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KelleyHoosh

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KelleyHoosh last won the day on November 2 2015

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  1. What to Watch For - Keys vs Notre Dame

    Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey ruffled some feathers across the Indiana basketball world when he claimed to have the most consistent program in the state. The facts don’t necessarily support that (in the last four years IU and Notre Dame have the same amount of wins), but the perception coming off a deep NCAA tournament run is that the Irish have been the best team in the Hoosier state. Perception has been something of an enemy for the IU basketball team in recent times, only outdone by reality- a harsh one at that. A 1-2 showing in Maui simmered the excitement around the season many expected to be head coach Tom Crean’s best yet. But perception is a fickle beast. And just like that, a win on Saturday afternoon could alter the nation’s perception of Indiana again. It's a game that matters for more than bragging rights. The fact is, unless IU wins its Crossroads Classic game in Indianapolis, it will have zero non-conference wins to boost its tournament resumé. You’d be hard pressed to call a game in December a, “must win,” but, this game in December just might be a must win. So, how can Indiana get it done? 1) Exploiting Mismatches with a Three Guard Lineup Readers may be surprised to learn that there is indeed a team with worse front court depth than Indiana. The Irish start 6’10” senior Zach Auguste who is averaging a double-double and earning some player of the year talk. Beside Auguste is 6’5” sophomore Bonzie Colson who is obviously undersized though undeniably talented and 6’8” V.J. Beachem who plays more of an outside game. Combine the style IU plays with Notre Dame’s adjusted defensive ranking of 129th in the nation, 18 spots below Indiana’s, and it is easy to deduce that points won’t be hard to come by in this one. 2) Troy Williams’ Shines The Thomas Bryant-Auguste showdown inside will only be outdone by the Yogi Ferrell-Demetrius Jackson matchup on the outside. How these players do against one another will undeniably go a long way in deciding the winner of this game. However, while these are obvious pairs, Notre Dame doesn’t have a single player on its roster that can go toe-to-toe with Williams athletically. The X-factor is Williams in this game. If he can take advantage of his man and make plays, Indiana has the potential to run away with its biggest victory of the season. If his game is out of control, Notre Dame and their second ranked adjusted offense will have a field day. 3) Depth’s Impact on Rebounding Note Dame uses about a seven man rotation and isn’t very tall. Indiana has an abysmal defensive rebounding percentage that ranks 242nd in the country. If there is a game where they can improve on that ranking- it is this one. They have a height advantage across the board and far more depth. If Indiana’s pace can tire out the Irish, they have a chance to clean up on the glass and earn a statement victory.
  2. What to Watch for - Keys vs IPFW

    Indiana (6-3) will host IPFW (7-3) for the first time in program history on Wednesday night. This is the first of two games before the Hoosiers face Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic and if they are going to have a noteworthy season, Indiana needs serious momentum heading into their last chance at a quality win during their out of conference schedule. As for IPFW, the Mastodons feature a three-guard set and have a relatively weak frontcourt. That bodes well for an Indiana victory. IPFW, like Indiana, struggles to defend with the 224th best defensive efficiency field goal percentage. It doesn’t look likely that they will be able to take advantage of IU on the inside either, as they are ranked 308th and 139th nationally in offensive and defensive rebounding, respectively. Junior Mo Evans leads his team in scoring with 15.4 points per game and could cause some trouble, but the talent matchup is overwhelmingly in IU’s favor. What is important in this game is less about what the Hoosiers do against the Mastodons and more about if they bring the effort and intensity that has been lacking so far this season. The keys to this game are: 1) Playing another solid game defensively Nobody thinks the Hoosier’s woes on this side of the ball have been solved just because of their good showing against a mid-major program in Morehead State. While that commitment to defense was refreshing, for fans to truly believe this team has turned a corner, the first step is consistency. Another 100+ points on offense would be great, but I wager more fans would be excited about a game where they hold their opponent to under 65 points or so. On paper, IU matches up well here. Bringing that to the court, however, is another story- one that hasn’t been realized much this year. 2) Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers Sloppy is probably a nice way of describing Indiana’s ball-handling efforts this season. However, that aspect of the game has been cleaned up a bit in the past few games. I mentioned earlier that consistency is key in resolving chronic problems. If they end up falling into their old ways of 20+ turnover performances, the Hoosiers won’t be contending for the Big 10 and the only tournament they’ll be thinking of come March may be the NIT. Ultimately you can expect the offense to show up when it comes to this Indiana team. The real questions at this juncture are smart play and hustle. Nobody is going to be convinced that these problems have been corrected by beating IPFW, but if they look bad against IPFW, panic may hit the fan base.
  3. What to Watch For - Duke Keys

    There was a renewed excitement around the Indiana (5-2) to start the season. After losing two games in Maui, to unranked opponents, that excitement became fleeting at best. At worst it became not only anger, but in many cases, apathy. Beating Alcorn State by 42? That is what the fans expect. That isn’t what will win their support back. Beat Duke? Now we’re talking. No. 7 Duke (6-1) is the next team up on IU’s schedule, which looks substantially weaker without the anticipated matchups of No. 16 Vanderbilt and No. 4 Kansas. With a talented, athletic and tall roster, Duke presents various challenges that Indiana may not be equipped to handle. A front line of 6’9” 6’9” and 7’ will almost certainly cause headaches for an IU team that struggles in the paint. The Blue Devils have not lost on their home court to an out of conference opponent since February 26th, 2000. On paper, there is a lot of reason to believe Duke runs away with the victory and Indiana fans continue to get more frustrated. The same problems that did in the Hoosiers last year are the ones that plagued the team during their Maui trip. Around twenty turnovers and matador defense isn’t going to get the job done against the defending champions, Duke. To win this game, Indiana will have to play their best game of the year and do the following: 1) Yogi Ferrell has to Expose Duke’s Lack of a True Point Guard Duke has shown themselves to be vulnerable this year. They dropped a game to No. 1 Kentucky and have found themselves in some close games. A large part of that is because of defense, but they also are lacking a real offensive identity to this point of the season because nobody has taken the reigns as a true point guard. Ferrell has shown great ability in his time at IU and if he can score, facilitate and defend like fans know he can for a complete game, he will be the reason Indiana wins this one. 2) Indiana Must Successfully Penetrate and be Fundamentally Sound Defensively Duke’s perimeter defense thus far isn’t typical of Mike Krzyzewski teams. This isn’t a game that Indiana can win by sitting back and shooting threes when they aren’t in transition. If they can get some easy buckets inside in their half court offense, IU can compete. Look for Troy Williams to shine in this area. It is of the utmost important that every Indiana player boxes out and plays fundamentally sound defense. They haven’t shown that ability too much this year, but if they are ever going to need it, it is will be this game. 3) Indiana Has to Hit Threes The Hoosiers have to do what they do best. Like it or not, a lot of Indiana’s offense depends on someone getting a hot hand from behind the arc. If those shots fall, as analyst Jay Williams has said, this team can beat anybody.
