Hoosiers Get A Fairy Tale Ending On Senior Night, Squeak Past Northwestern

It was a magical night in Bloomington that culminated in Indiana’s lone senior proposing to his girlfriend on Senior Night.

But before Collin Hartman got down on one knee and became engaged to his girlfriend, his Indiana Hoosiers finally had their own happy ending as they ended their five-game losing streak by barely (and I mean barely) getting past Northwestern 63-62.

The magic started with 5:30 left in the first half. After a quick 30-second timeout in response to a 11-0 Northwestern run to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 22-14, the Hoosiers showed a passion not seen during the first 14:30 as IU finished the half on an incredible 22-0 run that ended with Devonte Green sinking a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the opposite three-point line.

Despite ending the half on such a momentum-shifting run, the Hoosiers 36-26 halftime lead didn’t last long as the Wildcats only needed 6 minutes to retake the lead and held it until the final seconds.

With 3:11 left and the Wildcats up 61-53, it looked like the clock was about to strike midnight on the Hoosiers last remaining hope of playing in the postseason. Yet the tide turned yet again as the Hoosiers finished the game on a 11-1 run that included the following:

  • Three offensive rebounds for IU in one possession
  • 87.5% free throw shooter Bryant McIntosh missing one of his free throws
  • Robert Johnson scoring just his second bucket of the game and his first since the 10:12 mark of the first half
  • James Blackmon Jr hitting a big three-pointer with 38 seconds left
  • Not fouling Northwestern and perfectly defending the Wildcats for the full shot clock
  • Not calling a timeout after grabbing the rebound with nine seconds left and having Blackmon drive to the basket only to throw an amazing pass to an open Thomas Bryant underneath the basket.
  • Bryant getting fouled but still being able to make the game-tying basket with 2.6 seconds left
  • The most dramatic go-ahead free throw make of all-time

(No seriously, the way the ball bounced up in the air before going through the hoop is something out of the end of a Disney sports movie)

What made it even more suspenseful was that McIntosh’s half court heave almost went at the buzzer but luckily for the Hoosiers it hit off the back of the rim.

The result was a win for one of Indiana’s best winners in Collin Hartman. As stated by Indiana Coach Tom Crean during the celebration, Hartman was an integral part of last year’s Big Ten championship team. He did all the little things and even stepped up in the scoring department when the Hoosiers needed him most. But perhaps the biggest lasting image of Hartman was the fact that he wanted the Hoosiers to beat Kentucky so badly that he played in the game despite having a broken wrist.

For the ultimate winner, it was only fitting that the Hoosiers made what was likely his last game in Assembly Hall a win.

Advertisements

Resilient Hoosiers Earn Signature Win Over Iowa

Only one word properly describes this year’s Indiana Hoosiers: resilient.

The Hoosiers defeated the fourth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes 85-78 on Thursday night to move into a tie for first place in the Big Ten. It was the kind of signature win that the Hoosiers’ tournament resume really lacked and IU earned it by being resilient.

Indiana (20-5, 10-2) broke open a back-and-forth game with a 20-4 run from the 17 minute mark until the 10 minute mark of the first half. Indiana would extend that lead to as large as 16 when the Hoosiers led 36-20 with 6:03 left until halftime.

Yet Iowa (19-5, 10-2) steadily chipped away as they responded with a 25-9 run that had the game tied at 45-45 with 17:39 left in the second half. Both teams would continue to exchange buckets but with 9:35 left, the Hawkeyes held a 60-56 lead as well as momentum.

With a 16-point lead gone, the Hoosiers were on the ropes. Their star and senior leader Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell had missed on his last nine shot attempts and the Hoosiers as a team were two for their last ten. It felt like all the pressure to win this game, which would give IU their first win against a ranked opponent this season, was collapsing in on the Hoosiers.

