IU goes 0-2 in Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Indiana fell behind by 19 points to Colorado midway through a largely hideous second half and a furious comeback late fell short, as the Hoosiers lost 78-69 in the consolation game of the Las Vegas Classic.

Colorado senior swingman Cory Higgins led the Buffaloes with 22 points while classmate Marcus Relphorde added 14 points. Junior forward Austin Dufault had 10 points and seven rebounds while senior guard Levi Knutson added 10 points.

Freshman guard Victor Oladipo had 16 points and seven rebounds, including five on the offensive end, to spark a late rally that brought the Hoosiers back to within three points. Sophomore guard Jordan Hulls hit three early 3’s and led the team with 17 points. However, each of IU’s top three scorers for the season had rough nights.

Sophomore forward Christian Watford still managed 14 points in the game, but was 3-for-14 and missed his first 11 shots. Junior guard Verdell Jones had yet another gouth night, shooting 4-for-15 from the field, and sophomore Maurice Creek also continued to strubble with a 1-for-4 shooting outing.

The Hoosiers had a sub-par defensive outing for the second straight game, allowing Colorado to shoot 54.5 percent from the field, including 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in the second half.

IU cut the deficit to three points with 3:08 left in the game and then 69-66 with 1:33 to go. However, Higgins drove for a 3-point play on the next possession to start a 7-0 run and the Hoosiers were never closer than seven points after that.

AUDIO: Tom Crean discusses the loss

AUDIO: Jordan Hulls tries to explain the lulls

AUDIO: Victor Oladipo talks about the spark he provided


  1. At what point do we blame the coaching? If i remember correctly, according to ESPN the class of Elston, Capiobianco, Creek, Hulls, and Watford was a top 10 class. I’m starting to wonder if Tom can really coach. Guess we’ll find out over the next month. These 2 games were very disheartening.

  2. Deadly combination tonight: obvious talent gap and poor coaching. I thought the days of not competing were over, but to go 0-2 is terrible. If we are going to play 4 guards and only 1 big, the big needs to hang out down low. Too little too late for Watford tonight.

  3. One last thing I MUST say is this:

    On blogs and message boards…IU fans said the exact same things I have read today about Crean about Davis and Sampson as far as their coaching, questioning them and everything else. Think about it…it is the truth, I read it all and remember like it was yesterday!

    again, Merry Christmas to all, I am out!!!

  4. Here we go, here come the naysayers and the doomsday prophets. Crean can’t coach, we’re doomed to mediocrity, blah blah blah…just like after the loss yesterday to Northern Iowa. I think y’all need to get a grip on reality. Going into the season, we were realistically, at best, an NIT team. And right now, that’s pretty much how we’ve looked. So everyone just take a deep breath, step away from the ledge, put a hold on the “fire Crean” petitions, etc.

  5. In his third year as head basketball coach, his overall record was 11-17, his conference record was 3-11. Tom Crean at Indiana? No, that would be the record of Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski in year three.
    How about a 3rd year at 12-12. Dean Smith.
    Maybe 13-14. Rick Pitino 3rd year.
    Here’s another one at .500, 12-12, Jim Calhoun 3rd year.
    Remember that guy that coached Maryland to the national championship over our Hoosiers, Gary Williams? His third year at Maryland he went 14-15 but he surged back the next year to go 12-16.

    Get a grip.

  6. “Hang in there” JPat.
    Watford needs to stay down low for IU to have a true post presence. I thought IU started out fine tonight, they just lost focus mid-First half. That carried over to the second. To me, it was obvious that the coaches addressed things that were nessesary concerning last nights game. The guards played well early but missed alot of bunnies at crunch time. Not to mention the Bad shots by Watford and Jones. Some negatives tonight but also more growth. Are passing has gotten better but spacing and movement are sloppy.
    I would start Watford, Elston, Oladipo, Hulls and Roth next game. Only because Roth desreves a look now and to send a message to Creek and Jones. Oladipo was a man out there tonight. He needs to be on the floor. And, I’ll keep saying this, IU needs a driving, finisher, and defensive stopper at the point. They just need to put it together. IU will be a better team in ten games barring injury.