  4. When Indiana (3-0) plays Wake Forest (2-1) tonight in the opening round of the Maui Invitational, it will be the Hoosiers first of three games in three straight days. The prestigious tournament will be a good test of the Hoosier’s stamina and skill, as they will likely play some of the best teams in the country. In its sixth appearance at this tournament, IU stands a fairly good shot of winning the whole thing, but it won’t be easy. The road starts with Wake Forest and will likely include Vanderbilt as well as Kansas. Fans have seen lights out shooting to this point of the season and an overall explosive offense, but can they withstand elite competition in such close succession? The answer will unfold over the next few days. Last season, Wake Forest did not make the post season. This year, it is off to a 2-1 start and is coming off a loss to Richmond at home by nine points. Danny Manning’s second Wake squad is missing two of its biggest contributors in Codi Miller-McIntyre and Cornelius Hudson. Wake has relied on inside scoring from Devin Thomas and John Collins, which has been good enough for the 46th adjusted offense according to KenPom rankings. Their perimeter shooting holds that number back a bit and their defense leaves a lot to be desired, as opponents are averaging 82 points against them through three games. Couple that with the fact that Indiana has no trouble scoring and Wake Forest could be in big trouble on Monday evening. There is a long list of reasons that the general college basketball world may doubt Indiana this year. A strong Maui showing will go a long way in quelling that uncertainty. To beat Wake Forest, Indiana will have to excel in the following areas: 1) Take Advantage of a Young Backcourt What is a strength for Indiana may be the cause of Wake’s downfall in this matchup. Without two of their best guards, the Deacons have turned to freshman Bryant Crawford for their primary ball-handling duties. They also play a former walk-on, Trent VanHorn, for about 27 minutes per game. Manning has not yet instilled the same defensive prowess in Winston-Salem that he did while at Tulsa and that will haunt his team against Indiana. There should be plenty of opportunities for IU to drive and kick- the bread and butter of their offense. 2) Can Bielfeldt/Hartman/Williams Add Post Defense? If Wake Forest is going to win, it will be because they successfully exploit Indiana’s lack of height. 7’1” Doral Moore and 6’10” John Collins make up a front court that dwarfs Indiana’s as IU doesn’t have a player besides Thomas Bryant over 6’8”. If the perimeter defense is up to snuff, the Deacons may not get the chance to go down low too much. You have to think an All-American like Yogi Ferrell can get the best of a player like Crawford, who only has three college games under his belt. Whoever is playing the power forward position is going to have to bring an imposing physical presence. Bryant, as good as he is, can’t hold down the paint for 40 minutes by himself. If he gets into foul trouble, it could be a long day for the Hoosiers. 3) Will the Guards Rebound Effectively? Coach Tom Crean has mentioned this as a point of emphasis for this year. It would be particularly useful in this game when Indiana will need help rebounding thanks to their height disadvantage. If they limit second chance points for Wake’s big men, the Deacons are going to struggle to score. The IU backcourt has an opportunity to really help their team by doing more against inferior counterparts and playing bigger than they are versus a taller team. The guards will need the practice because Vanderbilt and archrival Purdue present the same matchup problem. If they struggle to effectively rebound and dominate a much weaker backcourt in this game, the season’s expectations may have to be tempered.
  5. What to Watch For - Keys vs Creighton

    The Indiana men’s basketball team (2-0) will host the Creighton Bluejays (2-0) tonight in a Gavitt Tipoff game. Creighton isn’t quite the same program since head coach Greg McDermott’s son, Doug, left for the NBA. Last year, the Bluejays were just 14-19. This season may not be that much better as they return only one starter in 6’10” forward Toby Hegner. That doesn’t mean this game won’t be a challenge. Hegner may be the only returning starter, but this team has quite a lot of young talent and is adept at spacing the floor. Additionally, McDermott’s sixth squad at Creighton is very efficient and fast, averaging 1.226 points per possession, which on average lasted merely 12 seconds in their last game. Make no mistake; this is not Eastern Illinois or Austin Peay. This will be the Hoosier’s last chance to prepare before the Maui Invitational where they will play some of the best teams in the nation. This game will give everyone a better opportunity to evaluate what needs the most work going forward. The key areas for Indiana’s game against Creighton are: 1) Indiana Setting the Pace Another 20-turnover performance isn’t going to cut it in this game. The guards don’t need to play a perfect game, but they must control the speed. If they try to play Creighton’s style, which has allowed them to average 98 points per game this season, they run the risk of tiring out their limited big men and opening themselves up to potential foul trouble. Creighton has more post players and if IU has to rest their taller players for extended periods of the game, the Hoosiers will be relatively helpless down low. Indiana is good in transition, but they’ve already shown to be turnover prone this year, which is the exact opposite of Creighton, who have just 22 turnovers this year. 2) Play Sound Defense This is probably going to be one of the keys you see a lot when previewing an IU game. It is common sense that defense needs to be good to win a lot of ball games, but for Indiana specifically that has been a struggle. There are definitely signs of progress on this front from last season, but giving up 76 points to Austin Peay isn’t confidence inspiring. Making Creighton work for their buckets as opposed to playing matador defense just to get the ball back will pay huge dividends. They don’t have to do anything fancy, just bring intensity and desire that Hoosier fans love so much. 3) Taking Advantage of Height The Hoosiers don’t necessarily have a height advantage in this game – Creighton has quite a few bigs – definitely more than Indiana. Creighton however starts three players 6’3” or shorter so IU’s lineup of Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr., Troy Williams, Max Bielfeldt and Thomas Bryant compares to that quite favorably. Coach Tom Crean spoke to the need for rebounding to improve especially from the guard positions. This is a game where there is no reason for them to not have a good performance. Of course, that is predicated on Bryant having a strong performance, as he will be needed to box out Creighton’s big men for the guards to crash the boards. Bryant got his feet wet in the first two games, but this will be his first legitimate competition as a college basketball player. He has to prove that he can play at a high level against Creighton, because in about a week he will be playing against the best of the best. Over the next two weeks, after going through Duke and potentially Vanderbilt as well as Kansas, there will be a much clearer picture of if Indiana belongs among that best of the best category or if they are still chasing it.
