to your standards with no adjustments? The choice could be the difference between wins and losses. Not sure I have the answer here, but I don’t envy Archie in this position.

  • RonMlarkey

    Fort Wayne had the same turnaround…

  • Mr. Shep-dizzle

    I agree that this years team wouldn’t be able to do what TC wanted. They don’t have the shooters or guard play. This team would look a lot worse without the defensive foundation that CM has instilled to this point. It will only get better as the players will be better. He had to keep this years freshmen to field a complete team and not a total rebuild but these are not his guys for his system. Shula never won it with Marino so he obviously didn’t win w his guys so easily. That comment was from a different poster but wanted to comment. Especially when athletes are very different from those days. Go Hoosiers!

  • BeatDuke

    Bingo! And when he jumps straight up or forward, my hopes go WAY up as I know he has a great chance of making the shot (and often does). When he jumps sideways, I always say to myself – “give me some luck” as that is the only way it is going in.

  • Mr. Shep-dizzle

    Never saw him win with Marino so don’t know how much credit I give that. I understand the saying but didn’t seem to work out all the time for him. Yes I know, the last undefeated team. Different era, different athletes

  • Hoosier Hall

    That is an interesting question for sure. Virginia also plays a stellar, pack line defense but have had extremely limited tournament success. Guard play and shot making seems to rule the tournament nowadays…

  • Arch Puddington

    If it makes you feel any better, I looked up Dayton’s defensive rankings during Archie’s six years there. Here they are, in order:

    160, 145, 72, 30, 43, 15.

    We can see for ourselves that his current roster was not built for pack line defense (or any defense, really; they were no good under CTC, either), and Archie and others have said it takes time to really get it right. His Kenpom numbers suggest better days are coming.

  • Kyl470

    True. I can see Al being an Archie guy, but I’m not sure about Smith or Moore. I personally hope all three stick around, but in today’s instant gratification world I don’t know if they will since neither of those two are getting much playing time.

  • BeatDuke

    It’s pretty simple. Teams that can shoot threes are going to kill us this year (regardless of what team it is). Our team was built on switching everything on D the last 9 YEARS. Now, they are to stay with their man (with perhaps a hedge from a teammate). Our players are still learning this and trying to perfect it over the last 2 MONTHS. I think it would have been truly confusing if Archie had changed defenses for ISU and Ft. Wayne as “they shoot 3’s pretty good and will be motivated.” Can’t do that to the players. Stick with the system and take the lumps from good 3 point shooting teams and use the film as training. I suspect we could have won both games if we went back to last year’s defense, but that would be kinda crazy for a new coach implementing a new system.

  • Arch Puddington

    He has to teach his system, not something else. Six seniors are leaving at the end of this season, so nearly half his roster will be new next season. He has to teach AD, JS, DD, JM, and all those returning so that they can help build this up in year two. Then those who come in next year can learn it so that they can develop with those in year three, and so on. Altering his style to chase another victory or two this season would cost us next season, and in any case there is no reason to think that changing styles would actually do any good. This team was lousy on defense last year as well, and lost three players from that roster to the NBA. Why would anyone expect that a group of poor defenders learning a new system to somehow become better?

    Also worth remembering that while fans are always optimistic, everyone in the basketball world, including ITH, picked the Hoosiers to finish 8th or worse in the conference. That we are likely headed for just such a finish is surprising only to those whose enthusiasm for the program kept them from seeing what was patently obvious. This team has no quality PG, no good outside shooters, and can’t defend. That we have shown any progress at all is encouraging, but there just can’t be any surprise when this team struggles.

