Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo Provides Spark Off The Bench

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:

I try not to favor any one player when I write this column, but sometimes one former Hoosiers’ situation is a lot more compelling and thus deserves more attention. With Victor Oladipo possibly starting a new phase of his career, I think this week I should focus on how Oladipo has recently made the switch from starter to sixth man and has had immediate success. I will go in-depth on how the switch came about and whether or not this is temporary or for the long haul. I’ll also go over how Eric Gordon, Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh fit in their teams’ playing rotations, but first let’s dive into Oladipo’s situation and how it has affected the Orlando Magic:

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Games Started:

@ Cleveland (L 117-103): 10 points (5-12 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Games Off The Bench:

Vs New York (W 100-91): 24 points (5-15 FG)(13-15 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, personal foul, 26 minutes.

Vs Milwaukee (W 114-90): 17 points (7-12 FG)(3-5 FT), 6 rebounds, 9 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 24 minutes.

Vs Boston (W 110-91): 19 points (5-12 FG)(7-8 FT), 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

The idea of a healthy Victor Oladipo coming off the bench seems weird at first glance. Here’s a young guard being lauded by some of the game’s best (LeBron James has said many good things while Kevin Durant actually made a comparison to a young Dwyane Wade), but now is watching his role change from starting shooting guard to sixth man.

Yet it has worked wonders as not only is Oladipo playing better (averaging 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists since leaving the starting lineup) but so are the Magic who have won three in a row and are over .500 heading into December for the first time in the post-Dwight Howard era.

While on the outside it looks like Head Coach Scott Skiles benched Oladipo that is far from the truth. If this was a demotion, Oladipo wouldn’t still be playing during crunch time, when you need your five best players on the court. The real reason behind the switch was to not only to inject some energy into the Magic’s second unit, but to also help find a way to get Oladipo to play better. While he has been excellent defensively, Oladipo has been a bricklayer offensively, shooting 36.6% from the floor coming into this week. The Magic’s young and talented backcourt of Oladipo and Elfrid Payton offers a lot of strengths but craters if neither can shoot above 40% (Payton is shooting a just-as-disgusting 37.2% from the floor).

So why move Oladipo and not Payton? There are actually a few reasons, the first being that Oladipo would likely be more receptive to coming off the bench than Payton. Every Hoosier fan knows that Oladipo is an unselfish player and cares more about winning than stats. The second reason has to do with Oladipo’s ability to get hot offensively and score three or four straight baskets, a trait shared by almost every great sixth man. The last reason is that Payton’s best skill (passing) works best when you surround him with starter-level talent where as Oladipo’s best skill (defense) can translate to either the first or the second unit.

It’s only been three games and Skiles has made it clear that this lineup change isn’t permanent, but so many things are clicking for both the Magic and Oladipo. I know some will think that Oladipo is too talented to be a sixth man, but then again it’s not unprecedented for one of a team’s best players not to start. Just ask James Harden, Manu Ginobili, and Jason Terry, all of whom either won an NBA title or made the NBA Finals while playing the sixth man in their prime.

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Phoenix (W 120-114): 23 points (6-11 FG)(7-7 FT), rebound, 3 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 111-90): 16 points (5-12 FG)(5-6 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ Utah (L 101-87): 4 points (1-9 FG)(1-2 FT), assist, steal, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 32 minutes.

Of all of the former Hoosiers, Gordon’s role is by far the least complicated. He’s one of the New Orleans Pelicans’ best players. As such he both starts the game and plays in crunch time. He’s the secondary scorer and the primary scorer when Anthony Davis gets injured (which seems to happen a lot lately). He’s a three-point specialist who is still capable of getting to the free throw line even after all the injuries he has susatined. Gordon is in an ideal situation and as long as he continues to play like he has so far (minus the last game against the Utah Jazz) then he will remain in this position for the rest of the season.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Vs Chicago (L 93-88): 7 points (3-7 FG), 3 rebounds, block, 3 personal fouls, 12 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 108-96): 4 points (2-2 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, personal foul, 20 minutes.

Being the starter doesn’t mean you are one of the five best players on your team. Nor does it guarantee you a lot of playing time. This is especially true for Vonleh, who has started six of the last seven games but has only averaged 17.3 minutes during those starts. While Vonleh’s playing time has increased (he only averages 12.2mpg when coming off the bench), he’s still trailing Ed Davis in minutes (Davis has averaged 25.2 minutes the last five games, all of which were started by Vonleh) and is on the bench during crunch time. However, there is a reason Portland Trail Blazers’ Head Coach Terry Stotts has Vonleh in the starting lineup. Vonleh has played considerably better when playing with the Blazers’ first unit, resulting in a huge jump in both scoring (1.9ppg off bench, 4.7ppg as a starter) and shooting (29.6% off bench, 45.8% as a starter). It remains to be seen whether or not Meyers Leonard takes back his starting spot when he gets back to 100%, but right now the Blazers are getting the most out of Vonleh in the short time that they have had him.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Sacramento (W 127-122 OT): 12 points (4-8 FG)(4-4 FT), 6 rebounds, steal, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

Vs Washington (W 101-87): 11 points (5-7 FG)(1-1 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

Vs Cleveland (L 95-90): 7 points (1-2 FG)(5-6 FT), 2 rebounds, assist, steal, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 15 minutes.

Vs Milwaukee (W 87-82): 2 points (1-3 FG), rebound, assist, 4 personal fouls, 16 minutes.

Where Vonleh has thrived more from starting the game, Zeller has performed much better this season when coming off the bench. So it should come as no surprise that Zeller, who was moved to the bench after starting two games last week, had two of his best games this season when he returned to the bench. While Zeller is shooting better when he starts (50.0% compared to 45.6%), he actually plays more (21.6mpg off bench, 16.0mpg as a starter) and scores more (7.4ppg coming off bench, 3.0ppg as a starter) when he is a reserve. The main reason is that Zeller is allowed to score when he is part of the second unit but when he’s with the starters they need him to focus all of his attention on playing great defense. Luckily, because he’s one of the best defenders on the Charlotte Hornets, Zeller still sees play during crunch time, either as an offense/defense sub for Al Jefferson or as the power forward when he’s clicking offensively. As long as Zeller remains one of the Hornets’ best defensive options, he will continue playing in crunch time regardless of if he starts or not.

Season averages:

Victor Oladipo: 14.3ppg, 6.1rpg, 4.0apg, 1.27spg, 0.60bpg, 1.4tpg, 2.0fpg, 38.2% FG, 26.2% 3FG, 78.8% FT, 31.2mpg.

Eric Gordon: 17.8ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.0apg, 1.06spg, 0.18bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.3fpg, 39.8% FG, 35.1% 3FG, 86.7% FT, 35.5mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 2.9ppg, 3.2rpg, 0.4apg, 0.12spg, 0.35bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.9fpg, 37.3% FG, 18.2% 3FG, 75.0% FT, 14.5mpg.

Cody Zeller: 6.8ppg, 5.0rpg, 0.7apg, 0.73spg, 0.53bpg, 0.8tpg, 2.5fpg, 45.9% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 68.0% FT, 20.8mpg.

Mistakes In Maui And How The Hoosiers Can Learn From Them

After starting the season with three dominating wins, the Indiana Hoosiers traveled to Hawaii hoping to add some games against top-tier opponents to their resume. Unfortunately the Hoosiers never got a chance to face the best teams as the Hoosiers stumbled to a 1-2 record and a sixth place finish in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

The Hoosiers lost in the first round of the tournament to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 82-78 and thus were placed in the loser’s bracket for the rest of the trip. The two consolation games ended up being a 83-73 win over the St. John’s Red Storm and a 72-69 loss to the UNLV Rebels.

While the two losses hurt, it was how the Hoosiers lost those games that hurt the most and felt all too familiar.

