How Zach McRoberts’ Value To The Hoosier Just Rose Even Higher

Indiana’s 87-59 win over Tennessee Tech on Thursday night was more than just trying to move past the Fort Wayne performance. Like most non-conference games this time of year, it’s about trying to figure out team identities before going into conference play, or in the Big Ten’s case the bulk of conference play.

For the Hoosiers, it was about how much they could rely on walk-on Zach McRoberts without clogging up the offense.

For all the good McRoberts has brought the Hoosiers during his two seasons with the team, the reoccurring trend of stalling up the offense has persisted. McRoberts’ unselfish play always finds him making the extra pass even when it wasn’t necessary, as if he was an offensive lineman who’s job is to do the dirty work (such as grab rebounds, deflect passes, and play solid defense) and make it possible for others to score. That has led opposing defenders to play off of McRoberts and give themselves an extra defender to help close in on passing lanes.

The best way to remedy that problem is to force McRoberts’ defender to guard him. Which is what happened on Thursday night.

While his stat line in the box score won’t jump off the page, that’s actually a good thing. No longer is there a player who plays 20+ minutes and shoots maybe one or two shots. Instead, McRoberts shot whenever he felt he was open with the flow of the offense or whenever he sensed his defender was backing off, leading to a season-high seven shot attempts. He finished with eight points, which included him going two of five from deep. This after taking only 14 shots during the nine games and 110 minutes he had played this season before Thursday night.

“They chose not to guard him. So he found himself open and didn’t hesitate,” said Indiana Coach Archie Miller. “I was happy to see him make a couple because that’s a big thing for him (to be able) to create a little offense out there.”

While the announcer from the classic video game NBA Jam wouldn’t quite say McRoberts was “on fire” Thursday night, it was an important game for both the Hoosiers and the Hoosiers’ future opponents.

When asked about his increase in three-point shooting the past couple of games, McRoberts was nice enough to give his future opponents a message about his increase in three-point shooting frequency.

“Just if I’m open, taking open shots. That’s really what I’m looking to do.”

Meaning that all future opponents should probably still guard him or face the consequences.

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The Other Side: How Fort Wayne Views Its Second Straight Win Against Indiana

For the Indiana Hoosiers, Monday night was a bad case of deja vu.

After seemingly turning the corner with their upset win over Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic, the Hoosiers rapidly regressed back to the team that lost by 21 points to Indiana State at the beginning of the season. In fact, the 92-72 loss tot he Fort Wayne Mastodons almost completely mirrors the season opener.

So instead of rehashing the same old story, let’s do something different and look at things from the other side.

What is Fort Wayne’s perspective on the win? How did the Hoosiers’ performance appear to a Mastrodon program that now has a two-game winning streak over the Hoosiers?

“What happened at the end of the day was that they felt the pressure of our poise on offense, because we played our process for 40 minutes,” said Fort Wayne Head Coach Jon Coffman, who despite now having a winning record against Indiana still holds them in high regard.

“I have so much pride in our state’s basketball, and there’s so much tradition that’s happened (in Assembly Hall). For our guys to do that with a ton of newcomers — we have six freshmen on our squad — I’m so proud of those four upperclassmen who played in that game last year.”

They also knew that Juwan Morgan was going to be a problem, and despite his team containing Morgan, Coffman still talked about how impressed he was with Morgan’s performance against Notre Dame and how the game plan was to get Morgan in foul trouble, which did happen.

Also apparently Indiana’s defense wasn’t as helpless as it looked to Hoosier fans, as to Coffman, this was just the Mastrodons playing their game.

“We got great shot, after great shot, after great shot. 17 threes is a good night for us, but that’s not surprising because we’ve done that before. But what was really good was that we stuck with being us.”

The Hoosiers may have taken a step back on Monday night, but if they follow that mantra of “sticking with being themselves” like the Mastrodons did, the Hoosiers will find themselves back on track.

How Two Huge Runs Helped The Hoosiers Beat Iowa

Scoring runs, especially in a sport like basketball where you score often, are one of the most exhilarating experiences for both players and fans. They also demoralize your opponent and change their mindset from “trying to win the game” to “trying to stop the bleeding”.

