Indiana struggled early, but still manages to hang 99 on a sub-par opponent in Kennesaw State. Indiana got 20 from both Troy Williams & Thomas Bryant. Bryant missed one shot. They shot 58% from three point range, and 65% from the field. That said, Kennesaw was far from a defensive juggernaut coming into this one.
What did we learn?
1. Indiana's defense still isn't very good.
The late charge against Notre Dame didn't change much. Early returns from Bloomington tonight led to mad tweets aplenty from Hoosier fans as Tom Crean's squad gave up 38 first half points to the nation's 335th-best offensive team, according to KenPom. Al Skinner's Owls got the the lane and the interior with ease early, racking up a total of 40 points in the paint. There is no other way you can slice this -- Indiana is a defensively deficient team, and the returns seem to indicate that this is something you best get used to.
2. Lyonel Anderson deserves to sit on the bench... and probably a raise.
If you weren't on Twitter today, you might have missed a bit of a reasonably respectful back and forth between Kent Sterling and myself. Kent posited earlier today eight things Indiana basketball needs to do to become successful again. Many are fair, though disagreeable. One, I felt, was rather outrageous.
7 – Tell the strength coach to sit behind the bench. Before the Crossroads Classic win against Notre Dame, I hadn’t noticed the omnipresent enthusiasm of Indiana strength and conditioning coach Lyonel Anderson. Crean’s bench has always been chaotic with assistants simultaneously yelling at multiple players, but Anderson’s histrionics even distracted me as I sat in Section 19 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. From warm-ups thru the final buzzer, Anderson exhorted, cajoled, gesticulated, cheered, waved, and beseeched in a nonstop frenzy. Successful leaders keep messages simple so they are easily consumed and implemented. Crean’s bench unleashes a torrent of messaging that is exponentially exacerbated by Anderson’s mania.
Okay. Two things on this.
First, who caaaaaaaaares. This is completely commonplace in college athletics today. Strength and conditioning coaches and programs are so intensive, developed, and refined that they can and do have a role during the game. He is a coach -- just as much as any other, and can be on the bench.
Second, If you follow Crimson Quarry, you probably well understand that this blog is keen to bring up issues that do not always #STICKTOSPORTS. If you don't like that and it makes you uncomfortable, fine. Head elsewhere. I brought up in that back-and-forth the notion that Kent did not seem to have a problem with other staffers -- such as Derek Elston. It's topical and relevant to point out the problem that some in this country seemingly have with black men celebrating success in a fun and exuberant manner. When Sterling singled out Anderson, rather than make a point about Crean toning down antics on the whole, it resembled such a critique. I don't think this was Kent's intent -- he'll often have some takes I don't agree with, but I've never found them to be problematic. Upon delving further, he's been willing to discuss racial issues in the past, such as right here in this piece on NCAA violations and white & black athletes.
If Manziel were a black 20 year-old, there is no question the little cinematic gem that plays in my mind would be radically different – not because of some insidious level of conscious racism in my soul, but because we judge what we see. Same with the Ohio State player. If they were white kids, the tattoo parlor wouldn’t be some poorly lit storefront in a bad neighborhood filled with boarded up buildings. It would be well-lit in a decent area filled with tourists. What we don’t see with our eyes, we concoct with our imagination.
The rule governing student-athletes being required to cede ownership of their images is a horrible overstep that has gone unchallenged for too long, and the race of the violators shouldn’t matter in the least. But it does.
That’s a shame, but it’s the truth.
Kent gets at here exactly the sort of notion I was probing in our discussion -- for whatever reason, we view white athletes and black athletes that are demonstrative differently. Grayson Allen slaps the floor? Heart. Cam Newton dabs in the endzone? Cocky. That's a garbage opinion and notion and I'll stand ready at every opportunity to come swinging at those tropes to knock them back into the sun where they belong. Kent perceived Lyonel on Saturday to be more demonstrative than others. I've watched each and every Indiana game -- and never felt this to be the case. Thus, I opened a conversation about race -- no accusations, no takes, just a dialogue. Is this an example where a subconscious bias plays a role in regard to how we view the actions of black men on a sideline? Racial progress is made when we, as individuals, acknowledge such biases. After a discussion with Kent and learning more, that wasn't the case here. But there's no reason to be afraid to ask such a question in an era where such bias runs through the blood of some race-baiting, hot-takers. There's a ton that can be lost on Twitter or the web as a whole, and I apologize if it seemed I initially lumped Kent into that group. It's a difficult line to walk, but I firmly believe the discussion has merit in our society today.
Now that half of you have left the page, back to the initial point.
Indiana has been tremendous in the last two outings in the last ten minutes. They've seemingly worn opponents down with their tempo and pace, failing to lose those much-important shooting-legs. If there's anyone responsible for that, it's probably Lyonel Anderson. Demonstrative or not, he shouldn't be sitting behind the bench. As far as I'm concerned, give him a dang raise.
3. Please stop playing these crap opponents, y'all.
Indiana has now played 5 games versus sub-300 KenPom opponents in the last three weeks. Look at this. Nearly 1,000 words of a game wrap that hardly talks about the game. Some of y'all are going to be maaaaaaaaaaaaaad.