The Hoosiers found themselves in a tight one with Penn State late in the game for the second straight year, this time managing to scratch out a victory. BUT DID WE LEARN ANYTHING?
- The loss of Hanner Mosquera-Perea was possibly more profound than anticipated. Perhaps it was understated because we had so little time to actually discuss it, with news breaking only this morning, but the 6'8" junior's loss loomed large during tonight's game. Collin Hartman started in his place and played decently, particularly on offense with two massive three pointers down the stretch, but the combination of him and Emmitt Holt were largely ineffective on defense as fouls piled up against taller competition. It was Penn State's own shot selection, really, that kept the Hoosiers afloat, as a strange obsession with shooting long jumpers instead of pounding it inside with their obvious size advantage. It's tough to play a game without a season-long starter on 24 hours notice, it affects everything from the game plan on down through the substitutions.
- Stan Robinson's value is being negotiated on a nightly basis. There have been nights this season where we've questioned what Stan Robinson's role on this roster is and whether he even has one at all. Then there are nights like tonight when his aggressive-if-out-of-control style almost seemed to invigorate a team that seemed to be struggling to get up for the game. The building was without energy and the players weren't providing any either, but Stan gave quality minutes (including going 6/6 from the charity stripe) on a night when other guys were struggling. He certainly made his share of mistakes, but the good outweighed the bad and any continuance of that will only help IU going forward.
- Whatever Indiana was doing on the boards on Saturday wasn't happening tonight. The loss of Perea undoubtedly contributed, but Indiana was getting blown off the glass on both ends tonight, corralling only six offensive boards, three thanks to a cameo from Ryan Burton. With the roster now smaller than ever, the fundamentals of blocking out and high-level effort can't be forgotten on any possession, as any team in the conference will be able to take full advantage.
- BONUS: The emergence of Emmitt Holt will have to wait. Holt did not get the starting nod with Perea out as many anticipated, in fact not not even playing much more than he did against Ohio State. For the the few minutes he did spend on the court, he looked nothing like the guy we've seen in previous outings, chipping in two free throw attempts (one make), a steal and an assist. The freshman will struggle with consistency (as most freshman do) and it's something Indiana is less capable of affording with Hanner out.
Also a shoutout to Robert Johnson, after a less-than-great game against Ohio State he bounced back in a big way tonight with 20 points, 2 boards, a dime, and two steals. Excellent night from the young guard.