All of the defensive improvement the Hoosiers showed during their first three games of the season vanished as opponents were able to score at ease, especially on post-ups and drives to the basket. The Hoosiers allowed 50 points in the first half to the Demon Deacons, 42 points in the second half to the Red Storm, and 41 points in the first half to the Rebels. In the case of the two losses, the Hoosiers did make defensive improvements at the start of the second half only to fall short when it came to the closing minutes.

Now while there was some troubling play this past week it doesn’t mean the Hoosiers are doomed to repeat what happened last season. In fact, if the whole team embraces reviewing these games and learns from their mistakes, the season will still have a lot of promise. Here are some of the mistakes that need correcting:

Consistent aggression: The Hoosiers played some of their most inspired defense during the first 10 minutes of the second half against the Demon Deacons. They contested every post-up and never allowed guards the opportunity to drive to the basket. However, whether it was fatigue or playing scared and trying not to lose the lead, the Hoosiers went away from that aggressive play. For a team that tries to wear out their opponent with their pace, I think the switch in mindsets (from being the trailing team to the team with the lead) is what tripped them up the most. Many teams become a lot less aggressive when they have the lead because aggressive play can lead to mistakes. However, despite the possibility of mistakes, aggressive play also puts a ton of pressure on the team that is trailing to be even more aggressive, thus making the opposing team likely to make even more mistakes. If the Hoosiers can continue to play their pace even when they have the lead they can make it harder for teams to come back on them.

Situational defense: I think we all learned this past week that this Hoosier team isn’t going to be a top 25 defense this season but that is OK. The Hoosiers don’t have to be defensively brilliant to reach their ceiling; they just have to focus on which situations require them to play to the best of their ability. Most of those situations occur in the final four minutes of games where a lot of Big Ten games will be won or lost. Knowing the situation is probably the biggest improvement this team can make. In the Wake Forest game, the Demon Deacons were able to drive to the basket simply because a defender was more focused on preventing a pass to the post than cutting off the driving lane to the basket. Preventing driving lanes is one of the best ways to stall out an offense that needs to score quickly and forces the opponent to rely more on jumpshots, which percentage-wise is an advantage for the defense. Knowing how to position yourself in those situations will require a lot of practicing and drills but it will make end-of-games situations a bit more favorable.

Crunch-time offense: This was maybe the most surprising development that happened in Maui. A lot of people expected the defense to be a recurring problem but several times the offense stagnated and thus let opposing teams take advantage of the Hoosiers’ suspect defense. The Indiana offense thrives on ball movement but more often than not the ball was only in one person’s hands for the majority of its late-game possessions and when the ball did move it was more for the sake of just moving the ball instead of trying to get someone open. Again I’m not sure if this has to due with nerves or not, but because the offense stops scoring in crunch time it places a lot of pressure on the defense to hold the lead or keep the deficit small. Some late-game plays may need to be drawn up during practice specifically for these types of situations going forward as it seems the Hoosiers can’t play at their usual pace during crunch time and thus feel uncomfortable in those situations.

There is no doubt in my mind that the coaching staff is already drilling the players on how to improve in these areas. As long as the players learn and implement these lessons going forward this team will be fine. After all, it’s only November.

Stats From The Boxscore:

Due to the drastically different play of some Hoosiers during this tournament, I decided to use this edition of Stats From The Boxscore to highlight some of the main players’ averages during the past three games and compare them to their first three games. There will be no analysis; this will just be for those who are curious about how differently some key Hoosiers played this last week.

  • Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell
    • First three games: 16.7ppg, 7.3rpg, 7.0apg, 1.33spg, 2.7tpg, 1.3fpg, 52.8% FG, 37.5% 3FG, 85.7% FT, 30.0mpg.
    • Three games in Maui: 14.0ppg, 5.7rpg, 7.0apg, 1.33spg, 2.3tpg, 1.3fpg, 40.6% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 73.7% FT, 35.0mpg.
  • James Blackmon Jr.
    • First three games: 18.7ppg, 5.3rpg, 3.0apg, 0.67spg, 3.0tpg, 0.7fpg, 55.3% FG, 55.0% 3FG, 100.0% FT, 24.7mpg.
    • Three games in Maui: 10.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.3apg, 1.67spg, 0.33bpg, 4.0tpg, 2.7fpg, 39.3% FG, 33.3% 3FG, 66.7% FT, 23.0mpg.
  • Troy Williams
    • First three games: 13.0ppg, 5.7rpg, 2.7apg, 1.67spg, 0.67bpg, 2.3tpg, 2.7fpg, 53.3% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 50.0% FT, 26.0mpg.
    • Three games in Maui: 10.7ppg, 6.0rpg, 3.3apg, 2.33spg, 1.00bpg, 3.3tpg, 2.0fpg, 54.5% FG, 40.0% 3FG, 75.0% FT, 27.3mpg.
  • Thomas Bryant
    • First three games: 13.0ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.0apg, 0.33spg, 1.67bpg, 1.0tpg, 2.3fpg, 80.0% FG, 20.0% 3FG, 66.7% FT, 22.3mpg.
    • Three games in Maui: 11.3ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.0apg, 0.33spg, 1.33bpg, 1.3tpg, 2.7fpg, 60.0% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 55.6% FT, 25.0mpg.
  • Max Bielfeldt
    • First three games: 7.3ppg, 4.3rpg, 2.00spg, 0.33bpg, 1.0tpg, 2.0fpg, 53.3% FG, 33.3% 3FG, 83.3% FT, 17.3mpg.
    • Three games in Maui: 9.7ppg,  3.0rpg, 0.7apg, 1.00spg, 0.33bpg, 1.3tpg, 3.3fpg, 80.0% FG, 66.7% 3FG, 25.0% FT, 20.0mpg.
  • Colin Hartman
    • First three games: 2.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.0apg, 1.67spg, 0.7tpg, 2.7fpg, 36.4% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 18.3mpg.
    • Three games in Maui: 3.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 0.7apg, 0.67spg, 0.67bpg, 1.3tpg, 3.7fpg, 42.9% FG, 42.9% 3FG, 100.0% FT, 17.7mpg.
  • Rob Johnson
    • First three games: 7.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.3apg, 0.33spg, 2.7tpg, 2.3fpg, 53.3% FG, 50.0% 3FG, 16.7mpg.
    • Three games in Maui: 7.0ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.0apg, 1.0tpg, 1.3fpg, 38.9% FG, 50.0% 3FG, 42.9% FT, 22.7mpg.
  • Nick Zeisloft
    • First three games: 9.0ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.0apg, 0.33spg, 0.33bpg, 0.3tpg, 1.3fpg, 64.3% FG, 64.3% 3FG, 19.3mpg.
    • Three games in Maui: 9.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 0.7apg, 0.33bpg, 1.0tpg, 0.7fpg, 56.3% FG, 57.1% 3FG, 100.0% FT, 20.3mpg.

