For as exciting as Indiana's young but talented team looked in the first of the Tuesday night game, they'll looked equally inexperienced but young. The Hoosiers came out to start the game flat and dug themselves a 10-0 hole before digging back out and taking the lead late in the half. Eventually they finished the half down four, but it was an encouraging 20 minutes of battling despite not having it at all on the offensive end.
Then the second half started. At one point the Hoosiers had five consecutive turnovers by five different freshmen in a massive Syracuse run. The Hoosiers struggled to move off the ball and made terrible decisions on the perimeter that resulted in easy transition buckets for Syracuse and actually attempted very few field goals. It just was not good. There was no consistent lineup and freshmen were rotated in and out at what fell like a constant.
On the defensive end the play calling was a bit erratic as well. Crean tried to go small on offense to generate a perimeter attack against the zone and thus gave up a ton on defense. We played man, we played 2-3 zone, we played 1-3-1 zone, we played everything. None of it could stop this Syracuse team.
Really what this game did more than anything is confirmed what we already knew. This team's ceiling is dictated by its decision making and shooting. Doug Gottleib pointed it out on Twitter and it is somewhat astounding. There is no pure shooter on an Indiana basketball team. Syracuse didn't have to respect anyone on the perimeter with their defense and it allowed them to suck well inside the three point arc on defense. Noah Vonleh battled his ass off down low, but there was just not a lot of openings for him to get the ball and then work with any space.
It takes a real toll for a team to grind out possessions over and over when they can't get easy rotation shots. The Hoosiers were victims of just that. Unfortunately there's enough guys that make poor decisions consistently enough that grinding wasn't an option before a turnover would occur. Such is life for what will be Indiana's up and downs this year.
Going forward the Hoosiers will be looking to recover and finish out the rest of the non-conference schedule undefeated. It's soft outside of Notre Dame and should be a pretty good opportunity to work on some things before heading into the conference season. This one feels like the Michigan State game for the football team. It went probably a little worse than we expected, but the results were the same. The questions now becomes whether the basketball version of the Hoosiers can overcome the disappointment.