  7. Just listened to Coach’s comments. I can’t help but hope he gets after these players. I don’t mind a little bit of public fire saying we need to play better. I don’t wanna hear excuses. He was really defensive of Verdell. Maybe I just miss the Coach Knight comments but I do like a little bit of fire. Apparently Elston was just gassed…

  8. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Verdell Jones III is absolutely horrendous for this team. His poor play and out of control nature is infectious. I didn’t see tonight’s game, but saw enough of him against Northern Iowa to realize that Watford and others began playing erratically and carelessly almost on cue after a couple of Jones blunders. For goodness sake, he’s got 48 TOs already and hasn’t even started the Big Ten schedule! He should only be in a game at slop time or for short breathers for Hulls, Oladipo, Creek, Roth, Moore, etc.

  9. Crean is a snake oil salesman. If we can’t beat Colorado or N Iowa…… Never mind what great recruit is coming, just win baby. I’m sure these two teams we lost to don’t have the blue chippers, they just have better coaching….
    Find the money Fred for the buyout.

  10. Does anyone know of a bulletin board for IU fans? Whew, so much negativity here. Ever hear of “constructive” criticism? I hated watching these last two games as much as any IU fan, but true fans stick with their teams through thick and thin. Firing Crean is not an option right now, so move on. Funny how when we win, it’s because we have such good talent, and when we lose, it’s because Crean sucks. The bottom line is we’re not a very good team right now, and the best coach in the world isn’t going to change that. The players simply have to get better, and then we’ll win more games. Don’t forget, this team is a bunch of freshmen and sophomores, and they didn’t have any senior mentors when they came in.

    True fans should talk about the break-out game that Elston had yesterday, and the break-out game that Olidipo had today. With one more talented new player (Zeller, Michel), or more break-out nights from a current player, we would easily be 12-1 or undefeated. We’re close! Season on the brink!

    And instead of bitching and moaning, does anyone know why Elson didn’t play more tonight?

  11. Hey John,
    Tom had two explanations for that. One was that he played a lot of minutes last night and because he’s been battling some injuries, he wasn’t the same player after that sort of exertion. The other is he decided to go with a smaller lineup in the second half. Pritchard didn’t play at all in the second half and Capobianco played two minutes.

  12. Pritchard should’nt play at all except in a mop up role,the same goes for Roth. This team sucks at the free throw line and there is no excuse for that. We commit one less foul and they shoot six more from the line. This just shows that we are lazy and slow footed when it comes to defense, especially in the lane.

  13. It’s funny to me that most of the super negative comments being made here this week have been made by posters that were quiet as mice while Coach Crean was lining up so many high-end recruits, most of whom are Indiana kids. As always, it’s easier to sling mud than give praise.

  14. These games are a product of a team that virtually wiped out three years ago. During these past three years the team has beem completely void of upper classman with any real experience at how to prepare for games, how to travel, how to close out games, etc. etc. Until we develop players with this experience we will continue to be in games until the last few minutes and then watch them fade away. But I am confident there are men on this team that will develop and we will be winners once again. I think alot of these bloggers forget how devasted this program was, it is rediculous to compare us to any other program becuase it is hard to find a program that was as wiped out as this one.

  15. I’ll try to control my negativity today as so many other posters seem offended by anything but sugarcoating and excuses. Oh sorry, that was negative. You’re just eternally optimistic, I guess.

    But I will say that if IU is good enough to cut a 19-point deficit to 3, with a chance (if Jones hadn’t clanked 2 FTs)to cut it further, then they should never have gotten down 19 in the first place. Play the whole game the way you played in cutting the lead from 19 to 3, and you might win by 19. That’s all I’ll say.

    Merry Christmas to everyone.