All In The Cards: Thanksgiving Edition (Week 11 Recap and Week 12 Preview)

Welcome to a special addition of All In The Cards. Thanksgiving is the only time of the year when you are encouraged to get a second helping. So I’m going to twist that phrase and use it as an excuse to combine both the week 11 recap and the week 12 preview into one article (the real reason is that I’m okay with posting a preview after one game has been played but three games is too many). No in-depth preview for the Cards’ game this week (the only thing different about this week’s matchup and the one in week three is that the game is in San Francisco and Blaine Gabbert is staring instead of Colin Kaepernick) So to make up for that I will give a little blurb for every recap as well as every preview. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Let’s get started with the week 11 recap:

How I did with my Week 11 NFL predictions:

  • Arizona 34, Cincinnati 31: The Cards’ first win against a team with a winning record was much deserved as these two teams threw everything they had at each other. Seeing the Cardinals make halftime adjustments and drive down the field in the waning seconds just reminds me how much this team has grown from just a few years ago. (1-0)
  • Jacksonville 19, Tennessee 13: Jaguars have been learning how to hold on to a lead late and now they are learning how to come from behind and win in the final minutes. A lot of progress is being made in Jacksonville while some but not a lot of progress is being made in Tennessee. (2-0)
  • Indianapolis 24, Atlanta 21: I’m jumping off the Falcons’ bandwagon because I’ve seen this before (A team that starts the season undefeated and then loses steam and becomes mediocre? Please don’t make me have to remember the 2012 Cardinals). The Colts need to keep pulling these games out because the Texans are right on their trail. (2-1)
  • Denver 17, Chicago 15: I’ll admit that Brock Osweiler did a lot better than I thought he would do but people need to temper their expectations. For as much improvement the Bears’ defense has made over the last several weeks they are still an average defense at best. If Osweiler can play like he did this week against the Patriots then I’ll start buying the hype. (3-1)
  • Dallas 24, Miami 14: Tony Romo is back and so is the Cowboys’ confidence. It’s amazing how the rest of the team suddenly plays better when Romo is around. It’s a testament to their confidence in him as well as a feeling of familiarity. It’s a shame Dallas wasn’t able to muster up a single win while he was gone. (4-1)
  • Detroit 18, Oakland 13: I’m pleasantly surprised with the quick turnaround the Lions have made. That win over Green Bay has really breathed new life into them but unfortunately it is probably too late to chase a wild card. Meanwhile the Raiders have seemed to regress after making so much progress the first half of the season. (4-2)
  • Baltimore 16, St. Louis 13: After seeing Joe Flacco silently put up with all the change and bad luck the Ravens have endured, it’s a real shame he ended up with such a serious leg injury. Meanwhile I think the Rams have gone on tilt as I’m not sure what they are doing anymore. Again, how can this be the same team that beat both Seattle and Arizona? (5-2)
  • Houston 24, New York Jets 17: Speaking of playing on tilt, things have really gone south for the Jets recently. They still have the talent and the schedule to make the playoffs but I don’t know if they can take advantage of either. The Texans on the other hand are being fueled by a pair of All-pros in J.J. Watt on defense and DeAndre Hopkins (yes I think he deserves an all-pro selection) on offense. (5-3)
  • Tampa Bay 45, Philadelphia 17: The Eagles will likely win a maximum of one more game the rest of the season, they just look dead. The Bucs are becoming everyone’s darlings in the NFC wild card race but I don’t know if this team can keep up this level of play until the end of the season. Regardless, it has been a successful year for Tampa Bay with a bright future. (5-4)
  • Carolina 44, Washington 16: This was a statement by the Panthers that their offense should be feared along with their defense. Could you imagine how good this team would be if they had Kelvin Benjamin? Also the Redskins are a decent team, so don’t take anything away from this blowout. As much as I’m a Cardinals homer, the Panthers should be the favorite in the NFC. (6-4)
  • Kansas City 33, San Diego 3: Remember when the Chiefs lost Jamaal Charles and were 1-4? The team is 4-1 since moving on from their star running back, but it has more to do with their defense stepping up to make up for the offensive shortcomings. Head Coach Andy Reid is also getting creative with the play calls, such as the Dontari Poe TD run. (7-4)
  • Green Bay 30, Minnesota 13: It wasn’t pretty but it was a necessary win for a Packers team that was close to a freefall after losing at home to the Lions. The defense really responded and held the Vikings in check. If the defense continues to play with that passion and Aaron Rodgers and the offense find their rhythm again this team will be just fine. (8-4)
  • Seattle 29, San Francisco 13: We really didn’t learn anything new from this game. I guess the only real thing to take away is that the Seahawks aren’t letting the heart-breaking loss at home to the Cardinals keep them down as they shift gears and chase the wild card. Meanwhile Blaine Gabbert continues to play decently well for the 49ers. (9-4)
  • New England 20, Buffalo 23: The Patriots’ offense continues to lose playmakers as Danny Amendola might miss time. Luckily the defense is playing very well to help mitigate any offensive drop-off. If this team still goes undefeated I think Bill Belichick deserves the Coach of the Year award, even if the Panthers go undefeated too. (10-4)

My Week 12 NFL predictions:

  • Arizona 31, San Francisco 10: Blaine Gabbert may be playing better than Colin Kaepernick, but it’s still nowhere near good enough to beat the Cardinals’ defense. Chris Johnson and the run game could get back on track this week.
  • Detroit 27, Philadelphia 17: Combine the Lions’ renewed energy with the Eagles’ lifelessness and this looks like a win for Detroit. This might be a must-win for Philly after the disaster against Tampa Bay.
  • Carolina 27, Dallas 24: I’m tempted to pick the Cowboys but with Tony Romo playing on a short week after just returning from an injury I think the Cowboys will start slow and the Panthers won’t let them catch up.
  • Green Bay 33, Chicago 20: Packers will want to sustain the momentum they gained from beating the Vikings last week. That plus they can’t lose the game where they are honoring Brett Favre now can they?
  • Minnesota 20, Atlanta 17: Huge game for both teams’ wild card chances. I already said that I jumped off the Falcons bandwagon so there isn’t that much more that I need to say about this pick.
  • Kansas City 17, Buffalo 13: I still think Buffalo is a good team but there is denying that the Chiefs are red hot at the moment. Plus the game is in Kansas City so I have to give them the advantage.
  • Cincinnati 34, St. Louis 10: Bengals need this win to halt their two-game losing streak. The Rams need this win to prevent their season from falling apart. I’ve seen both of these teams play and there is no doubt the Bengals are the better team and will win easily.
  • Oakland 20, Tennessee 14: This is possibly the Raiders’ last chance to regain momentum and chase a wild card spot. I think it may be too late to make a playoff push but I do think they will turn things around against the Titans.
  • Indianapolis 31, Tampa Bay 28: A toss-up game that I’m giving to the Colts because they are at home. It would not shock me at all if the Buccaneers were able to pull out the win.
  • New York Jets 22, Miami 17: Both teams are desperate for a win so I see the loser of this match being eliminated from the wild card race. I still think the Jets are talented enough to make a late-season push but they’re running out of opportunities.
  • Houston 28, New Orleans 20: The Saints may have changed defensive coordinators during the bye week but they still don’t have anyone on defense that can stop DeAndre Hopkins.
  • New York Giants 24, Washington 21: The Redskins will give them a fight, but the Giants know that with the Eagles’ implosion and the Cowboys just starting to play catch-up that this division is theirs for the taking.
  • Jacksonville 23, San Diego 16: Another toss-up game where I’ll side with the home team. That and the fact that I can’t easily forget how the Chiefs obliterated the Chargers last week.
  • Pittsburgh 30, Seattle 27: This pick isn’t a jab at the Seahawks; the Steelers are just really good and have renewed confidence now that the division title is within reach again. The Seahawks still have plenty of chances left to stay in the wild card race.
  • New England 20, Denver 17: Tom Brady is still the best in the NFL but he’ll have a tough time against a tough Denver defense without some of his main weapons. The Patriots will still win but it will be close.
  • Cleveland 19, Baltimore 16: With Joe Flacco out for the year I expect the Ravens to go into full tank mode. Then again, the Browns might also be in tank mode so this will be interesting to watch as both teams will try not to win this game.

 

Week 11 Record: 10-4
Season Record: 100-60 (.625)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2

Hoosiers In The NBA: Shooting Struggles

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:

The main reason I love statistics is because stats are an easy way to measure a player’s impact on a game. Among all the different types of basketball statistics, I firmly believe that traditional shooting percentages are the most important. I know that traditional shooting statistics have been deemed outdated thanks to the rise of “true shooting percentage” and “effective field goal percentage” (which measures a player’s shot selection and gives the player more credit for more difficult shots), and while they are useful those aren’t the reasons I favor traditional shooting stats. I favor them because they answer this simple question: if this player takes this kind of shot, what are the chances they make it? Unfortunately many former Hoosiers are struggling with their shot so this week I’m going in-depth on which shots are causing which players more trouble than they should:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Denver (L 115-98): 19 points (7-17 FG)(3-3 FT), rebound, 6 assists, steal, block, turnover, personal foul, 38 minutes.

