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.
I focused the analysis on conference games only, and I looked mainly at the last three seasons for the aggregated analysis. I did take a look at the 2010-11 season as well.
- IU led at the half six times and lost five of those games.
- The Hoosiers trailed at the half 13 times and won just one of those contests.
- IU outscored its opponents in the second half just four times in 19 games.
- The Hoosiers led at the half 13 times. They won 11 of them but were outscored six times in the second half.
- IU trailed at the half seven times. They outscored their opponents just twice after the break in those games, once against Penn State in their lone comeback win and once at Ohio State in a blowout.
- IU led at the half 17 times. They won 14 of those games but were outscored seven times in the second half.
- The Hoosiers trailed at the half three times. They outscored their opponent in one of those games, the season finale at Michigan, which clinched the Big Ten title.
- On average, IU outscored opponents by 8.8 points in the first half and just 0.6 points in the second.
- IU has led at the half eight times. They have won just three of those games (Michigan, Illinois, @ Northwestern). They were outscored in the second half and lost the other five.
- The Hoosiers have trailed at the half six times. They have outscored their opponents in the second half twice (Wisconsin, @ Penn St.), both of which IU came back to win.
- IU has been outscored in the second half in nine of 14 games.
- The Hoosiers have outscored opponents by 1.5 points in the first half and been outscored by an average of 4.4 points in the second.
When I combined the last three seasons (so I’m excluding the 2010-11 season here), a few things stood out:
- IU is 38-15-1 in first halves. The Hoosiers won 28 of the games where they led or were tied at the half, but they were outscored in the second half in 20 of the 39 games.
- Of the 16 times IU has trailed or been tied at the half, IU has won just four games, two of which have come against Penn State.
- The Hoosiers are 24-29-1 in second halves.
- If you look at the 24 games where IU was positive in the second half:
- 11 came against teams that finished (or currently rank) ninth or lower in the league.
- 14 came against teams that finished (or are currently) below .500 in the league.
- If you look at the 13 games where IU outscored opponents by more than five points in the second half:
- 9 came against teams that finished (or currently rank) ninth or lower in the league.
- 11 came against teams that finished (or are currently) below .500 in the league.
- In total for the last three seasons, IU has outscored opponents by 240 points in the first half over 54 games. They have been outscored by 27 points in the second half.
So … what does it all mean?
When taking all that into account, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by calling it a trend — and a troubling one at that.
And while I don’t heap all of the blame for the numbers above on Coach Crean, I do believe he should shoulder a large portion of it.
On the flip side, I think he and the staff deserve credit for how well IU has typically played in the first half, which to me speaks well of the initial gameplan and preparation.
I’m also not saying he’s never made good adjustments within games, because clearly he has. But at the same time, this is an alarming trend that would suggest those are the exception rather than the rule.
At some point, youth can’t be the excuse. If youth isn’t standing in the way of building these first half leads, why does it stand in the way of maintaining them?
I realize that Crean-bashing is become a popular pastime within the fan base, and I think even when hard data exists for things like this, we feel the need to qualify certain comments … just as I did above.
The reality is that appreciating what Crean has done for the program and questioning some of his coaching strategies and decisions aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s okay to do both while still being an ardent supporter of the team.
What do you think about the trends this data reveals? Comment below.
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