  6. Memorial Stadium was like a bubble swelling with excitement. The Hoosiers had conference foe and nationally ranked University of Michigan on the ropes in the fourth quarter. In anticipation fans gathered near the bottom of the stands, waiting for their chance to rush the field after Indiana’s breakthrough moment. All season this team had seemed on the cusp of getting an elusive win against a stacked Big Ten schedule. It seemed fitting that Senior Day would be when they finally put it all together and stop a five-game losing streak. With 2:52 on the clock and Michigan getting the ball back, everyone in the stadium knew Indiana had left too much time on the clock to win in regulation. Once in overtime, students felt an excitement about IU football that’s normally reserved for the team that plays across the parking lot. 4th and 2, Indiana ball on the two yard line. Pop. That excitement bubble? It was popped by an incomplete pass and replaced with Wolverine fan cheers. IU fans began wondering aloud if they really expected anything different. The Michigan game was sort of like a microcosm of this year’s football season. Always close, but never enough; this Indiana football team has taken almost every opponent excluding Penn State down to the wire. Opposing teams fans are calling the Hoosiers the best winless team in the conference. That is not the accolade anyone on the team wanted, especially after the first undefeated start of the Kevin Wilson era. What seemed like a turning point season for the program has shaped up to be just like the other forgettable ones before it. At 4-6, there are two games remaining in the season and a lot is on the line. “We are very excited about the opportunities we have and the challenges ahead,” senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld said. “We are definitely just taking it one day at a time.” Next opportunity for the Hoosiers? 2-8 Maryland. The next week Indiana takes on rival Purdue, who is also 2-8. There is plenty of reason to think that with only two relatively weak teams remaining on the schedule that Indiana can finish strong and achieve 6-6 and a bowl game appearance. The team however, isn’t looking that far ahead. “We need to make sure guys don’t let their guard down because they’re 2-8,” Sudfeld said about Maryland. “Defensively they’re extremely good and aggressive.” While defense may be the strength for the Terrapins, that isn’t necessarily saying much. Their total offense is ranked an abysmal 114th while their total defense is ranked at about middle of the division one pack at 64th. Compare that to Indiana whose total offense is ranked 28th and total defense is ranked 119th. On paper, IU should pull this one out. But the game isn’t played on paper and the fact is small mistakes can cost a whole team. IU secondary coach Brandon Shelby put it like this, “…if there are 55 passes and you do everything right 50 times but mess up 5, you’re giving up 3 or 4 touchdowns.” The defense, specifically the secondary, has been inconsistent this year. That can probably be chalked up to youth as freshmen and sophomores are getting the bulk of the reps. “These guys are 17, 18 years old going against seniors who are going to be lottery picks, so at the end of the day they can get overwhelmed,” Shelby said. “Unfortunately we are taking our lumps now but in a few years we are going to have some very good veterans back there.” While all of this experience may pay dividends down the line, someone has to answer for the poor play this year. Shelby says that is his brunt to bear. “I take full responsibility for us not doing a good job,” Shelby continued. “It’s not on those guys, I have got to do a better job coaching.” Coaching is a really controversial topic around this program in the midst of a six game losing streak when the coaching staff will likely have their contracts either extended or terminated this offseason. Fans are pretty evenly split on what direction they’d like to see the program take. Right now, Sudfeld says the coaches are instilling a winning attitude. “Coach Wilson is doing a great job of facilitating a culture right now of us being a winning team.” That may sound silly when historically IU football has anything but a winning culture, but if that is ever going to change, so too must the expectations that the team has for themselves. Before any games were played this year, the fan base had hopes for being around 6-6 and bowling. After the four game win streak to start the year, optimism soared to perhaps unrealistic levels. Despite the disappointment, that original goal is still achievable. And that’s progress.