@ Oklahoma City (L 110-103): 18 points (6-20 FG)(5-5 FT), 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 37 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (W 104-90): 11 points (3-9 FG)(4-4 FT), rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 35 minutes.

Vs Phoenix (W 122-116): 20 points (6-16 FG)(3-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

Of all four Hoosiers in the NBA, Eric Gordon is playing the best and it isn’t even close. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t improve on some things. While his three-point shooting (35.1%) and free throw shooting (86.7%) are pretty good, Gordon’s overall shooting (40.2%) is pretty low in comparison. Part of the reason for his low overall shooting percentage is that Gordon has hit less than 40% of his shots each of the last three games, which includes games where he took 20 and 16 shots. With his three-point field goal percentage decently high, it’s Gordon’s two-point attempts (45.5%) that are hurting his overall shooting.  If he can either raise his two-point shooting to 50% or just focus more of his shooting on three-pointers, he should improve his overall efficiency.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Vs Minnesota (W 104-101 OT): 1 point (0-6 FG)(1-4 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

Vs Sacramento (L 97-91): 11 points (4-11 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

While Victor Oladipo may be having his best season defensively, he’s also having his worst shooting season. I’ve written quite a bit on his three-point shooting (which is currently at a season-high 28%) but his overall shooting percentage is a disaster, with Oladipo only making 36.6% of his field goal attempts. It would be one thing if Oladipo rarely shot, but he’s taking 13.9 shot attempts per game. In comparison, last season Oladipo was taking 15.1 shot attempts per game but was making 43.6% of those shots. It should be noted that the numbers are a little down due to Oladipo’s recent performances following his return from a concussion, but with how strict the NBA concussion protocol can be I don’t think that can be used as an excuse. Oladipo still has plenty of time to turn his shooting around but maybe until he finds his stroke it would be best if he shot it a little less often.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ San Antonio (L 93-80): 3 points (1-2 FG), 6 rebounds, assist, 3 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

@ Houston (L 108-103): 4 points (2-4 FG), 6 rebounds, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 13 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Clippers (W 102-91): 4 points (1-2 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Lakers (W 107-93): 0 points (0-3 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, turnover, 17 minutes.

The good news is that Noah Vonleh made his first three of the season this week. The bad news is that he is 1 for 9 (11.1%) shooting from deep this season. For a player who ‘s NBA future is partially tied to his ability to hit from long-range, this has been a frustrating start to the season. Last season Vonleh at least showed some promise when he hit 5 of 13 (38.5%) from three-point range, but Vonleh has almost matched his previous season total for minutes and has shot fewer threes for a lower percentage. I understand that sometimes it is all about where you get the ball in the flow of the offense, but the fact that he’s not being put in positions to attempt more threes makes me believe that the coaches aren’t comfortable yet putting him in those positions. Whether’s its through practice or taking advantage of what few deep shots he already has, Vonleh needs to make more progress so that the coaching staff can feel more confident in letting him take more threes.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ New York (L 102-94): 6 points (3-5 FG)(0-1 FT), 5 rebounds, assist, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

Vs Brooklyn (W 116-111): 0 points (0-1 FG), 5 rebounds, block, 3 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

I can excuse Cody Zeller’s low shooting numbers (42.6%) because he is learning to shoot from a different area of the court, but there should be no excuse for Zeller’s terrible shooting (61.5%) from the free throw line. While the majority of Zeller’s free throw attempts came from one game (the November 11 game against the New York Knicks), even if you remove that 8 for 15 performance, Zeller would still only be shooting 66.7% from the charity stripe. What makes this trend so weird is that Zeller has never really had a problem with his foul shooting before, hitting 75.6% at IU and 75.0% over his first two NBA seasons. Whether it’s just a bad stretch or a confidence issue, it is worth monitoring as Zeller’s free throw shooting was once a strength when compared to other centers.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 18.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.2apg, 1.21spg, 0.21bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.4fpg, 40.2% FG, 35.1% 3FG, 86.7% FT, 36.1mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 13.1ppg, 6.5rpg, 3.7apg, 1.36spg, 0.73bpg, 1.5tpg, 2.1fpg, 36.6% FG, 28.0% 3FG, 75.0% FT, 32.9mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 2.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 0.3apg, 0.07spg, 0.33bpg, 0.9tpg, 1.9fpg, 33.3% FG, 11.1% 3FG, 75.0% FT, 14.3mpg.

Cody Zeller: 6.4ppg, 5.3rpg, 0.8apg, 0.82spg, 0.64bpg, 0.7tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.6% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 61.5% FT, 21.0mpg.

All In The Cards: Palmer’s Chance To Leave His Mark (Week 11)

The Cardinals finally defeated “big brother” to take full control of the NFC West as Arizona now has a three game lead with seven games to go. However, the Cards don’t have any time to rest as they face another tough opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals. With the Bengals coming off their first loss of the season, the Cardinals will be facing a team determined to get back on track and will one that that will try to take advantage of Arizona’s mental fatigue after the Cards’ win in Seattle. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Without further ado, let’s take a look at this matchup of  division leaders:

Cincinnati Bengals @ Arizona Cardinals

Last Meeting: L 23-16 @ Cincinnati (11/24/11)

There are a number of reasons why this game was flexed into primetime. Both teams are among the best in their conferences. Both teams are historically mediocre franchises who have been given hope this season. However, the biggest reason this game will be played on Sunday night instead of Sunday afternoon like it was originally scheduled is due to the resurgence of quarterback Carson Palmer.

At the age of 35, Palmer is on pace to have his greatest statistical season, as his 2,749 passing yards and 23 passing touchdowns puts him on pace for 4,887 passing yards and 41 touchdowns. Here is a look at some of Palmer’s best seasons:

  • 2005 (Cin) – 3,836 pass yards, 67.8% pass comp, 32 TDs, 12 INTs, 101.1 QBR 
  • 2006 (Cin) – 4,035 pass yards, 62.3% pass comp, 28 TDs, 13 INTs, 93.9 QBR 
  • 2007 (Cin) – 4,131 pass yards, 64.9% pass comp, 26 TDs, 20 INTs, 86.7 QBR
  • 2010 (Cin) – 3,970 pass yards, 61.8% pass comp, 26 TDs, 20 INTs, 82.4 QBR
  • 2012 (Oak) – 4,018 pass yards, 61.1% pass comp, 22 TDs, 14 INTs, 85.3 QBR
  • 2013 (Ari) – 4,274 pass yards, 63.3% pass comp, 24 TDs, 22 INTs, 83.9 QBR
  • 2014 (Ari) – 1,626 pass yards, 62.9% pass comp, 11 TDs, 3 INTs, 95.6 QBR (6 games)

Now compare those seasons to the nine games Palmer has played this season:

  • 2015 (Ari) – 2,749 pass yards, 64.0% pass comp, 23 TDs, 7 INTs, 108.0 QBR

By looking at those stat lines, there is no clear answer as to which was Palmer’s previous best season. However, if you are given the option to couple back-to-back seasons together I think the answer would be the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Other than the fact that those seasons were 10 years ago, something very important happened between those two seasons: Palmer’s first major leg injury in the 2005 playoffs. It’s very interesting that he played his previous two best seasons before and after that injury, because a decade later Palmer is again having back-to-back career seasons, one before a major leg injury (2014) and one after that injury (2015).

Now I have no way to completely explain why this has occurred (maybe it’s a complete coincidence), but to me it feels like Palmer has a strong determination to continue what he starts. He’s a veteran who has traveled the beaten path and, due to succumbing to multiple serious leg injuries, knows that he only has a limited amount of chances to leave that mark.