The Indiana Hoosiers needed two of them on Monday night to get their 77-64 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hoosiers got a 17-1 run right before halftime and then, after allowing the Hawkeyes to go on a 16-2 run of their own, the Hoosiers regained control with an 18-0 run during the middle of the second half to put the game out of reach.

“I was really pleased, for the most part, other than the lack of responsibility coming out of halftime,” said Indiana Coach Archie Miller. “That just can’t happen, especially at home. (But) we ended up digging ourselves back out of that hole and were able to finish the game off.”

Here is a breakdown of what transpired during the two key runs that helped Coach Miller earn his first Big Ten Conference victory:


Iowa 19, Indiana 17 (9:08-1st half)

The first IU run started with De’Ron Davis splitting a pair of free throws. Josh Newkirk would then take a rebound coast-to-coast for the go-ahead layup with 8:03 left. Two minutes later Jordan Bohannon split a pair of free throws to tie the game. (20-20, 6:25-1st half)

Indiana grabbed the missed free throw but was unable to get anything on the fast break. The Hawkeyes’ defense stifled the Hoosiers during the offensive possession, almost forcing a shot clock violation. Yet Devonte Green threw up a fadeaway three-pointer with one second on the shot clock and, like his two half court shots last season, he somehow made it. (IU 23-20, 5:54-1st half)

The Hoosier defense went into lockdown mode over the next 83 seconds, forcing three consecutive Hawkeye turnovers. On the offensive end, a Robert Johnson steal led to a Juwan Morgan layup and a Collin Hartman steal led to another difficult jumper by Green. The third turnover had Green making a great pass to Johnson for three more points. (IU 30-20, 4:33-1st half)

After a quick timeout, Iowa committed its fourth consecutive turnover as Josh Newkirk got the steal and while he missed the layup, Green was there to clean it up. (IU 32-20, 4:11-1st half)

The Hawkeyes finally got off their first field goal attempt in five possessions but missed the shot. Hartman got the rebound and Johnson was sent to the foul line, where after the TV break he hit both free throws. (IU 34-20, 3:43-1st half)

Stats during the 17-1 run:
6-of-9 shooting (66.7%)
2-of-3 from three (66.7%)
3-of-5 from the foul line (60.0%)
7 rebounds
1 assist
4 steals
2 turnovers
Iowa shot 0-of-7 (1-of-2 from the foul line) and had 6 turnovers


Morgan, who finished with a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds), wasn’t a huge factor in either of the Hoosiers’ big scoring runs but deserves credit for helping end Iowa’s large run.

After Iowa had cut it to 43-42, Morgan rebounded a missed Green layup and drew the foul, making both free throws. The Hawkeyes would again cut the Hoosier lead to one point when Morgan again came up with a clutch rebound, this time drawing the foul and making the bucket for a three-point play.

Thanks to his two huge offensive rebounds and five straight points, Iowa never had the ball with a chance to take the lead away from Indiana and thus let the Hoosiers hang around long enough to recover and go for the kill.

Indiana 53, Iowa 50 (13:05-2nd half)

Iowa would score their last points for six and a half minutes on a Cordell Pemsi layup where he was fouled. Pemsi would miss the foul shot, with the ball rebounded by Hartman. The newly entered Davis then went to work as he converted a layup on a pass from Hartman and then blocked Dom Uhl on the other end. (IU 55-50, 12:21-2nd half)

Iowa retained possession but missed another layup that was again rebounded by Hartman and led to a three-pointer in transition by Newkirk. Uhl would then commit a turnover that would take the game to the under-12 timeout. (IU 58-50, 11:41-2nd half)

Out of the timeout, Hartman would connect with Davis again in the paint for two. Davis then stole the ball on the next Iowa possession and got fouled but he ended up missing both free throws. The Hawkeyes couldn’t take advantage as they continued to miss shots, missing six in a row at that point. Meanwhile Johnson and Davis scored on layups while Hartman hit a three-pointer that forced Iowa to call a timeout. (IU 67-50, 8:59-2nd half)

