The Indiana Hoosiers show cased the highs and lows of the season in just four days last week. Tom Crean finally got a big win against Wisconsin, only to lose to lowly Northwestern over the weekend.
This season has been frustrating for a number of reasons. Players are not developing they way they were expected to, there is zero consistency from game to game, and game planning is seemingly non-existent.
Against Wisconsin, IU was able to slash to the basket and score nearly at will. It was a classic Yogi Ferrell game, especially if you’d ever seen him play in high school. He was nigh un-guardable (if that’s a word). This game also featured the good and bad of Crean as a coach.
One thing that has been consistent with him has been effort. His team’s generally don’t lose due to a lack of trying or laziness. We saw plenty of it the early minutes against Wisconsin, so Crean pulled those players and proceeded to yell at them for a length of time. When they returned the energy level was raised and IU went on to win the game.
The bad side of Crean showed up in the final minutes when he once again pulled Noah Vonleh for a lesser player and it allowed the Badgers to cut IU’s lead to one. Aside from foul trouble and rest, there isn’t a good reason to ever pull Vonleh from a game. He’s a future NBA player (currently Top 10 on most draft boards) and should be in the game during crunch time.
Northwestern was a disaster from the start. When both teams come out ice cold from the field, you know its going to be a long day. The Wildcats looked at what IU did to Wisconsin and said “that’s not going to happen to us.” They cut off all the driving lanes for Ferrell and the other guards and when the extra pass was made, the jumpers didn’t fall.
Did Crean and his staff make any adjustments or do anything to compensate for the Wildcat defense? Not really. His response after the game was that the team wasn’t “hungry enough” to win this game. To his credit, the team did settle for an awful lot of bad shots rather than making the extra pass or two.
“We’re not gonna sit back and look at any part of this as being acceptable,” Crean said after the game. “They’re are a lot of open spots to be won.”
Crean already benched Jeremy Hollowell for a lack of effort and focus, are more players going to spend an extended about of time on the sideline?
A road trip to No. 3 Michigan State isn’t exactly the ideal time for a roster shakeup. The Spartans have won 10 straight games since their lone loss of the season. They’re undefeated in the Big Ten at 6-0 and are 17-1 overall.
It hasn’t been all that long since these two teams last met. MSU rolled over the Hoosiers 73-56 in Bloomington a little over two weeks ago. Former Mr. Basketball Gary Harris went off against IU for 26 points. Two other Spartan starters scored in the double digits and MSU held Indiana to 39-percent shooting.
The last time these two met in Lansing, Victor Oladipo took over with a bum ankle. He had 19 points, nine rebounds, and five steals in that game. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have an eligibility left and can’t save the Hoosiers tonight.
Adreian Payne will likely miss Tuesday’s game with a sprained foot. The center didn’t have a huge impact on the two team’s first meeting, but his absence will open up the paint a big more for the Hoosiers. IU will want to use that improved space to their advantage and either get Vonleh the ball in the low post or let Ferrell to slash into the paint more often.
The IU game plan on defense starts with stopping Harris and Keith Appling. With Payne out, those two are the team’s leading scorers accounting for an average of 34 points and nearly eight assists per game.
On offense, points are going to be at a premium as MSU has the 10th ranked defense in the country. They excel at playing tight defense and hold opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 43-percent without fouling. The Spartans are also good at forcing turnovers, which is bad news for an IU team that turns the ball over once every five possessions.
This doesn’t look good for the Hoosiers. Winning on the road in the Big Ten is difficult enough as it is, but facing a team like Michigan State is daunting to say the least. IU will likely spend the entire game playing catch up and it won’t be pretty.
Hoosiers lose another conference game and hopes of the NCAA Tournament berth fall a little bit more.
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