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Indiana men’s basketball: Overhelping and the dudes it leaves open

On the main problem here.

Wright State v Indiana Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Indiana’s defense has An Issue.

Through three games, the story has been the opponent shooting out of their mind from deep both in attempts and makes. Attempts are up because the shot is open and makes are up for the same reason.

And why, dear reader, is the shot open? Players keep leaving their assignment on help defense, usually on the interior. Opponents have noticed this trend and look to pass as soon as the double comes.

More often than not that shot goes down. Fans groan and Mike Woodson throws his hands in the air on the sideline.

Make no mistake, Woodson isn’t out here telling his guys to help out in the paint. He has two California redwoods down there that can more than hold their own against the likes of Wright State.

It happened multiple times against Florida Gulf Coast, Army and then tonight against Wright State. Each time, Woodson got on whoever blew their coverage and was in their ear. When asked about defensive adjustments, Woodson was blunt about what needed to be fixed.

“Us switching correctly and getting next to a guy before he shoots the basketball,” Woodson said. “That would help.”

When this happens, typically it’s a guy who hasn’t seen the floor a ton for Woodson in the past. A sophomore getting more minutes this year. A transfer learning an all-new system. A freshman playing their third career college basketball game.

Coaching just takes time and I think Woodson has earned the chance to be given that time. The shots aren’t coming because the system is bad, it’s error at an individual level.

This happened last year early in the season against Penn State. During maybe its bleakest game, Indiana got bombed from deep at the Bryce Jordan Center because of overhelping and leaving Penn State wide open from the arc. Wrong team to do that with!

It’s the kind of coaching these guys came to Indiana for. Switching is pretty common in basketball and you’re gonna need to do it. Especially if you want to get on the radar of NBA scouts.

Ask Michigan how having great offense and individual defensive breakdowns worked out last year.

The good thing about this, again, is it’s a fixable issue. Guys earn playing time by playing good defense. Take C.J. Gunn, who missed a shot from deep tonight and locked right back in on the defensive end to contest a shot and come down with a rebound.

That’s the kind of play coaches like to see.

Again, it’s November. This team doesn’t resemble its final form yet. We’re just going to have to wait and see what that looks like when all is said and done.