Even with Johnson, Davis, and Hartman now all on the bench coming out of the timeout, the run continued. Iowa would miss three more shots as Morgan added a layup and Zach McRoberts added a running jumper to cap off the run and seal the game for the Hoosiers. (IU 71-50, 7:15-2nd half)

Stats during the 18-0 run:
8-of-10 shooting (80.0%)
2-of-3 from three (66.7%)
0-of-2 from the foul line (0.0%)
9 rebounds
6 assist
2 steals
1 block
1 turnover
Iowa shot 0-of-9 and had 3 turnovers

Despite Losing To Duke, Indiana Showcases Its Improvement Over November

The crowd was alive, the game was entertaining, and they played their hearts out. Despite ending in a 91-81 home loss to Duke, the Hoosiers could hold their heads high at the end of the night.

Indiana’s performance was more than just pushing the number one ranked team to the brink, it was about the drastic turnaround the team has made over the course of a single month.

Twenty days ago, things were looking very uncertain. In the same building they would three weeks later lead 1# Duke late into the second half, the Hoosiers were destroyed by Indiana State 90-69. In that game, the Sycamores made 17 three-pointers and forced the Hoosiers to commit 19 turnovers.

On Wednesday night, the Hoosiers held the Blue Devils to 3 of 17 shooting from deep and committed only nine turnovers, marking the third straight game IU committed single-digit turnovers for the first time this century, and they did this against a well-coached team known for its insane length.

“If we continue to grow up and continue to keep getting better”, said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller, “tonight should be the norm in Assembly Hall.”

Part of the reason for the improvement is the stellar play of the upperclassmen.

Collin Hartman, the redshirt senior playing in his second game of the season after returning from multiple injuries including a groin injury right before the Indiana State game, scored 11 points and made several huge plays when it looked like Duke was starting to pull away.

“He’s a big, big part of what we’re doing because of who he is as a teammate, his leadership, his experience level; he’s fearless,” said Miller about Hartman’s intangibles. “I think once you start to see him get in there, more and more you’ll see our team get a little bit better and look a little bit better.”

Robert Johnson has also stepped up and has embraced the role of senior leader, going from being a non-factor against Indiana State (7 points and 4 turnovers) to leading the Hoosiers in scoring on Wednesday with 17 points, including a huge three right before half to cut into Duke’s lead.

Adding to those two key pieces is the breakout play of Junior Juwan Morgan and Sophomore De’Ron Davis.

Morgan provided a little of everything finishing with 14 points, six rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Davis meanwhile went right at potential lottery picks Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. and dominated both of them on the offensive side of the ball, finishing with 16 points on 6 of 7 shooting and getting Carter to foul out.

“He’s a big weapon for us,” said Johnson about Davis. “Whenever we feel he has an advantage inside he has to get the ball. That’s something we’ll continue to do.”

At a record of 4-3, the Hoosiers now look ahead at a December filled with big-time matchups against Michigan, Iowa, Louisville, and Notre Dame among others. Yet despite ending the month of November on a loss, the improvement in this Hoosier squad in evident, as stated by the legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski himself.

“That was a heck of a game. I thought Indiana played great. You could see in watching their tapes how they have just gotten better every game. How they are buying into Archie’s foundation work defensively and offensively.”

As long as the Hoosiers continue to buy in to Archie’s foundation, these kind of games will eventually turn into huge wins.

Soft Demeanor And Bad Luck Lead To A 90-69 “Reality Check” Loss For IU In Archie Miller’s Debut

Sometimes you need a reality check to show that you need to improve on things. Sometimes your opponent is playing so well you can’t do anything to stop them.

The Indiana Hoosiers didn’t play nearly as bad as the boxscore to their 90-69 loss to Indiana State would tell you. That being said, the Hoosiers were definitely outplayed by the Sycamores and Archie Miller, coaching his first regular season game as Indiana’s Head Coach, made it no secret after the game.

