IU-Illinois Postgame: So … When Can We No Longer Say “We Won The Big Ten Last Year?”

Things looked okay there for a while early in the second half. Then Indiana started beating itself. And soon thereafter Illinois finished them off.

And with that, one of the more frustrating Big Ten seasons I can remember is over.

We broke it all down on the postgame show, analyzing the game itself for a little while before moving into big picture discussion.

There just wasn’t much to say about the game itself. Turnovers and miscommunications on defense killed this team. What else is new?

Toward the end, Ryan and I have a very important discussion that will shape the offseason discourse of IU hoops: at what point can we no longer say that we won the Big Ten last year?

All that and much, much more on the latest episode of The Assembly Call.

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And here’s the video:

A Quick Guide for IU Fans: 12 Ways to Enjoy the Big Ten Tournament (Win, Lose, or Banner)

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The Big Ten Tournament starts today.

This is an event that rarely brings IU fans anything but frustration, disappointment, and a late night at the office due to blowing off work duties to watch an early afternoon game.

So, in honor of the number of teams in the Big Ten, here are 12 quick tips to help you enjoy this weekend … no matter what happens. [Read more...]

Dare to Dream (So let’s say IU beats Iowa in Assembly Hall tonight …)

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So let’s say Indiana defeats Iowa in Assembly Hall tonight …

Not so ridiculous a notion.

The one thing Indiana has done with some consistency this year is beat ranked teams at home. And Iowa is reeling a bit, having lost two in a row — their Big Ten title hopes now up in smoke.

An IU win would give the Hoosiers a third win over a ranked foe (albeit all at home), make them 6-9 in the conference and 16-12 overall. Better, but not bubble better.

Take it a couple of steps further. Say Indiana wins its next two home games.

Unlikely? Probably, because this bunch of Hoosiers has not shown that it can string together consecutive good halves, let alone three straight good games.

For the sake of argument (and hope!), though, just say it’s possible.

[Read more...]

Second Half Struggles Nothing New for IU Under Crean … But it’s Worse This Year (Here’s the Data)

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In the notes section of our latest subscriber-only analysis on the Wisconsin game that we sent out this morning (get it immediately here), I referenced a couple tweets lamenting IU’s second half struggles in recent games.

The most notable among these came from Evan Hoopfer, who pointed out that IU was leading at halftime in eight of its last nine games. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers have emerged victorious from just three of those contests.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at the last few seasons to see what trends might exist. I know I’ve often questioned Coach Crean’s ability to make halftime adjustments, but I had never looked at the data to try to back that up.

[Read more...]

How’s Your Attitude? (A Pep Talk to IU Fans)

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Your effort can be one thing, but your attitude toward it can be another.

~ Thomas Aaron Crean, February 17th, 2014

Sigh.

That’s the first thing I did this morning when I opened up Twitter and saw Chronic Hoosier’s reliably exuberant “It’s gameday, bitches!” tweet.

After what’s happened the last two games, I would not begrudge anyone that initial reaction. Not even myself.

Then my morning reading began. I read this article by Jordan Littman at Inside The Hall, recapping Tom Crean’s comments on his show with Don Fischer last night. And I came across the quote that began this post.

At first, I thought to myself: What the hell is he talking about? What, exactly, constitutes one’s attitude toward one’s effort?

It took me a good while to wrap my head around it.

This did not surprise me. Usually it’s not a good idea to parse the words of coaches on losing streaks, as they are wont to simply serve up drivel wrapped in coachspeak that, when broken up and analyzed in its component pieces, amounts to little more than “Blah, blah, blibbety, blah.”

But as I analyzed my unusual feeling of melancholy for a gameday morning, Crean’s meaning (intended or not) began to crystallize. [Read more...]

Indiana Feeling the Impact (it Seems) of Losing Four 1,000-Point Leaders

[Note: I originally posted this over in the Inside The Hall forum. I highly recommend joining -- well worth the price if informed #iubb discussion of value to you. I wanted to also post here so anyone not in the ITH forum can comment on or discuss.]

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A thought I had while processing the disappointing last 48 hours …

Maybe we need to stop saying we lost four 1,000-point *scorers* from last year … and instead say we lost four 1,000-point leaders.

Perhaps it’s all semantics, but I’m beginning to think that it’s a lack of internal player leadership, not a lack of scoring or shooting, that is the biggest issue with this year’s IU team.

That lack of leadership gets seen in pee-down-the-leg collapses like Penn State and Nebraska … and it gets seen in incidents like Hanner’s.

I have no idea if Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller, and Christian Watford ever went out drinking until 3:30 am within 36 hours of an important game (or any game for that matter). My guess is no. Who knows. We sure never found out about it if they did. Same with Chris Reynolds-Greg Graham-Calbert Cheaney-Matt Nover or most any other group of upper-classmen leaders on successful IU teams. (At least to my recollection.)

But I’m starting to hear a lot more about this team having a partying issue (in forums, on Dakich’s show, etc) … whereas the last couple of years all we heard about was guys banging the floorboards at Cook Hall until they couldn’t see straight.