  7. What To Watch For - Indiana vs. EIU

    When the Indiana Hoosiers open their 2015-2016 men’s basketball season they will host the Eastern Illinois Panthers on Friday the 13th of November. Friday the 13th has become synonymous with bad luck and it would take an awful lot of that for them to drop this game. If IU simply plays its style it should start head coach Tom Crean’s eighth season in Bloomington with a victory. The No. 15 ranked team in college basketball will almost undoubtedly be overwhelming for an EIU team that has been projected to finish in middle of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Panthers have some talent in Cornell Johnston, the 5’7” sophomore guard who was last year’s OVC Freshman of the Year and senior wing Trae Anderson who averaged 13.2 points per game last season, but on paper this EIU team is outmatched across the board by a team that features a number of excellent players. Eastern Illinois is a mid major with a roster that has very little college basketball experience. IU is a group led by a battletested backcourt that has big aspirations to play well into March Madness. This game will serve the Hoosiers as another opportunity to tune up before their Maui Invitational appearance later this month. Through two exhibition games it is pretty clear that there is plenty of room for improvement on this team. While the team will look to grow in all categories, these are the key areas to watch for in Indiana’s season opener: 1. Can the frontcourt dominate an inferior opponent? Freshman center Thomas Bryant has taken the court at Assembly Hall four times in front of fans- at Hoosier Hysteria, Haunted Hall of Hoops, vs. Ottawa, and vs. Bellarmine. In each of his four performances, fans have seen the good and the bad of his game. While Bryant is certainly an upgrade from what fans saw in last year’s frontcourt, he is only a freshman. Michigan transfer Max Bielfeldt has joined the team, but as a career reserve, he never put up too great of numbers in the Big 10, so how much can fans realistically expect him to add? The team will obviously progress as the season goes on – if they peak now this will be a very disappointing campaign – but it would go a long way in making fans feel better if the front court could have a similar performance to Ottawa where they outrebounded the Gee-Gees 46 to 34. If Indiana is going to have the type of year fans hope for, their big men have to play well enough against much higher levels of competition than EIU. 2. Is decision making in the backcourt improved? Indiana turned the ball over 19 times against Ottawa. They can get away with that against a Canadian team, but stiffer competition will take advantage of that. The Hoosiers improved that figure against Bellarmine and only turned it over 13 times. That is a lot better, but IU also looked pretty poor in the second half of that exhibition. Senior Yogi Ferrell will likely split ball-handling duties with James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams this season. The decision making of Indiana’s new ball handlers will be key in the success of this year’s squad. No team can afford to squander possessions, especially not one with a questionable defensive identity. Which leads to the next key... 3. Which defense shows up? It was the storyline all of last season. How good would Indiana be if they played a lick of defense? The 42 point second half they allowed to Division II Bellarmine isn’t exactly confidence inspiring for Hoosier fans. But there has been stretches this preseason where the team showed an awful lot of improvement on the defensive end, even forcing a shot clock violation - something last year’s team may have never heard about. Crean has said his lineups will vary this year based on matchups- lets see how effectively Indiana can exploit them. As far as keys to this game, Indiana must simply do what they do well. That will likely be enough for them to win on Friday. These specific areas are where there is a lot of doubt and plenty of room for improvement based on what we’ve seen to date. It’s inevitable that the Indiana men’s basketball team we see come March will be a lot different than the one that trots out onto McCracken court in Assembly Hall on Friday.
  8. Breaking the Mold of IU Football

    Another week, another loss for Indiana football. It is a familiar story for a program that has struggled to compete for as long as fans can remember. Maybe this season, the sting is a bit more intense because of the optimism that seemed well founded based on a perfect out of conference start. After a five game skid, things are back to how they used to be for the Hoosier football team. Did anybody ever really expect different? After all, like senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld said after their loss to Iowa, “It’s Indiana.” Basketball coach Tom Crean used the phrase at his introductory press conference and it’s still referenced by fans today. “It’s Indiana,” is a standard on the hardwood while for football, it’s more of an explanation for poor play. This team was supposed to be the one that changed that. This wasn’t going to be the same old IU football team. It’s Sudfeld’s senior year. They added a talented running back transfer in Jordan Howard. It’s the second year of a new defensive system. The players know the expectations they had for this year. And they know they face coming up short of those goals if something doesn’t change. “We still have goals to achieve,” senior tackle Jason Spriggs said. “You’re playing for your brothers, for your teammates.” One of those goals has to bowling. To be fair, there is still reason for optimism about this season. In every game except for Penn State, the Hoosiers have entered the fourth quarter with a chance to win. That includes games against undefeated teams like Ohio State and Iowa as well as Michigan State. It also includes a historic defensive collapse at home against Rutgers. At this level of football, moral victories are nice but they’re just that- nice. Not the objective. The objective for this squad is to be the first IU football team to go bowling since 2007. The team has put themselves in position to do that with only one more win thanks to their APR score, but the easiest road to a bowl is to win two of their next three games against Michigan, Maryland and Purdue. “It’s frustrating because we know what we are capable of and we get the loss then watch film and realize one or two mistakes and (if they were avoided) it’s a completely different game,” Spriggs said. “It comes down to a series or a play where we didn’t focus or whatever it is and the momentum changes.” The momentum for the last five games has been shifted against Indiana whereas in the first four games, the breaks went their way. Linebacker Marcus Oliver said after the Iowa loss that the first four games of the season the team expected to win and that is something they are trying to get back to. Does that mean Indiana players thought they would lose once Big Ten play began? Probably not. But in the face of adversity, the team has folded in the last five games. Nobody bats an eye because “it’s Indiana,” may as well be a self-fulfilling prophecy at this point. That is probably only the case for someone who sees scores on an ESPN ticker. Those watching the product on the field know this Indiana team has competed with top 10 teams. In their most recent game against No. 8 Iowa, the team did a few things well. “It gave us some confidence,” Spriggs said of the offensive line’s run blocking. “We finally got to the point where we were running the ball and blocking like we know we can.” Spriggs and his unit knows they are capable of getting the best of one of the nation’s best run defenses. If the passing game fell a bit more in Indiana’s favor, the outcome of that game may have been different. The challenge is consistently bringing that performance through four quarters over an entire season. This team has to finish a ball game the way they start. The Hoosiers’ next chance to do so is against No. 15 Michigan when they come to Memorial Stadium on November 14th. “They’re going to play hard, they’re very physical, a lot like Iowa,” Spriggs said. “They’re going to try to play upfield, we’ve seen quite a bit (of film) and we’ve got our gameplan.” This is the last chance for IU to get a signature win this season. Spriggs said it would be a statement win. At this point of the season, as long as they bring a complete effort against Maryland and Purdue, this Indiana team has shown they have the talent to win and get to 6-6. That is in itself a huge feat for this program. The fact is, Indiana may or may not beat Michigan. If it does, fans may decide that this five game losing streak wasn’t as bad as it seemed. If it doesn't, well, it’s Indiana.
