Indiana Defeated the #3 ranked Wisconsin Badgers 75-72 last night with their best executed game since last year's North Carolina game. It was truly impressive the way that the Hoosiers came out and were able to enact the game plan to a T. We haven't seen this year's Indiana squad perform that successfully against anyone this season, let alone against one of the nation's best teams.
A lot of guys deserve credit for this win, but I feel like I need to take a moment to point out that this was probably Crean's best coached game in his 6 years at Indiana University. Outside of a late decision to sub out a defensively struggling Noah Vonleh in favor of a better, but overmatched Austin Etherington that led to an And-1 on the other end, Crean was damn near flawless. At one point he benched Vonleh and Yogi with Wisconsin on a run in favor of Etherington and walk-on Jonny Marlin. At that point the Hoosiers were down 7 and on the verge of the game being blown open.
The "B team" not only held serve, they only gave up 1 more point on the lead. In turn, Yogi especially responded to being benched to playing like a man possessed. He scored 13 of his 25 total points in the final 10 minutes after returning from his benching. If Tom Crean doesn't get credit for lighting a fire under these guys when things were looking bad, then I don't know why anyone bothers watching IU, cause you obviously have it out for the man and get no enjoyment from seeing them succeed.
The other guys outside of Crean and Yogi that get a lot of credit for this game are Will Sheehey and Stan Robinson. Sheehey has suddenly shown up in the last two games and been a constant veteran presence for a team that desperately needs it. Truly if Will Sheehey had been playing this way all year we've got another 2 Ws in the win category and we'd be feeling damn good about this squad. Finishing with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists while providing some great defensive possessions meant a whole lot to this team last night. He now has to do that night in and night out for this squad to jump to the middle of the second tier teams.
Stan Robinson also was electric last night. He finished with a plus/minus of 17(!) and a Roland Rating of +31. Meaning when he was on the court, IU outscored the Badgers by 17 points and when he was off the court the Hoosiers were outscored by 14. That's some insane numbers for a game that finished with a three point margin. Robinson had all cylinders clicking in his 13 point outburst. He was getting to the rim at will and showing amazing body control while doing it. If he could be a better free throw shooter, we'd have ourselves a no brainer late game player. Even without some free throw efficiency he's still probably locked up some major playing time going forward.
Overall the Hoosiers were just great on the offensive. Certainly the game film won't show all sunshines and rainbows though. They still lost a lot of guys on back door cuts and failed on communicating defensively. That's something that's got to be fixed. But, if Indiana can weather Wisconsin's offensive fire power while not necessarily being good defensively they should be able to survive most teams. Still competing in the Big Ten isn't about surviving if you want to get far. Indiana has to fix those issues. Noah Vonleh probably being the biggest offender at this point.
Still everyone in Hoosier Nation should be very happy about last night. It showed Indiana has some fight and new found maturity. If this keeps up the Hoosiers are within reach of 10-11 wins in conference. That will be more than enough to punch their tickets to the big dance. Just get there at this point should be IU's mantra. Anything else would be gravy on top of what I would label a successful season after seeing how we started.