“(It’s) reality. We can’t make any excuses. We played a pretty good team and they exposed us in a lot of areas.”

The Sycamores were the aggressor right from the tip. A Jordan Barnes steal on the first possession of the game led to a made three-pointer by Qiydar Davis. Davis would then return the favor two minutes later as he found Barnes for a three-pointer. That would just be the start of phenomenal shooting performance by the Sycamores who would finish with 17 made treys, one short of their school record and the most ever by an opponent at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“After a while it just became a lack of pressure, a lack of detail. And it became almost shellshocked to the point where you almost thought every one of them was going to go in,” said Miller about Indiana’s three-point defense and the Sycamores hot shooting.

“Like I told the guys, they’re not going to miss. You have to make them miss.”

However, even when IU tightened up their defense, Indiana State just kept making shots as even ill-advised and off-balance three-pointers somehow found the bottom of the net. The Sycamores at one point had hit 17 of 22 (77.3%) from behind the arc before cooling off and finishing 17 of 26 (65.4%) from deep, led by Brenton Scott’s 24 points (6 of 9 from deep) and Barnes’ 18 points (5 of 7 from deep).

There were a few positives for Indiana that came out of this game.

De’Ron Davis looks more than ready to take over the starting center spot as he finished with a team-high 14 points on 6 of 7 shooting. Juwan Morgan played fairly well finishing with 13 points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals. The Hoosiers stood even with the Sycamores in the second half, with both teams scoring 36 points.

Yet staying even was not what was needed, especially after coming out of halftime down 19 points. For Miller, it’s about a “soft” team needing to get tougher.

“We’re just a soft team. You don’t have to sugarcoat it at all. I think at the end of the day, the fight, the ability to resurge, the ability to grind and get back into it regardless of what things are going on, that’s not there. That’s going to take time. We have to go through these battles like we did tonight and we’ve got to get better from it.”

While this may not have been the start Coach Miller wanted, he’s at least aware of the reality around him and is ready to help his team improve from it.

“I think everybody knows tonight wasn’t a very good night for our basketball program. But you take every negative and turn it to a positive. We’ve got to find a way to get an extreme amount of evidence to these guys and tell them the truth, move on, and keep working to get better.”

Hoosiers In The NBA: Recapping The Opening Week Of The NBA Season

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA! 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:


A new season in the National Basketball Association has tipped off and thus another year of Hoosiers In The NBA has begun! Now entering it’s fourth year, I’ve gone from covering just Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller to now keeping tabs on eight former Hoosiers.

Every week I’ll go over the biggest stories regarding our roster of former IU players and have their season averages at the end of the article.

This week we have a lot to go over as the start of the season has been a very intriguing one for our former Hoosiers so let’s waste no more time and dive right in:


Things Clicking For Oladipo Back In Indiana

It took very little time for Victor Oladipo to feel at home back in the Hoosier state.

Oladipo is off to the best start of his career and it’s not even close. Here is a look at the first four games of each season by Oladipo:

2013: 13.8ppg, 43.8% FG, 30.0% 3FG
2014: 12.3ppg, 34.8% FG, 25.0% 3FG
2015: 15.8ppg, 35.3% FG, 25.9% 3FG
2016: 15.0ppg, 32.8% FG, 23.8% 3FG
2017: 23.8ppg, 47.1% FG, 38.1% 3FG

There are numerous reasons as for why this season has started off better than any of his prior seasons, from just being more accustomed to the NBA game to being the focal point of the offense and getting more touches.

Yet the thing that stands out most to me is that Oladipo is going to the basket more aggressively and drawing more fouls than he’s ever done before. He’s already averaging 6.8 free throw attempts per game, almost double his career average of 3.6 free throw attempts per game.

This has led to an improved shooting percentage, always a weakness for Oladipo, as defenses are starting to respect his ability to drive past them to the rim and are thus giving him a little more shooting space.

It would be important to note that three of these games have been without the Indiana Pacers other young star Myles Turner so it will be worth monitoring Oladipo’s numbers when Turner returns as we find out who the offense will run through when both are healthy.