Sunday night Palmer has a chance to take a big step toward leaving his mark. This week will be the second time in Palmer’s career that he will face the Bengals with the first time coming in 2012 when his Oakland Raiders lost 34-10. In that game, Palmer completed 19 of his 34 passes for just 146 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

This time around Palmer will be facing a good but not great Cincinnati defense. The Bengals rank 13th in both passing yards allowed (236.3) and rushing yards allowed (102.4). After throwing for 363 yards against a Seattle defense that still ranks second in passing yards allowed (202.8), Palmer should be able to throw on a tamer Bengals secondary while playing in front of the home crowd. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton will have to rely on Tyler Eifert a lot as Patrick Peterson (17 receptions allowed on 35 passes targeted towards his assignment) will more than likely shut down A.J. Green. As long as the rest of the secondary can slow down Eifert, the Bengals will have a hard time passing effectively.

While beating his former team would be great for Palmer, the main reason this game is so huge for Palmer is that a win would bring him and his team confidence as the playoffs approach. The Cardinals proved a lot of things with their win in Seattle last week but the fact still remains that Arizona has yet to beat a team with a winning record. While the Seahawks could still make the playoffs, there is no guarantee that they will, where as the Bengals are almost certainly going to the playoffs unless they lose the rest of their games. A win over Seattle proved the Cardinals were the best in the NFC West, but a win at home in primetime against a championship-contender would solidify Arizona as a championship-contender itself and would improve Palmer’s a chances of becoming a champion, the ultimate way a quarterback can leave their mark in the NFL.

Prediction: Arizona 27, Cincinnati 20

My Week 11 NFL predictions:

  • Jacksonville 26, Tennessee 20
  • Atlanta 24, Indianapolis 23
  • Denver 16, Chicago 13
  • Dallas 27, Miami 17
  • Oakland 31, Detroit 21
  • Baltimore 23, St. Louis 17
  • New York Jets 20, Houston 19
  • Philadelphia 28, Tampa Bay 23
  • Carolina 20, Washington 10
  • Kansas City 23, San Diego 20
  • Green Bay 24, Minnesota 20
  • Seattle 27, San Francisco 13
  • New England 28, Buffalo 20

Week 10 Record: 4-10
Week 11 Record: 1-0
Season Record: 91-56 (.619)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2

Bryant Emerges As Indiana Takes Down Creighton

Going into the season there was hope among the Hoosier faithful that freshman center Thomas Bryant could create an impact on this Indiana team similar to how Cody Zeller impacted the 2012 Hoosiers. So far, things are looking bright.

Bryant had his best game of the season as he helped the Hoosiers blow by the Creighton Bluejays 86-65. Bryant finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks as his emotion on the court made Assembly Hall really rock for the first time during the 2015-2016 season.

“I’ve always had that passion in me ever since I started playing in grade school”, said Bryant about the passion he brings to the court. “I wasn’t the most talented player, so I had to do something to separate myself from others, and the passion, the will to drive, and the will to play was the difference and I’ve always kept it with me.”

Bryant’s passion was one of the biggest selling points for Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean when he recruited Bryant.

“You knew that he had infectious energy”, said Crean, “and the more you watch him you see that he really is infectious to his teammates.”

He certainty was as James Blackmon Jr. scored a team-high 19 points and had seven rebounds while Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell yet again flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

“I’m a laid-back-type of guy, but when I see him like that, that makes me want to bring more energy to the game”, said Blackmon Jr. about the effect of having Bryant with him on the court. “I feel like we’ve had (passion) from guys, but Thomas brings it on a whole other level.”

Indiana (3-0) also showed its passion on the defensive end as they shut down a powerful Creighton offense. The Bluejays came into this game averaging 98 points a game and shooting 39.7% (25 of 63) from three-point range. The Hoosiers held them to 65 points and just 16.7% (3 of 18) from deep.

Creighton (2-1) was led by Maurice Watson Jr. who finished with a game-high 21 points. However, the Bluejays’ two leading scorers Isaiah Zierden and Cole Huff (averaging 19.5 and 14.5 points respectively) were held to a combined eight points on just 3 of 12 shooting from the floor.

The Hoosiers now have to pack their bags and fly to Hawaii to take part in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Their first game will be Monday against Wake Forest at 5pm eastern, noon local time.

Stats From The Boxscore:

  • Thomas Bryant is shooting 80% from the floor this season. That’s crazy enough but did you know he hasn’t missed a two-point field this season? He is 15 of 15 on two-point field goals and 1 of 5 on three-point field goals.
  • Bryant set many career-highs against Creighton including points (17), assists (2), steals (1), and blocks (4).
  • Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell has scored double-digit points and has had more than five rebounds and assists every game so far this season. Here are his game logs:
    • Eastern Illinois: 13 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists
    • Austin Peay: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists
    • Creighton: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists
  • Ferrell’s nine rebounds against the Bluejays are a career-high.
  • Ferrell (1,429 points) also passed Ray Tolbert (1,427) for 19th on IU’s all-time scoring list. Next up on the list are Walt Bellamy (1,441) and D.J. White (1,447).
  • Both James Blackmon Jr. and Nick Zeisloft are shooting above 50% from three-point range this season. Blackmon Jr. is shooting 55% (11 of 20) while Zeisloft is shooting 64.3% (9 of 14).
  • The Bluejays were averaging 10 offensive rebounds per game heading into their matchup with Indiana. The Hoosiers didn’t allow a single offensive rebound in the first half and only allowed eight the whole game.
  • The Hoosiers scored 51 points in the first half against Creighton, marking the third consecutive half with 50+ points. Unfortunately the Hoosiers only had 35 points in the second half, thus ending the streak.

All In the Cards: Week 10 Recap

Welcome to the week 10 NFL recap! So many things happened this past weekend that I already know I won’t be able to cover everything. Still, I’ll do my best to cover as many as possible as the season is really starting to shape up and teams are either gaining or losing confidence. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Without further ado, let’s see how terrible I did with my week 10 picks:

How I did with my Week 10 NFL predictions:

  • Arizona 39, Seattle 32: You may recall that I called the Cardinals’ wins over the Ravens and the Browns “very important” because of how Arizona won those games. Well the importance of those wins and the lessons they taught were crucial for the Cardinals to defeat the Seahawks. In the Browns game, Arizona won its first game of the season in which it lost the turnover battle (4-2). Until that point the Cards had either a neutral turnover margin or won the turnover battle during their victories. Being able to win despite giving your opponent more possessions shows that you are the better team. In the Ravens game, the Cards showed they had the mental fortitude to overcome their mistakes and withstand a late-game charge by making clutch plays to win.
  • Sunday night, or early Monday morning on the east coast, the Cardinals overcame both obstacles to take down “big brother” on the road. The Cardinals overcame a negative turnover margin (Arizona had three turnovers while Seattle only had one) and overcame losing a 19-point lead to drive down the field once to retake the lead and once to put the game away. It was the first time in my time as a fan that the Cardinals won a huge game by taking the victory away from another team instead of just holding on for dear life. This was a championship-caliber win and a declaration to the rest of the league that the Cardinals are the NFC West threat that other teams should fear playing. (0-1)
  • Buffalo 22, New York Jets 17: Both the AFC and the NFC Wild Card race are a mess and it’s because of games like this one where teams who could distance themselves from the pack lose and make the race more crowded. Regardless of what you think of Rex Ryan and the his choice to make IK Enemkpali one of the Bills’ captains, the fact is that the Bills won an important game that for the moment gives them a big tiebreaker in the wild card race. The Jets have the (slightly) easier schedule going forward but with how the Jets have played lately that might not matter. (0-2)
  • Chicago 37, St. Louis 13: You could make the argument that if five crucial plays went the other way over the course of the season, the Bears would be 0-8 heading into this game. That’s what makes their blowout win over the Rams so surprising. The Bears put all of their defensive focus on Todd Gurley and shut him down (12 carries for 45 yards), thus making Nick Foles have to throw to beat the Rams. The fact that Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher appointed Case Keenum as the starting quarterback for this week’s game should tell you all you need to know about Foles’ performance. The Rams could continue to focus all of their attention on beating divisional foes but going undefeated in the division won’t help if you can’t supplement your record with other wins. (0-3)
  • Pittsburgh 30, Cleveland 9: I stated a couple of weeks ago that the Steelers would need to make a big run in the second half of the season to win a wild card but that task looks a lot easier at the moment. The first thing is that the Steelers currently have either a one or two game lead over all other AFC wild card contenders. The other thing that looks more favorable is the schedule, as opponents such as Denver, Indianapolis, and Seattle look a lot less threatening then they did a few weeks ago. With Ben Roethlisberger still able to be a top five quarterback even when not at 100%, I think the Steelers are one of the few sure things in a cloudy playoff picture. (1-3)
  • Tampa Bay 10, Dallas 6: How weird is the NFC playoff race? These two teams are a combined 6-12 and both of them have legitimate shots of playing in January. The Cowboys have Tony Romo coming back and with no one running away with the NFC East they have a chance to take the division if they finish 6-1 in their last seven games. The Bucs have a tougher challenge as they are two games behind the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons and are tied with five other teams at 4-5, a group that includes the Seahawks. I think you can call Tampa Bay’s season a success already but why not try for the playoffs if your team still has a shot? (2-3)
  • Detroit 18, Green Bay 16: I give a ton of credit to the Lions, but it still doesn’t make any sense to me that the Packers lost that game. I’ve picked the Packers each of the last two weeks thinking they would rebound only to disappoint. I feel I’m in the same position I was in with the Ravens at the beginning of the season. I knew they were a talented team and just banked my hopes on them turning it around. I think the Packers will eventually turn it around but I don’t think they will do it in time to win the division as they have to travel to Minnesota this week and with how the Vikings have been playing, I wouldn’t be surprised if this losing streak extends to four games. (2-4)
  • Carolina 27, Tennessee 10: People, me included, were having a hard time accepting Cam Newton’s transition to an elite quarterback because his performances weren’t all that impressive. However, this past week I finally saw what I wanted out of Newton. Against the Titans, Newton not only ran the ball well and committed no turnovers; he also threw very accurately, connecting on 21 of 26 pass attempts. Sure the game was a blowout, but we needed to see Newton throw a very accurate passing game to show us he is capable of doing it. Now it’s a matter of if he can do it when the game is on the line. He’s proven he can win in crunch time with his legs; now let’s see him win with his arms. (3-4)
  • Miami 20, Philadelphia 19: This was a crucial win for the Dolphins as it seemed they had lost all of the momentum that they gained when interim Head Coach Dan Campbell first took over. Meanwhile the Eagles give away yet another game and are facing the possibility of having to start Mark Sanchez at quarterback. The Eagles could survive the next two weeks against the Bucs and Lions without Sam Bradford (who has both a concussion and a separated shoulder), but then again they should have won this week and didn’t. (3-5)
  • Washington 47, New Orleans 14: I warned that sometimes a defense’s confidence can be irrevocably shaken when it takes part it an all-offensive shootout. The Saints’ defense wasn’t that good to begin with but the last two weeks have been an aftereffect of the Giants game. In the seven games prior to that 51-48 epic, the Saints were giving up 26.4 points per game (below average but manageable with an offense as great as the Saints). In the two games since the Giants game, the Saints have given up 40.5 points per game. It looks like a small sample size but that shouldn’t sway you as the last two offenses (Titans and Redskins) are considerably weaker than the majority of their first seven opponents (Cardinals, Eagles, Falcons, Colts, and Panthers had better offenses than the Saints’ last two opponents). The Saints can only hope that changing defensive coordinators helps stop the bleeding. (3-6)
  • Jacksonville 22, Baltimore 20: With the Jaguars’ win, this weekend marked the first time all three Florida NFL teams won on the same week in 5 years! Just let that sink in for a little bit. As for the Ravens, their season is literally playing out like one of those spoof movies where everything goes hilariously wrong. At this point I think it would be in the best interest of every Ravens fan and their health (both physical and mental) to look comically at this season and not take it seriously. The best the Ravens can hope for is to use their high draft pick to find an explosive skill position player to give Joe Flacco a playmaker to help him carry the offense. (3-7)
  • Minnesota 30, Oakland14: I know it is a quarterback league, but Adrian Peterson needs more attention in the MVP race. He has single-handedly made Teddy Bridgewater’s job easier and has reclaimed his title as best running back in the game. Peterson is on pace for 1,708 rushing yards, which would rank as his third best season total behind 2008 (1,760) and 2012 (2,097), the latter of which Peterson won MVP. He’s also helped the Vikings equal the same amount of wins they had all of last season after just 10 weeks. This week the Vikings have a chance to take advantage of the slumping Packers and gain a two-game lead in the division with a home win over Green Bay. (3-8)
  • Kansas City 29, Denver 13: Doesn’t matter how old Peyton Manning gets, that kind of performance (5/20 for 35 yards, 0 TDs and 4 INTs) only makes sense if Manning was injured, which he was. People seem ready to bury Manning, with talks of making Brock Osweiler the starter for the rest of the season and I think that is ridiculous. I know I’ve made a point this season to point out how bad the Broncos’ offense has been but this seems like a panic decision after losing two games in a row. Let Osweiler take over until Manning is 100% because a healthy Manning is still the Broncos’ ceiling on offense. (3-9)
  • New England 27, New York Giants 26: You know it was a crazy week in the NFL if Tom Brady and Patriots actually beat Eli Manning and the Giants. All jokes aside, this was huge for the Patriots as they continue to try and make up for the two championships they lost to the Giants by winning last year’s Super Bowl and potentially this year’s Super Bowl. However their chances for this season took a bit of a hit as Julian Edelman required foot surgery and may not be back in time for the playoffs. Brady is still one of if not the greatest quarterback of all time and he’s had success with replacement-level to slightly above-average weapons before but Edelman was possibly the last weapon (even more than Rob Gronkowski) Brady wanted to see go down. (4-9)
  • Houston 10, Cincinnati 6: We all knew that the Bengals weren’t going to finish the season undefeated so it was inevitable they would lose and as a result people were going to jump on the team after that first loss. I’ll admit that a loss to the Texans (especially one to backup quarterback T.J. Yates, who has beaten the Bengals in the playoffs before) is a little hard to swallow at first, but the Texans have a legit shot at making the playoffs either through the AFC South or the AFC wild card. What the Bengals should be more worried about is that they don’t seem to have as reliable of a running game anymore despite having both Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill healthy.  (4-10)

Week 10 Record: 4-10
Season Record: 90-56 (.616)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2

Hoosiers’ Second Half Shooting Streak Puts Away Governors

The Indiana Hoosiers made 15 straight shots in the second half as they pulled away with a 102-76 win over the Austin Peay Governors.

The Hoosiers only led 51-39 at half and saw their lead cut to 57-46 with 16:06 left in the second half. However, the Hoosiers caught fire as they made their next 15 shots. By the time James Blackmon Jr. had his layup attempt blocked by Kenny Jones, there was only 3:16 left in the game and Indiana was up 95-68.