  9. Iowa Preview

    “In this league it's week in and week out, it's good D-linemen, good defenses, so every week is a challenge,” offensive line coach Greg Frey said. “You can’t rest on your laurels so it is a question of getting that consistency.” Indiana has certainly found consistency this year, but not necessarily the type fans are looking for. When the season started, the Hoosiers were consistent in winning close games and going 4-0. Two more wins looked like an absolute certainty, but then IU reversed course and started being consistently bad like the teams of old. Sitting at .500 after a four game losing streak, the Hoosiers are at a crossroads in their season. Facing the 10th best team in the country means Indiana has an uphill battle to recovery. The game pits a potent Indiana offensive attack against the staunch Iowa defense. The Hoosiers had their bye last week, giving them plenty of time to prepare for an Iowa team that boasts the ninth ranked adjusted for opponent defense according to the S&P+ rankings. They lead the conference in forced turnovers, allow a miniscule 85.8 yards per game, have only given up a stingy 4.36 yards per play. The numbers make it clear that IU has a clear challenge in front of them. The Indiana running offense may be stifled but passing may not be any easier as the Hawkeyes rank fifth in the conference for pass defense efficiency and have Desmond King, who leads the country with seven interceptions. “They’re a great team as a whole on offense and defense. That is why they’re ranked number ten,” cornerback Rashard Fant said. “They just play great team ball.” Fant is one of the leaders on a defense that has struggled with the consistency coaches are seeking. While Iowa’s offense isn’t necessarily elite, they are more explosive than in years past as they have the eleventh most plays for 40 or more yards this season. To contain that type of production, Fant says Indiana players must rely on their competitive spirit. “You have to compete, you’re getting the opportunity to compete with a great player across from you … you have to trust your technique, the defensive scheme, and trust the other ten guys on the field.” The young Indiana defense has had some of the most painful growing pains in program history including giving up 22 points in the fourth quarter to Rutgers. That robbed the team of a fifth win, which may be all IU needs to go bowling if there are not enough 6-6 teams- a real possibility. While a fifth win and their APR score may be enough for the Hoosiers to go bowling, they want to earn a spot thanks to their play. “All you can ask from your individuals is that they battle as hard as they can,” Frey said. “(Players competing) Is what I care about.” Indiana has competed this season against the two undefeated teams they have already played. The team is aware of the physicality and effort they need to bring to play in games like these. They hung with Michigan State and they almost knocked off Ohio State. If they are able to finally put it together and find the consistency the coaching staff has preached, they have the ability to save this season. Though fan base excitement may have shifted to the hardwood, there is plenty left to play for on the gridiron. Head coach Kevin Wilson’s contract situation is likely going to be evaluated in the offseason and a good showing down the stretch will probably earn him an extension. Indiana can finish the season strong and make good on all the potential fans saw earlier in the season or flounder and head into the offseason with a cloud of uncertainty over their head.
  10. Indiana coach Tom Crean was looking forward Tuesday night to seeing how his team had improved since the last time it had faced Ottawa during a summer tour of Canada prior to the 2014-15 season. That year, the Hoosiers had fallen to Ottawa by eight points. Tuesday night, it was a different looking IU basketball team that took the court for its exhibition opener at Assembly Hall. Ottawa head coach James Derouin noticed it, too. IU beat Ottawa Tuesday night 82-54. In doing so the Hoosiers limited Ottawa to almost exactly half of the points it had scored a year ago in a 109-101 victory over the Hoosiers. Tuesday, IU held Ottawa to 22 second-half points and closed the game on a 25-3 run. While Indiana struggled at times with the same issues that plagued the Hoosiers last season – turnovers and defense – IU looked largely improved. Derouin was impressed. “The first thing that jumps to mind (about how this Indiana team is different from last year’s) is the size on the offensive glass,’’ Derouin said. “I thought on the glass especially they were outstanding with 18 offensive rebounds and those extra possessions were huge. And then their defense I thought their rotations and closeouts were much, much tighter than they were a year ago.” So the man who coaches the top ranked Canadian team had some pretty high praise for the two most questionable facets of the Hoosier’s game. While keyboard warriors may be more critical, the facts indicate that head coach Tom Crean’s team has improved markedly in those areas as it outrebounded Ottawa 46-34 and limited the Gee-Gee’s sharpshooting offense to just 19 percent from the 3-point line. Sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. has an idea why the guards were better able to rebound. A lot of the thanks, he believes, belong to Thomas Bryant and Max Bielfeldt’s presence in the game at the same time. “It is so much different with those two in there, it seems like everything is carved out,” Blackmon Jr. said. “It makes it so much easier for us, I go in to crash the glass and it’s wide open.” Crean later said he wasn’t sure that the guards graded out so well in terms of offensive rebounding. Whether or not improved rebounding was the intent of the bigger starting lineup, the fact that it was used is intriguing. Last year fans grew tired of a three guard offense that struggled to find defensive success. This year, Blackmon Jr. says he has been adjusting to a bigger lineup. “We have shot blockers, so I have confidence pressing up on guys,” Blackmon Jr. said. “I know Max and Thomas have our backs.” That faith in teammates is a crucial part of help defense. Crean thinks while having faith in one another is important, the rotations have to improve after this game. “There is no question we got spread out a little too much and had to give too much help, but I liked our recovery,’’ Crean said. The ultimate goal of Crean’s philosophy is to be close to basketball without defined positions. The roster currently has a mix that of players he feels is closer to that goal than in years prior. “They can all shoot, they’re getting better with their handles although it didn’t look like that tonight at certain times,” Crean said. “If we can get to a place where we can guard different positions then that will really lead you to another place offensively.” And in its first exhibition game, the Hoosiers showed the benefits of being in Crean’s desired offensive “place.” The team shot 49 percent from the field with five players going for eight or more points. However, all the positives of this exhibition didn’t come without some negative. Indiana struggled to take care of the ball, throwing several errant passes on their way to 17 first half turnovers. The point was corrected at half time as the Hoosiers only had six turnovers in the entire second half. Crean says the difference is thanks to mostly better defense. “Frankly (it was) better defense for longer periods of time leading to easier baskets for us,” Crean said. If Indiana can do a complete 180 and find offense because of its defense, this could be an extremely dangerous unit. As it was an exhibition game, you should probably take the Ottawa performance with more than a single grain of salt. The rhythm was a bit chaotic as Crean tried several different lineups. There probably isn’t anything conclusive about this year’s team based off Tuesday night’s play. So were IU’s guards more physical rebounding the ball Tuesday night or was it a product of the opponent? “Well we have young guys so it may look like that tonight,’’ Crean said. “I’m not sure its gonna look like that when we play teams in the conference, Maryland, Purdue, Michigan State, Iowa and teams like that.’’ As of now we don’t know much of anything about how this team will compare to last years. Well, other than that Bryant is a whole lot better than last year’s starting center.
