Well that didn't exactly go as planned. It took the Hoosiers making some big plays towards the end of the game and a buzzer beater from 25 ft falling short for Indiana to lock up the win but it happened. A lot of things went wrong last night and not many things went right, but we'll get to that in a second. First we need to give credit where credit is due. LIU Brooklyn played a hell of a basketball game. That Jason Brickman that plays point for LIU Brooklyn could get a lot of playing time for this Indiana team. He just makes everyone else a lot better. Color me impressed. He and his squad came prepared for a battle, absorbed some punches and fought back. Kudos.
Now for the part we're all wanting to talk about, what the hell was up with Indiana last night? Especially in the first half they were disjointed, miscommunicating and in downright chaos at times. It was incredibly ugly. Tack on the fact that LIU Brooklyn was packing the lane and daring Indiana to shoot and we were looking at a first half where it was a small miracle it was only a three point deficit. A much better team would have put us away and the game would have been out of reach before Indiana had a chance to pull it together.
Most of that first half failing came in big part to the very poor shooting display we put on. Unfortunately it wasn't even the freshmen taking poor shots out of the offense. It was the three best shooters on this team, Yogi, Will and Gordon going a combined 1-15 from behind the arc. The worst part was that none of the threes were really even contested. It was brick after brick from wide open threes. Very hard to watch.
Luckily, after half time whatever Tom Crean did or said seemed to have worked. Indiana immediately came out in the second half and scored on three consecutive easy baskets within the flow of an offense. There was notably more patience on offense from the whole group. They ran their sets and if they didn't get anything out of it, Yogi would pull the ball out, reset and go at it again. That may not sound like a lot, but on a very young team like this, that's a huge deal.
Overall, I was actually quite happy with how Indiana played in the second half. There were times where they looked like freshmen and Troy Williams especially stuck out as a guy that was trying to do way too much instead of sticking to the basics. Indiana would go on runs and have the opportunity to start to pull away. Veteran teams like last year's Hoosiers would capitalize on possessions that would make it a two possession lead and continue to build. Last night, Indiana was more prone to turn the ball over when attempting to expand a lead rather than actually getting the much needed momentum bucket. Several guys that stick out to me in making those mistakes were Willams and Jeremy Hollowell. That composure will come as we advance into the season.
Now that we've taken a little bit of time singling out Troy, it should probably be stated that he had a run in the last five minutes that really shored up the win for Indiana. On back to back possessions he buried a three, scored on a cut to the basket and then grabbed a huge defensive rebound on the other end of the floor. Providing Indiana with one of those possessions that they couldn't capitalize on. He was inconsistent last night, but in the end he was a very valuable asset. Again, the sign of very talented youth.
Statistically, the Hoosiers got most of their production from the starting 5. Yogi and Vonleh dropped 17 points a piece with Noah grabbing his second double-double of the season with 10 rebounds. Sheehey showed a lot of composure despite his terrible first half of shooting and ended up with 19 points. Hollowell had a quietly solid 6 pts and 6 rebounds, while Williams added 9 and 6. One other player of note should be Devin Davis. The kid looked really good and is going to be getting time all season. The change from post player to perimeter player is quite shocking. He's made a lot of advancements since I last saw him in his senior high school sectionals.
By in large, many of us are going to look at the final results and want to vomit. That was not pretty. That should have never been that close. However, there were some good things to take away from last night. Indiana in the second half and Indiana in the first half were two completely different ball clubs. You also gotta like seeing IU take some pretty big punches and keep fighting. Like Coach Crean said in the press conference last night, you want to face those kinds of games before March. Not this early in the season, but its a good game to survive.
Next up we'll take a few days break and come back to face off with Samford on Friday. Indiana is going to probably take a lot of time working on defensive communication and patience on offense. Both need quite a bit of work. Hopefully we come out against Samford with something to prove.