And that's that. For the second consecutive year, IU's season has ended on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament. Unlike last year's loss to Penn State, the Hoosiers led for much of the way and for most of the game appeared likely to advance to the quarterfinals. Because of some combination of luck and IU's defense, Northwestern's horrid three point shooting carried over from Saturday's game into this one (the Wildcats were only 2-18 in the first half from deep). Yet again, however, for reasons I can't fully explain (I suppose the zone defense is something of a factor, particularly given that IU doesn't ordinarily play zone), a generally poor rebounding team dominated the offensive glass. IU had 19 defensive rebounds to NU's 17 offensive rebounds, and in the first half, when NU was shooting poorly and IU could have opened up a bigger lead, NU led rebounding 10-9 at its end of the court. A key sequence in the first half was when IU, with a five point lead and the opportunity to play for the last shot, committed an over-and-back violation and NU pulled to within three on a putback at the buzzer. Still, given the way IU's offense wilted in the second half under NU's 1-3-1 zone, I'm not sure that 4 or 5 point swing would have mattered much.
IU's shooting percentages were relatively steady, but the old familar foe, turnovers, returned: after committing only six turnovers in the first half, IU committed 13 in the second half. In a 61 possession game, that's horrible, and it's disheartening to note that IU's turnover percentage of 33 was the worst of the season. There were some glimmers: Derek Elston continued to play with promise, and Verdell Jones III continues to impress with his midrange game and committed only one turnover. Still, at the end of the season, there is not much point in a detailed breakdown of this particular game.
The offseason does present some interesting storylines. Will there be any attrition? If so, will be be voluntary or encouraged? Who will succeed Roshown McLeod as assistant coach? Will there be any other staff changes? Will IU add a spring recruit (or more, depending on the answers to the questions above)? Obviously, some of these answers are days or weeks away.
Also, what will the offseason bring for this site? First, football season is only...wait, never mind, it's a hell of a long way off. Still, before then we have spring practice, I'll be adding some coverage of the defending Big Ten champion baseball team, I'll talk NFL Draft as it pertains to the solid crop of Hoosier candidates. Tempting as it is to walk away from the season, keep looking for basketball content as well. After all, "it's Indiana." now that the book is closed on the 2009-10 Hoosiers, it will be easier to compare this year's team to last years, and I may dig into some detail on tom Crean's Marquette teams. Finally, while I missed the anniversary, March 3 made it one year since I jumped to SB Nation. In the 374 days since then, IU has won a combined 14 football and men's basketball games. It hasn't always been easy to write about, and I'm sure not easy to read about either, but thanks for doing so. My hope is to expand coverage before football season begins, and hopefully a better 2010-11 awaits IU and its fans.