However, this Indiana team has actually thrived when it has had its back to the wall. Time and again the Hoosiers have faced obstacles only to grow from overcoming them. From rebounding from a sixth place finish at the Maui Invitational to the embarrassing loss at Penn State last weekend, the Hoosiers have shown resilience all year by never losing back-to-back games.

“When things get bad you can fall off and crumble or you can rise to the occasion. I think that we’ve done a really good job of rising to the occasion when adversity hits,” said Collin Hartman about the team’s resiliency this season.

The Hoosiers rose to the occasion again as Harrison Niego’s baseline jumper marked IU’s first non-layup field goal in over five minutes. That make was the beginning of a 19-6 run that would put the Hoosiers ahead for good. It was also a run that featured Troy Williams “coming back to life” and Ferrell finally making his second basket of the game.

“Troy was like Lazarus, he resurrected himself a couple of times during the game,” joked Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean about Williams’ performance. Williams was mostly ineffective during the majority of the game, but Williams ended up being one of the main reasons behind the late run. Williams scored seven of his 13 points during those last nine minutes, which included a see-to-believe moment where Williams split two defenders and nailed a fadeaway jumper that barely beat the shot clock during the final minute of the game.

Indiana still has a lot of obstacles to overcome if  the Hoosiers want to stay at the top of the Big Ten standings amidst a grueling schedule that next has IU traveling to East Lansing to face Michigan State on Sunday. The only thing we know for sure is that Indiana will continue to be resilient no matter what happens.

Bielfeldt Helps Short-Handed Hoosiers Hold Off Rutgers

The Indiana Hoosiers avoided a bad start to conference play by defeating the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 79-72  in Piscataway, New Jersey on Wednesday to win IU’s first Big Ten game of this season.

The close score and the quality of opponent (Rutgers was ranked as the 245th ranked team according to Kenpom) may have Hoosier Nation very worried going forward but the truth is that this was a good win considering the circumstances.

The Hoosiers faced an uphill challenge from the beginning of the game when James Blackmon Jr. was ruled out due to a knee injury he suffered during one of the practices heading into conference play. The Hoosiers faced even more adversity when Thomas Bryant got in early foul trouble and stayed in foul trouble all game before fouling out in the second half. In total, Bryant played all of six minutes and only contributed three points and a single rebound.

Then there was the turnovers. The Hoosiers finished the game with 23 of them and the biggest problem was that they came from players you’d least expect. Starting Guards Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell and Rob Johnson combined for 11 turnovers (six for Ferrell and five for Johnson) and Troy Williams, who does have a tendency to get too careless with the basketball, had a shockingly bad day even for him as he committed more turnovers (7) then he grabbed rebounds (6).

While most of these troubles were self-inflicted, the Hoosiers should still be given credit for overcoming everything to win their first conference game as well as their first road game of the season (the Maui Invitational counting as neutral site games).

Collin Hartman did a good job filling in for the injured Blackmon Jr. as he finished with nine points, including two three-pointers in the first few minutes of the game, and also added two rebounds.

However, the biggest story was Max Bielfeldt.

Unlike Hartman, Bielfeldt didn’t come into the game knowing he would have to make up for a starter’s lost production. Yet Bielfeldt filled in magnificently for the foul-plagued Bryant by tying a career-high 18 points as well as grabbing a team-high 14 rebounds. His combination of passing, scoring, and interior defense was almost Zellerish at times and was greatly needed for the Hoosiers to beat a very aggressive Rutgers team.

While Bryant didn’t have a great first Big Ten game, O.G. Anunoby did. The freshman from Missouri played his best game yet as he finished with eight points, seven rebounds, and two steals while also making two more three-pointers.

Longtime reserve Ryan Burton also made two three-pointers for an Indiana bench that nearly outscored the starters (42-37). Ferrell had a terrible first half but played significantly better in the second half as he ended up leading the Hoosiers in points (20) and assists (7).

The Hoosiers will get to celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day but will play again on Saturday at Nebraska before returning home to face Wisconsin next Tuesday.

 

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.

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.