  11. Haunted Hall of Hoops Report

    The 2015 Haunted Hall of Hoops featured two 10-minute periods and a third period that was about six minutes. Collin Hartman, Juwan Morgan, Thomas Bryant, Tim Priller, Nick Zeisloft, Yogi Ferrell and Robert Johnson made up the white team while the red team had James Blackmon Jr., Troy Williams, Max Bielfeldt, Harrison Niego, Ryan Burton and Josh Newkirk. This event likely provided a better glimpse of who can provide what this season than Hoosier Hysteria, though it should still absolutely be taken with a grain of salt. With that said, after about 25 minutes of basketball plenty of observations and logical deductions can be made. While Blackmon Jr. was the leading scorer with 17 points, Anunoby stole the show with his active hands on defense and athletic finishes at the rim that netted him 15 points. Bryant and Ferrell also finished with 15 points while Williams had 11 and Bielfeldt scored nine to go along with nine rebounds. What can we expect out of Anunoby this year? He wasn’t highly rated coming out of high school. Most of the fan base has no expectation for significant contributions to be made by him in his first season. But after a scrimmage where he intercepted passes, tipped balls, defended well AND showed the ability to run the floor well, that may change. Associate Head Coach Tim Buckley said for Anunoby to see the floor he must understand his strengths and weaknesses. “The speed of the game is something every freshman has to get used to,” Buckley said. “You see how guys listen and how they understand… I think there will be development thanks to practice, the film room, and things like that.” It would be silly to expect the kind of production he had Saturday afternoon during the regular season, but if he can even just bring the same intensity to the defensive side of the floor, Anunoby could find himself getting quite a bit of playing time. Fellow freshman Bryant scored 15 points as well. He, however, did not have the dominating performance he had during Hoosier Hysteria. There are two ways to look at Bryant’s display at Haunted Hall of Hoops. On one hand, he didn’t play anywhere near his best game and still scored 15 points. He was sloppy at times, committed fouls, and looked a bit uncomfortable. If he can grind out a performance like that during a bad day, he could exceed his freshman expectations. On the other hand, the first game is 13 days away. Bryant is by far the best big man IU has and he was taken advantage of at times by fifth year transfer Bielfeldt who was never overly impressive at Michigan. The question has to be raised: how much of Bryant’s development was stunted by all the time he has missed in the preseason at the hands of a foot injury? For this team to have any success, Bryant must find his groove by the time conference play starts. As previously mentioned, Bielfeldt more than held his own against a five star talent who is taller than him by two or three inches. Any fan who agonized over the Hoosiers’ defensive woes in the paint last season will appreciate a smart player who knows the ins and outs of the Big 10 play. He was one point and one rebound away from recording a double-double against the team’s best post defender. That presence, which Buckley called poise in the post, will be needed to add depth in the front-court. It cannot be understated how valuable the perspective of a fifth year player is in an otherwise very young group. Blackmon Jr. looked smooth bringing the ball up the court against pressure from Johnson. He looked even smoother hitting several threes. Buckley says Blackmon Jr. is still recovering from his injury. “He has done a terrific job bouncing back mentally and physically,” Buckley said. “He is playing more at the point where he is initiating the offense and getting used to guys getting into him, but he has always had a really nice stroke and that hasn’t changed much.” Blackmon Jr. also appeared to be more aggressive, driving with much more strength than he did at times last season. Conversely, Williams didn’t look like the Hoosier Hysteria 3-point shooting contest winner. While he played well by all accounts, fans may want to temper their expectations for him this year. While the athleticism is undeniable, he still doesn’t look to have taken the same sophomore to junior year leap of Victor Oladipo that fans have been clamoring for. The scrimmage also showcased one look that fans begged for at times last year- a press. There was plenty of full court pressing, albeit soft at times. Buckley said it is a strategy that makes the most of Indiana’s athleticism. “We want to be able to use our athleticism and our length,” Buckley said. “But we don’t want to get out of position so we really have to keep our chests in front of the ball handlers and not let them into the paint.” There were plenty of opportunities last year where a press would have been beneficial, but it never came to fruition. This year, Buckley says, it may be an option. “The guys are starting to do a much better job of covering for each other,” Buckley said. “Our guys are understanding those rotations better.” Part of why so many fans wanted a press was the distinct height disadvantage Indiana often found themselves in. This year, that may not be such a problem as the staff believes their personnel allows them to matchup with teams much better. “Basketball is becoming more and more of a matchup game than a position game, so you pretty much are who you can guard,” Buckley added. “You could see Max and Thomas on the floor at the same time along with Collin (Hartman) and I think we have a lot of possibilities to be a versatile team.” At the end of the day, this is another scrimmage and it certainly won’t be indicative of how the season will go. However, there were some refreshing changes in philosophy and a lot of growth in player’s individual games. There is a lot of reason to believe that this team won’t be the same as last year’s with a few different faces. Indiana has two more exhibition games before it kicks off its season against Eastern Illinois on November 13 in Bloomington.