Here is a rundown of those 15 made baskets:

  • Make #1 (15:30) – Max Bielfeldt’s missed three-pointer was the last missed shot by the Hoosiers before Indiana Coach Tom Crean started to empty the bench. It’s only appropriate that he also started the streak. Bielfeldt stole the ball right from Terrell Thompson and took it all the way to the basket for an easy layup.
  • Make #2 (14:37) – The next possession after a Governors turnover, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell made a layup.
  • Make #3 (13:28) – Sometimes Troy Williams can drive to the basket with reckless abandon and that’s what this play looked like before Williams adjusted mid-air and slammed home a reverse dunk.
  • Make #4 (12:58) – Blackmon Jr. got a steal and threw it up court to an open Williams who smashed another one through the rim.
  • Make #5 (12:06) – Making four layup/dunks in a row isn’t that impressive, but when you make four three-pointers in a row following those four layup/dunks, that is extremely impressive. Nick Zeisloft makes the first of those threes.
  • Make #6 (11:16) – Zeisloft also makes the second of those threes. It’s worth mentioning that prior to this he had to exit the game due to dislocating his finger. Seems he’s perfectly fine.
  • Make #7 (10:13) – Ferrell joins in on the fun as he adds a three of his own off of a Blackmon Jr. assist.
  • Make #8 (9:53) – Ferrell returns the favor as he sets up Blackmon Jr. for what would be his first made three-pointer of the streak.
  • Make #9 (9:16) – We’ve seen close range and deep range, so why not mid-range? Ferrell makes a jumper to extend the streak.
  • Make #10 (8:40) – Blackmon Jr. decides not to follow the pattern of four shots of the same type in a row and instead launches a three. It’s okay since he makes it.
  • Make #11 (8:16) – Blackmon Jr. dishes it out to Zeisloft who makes his fifth three-pointer of the night, three of which have come during this streak.
  • Make #12 (6:58) – Blackmon Jr. follows it up with his third made three during the streak. At this point everyone in the crowd is either aware of the streak or knows that something rare is happening.
  • Make #13 (6:27) – Thomas Bryant gets a nice pass from Williams that Bryant turns into an easy layup.
  • Make #14 (5:18) – This time Robert Johnson feeds the big man down low as Bryant makes another layup.
  • Make #15 (4:41) – A great pass from Blackmon Jr. leads to another Williams dunk, which would be the final make of the streak.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of 15 straight made shots,” said Coach Crean about the streak. “I know in the 2003 NCAA Tournament in the old RCA Dome my Marquette team made 10 straight in overtime against Missouri in the final 32, and I never thought I’d see that again. Different environment, different time of year, but 15 straight is still very impressive.”

Ferrell led the Hoosiers with 22 points and in the process passed Jimmy Rayl (1,401 points) and Kirk Hanston (1,406 points) to move into 20th place on IU’s all-time scoring list. He also led the team with nine assists and six rebounds.

Blackmon Jr. finished with 20 points and four assists. Zeisloft added 15 points while Williams added 14 points for the Hoosiers (2-0).

Austin Peay (0-2) was able to keep it close in the first half thanks to the fantastic play of Chris Horton. The senior forward finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks, leading the Governors in all four categories. Khalil Davis and John Murry added 16 and 14 points respectively.

The Hoosiers have one more test before they get to travel to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. They’ll face Creighton on Thursday at 7pm in Assembly Hall.

Stats From The Boxscore:

  • Troy Williams’ five assists were a career-high. He also added five rebounds, two steals, and a block.
  • Max Bielfeldt tied a career-high two steals in the Hoosiers previous game against the Panthers. This time he doubled his previous best as he caused four steals against the Governors.
  • Thomas Bryant made five of his six shot attempts making his shooting percentage for the season 90.0% (9 of 10).
  • Nick Zeisloft, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, and James Blackmon Jr. not only made a lot of threes, but they also did it by shooting effectively from deep. Zeisloft went 5 of 7, Ferrell went 4 of 5, and Blackmon Jr. went 4 of 6.
  • The Hoosiers made more three-pointers (16) than the Governors attempted (14).
  • Collin Hartman lost his starting spot to Bielfeldt but he still played very well, tying a career-high with three steals.
  • The Hoosiers and the Governors played a relatively clean game, only accumulating 30 combined fouls between the two teams. There were 48 combined fouls when Indiana played Eastern Illinois.
  • This is what happens when you make 15 shots in a row: Indiana shot 80.8% (21 of 26) from the floor in the second half, including 80.0% (8 of 10) from deep.

Hoosiers In The NBA: The Injury Bug Bites

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:

Injuries are a part of sports. Sometimes injuries can derail someone’s career or interrupt their great play while other times injuries are blessings in disguise as it lets someone else show off their potential. All four Hoosiers in the NBA were affected by injuries this week, whether they were injured or someone else who affects their play was injured. Let’s go over how each Hoosier did this week and break down the ramifications of these injuries:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Dallas (W 120-105): 17 points (5-19 FG)(3-3 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, personal foul, 34 minutes.

@ Atlanta (L 106-98): 26 points (10-20 FG)(2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

@ Toronto (L 100-81): 30 points (11-22 FG)(4-5 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, steal, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ New York (L 95-87): 11 points (5-11 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

First off let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that I’m writing a column about injuries and it has nothing to do with Eric Gordon being injured. In fact it almost feels like he is the only healthy player on the New Orleans Pelicans, with Jrue Holiday playing limited minutes, Tyreke Evans not playing at all, and Anthony Davis recently having to sit out two games with a hip injury.

However, it’s Davis’ injury that affects Gordon the most. Without Davis, the Pelicans’ scoring options looked very bare outside of Gordon, which meant Gordon had to take more offensive responsibility this past week. What we saw was vintage-Gordon as he dropped 26 points against the Atlanta Hawks and a season-high 30 points against the Toronto Raptors. Not only was Gordon scoring a lot but also very efficiently, hitting 50% (10 of 20 vs Atlanta and 11 of 22 vs Toronto) of his shots in both games. Even though we won’t see vintage-Gordon anymore with Davis now healthy again (he had only 11 points vs New York), it was great to see that Gordon can still be a lead-scorer and that he’s still healthy.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Indiana (L 97-84): 15 points (7-18 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 101-99): 3 points (1-2 FG), 2 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 7 minutes.

We hear about concussions all the time in football, but they are just as devastating in basketball. While you don’t get hit in the head as often in basketball, you also don’t have a helmet and you play on a really hard court. Add the fact that the NBA has a very strict concussion protocol (you must be symptom-free while resting, then you are subjected to increasingly harder physical tasks and then finally you must get the okay from the director of the NBA’s concussion program) and it’s unknown when we will see Victor Oladipo back on the court. It could be the Orlando Magic’s next game or it could be two weeks from now. I’m not exaggerating about the two weeks either, as Oladipo’s teammate Nikola Vucevic was out for three weeks during last season after he sustained a concussion.

It’s never a great time to suffer an injury as serious as a concussion, but this could really hamper Oladipo’s aggressiveness on defense when he does return. It seems silly to think Oladipo won’t play aggressively, but players who sustain concussion are a lot more aware of situations where concussions occur as well as the risks on sustaining multiple concussions. Head Coach Scott Skiles has lauded Oladipo for his defensive intensity and for good reason as Oladipo is playing the best he has ever played on that side of the ball so it would be a shame to see him lose that progress.  I think Oladipo will eventually regain that aggressiveness; I just hope it doesn’t take him awhile to regain it.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Denver (L 108-104): 0 points (0-3 FG), 2 rebounds, personal foul, 13 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (L 113-101): 2 points (1-2 FG), 2 rebounds, personal foul, 7 minutes.

@ Memphis (L 101-100): 0 points, 2 personal fouls, 7 minutes.

@ Charlotte (L 106-94): 9 points (3-6 FG)(3-4 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

When Meyers Leonard dislocated his shoulder, which will keep him out a month, the question was whether Ed Davis or Noah Vonleh would take his starting spot. At first, the answer was neither as Chris Kaman started against the Memphis Grizzlies. However, Noah Vonleh received the start (his first of his career) against his former team the Charlotte Hornets.