Gordon Continues Scoring Pace From Last Season

Eric Gordon was rejuvenated last season, there’s no other way to put it.

After five injury-riddled season with the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans, Gordon played in 75 games (second most games he’s played in a season) during his first season with the Houston Rockets and became one of the NBA’s best sixth men and dangerous three-point shooters.

However the acquisition of Chris Paul likely meant that Gordon’s numbers would decline and we would start to see him more as a role player who would have the occasional throwback game instead of the second scoring option he was the year before.

Yet an unfortunate injury to Paul has Gordon not only back to being the secondary scorer again, but Gordon kicked it up a notch with three 20+ point games in his first four and, like Oladipo, a renewed interest in drawing fouls and going to the free throw line.

Gordon is averaging 7.8 free throw attempts through the season’s first four games, which contrasts greatly with Gordon’s last three seasons where he averaged under three attempts per game all three years.

This large amount of free throws will no doubt dwindle as the season goes along, but even half as many as he is averaging right now would mark a huge step forward for Gordon as he continues to transform his game in the second stage of his career.


Zeller Is The Back Up For Now
The offseason acquisition of Dwight Howard made Cody Zeller’s role on the Charlotte Hornets a bit of a mystery heading into the season.

After battling Al Jefferson for three years over the starting spot, Zeller finally won out and got his chance to be the starting big man last year and didn’t disappoint with career-best numbers in almost every stat category.

However he missed 20 games (tied for the most he has missed in a season) and the Hornets went a ghastly 3-17 in those games because of the lack of depth behind him at the position.

Enter Howard, who reunites with Head Coach Steve Clifford, one of his former coaches back in his Orlando Magic All-NBA years. Despite Zeller being the better player last year as well as six years younger, Howard has been awarded the starting spot mainly based on the fact that he’s a future Hall of Famer.

While this arrangement might work for now (Howard is averaging 12.7 points and 17.3 rebounds during the opening week while Zeller has only played in one of his team’s three games), history says Zeller will be the starter again by midseason. Although a bone bruise to start the season and two missed games may push that timetable back a bit.


Ferrell Is Still In The Starting Lineup
From a 10-day contract to a two-year contract and an All-Rookie 2nd team nod, Yogi Ferrell had quite the adventure during his first season in the NBA.

Looks like things will be just as crazy in year two. Ferrell, who was slotted to be the backup point guard, has started in all four of the Dallas Mavericks’ games so far this season and has been fairly impressive, especially from behind the arc where he’s shooting 52.6% from deep.

The reason Ferrell has been in the starting lineup is because of injuries.

The Mavericks used the ninth pick in the NBA draft on Dennis Smith Jr. who they have high hopes will be their franchise point guard. Unfortunately he has missed two of the Mavericks’ four games. In addition to Smith, Seth Curry has yet to play this season due to a leg injury.

Yet Ferrell has made the most of his playing time (34.5 minutes per game) and I still expect around 20 minutes a game when he eventually goes back to the bench, especially after the way he has performed this first week.


Anunoby Already Starts His Rookie Campaign

The fear of maybe missing his entire rookie season caused OG Anunoby to fall all the way to number 23 on draft night where the Toronto Raptors happily picked him.

Anunoby has repaid the Raptors’ faith in him as surprisingly he was able to participate right away in the first game of the season.

While he hasn’t done anything too special, it is fun to note that his first career points were a dunk over Quincy Pondexter and that he finished with nine points in his first NBA game.


Season Averages:

OG Anunoby: Forward, Toronto Raptors:

5.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.7apg, 0.33spg, 0.00bpg, 0.0tpg, 2.7fpg, 42.9% FG, 28.6% 3FG, 100.0% FT, 15.7mpg (3 games)

Thomas Bryant: Center, Los Angeles Lakers:

N/A

Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell: Guard, Dallas Mavericks:

13.8ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.0apg, 1.00spg, 0.00bpg, 1.3tpg, 2.5fpg, 39.5% FG, 52.6% 3FG, 93.8% FT, 34.5mpg (4 games)

Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

23.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.3apg, 0.25spg, 0.50bpg, 2.0tpg, 2.5fpg, 41.4% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 83.9% FT, 30.5mpg (4 games)

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Indiana Pacers:

23.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 3.5apg, 2.50spg, 0.50bpg, 2.8tpg, 3.5fpg, 47.1% FG, 38.1% 3FG, 85.2% FT, 30.8mpg (4 games)

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

N/A

Troy Williams: Forward, Houston Rockets:

2.0ppg, 1.0rpg, 0.0apg, 0.00spg, 0.00bpg, 0.0tpg, 1.0fpg, 25.0% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 0.0% FT, 4.0mpg (1 game)

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

8.0ppg, 9.0rpg, 0.0apg, 0.00spg, 1.00bpg, 2.0tpg, 2.0fpg, 60.0% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 100.0% FT, 23.0mpg (1 game)

Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo Will Look To Turn His Luck Around With The Pacers

Victor Oladipo has had a very unlucky start to his career.

It started right from draft night in 2013, when the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick. In a parallel universe somewhere, Oladipo would have played with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James in the last three NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. However, more than likely he would have just replaced Bennett in the trade package the Cavaliers sent the Timberwolves in 2014 for Kevin Love.

The Orlando Magic happily picked Oladipo up with the second pick as the best player available. It wasn’t a position of need considering the Magic already had a pretty good shooting guard in Arron Afflalo, who along with Nikola Vucevic were the key pieces the Magic received from the Dwight Howard trade just a year prior. So to compensate, the Magic tried to have them share the backcourt with Oladipo as the point guard, which returned mixed results at best.

As a result, the Magic traded Afflalo to the Nuggets and drafted a point guard to play alongside Oladipo in Elfrid Payton. While this did end up being Oladipo’s most prolific scoring season (17.9ppg), the Magic remained a cellar dweller in the east and management finally gave up on head coach Jacque Vaughn and switched to James Borrego during the final third of the season.

Despite the team slightly improving, the Magic became anxious to start winning now and signed veteran coach Scott Skiles to become Oladipo’s third coach in three years. While Skiles did help unlock some of Oladipo’s defensive potential which had surprisingly been missing the first two seasons, Skiles’ abrasive personality didn’t mix with the team and after recommending several roster moves that caused the team to go backwards, he too was gone.

Oladipo’s fourth coach was to be Frank Vogel, someone who would get the best defensively out of Oladipo and would be a welcome change as a “player’s coach”. Yet fate intervened yet again as the Magic traded Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder in another win-now trade for the services of Serge Ibaka.

While unfortunately Oladipo would no longer be part of Orlando’s building process, this looked like it would work out great. The Thunder were trying to keep Kevin Durant from leaving so they traded for the guy Durant once praised by calling him a young Dwyane Wade. Under his newest coach Billy Donavan, Oladipo would fill in the gap left behind from the disastrous James Harden trade and would form a new big three in OKC with Durant and Russell Westbrook.

That never had a chance to happen as Durant instead signed with the Warriors and motivated Westbrook to become only the second player ever to average a triple-double during an entire season. Westbrook’s MVP season did let Oladipo get his first taste of the playoffs but just like in the regular season, Westbrook’s monopoly of the ball relegated Oladipo to being nothing more than a three-point shooter or an occasional alley-oop parter.

Now in an attempt to keep Westbrook from leaving Oklahoma City, the Thunder have traded for a Durant replacement in Paul George and with limited trade assets were forced to move Oladipo to the Indiana Pacers. There he will play for his fifth coach in five seasons in Nate McMillan (sixth if you count Vogel even though he never played for him) and play for a team that is looking towards the future with star big man Myles Turner leading the way.

Oladipo does deserve some blame for his inconsistent career up to this point (the turnover problems and surprisingly average defense during his first few seasons as well as his still streaky outside shooting), but after looking at all the circumstances he had to go through it’s actually a little bit surprising that Oladipo has been as successful as he’s been to this point in his career with averages of 15.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Here’s to hoping Oladipo finally finds his place in the NBA now that he’s back in the state of Indiana.