  12. Freshmen To be in Regular Rotation

    After another offseason of attrition, Indiana added three freshmen to the roster in Thomas Bryant, Juwan Morgan, and O.G. Anunoby. Originally, it appeared as if only Bryant would receive extensive playing time as a freshman but with the dismissal of Emmitt Holt, Devin Davis and Hanner -Mosquera-Perea, all three now look to be rotational players. Bryant, a former five star center from New York, is projected to start this season at center despite having missed extensive time in the preseason. According to head coach Tom Crean, Hoosier Hysteria was only the seventh day Bryant had experienced “live contact.” The cause of Bryant’s missed time is mostly due to a foot injury, but also a bout with strep throat. Now, he claims to be mostly healed. “I’m feeling good,” Bryant said. “The coaching staff and trainers that we have are getting me into the best shape I can be … Running up and down the floor felt real good.” With the three freshmen figuring into the regular rotation, it is critical that any learning curve is accelerated. The freshmen know they are responsible for getting as good as possible as fast as possible. “Thomas is a very willing learner, he is a very quick learner, he is a sponge,” Crean said of Bryant. “He came in with tremendous humility, combine that with his upside and he has a great future.” Anunoby also said college basketball has taught him how important details are thanks to the emphasis of the coaching staff. “I’ve learned to just try and stay focused on everything to get better at everything at the same time,” Anunoby said. “I’ve been working on shooting, ball handling, defense, everything.” As the freshman trio, who composed the 26th ranked overall 2015 recruiting class, tailors their games to the collegiate level, they know adjustments have to be made. “The biggest adjustment is the strength of the guys and the speed of the game,” Anunoby shared. “I think post defense will be one of the biggest parts of my game, being able to guard bigger players,” Morgan said. “I’m not a super quick wing or a powerhouse power forward, so I know I have to be smarter than them, beat them to the spot and things like that.” The freshmen embrace the obstacles ahead of them with enthusiasm, Crean said. “The best thing to say about Thomas is we knew every day when he wasn’t there,” Crean said. “I think makes practice better every day.” Bryant serves as inspiration for Morgan, who says players of Bryant’s level normally don’t have his work ethic. Personally, Bryant believes a positive attitude can be extremely helpful to the team. Bryant later stated that fan support is a huge reason he works the way he does. “It felt real good seeing those fans come out and support us because we wouldn’t be out there if it wasn’t for them,” Bryant went on. “Being out there got me really excited.” The energy, according to Morgan, surpassed the prior year’s event. “It was crazy, I was not expecting it to be this loud,” Morgan said. “Actually being on the court and hearing it, it was a different level.” Ultimately the freshmen are aware of the responsibility they shoulder. Preparation will be key in masking their youth and featuring their talents. Luckily for them, they have the coaching staff to guide them along the way. “Coach Crean and the rest of the staff will put us in the best position to be successful out there,” Bryant said. “We just have to go out there and play the game.”
  13. 2015 Hoosier Hysteria Recap

    With the passing of Hoosier Hysteria, Indiana University men’s basketball season is officially upon us. This year’s version of the event featured everything from women’s basketball coach Teri Moren doing hip hop dancing to a men’s basketball scrimmage. The arena featured an excited atmosphere that head coach Tom Crean praised afterwards. “I think it was a great crowd,” Crean said. “People waited in line and brought tremendous energy, that is what makes this special.” The bulk of the night’s highlights belonged to Troy Williams, who became the first Indiana basketball player in the history of Hoosier Hysteria to win both the 3-point shooting and dunk contests. You read that correctly, Troy Williams won a shooting contest. Crean was asked after Hysteria about the progress on Williams’ shot. “Did you see him shoot last year?” Crean said with a chuckle. “He has worked very hard at it and its important that it’s a weapon, not a necessity … Last year teams could forget about him on the perimeter and I think that will be hard for them to do this year.” Crean went on to state that Williams has also improved his ball handling and defense. It should be noted that there were several instances during the short scrimmage where Williams and James Blackmon Jr. brought the ball up the court. This is an interesting look that fans saw from time-to-time last year and that they will likely see more of going forward, as Crean stated that Indiana wants to make use of Yogi Ferrell’s versatile skill set. “There is no question he will be key at the point of attack defensively, and offensively we will move him around to take advantage of his strength, his speed, his endurance, his vision and all those things,” Crean said. “He is a very good basketball player who has to take even more responsibility for his teammates on the court even when it isn’t going well for him.” The next step for Ferrell, who returned for his final season of eligibility to cement a legacy as a Hoosier, according to Crean is, “… taking ownership of guys on the court and putting them in the right spots as far as directing traffic and building confidence… Yogi has to be able to play over the tough shooting nights and when defenses are built on him.” Ferrell has certainly had a prolific collegiate career partially thanks to his passing and fast pace. While ball movement and playing fast are critical, Crean insisted that they must not become careless with the ball. All in all, Hoosier Hysteria provided a fun peak into the coming season. While some people may try to read too far into the events, Crean certainly will not. “As far as basketball, it (the scrimmage) didn’t really make much difference to me,” said Crean. “Practice this morning and tomorrow morning is what the big thing is.” As far as goals for the season? Crean won’t project that far. The goal he stated was simple. “My coach speak says ‘we have to have a great practice tomorrow,’” Crean said. “I can’t go much further than that. And it has to be better than today’s.” Observation News and Notes · Thomas Bryant has missed extensive time with a foot injury and strep throat. Today was only his seventh time against “live action.” He looked to run the court well during the scrimmage and showed an easy to love personality through his dance moves. Crean praised Bryant as being infectiously energetic, also says he has been held out mostly because the team has been very cautious. · There was at least one Mario Kegler related sign, which was noticed by Mario and someone from his party. It drew smiles. · Crean says it is hard to project how long Hartman will be out with his rib injury, but estimates about a week. · Jordan Fuchs was announced as a part of the team during player introductions. · Crean noted the newcomers still have a long way to go and that there is plenty of room for improvement in every facet of every player’s game.