Unfortunately that was more likely Head Coach Terry Stotts letting Vonleh get a chance to prove himself against the team that drafted him than an endorsement for Vonleh to be the starter going forward. When it came to crunch time in the Hornets game, it was Davis who played power forward. Regardless of if he is starting or not, Vonleh still benefits from Leonard’s absence, especially when considering that Vonleh’s minutes were dwindling over the last couple of games. As long as Vonleh plays well the Trail Blazers will find ways to put him on the court.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Minnesota (W 104-95): 14 points (5-8 FG)(4-6 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Vs New York (W 95-93): 12 points (2-6 FG)(8-15 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, block, personal foul, 25 minutes.

Vs Portland (W 106-94): 1 point (0-4 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 21 minutes.

It was quite the week for Cody Zeller as he recorded back-to-back double digit scoring games for the first time this season, set a career high for free throw attempts (Zeller alone attempted more than twice as many free throw as the opposing Knicks 15-7), and hit a game-winning layup on an inbound play. However, Zeller also missed the Charlotte Hornets’ game against the Chicago Bulls due to a sprained ankle. Zeller returned for the Hornets’ next game against Portland but he only mustered one point. He was still great defensively, blocking a season-high two shots.

Now there is no need to worry about Zeller losing momentum from his injury; the worry comes from the idea that if Zeller was to miss an extensive amount of time he could lose his spot in the rotation to either Frank Kaminsky or Tyler Hansbrough. Zeller was able to beat out both of them before the season, but as I stated injuries give other players a chance to show their potential and that includes second chances. Zeller’s ankle should be fine, so let’s hope he doesn’t sustain anymore injuries.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 19.1ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.8apg, 0.90spg, 0.20bpg, 1.7tpg, 2.8fpg, 42.0% FG, 37.8% 3FG, 82.8% FT, 35.7mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.7ppg, 6.9rpg, 3.9apg, 1.56spg, 0.78bpg, 1.7tpg, 1.9fpg, 38.2% FG, 27.9% 3FG, 88.9% FT, 35.1mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 2.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 0.4apg, 0.27bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.7fpg, 32.3% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 70.0% FT, 13.2mpg.

Cody Zeller: 7.1ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.0apg, 1.00spg, 0.56bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.8fpg, 41.7% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 63.2% FT, 22.1mpg.

All In The Cards: The Seattle Problem (Week 10)

The Cardinals are fresh off their bye week and ready to start the second half of the season. Unfortunately for Arizona it faces the Seattle Seahawks who are also coming off a bye and will be playing at home on national television in a must-win game for the Seahawks if they want to still win the NFC West. This week I will go more in-depth on the recent rivalry. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Without further ado, let’s break down this divisional rivalry:

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks

Last Meetings: L 19-3 @Seattle (11/23/14) and L 35-6 vs. Seattle (12/21/14)

If you have been a frequent reader of All In The Cards, you can probably pick up on the fact that I don’t like the Seahawks. I have nothing against Seahawk fans, the city of Seattle, or the organization. I just don’t like the team for three reasons: most of their players are very arrogant, I’m jealous of their talent and to a lesser extent their luck (the Golden Tate so-called TD during the referee strike, the onside kick fumble vs. Green Bay in the NFC Championship, and the no-call for batting the ball against the Lions to name a few), and the fact that they love to humiliate the Cardinals.

As a Cardinals fan I don’t really have a right this season to talk about disliking a team because they humiliate my team, especially after what Arizona did to San Francisco and Detroit, but neither of those teams were going anywhere this season. A couple of weeks ago I talked about how the Cardinals have been able to count on beating the Lions to turn things around. Well the Seahawks like to use the Cardinals as their launch pad to turn things around. Over the past five seasons, the Seahawks have won seven of their ten matchups against the Cardinals and most of them have either given the Seahawks tons of momentum going forward or really hurt the Cardinals. Here’s the list:

  • 10/24/2010, @ Seattle (SEA 22-10)
  • 11/15/2010, @ Arizona (SEA 36-18)
  • 9/26/2011, @ Seattle (SEA 13-10)
  • 1/1/2012, @ Arizona (ARZ 23-20 OT)
  • 9/10/2012, @ Arizona (ARZ 20-16)
  • 12/9/2012, @ Seattle (SEA 58-0)
  • 10/18/2013, @ Arizona (SEA 34-20)
  • 12/23/2015, @ Seattle (ARZ 17-10)
  • 11/23/2014, @ Seattle (SEA 19-3)
  • 12/22/2014, @ Arizona (SEA 35-6)

Remember back during the 2010 season when the Seattle won the NFC West at 7-9? During weeks 7 thru 12, the Seahawks lost four of their six games with their only two wins during that stretch coming against Arizona. You might disregard that as a random data sample but getting both of those wins was critical. During the last week of the season, the Seahawks defeated the 7-8 St. Louis Rams to end the season with the same record. Since the Rams had defeated the Seahawks earlier in the season, the first tiebreaker (head-to-head matchup) was thrown out. The next tiebreaker was divisional record, and wouldn’t you know it that the Seahawks won one more divisional game than the Rams. Those wins over the Cardinals were the Seahawks’ only divisional wins after their bye week before beating St. Louis in the final week.

The disastrous end to Arizona’ 2012 season, when the Cards lost 11 of their last 12 after starting the season 4-0, reached its most infamous low when the Seahawks humiliated the Cardinals by beating them 58-0. It’s a miracle the Cardinals won another game that season, let alone the following week when they beat Detroit. On the other side, it was the second win of the Seahawks five-game winning streak at the end the season that earned Seattle a wild card spot.

Last season had a similar storyline to this year’s storyline when Arizona went to Seattle. The Cardinals had lost Carson Palmer for the season but were still able to beat the Lions to improve to 9-1. Meanwhile, after a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seahawks sat at 6-4, a full three games back of Arizona with six games left in the season. The Seahawks beat the Cardinals 19-3 and started a winning streak that didn’t end until they lost to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. That winning streak included another win over the Cardinals to the score of 35-6.

It’s worth mentioning that unlike the Arizona-Detroit series, the Cardinals do have a couple wins during this stretch. However, none of them were that consequential. The Cardinals’ win in the final week of the 2011 season had no implications other than that the winner would finish .500 for the season. The win to start the 2013 season lost all credibility when the Seahawks obliterated Arizona 58-0 in the rematch. Finally, the win in Seattle during the 2013 season was nice (because it ended the Seahawks’ home winning-streak) but the Cardinals still missed the playoffs at 10-6 while the Seahawks rebounded the next week to earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs and eventually win the Super Bowl.

It really pains me to bring up these memories so there is a point to all of this. That point is that the Seahawks are desperate for a win and recent history dictates that they’ll get that win this week against the Cardinals, just like they did last year. I know Carson Palmer is healthy and is arguably playing the best he has ever played. I know the Cardinals have some favorable matchups. I know that the Seahawks aren’t as good as they were in previous seasons. For all of those reasons I think the Cardinals will win the rematch at University of Phoenix Stadium during the final week of the season. However, this week the season is on the line for the Seahawks and I don’t think we’ve heard the last of them.

Prediction: Seattle 20, Arizona 19

Week 10 NFL predictions:

  • New York Jets 20, Buffalo 17
  • St. Louis 23, Chicago 16
  • Pittsburgh 23, Cleveland 20
  • Tampa Bay 31, Dallas 23
  • Green Bay 38, Detroit 13
  • Carolina 24, Tennessee 13
  • Philadelphia 27, Miami 20
  • New Orleans 26, Washington 23
  • Baltimore 24, Jacksonville 20
  • Oakland 23, Minnesota 18
  • Denver 24, Kansas City 13
  • New England 38, New York Giants 31
  • Cincinnati 30, Houston 17

Week 10 Record: 0-1
Season Record: 86-47 (.647)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2