A part of that, I’m sure, is because this year we’re losing more and last year we weren’t … but my gut tells me that where this is smoke there is fire.

Which brings me back around to leadership. Which makes me really appreciate what we were so lucky to watch as fans the last two years.

That special group became polished diamonds after several years of pressure, losing, disappointment, falling short, etc. What we have now is a group of kids who are good young men, but who are also immature under-classmen with fanfare and expectations without really having earned it, who also have yet to learn important lessons together.

Hopefully this year helps teach some of those lessons (like Victor’s freshman year) so that in two years we can have the kind of mature leadership — on and off the court — that we had the last few years.

It’s been a disappointing 48 hours to be an IU fan. But part of being a college sports fan is taking some measure of interest, joy, even ownership in seeing young men walk where you’ve walked and hopefully grow throughout the process while building on a tradition we’re all proud of. It’s not JUST about the wins and losses (at least, I don’t think it should be).

A win on Saturday would certainly help this team and this program, but what we need right now is time — something we don’t have much more of in 2014.

We need time for young, immature kids to develop into leaders. Those who do become IU legends. Those who don’t become eternal cautionary tales at best, punchlines at worst. I hope someone can make the young guys on our team understand this before it’s too late.

I feel confident that Tom Crean sets the right tone as a leader atop this program. I believe what Yogi’s mom says about him. We’ve seen it work beautifully, as recently as one year ago.

It’s time for the young men on our roster to eliminate excuses and take some bigger steps forward and lead themselves and each other.

Only when that happens to a greater extent will this program be back where all of us fans want it to be.

Inside the Numbers: Analysis of all 136 Lineups Used in B1G Play Reveals Important Trend for Tom Crean, #IUBB

[Editor's note: After most Big Ten games, Andy prepares a detailed analysis of the players' +/- numbers and the lineup/substitution patterns used by Tom Crean. This analysis is sent the morning after games to our email subscribers only. Subscribe here, it's free.

In this post, Andy takes a step back and analyzes what trends we've seen from the players and Crean ... and what these trends suggest Indiana needs to do moving forward to get back into legitimate NCAA Tournament consideration.]

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As those of you who have signed up for our email list know, I’ve been breaking down the lineups and +/- numbers after each Big Ten game.

Now that the we’re nearly halfway through the Big Ten season, it seemed like a good time to take stock of Indiana’s overall +/- numbers and Tom Crean’s substitution patterns to see if any revealing trends are starting to emerge.

[Read more...]

Commentary: How Should We Define ‘Success’ for Indiana Tonight in East Lansing?

Indiana is “back.”

The Kentucky win suggested it; the Big Ten title proved it.

But wrapped inside that word “back” is the assumption that, now, once again, the Cream and Crimson should be able to compete for victory every time it steps on the floor. That’s what fans of “blue blood” programs should expect, right?

And isn’t that how we’ve felt every time the Hoosiers have taken the floor since that Kentucky win? For me, yes. For you, perhaps not always (I don’t know you, after all), but I bet the vast majority of the time.

But I don’t feel that way tonight.

[Read more...]

What Does the Emerging Chemistry Between Stan Robinson and Troy Williams Mean for Indiana?

One of the biggest differences between this year’s Indiana Hoosiers and the teams of the last two seasons is chemistry.

How could it not be?

Stan Robinson and Troy Williams, two freshmen connected on the court and off. (Image credit: Mike Fender, The Star)
Stan Robinson and Troy Williams, two freshmen who are connected on the court and off. (Image credit: Mike Fender, The Star)

Last year’s team featured seniors who had been through every up and down imaginable, a two-man junior class renowned for its leadership by example, and a sophomore heralded as a savior who just wanted to play team basketball from Day One.

That core group got to know each other during the 2011-12 season, eventually gelling quicker than anyone expected, and then overcame the burden of tremendous expectations together last season to win Indiana’s first outright Big Ten title since 1993.

It was a special, special group. You could see it. You could feel it watching them. Their chemistry was real, and it was earned.

But this is a new season in Bloomington, as we know. A new era.

New players are in new places. Old players are in new roles.

And at the helm is a coach who sometimes seems to be struggling right along with the rest of us to figure out what the heck to do with this athletic but immature and unfamiliar group of Hoosiers.

It’s a group that lacks chemistry, which is not an indictment of the team or the coach … just a reality of reloading at the highest level of college basketball.

Perhaps that’s why the flash of chemical compatibility we saw between Stan Robinson and Troy Williams on Saturday was so exciting. [Read more...]

Special Edition: ‘Season at a Crossroads’ – An IU Hoops Roundtable

Earlier this evening I had the pleasure of hosting a special Google Hangout edition of The Assembly Call.

It was a roundtable discussion with our very own Andy Bottoms and Ryan Phillips, plus Galen Clavio of Crimson Cast and Chronic Hoosier of Jameson and the Tijan Fan Club.

We covered the subjects you would expect us to cover based on this “Season on the Drink” has started:
[Read more...]