  • dennis powell

    Oh it’s JN too. He loses the ball a lot. DD is the most bewildering to me. The kid is a beast but he can’t seem to shoot straight. I have to assume it’s his hands. To many times he’s right under the basket and with a guy on him he can’t finish. I watch games over and look at plays frame by frame to understand if what I’m seeing is what I’m seeing and it was either RJ or JN driving down the lane with a guy closing in on him and where his hands were on the ball he couldn’t have made a basket under any circumstance and of course because of the weak position of his hands he had it knocked away without so much as a decent try at making a bucket. I try to understand how kids go a whole year without having the most basic mistakes corrected. Stepping on an out of bounds line or dribbling down the floor and allowing a guy to come up from behind him. Whenever I was in transition I counted the defenders in front of me first off. It takes less then a second to do or when I was near and out of bounds line I would glance at the floor to get my exact bearing. It takes less then a second. Or how do we recruit guys who can’t go to there left hand to make a layup. You can’t have one handed players in todays game. Maybe I expect to much.

  • Arch Puddington

    I do, too, and at the heart of that is (I’m sure) a determination to stick to his plan for long term success, regardless of the ups and downs in the short term. He said repeatedly after he got hired that he knew what he was getting into, and that the expectations from the fans would be high from day one. He’ll move forward with the things he knows work, and someday, maybe another couple of years from now, when his roster is made up of players he recruited and is executing the system he has taught them for multiple seasons, we will be happy he did not listen to those of us on the sidelines.

  • Tom Simpson

    Not inaccurate, but “9 YEARS” is misleading. Most players have played a different college defense 0, 1, or 2 years. Still an adjustment, of course, but if it’s a learning curve issue I’m surprised it’s taking this long.

    I do think we have to assume that Archie’s defense, when fully learned and with players recruited to play it, will be able to defend teams that are running actions primarily designed to free up 3 point shooters.

  • Earl Bright

    Crean left the program in shambles. Face that fact.

  • 3AM Burrito

    That is a great point and would like to know as well. Is he just saying the same thing over and over and they are not doing it over and over? And then what do you do as a coach at that point? Just crash and burn or adjust and try to win the game? I still would like to see in game adjustment. Above you layout exactly what IPFW was doing, over and over again they did it, everyone could see it, but nothing changed on D. Would think 12 games in, countless practices in, how to defend this action would not be so difficult, and if it was, adjust something. Instead we make IPFW look like the Warriors on offense.

  • HoosierHopeful

    I think you make a good point, just not sure how upsetting that kind of adjustment would be. There are freshman and sophomores on other teams playing multiple defenses, and I think this adjustment is less drastic than calling out a 2-3 zone. Coach did adjust to switching on screens against another team earlier in the season, but I can’t remember who. Perhaps his desire to win overtook him that time and he’s thought better of it since. It must be tough to remain patient and balance the short-term and long-term goals for this program. Especially with fickle fans that want to be entertained and see wins.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    When RJ dribbles with purpose, he is fine. When he over dribbles – ugh.

  • inCMitrust

    I love the homer colored glasses on quality of the teams current roster(because I have them too), but our team just isn’t very good. The quality of Crean’s recruiting had been going down for awhile and that is why I think this is a more than a transition, but at the minimum a reclamation. The teams current roster class rankings: 40, 49, 77,117,133, 135, 148, 197, 225, 230, 436(didn’t find info. on Mcswain and Zach). I know rankings are subjective, but I would never put those numbers to quality power conference team, much less a team I think of as a top 20 job in the country with the resources of a top 10 program. This rebuild or whatever is going to take few years. Got the info. off Inside Indiana site.

  • Arch Puddington

    Exactly right. There is an easy argument to make that recruiting all by itself was enough to cost CTC his job. A bad season or two is tplerable, but when it is clear that the pipeline has run dry, it’s time to move on. And sadly, even those who are highly ranked have not lived up to the billing. DD has in no way played like a top 50 player, and I would argue that even JS has not lived up to the 77 rating. I mean, he’s the third highest ranked player on a bad team, and can’t find minutes ahead of walk-ons, JC transfers, and unranked freshman. And while he is not on your list, worth pointing out that CJ busted completely.