  14. The team needs only two more wins to be bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. That possibility now looks bleak as the upcoming schedule consists of Michigan State, Iowa, Michigan, Maryland and Purdue. While the Maryland and Purdue games appear winnable, the Hoosiers’ next three games are likely to be losses. The path to correcting the Hoosiers’ woes resumes against the seventh ranked Spartans of Michigan State. They will likely look to rack up style points against Indiana as they lost some steam after lackluster performances against Purdue and Rutgers. Michigan State is undefeated and IU’s coaching staff knows that it will be a tall task to hand the Spartans their first loss of the season. Indiana defensive line coach Larry McDaniel acknowledged that it will be a great challenge. “They’re the benchmark of what Big Ten football is all about,” McDaniel said. “They’ve become a consistent top five team, a consistent winner and when they put the next man in they don’t miss a beat.” One player who makes Michigan State so difficult to beat is senior quarterback Connor Cook, who is the NCAA’s winningest active quarterback with a 29-3 record in his three years as a starter. McDaniel’s defensive linemen will have the great task of pressuring Cook who plays behind a solid line. If IU can’t get a consistent pass rush, Cook may pick apart the young Indiana secondary. Generating that type of pass rush is easier said than done against a team that is tied for first place in the conference. Aside from Michigan State’s excellent offensive line play, McDaniel says rushing quarterbacks like Cook is difficult because of how quickly they make their passes. McDaniel said the tape shows Cook routinely found receivers in about two and a half seconds. “Michigan got to him maybe twice, but they batted down I think three balls,” McDaniel said. McDaniel was insistent that the defensive line will not be any less aggressive just because Cook makes his reads quickly. “You have to remain consistent and have an upfield, edge mentality,” McDaniel said. “If he can get the ball out quickly, sack numbers won’t be that high but we want to be able to rush him and force some errant throws.” McDaniel sang the praises of Cook, saying that he isn’t easily rattled, reads coverages extremely well and will stay in the pocket to make his progressions then get the ball out quickly. While Cook is the most visible part of MSU’s offensive gameplan, the team is extremely well balanced. McDaniel highlighted the fact that they are very similar to Jim Tressel’s Ohio State teams. “They feature a big offensive line and a big back, then once that’s established their play action comes into play,” McDaniel said. “They have great receivers too so that will come into play.” It is too much to ask for an Indiana defense that gave up twenty-eight unanswered points to Rutgers on its own homecoming weekend to shut down a potent Michigan State offense. It is not how much to ask that the team play with effort. That type of energy is what McDaniel expects on Saturdays. “The biggest thing is effort, you really have to bring it,” McDaniel said. “If you want it more than the guy across from you, good things will probably happen.” When the team was 4-0, fans pointed to this season as a possible turning point for IU football. Now that the team has slipped to 4-3, the character of the team is being tested. Will the 2015 season be chalked up as another year of “same old IU football?” Or will they show resilience and start to redefine what that means? We will get an idea on Saturday at 3:30 p.m, when Indiana goes to Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
  15. Rutgers comes to Bloomington on Saturday for the Hoosiers’ homecoming weekend. Rutgers is coming off a nail-biting loss to Michigan State while Indiana tries to bounce back from a 29-7 defeat at Penn State. Indiana fans have had this game circled as a ‘win’ since the schedule came out. At 2-3, the Scarlet Knights look to be about what opposing fans expected in the preseason. That record may be deceiving however, as they put a scare into the then fourth ranked Spartans of Michigan State. Clearly, Rutgers has the talents to win big games. “Although their record is 2-3, they are a very talented team,” said secondary coach Brandon Shelby. “When you watch film you know it will be a challenge.” The premiere challenge in this matchup will feature the leader of the IU secondary, Rashard Fant, against future NFL draft pick Leonte Carroo. This will be Carroo’s second game after being suspended earlier in the season. He looks to repeat his performance from last week. “Carroo is a dominant player, his first week back he had seven catches and three touchdowns,” Shelby said. “He keeps them in games.” Shelby was critical of Fant’s play to this point in the season. “His first five games I don’t know if he graded out that well, but he did a great job last week,” Shelby said. While Fant is the closest thing Indiana has to a veteran in the secondary, the coaching staff believes he still has plenty of room to grow. Shelby stated that Fant will look to build on his performance against Penn State last week. “His (Fant) first few games I was disappointed in his play, last week he played a full, good game,” Shelby said. “Can he do it again? If he wants to reach his goal he has to do it again and again.” Part of that building process for Fant includes being more aggressive and overall a more physical corner. Fant believes those are the areas of his game where he can improve the most. Shelby shared a similar sentiment. “Rashard needs to be a dominant player for us and part of that is attacking more to get interceptions and make plays,” Shelby said. Everyone in the secondary is excited to meet the challenge. In just three games, Carroo has totaled fourteen receptions, 315 yards and six touchdowns. While Fant is expected to get the majority of snaps against Carroo, fans should expect a mix of players to guard the Edison, New Jersey product. The thought process behind this is that each player in the young Hoosier secondary has a different skillset, so by throwing a combination of looks at Carroo, Indiana can figure the most effective way to minimize his production. “We’ll probably throw everybody at him, let everybody get a chance,” Fant said. “We are all going to go in there and give it everything we’ve got.” Carroo, a savvy veteran, has the potential to take advantage of a relatively weak Indiana passing defense. As a likely future NFL player, he is at the stage of his career where IU’s young secondary may not present much of a challenge. “He’s been doing it for a long time and we have guys like Andre Brown who has been doing this (college football) for a couple months,” Shelby said. But youth won’t be used as an excuse by anyone on the Indiana football team. The team has been taught preparation all summer long, and Fant has been reinforcing the coaches’ message with the younger players. “I watched the whole MSU game and half of the Washington State game and told the younger guys to watch the MSU tape,” Fant said. “We want to see where MSU’s corners could’ve maybe done something differently and take what they did do well and use it, because they are great cornerbacks.” Ultimately, Shelby believes his players know the challenge that awaits them. “I don’t have to say anything, they can look at the film,” Shelby said. “I was watching the tape and I was in awe because that’s a very good defense at MSU and he (Carroo) was all over the field making great plays.” The young Indiana secondary will get a test against one of the best players in the Big Ten and a future NFL draft pick. The unit has grown quite a bit as the season has progressed, but Fant says they have put their development in perspective. “There is a lot of room to get better, we are 4-2 but none of us are satisfied,” Fant said. “We have to get better at our positions, we aren’t happy about 4-2 because we should be 6-0.” Shelby expects homecoming to be a great game, and emphasized that for the team to improve to 5-2, it has to get Rutgers off the field. “Their quarterback has the best third down percentage in the league and they are going to score points if we don’t get them off the field,” Shelby said. After a two game losing streak, a homecoming matchup with Rutgers may be just what the Hoosiers need to get back on track. If they do improve to 5-2, Indiana will be one step closer to going bowling for the first time since 2007.
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