This Q&A is a joint effort between The Assembly Call and the Indiana We’re All For You group on Facebook. Questions are gathered via the Facebook group, and then we answer them right here, usually once a week.
Here we go …
Q: Who, in your opinion, will be the impact player in Indiana’s Big Ten Tournament showdown with Iowa?
A: Robert Johnson. Indiana almost went into Iowa City and won thanks in large part to Robert scoring 19 points, dishing out 7 assists, and grabbing 6 boards. He came alive again against Ohio State. Indiana is a different team when he’s playing at the All Big Ten level he’s capable of. If Good RoJo shows up, this team can make a run. If not, Iowa will likely win on Thursday.
Q: Who is the best option on defense vs Jok? I think I would use Juwan.
A: Yogi. Can he play one more game for IU?
Juwan is certainly the obvious name that comes to mind, given the size. And I think Robert could make life tough on Jok, if Robert is playing bulldog-level defense (which has been hit or miss this year).
But how about this name for an out of the box suggestion: Devonte Green. Let him chase Jok a few possessions here and there, play simple deny-deny-deny defense, be a pesky gnat that might frustrate and/or wear down Jok for a brief stretch. There is an obvious height disadvantage, but Yogi did it last year and stymied Jok for a while. He used his smarts, positioning, and competitiveness. Devonte doesn’t have the smarts yet, but he’ll compete. If nothing else is working, might as well give it a shot.
Q: Will the new uniforms help? Honestly, what made everything go right against the buckeyes and can we keep that momentum going?
A: This will seem like simplistic analysis, but I think it fits with this group: shots went down.
This is not a team that handles poor shooting nights very well. This is a team that has to make outside shots to win, because the offensive success keeps guys engaged for 40 minutes, plus the 3-pointers help Indiana compensate for the turnovers and poor defense. If Indiana can get off to a good start against Iowa, especially shooting (as they did in Iowa City), it will go a long way toward giving Indiana a chance to win down the stretch.
Q: What’s your expectations on who the starting five will be vs. the Hawkeyes? Do you feel they’ll stick with the same starting group used against Ohio State?
A: Tom Crean shortened his rotation against Ohio State and it worked, plus Indiana got off to a great start. I see no reason why he would deviate: RoJo, JBJ, JN, Juwan, TB.
Q: Fouls…why is it that we seem to commit a TON of them, but we don’t draw them as much.
A: Great question. Two reasons …
1) We are not a fundamentally sound defensive team. When you are out of position — either because of poor footwork or poor awareness — you are a half step late to the play, and often not properly balanced. That leads to fouls.
2) We don’t go inside enough. You simply aren’t going to get a lot of fouls called dribbling the ball around the perimeter. And big guys are going to draw more fouls with patient, strong post moves than guards flying wildly into the lane. Indiana needs to be more stubborn in establishing Thomas and De’Ron on the blocks — that means strategy, commitment (from TB especially) to get inside, and most of all more willingness and effectiveness by the guards in making post feeds. That will go a long way toward Indiana drawing more fouls.
As a third reason, I’ll add that I think one of Tom Crean’s weaknesses as a coach is working officials. They’re human. It matters. I’m not saying officials need to be afraid of Crean, or that he needs to curse like a sailor and go against what he believes in, but I can’t help but think there is more he could do to tip some of the 50-50 calls in IU’s favor. Easy for me to say from my comfortable seat on the couch, and it’s more of a gut feeling than anything I can back up with anecdotal or empirical evidence.
Q: Dan Dakich made the comment that Big Ten coaches see Indiana as the most dangerous team in the Big Ten Tournament. What’s your thoughts on that?
Personally, I think Indiana can beat anybody when they play like they’re capable of. For example, the Kansas and UNC games. Factoring in injuries, the first half of the Ohio State game was a good indication of what they’re capable of. Overall, the whole conference is dangerous going into the tournament. Can’t sleep on anyone.
A: The comment on IU make some sense. Indiana has a lot of talent, and can beat any Big Ten team on any given day, but the problem is consistency. Could Indiana really string together 160 straight minutes of solid basketball? If so, it would be the first time all year we’ve seen it. Right now I’d settle for 80. So while the high level talent and shooting potential makes Indiana very dangerous in any one matchup, I’m sure Big Ten coaches also relish the opportunity to pick apart Indiana’s clear and consistent weaknesses.
I think Michigan is the most dangerous team. They have a great point guard, they can shoot, and they’ve demolished teams at times. Their highest level may be as good as anyone else’s highest level. Purdue can’t be excited about having to possibly play Michigan on Friday, if the Wolverines can take care of business against Illinois. Michigan is vulnerable defensively, and to bad shooting nights, but they’re far more proven than a team like Indiana.
Q: What are your thoughts on no 1st or 2nd team players for IU in Big Ten
A: That it matches with reality. I think Thomas Bryant, James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson, OG Anunoby, and Juwan Morgan all have All Big Ten ability. De’Ron Davis will someday too. But De’Ron was very inconsistent, OG got hurt, Juwan battled nagging injuries, Robert disappeared for most of February, and Thomas and James each had spectacular moments, but also some really poor ones. They didn’t play at a high level consistently enough to be a 1st or 2nd team player.
Q: Do you seeing the freshman playing a bigger role from here on out?
A: It depends. Devonte and De’Ron have each had nice moments in different games recently, but they’re inconsistent (as freshmen usually are). I wouldn’t be shocked if either guy play 5 scoreless minutes against Iowa or ended up being one of the most important players in the game. They’re wild cards. Judging by how Crean handled lineups v Ohio State, it looks like he’s ready to ride the experienced guys and play fewer lineups. But Devonte and De’Ron will each get their chance, they just have to make the most of it.
Thanks for all the great questions! Go Hoosiers!