    So, yeah, the cupboard is pretty bare, and the rebuild/reclamation/whatever is not a quick turnaround. My estimates for some time have been 2-3 years to rebuild the foundation, another 2-3 to really stabilize as a consistent top 20 (or better) team. I hope it goes faster than that, but that’s what I’m prepared for.

  • twarrior87

    Fair enough. I can agree with that argument. However, this roster should be good enough to not get beat by 20 at home to Fort Wayne.

  • HoosierHopeful

    I hear ya. I think Archie is doing well. I’m mostly trying to work out my internal conflicts. I don’t expect IU finish in the top of the conference, but I also think any B1G team should beat IPFW and ISU. I want to build, and am big on fundamentals and principles, but I also want to see good games and I worry about recruiting if the team looks ugly. I will be patient, and I know Coach is much more qualified for the job than I.
    Having said that, I don’t think switching on screens at times can’t be part of a system. And eventually, even after 1,000 wins, it still makes sense to me to play to your strengths, and/or to adjust to your opponent’s strengths.

  • Missing Moye

    It probably wouldn’t hurt, but they weren’t exactly playing inspired ball last year with Thomas on the floor, either.

  • coachv

    how do you figure we had 3 nba caliber players when we lost in the nit last year?

  • Jeremy

    No Race is being redshirted not Clifton

  • Jeremy

    I disagree. Practice does not add up to in game play and experience with a huge crowd and a hostile team/ environment. In practice it is obviously a learning experience but much more comfortable in a controlled environment .

  • Dereck Johnson

    The team seems better without JN & its ridiculous that he cant make a left handed layup. I wish RJ moved more without the ball. I only watch for player progression & think about the future. I never expected much outta this team. We have a bunch of role players & no stars. JM is a great role player & should be special next yr, DD is a good low post player but he needs shooting around him & better conditioning. They dont have enough scoring but i believe the future is bright with CAM. Id like 2c him get back to playing JS more & regain his confidence. We just need to keep the faith & be patient. Hunter & Anderson will be great players.

  • Koko

    OMG….Wofford beat UNC on their home court last night….FIRE Roy Williams.

  • Koko

    Wofford 79 UNC 75……at UNC….hmmm maybe Roy Williams isn’t the coach we thought him to be….or…no it couldn’t have a thing to do with the players on a #5 ranked team (who won the National Championship last year) on their home court could it? Not a game a coach like Roy Williams should lose right? It happens at IU and it happens at UNC and will continue to happen to top schools year in and year out. Me thinks you are riding that horse a bit too hard.

  • 3AM Burrito

    Losing by 5 and getting clowned by 20 TWICE are not the same. But yeah I would question Roy in that game, they shouldn’t lose that game. The fact they did doesn’t make it ok for IU to, that is one of the dumbest lines of thinking I have ever heard – hey other teams lose, its ok we can too! I don’t think anyone is saying fire or give up on Archie, just saying that loss and performance were awful and shouldn’t happen and they way it happened it is beyond reasonable to question is there something with the coaching that contributed to that? Or is it just roll the ball out this year and if IU wins Archie is a genius and if IU loses the players just don’t get it.

  • beppecolo

    That sounds like the British troops trying to fight the Revolutionary War but persisting in marching in lines and shooting in volleys. Refusing to adjust their “play” to an opponent who was hiding behind trees and picking them off one by one was their demise. Standing and watching your opponent shoot 3s and beat you because that’s not the way you “play” defense is just plain dumb.

  • BeatDuke

    I think it is more a matter of learning the defense better. One lapse into switching (rather than staying with your guy) leaves two defenders on one person and none on the 3-point shooter. This happened about 20 times in the Ft. Wayne game. In the heat of the moment, they may lapse into what they were doing last year. That, and there is 1 out of 25 times that there really IS a switch. Learning to figure out when there is a true switch and when it just a hedge to help you recover is going to take a long time. They will get it (well, may be too late for most of our seniors).