  16. One thing I can’t stand is for college players to miss free throws, they should be shooting at least 80% from the line. How many years have they been shooting early am. free throws before classes start. Remember, concentration and repetition. Merry Christmas !!! Support Global Cooling, Eat More Ice Cream !!!

  17. Watched the first 10 minutes, then switched to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” I knew how the game and the cartoon both would end, but at least the cartoon had a happy ending. HIS HEART GREW THREE SIZES!!! By the way here’s an equation for you kids taking a couple of weeks off algebra class: Tom Crean = Dale Brown x 2.

  18. Some players continue to improve while others seem to have hit a wall after three years in the program. It seems that when the team loses focus there is little guidance from the bench.Why give Watford the ball 15 feet from the basket for the entire first half and make him drive to get to the hole.Call time out and make sure the team understands to get him the ball down low.This team WILL get better and the fans have to remain patient but at the same time the coaching staff has to pick up the pace on the learning curve.This is year #3.Make sure the players UNDERSTAND.

  19. Stop and think about the fact Rivers, Pritchard and Jones would not be recruits talented enough as HS Seniors to receive offers from Coach Crean in 2010. That is a sobering fact bluntly stating where we are at in the rebuild. The talent of the opponent played against in practice every day is the one who has the most to do with your level of improvement and success. Re-read Chet’s post above for proof. Coach K at Duke was only a lukewarm success as a disciple of RMK until Johnnie Dawkins made the scene. Put your bitch bags and crying towels away they are not yet called for. This never was a 3 year story. Coach Crean is on target and on schedule.

  20. Please do not worry – Coach Dynamic will bring us through. I expect we will be in the race for the Big 10 Title this season and we will grab a 6 – 8 seed in the big dance. Then of course we may all be here in two years thinking that these were the “good old days”.

    I am ready for spring football to start!

  21. With all due respect to those of you upset by the negative comments, TOUGH CRAP! I’m still an avid, tried-and-true IU fan. What I’m not a fan of is poor coaching. When you have a player on the court whose TOs per game has gone UP each of his three seasons, YOU AIN’T FRIGGIN’ COACHING!!!!! When you have a team that’s short on talent but shooting .693 from the charity stripe, YOU AIN’T FRIGGIN’ COACHING! When you have a PG that leisurely walks the ball up the court TWICE in the final two minutes of a still close game and then still appears to be clueless in getting a play off, YOU AIN’T FRIGGIN’ COACHING!

    I’ve been an ardent supporter of Crean’s and do fully understand the depths to which this program was just 3 years ago. I’m thrilled with the recruiting progress that’s been made thus far. But now I want to see some actual coaching. Let’s see some development. Let’s see some mental toughness, concentration, and focus. Those attributes can be developed in any type of physical talent.

  22. Refusing to be baited into an argument on this message board, I’m one of those that is largely pleased with the direction of the program but with some definite dissatisfaction with the current team’s inability to beat solid competition. That does in fact concern me, and it seems to be a combination of the players, the coaches, and the under-the-radar leftover mindsets from the past two seasons. I hope that the entire team and staff get down to business addressing those issues and not to just do business as usual.

    With that said, my earlier comments were not in anyway aimed toward a stance in which I believe that only positive comments should be made about IU hoops. Couldn’t be further from the truth. What I WAS trying to point out is that many of the super-negative comments were coming from those that didn’t make a peep when Coach Crean starting securing what looks to be a very brightly populated future roster. I have no problem whatsoever calling a spade a spade when things aren’t going right–I merely take it as a reminder that there are people that only see things one way and that’s the only way.

    But, hey, everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion and mindset, so that’s that. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s to everybody!

  23. I was at the games in Vegas and it was nice to see the team within driving distance!

    I also saw Dustin there and managed to say a quick hello and thanks to him. Appreciate the work that he and Hugh do!

    As to substance, my thoughts as to offense, I am no coach, but after watching those two games, I question the dribble drive offense (which is, I believe, what one calls the offense they are playing) at least insofar as it is being applied with this group of guys.

    I saw a steady stream of guys weaving and cutting down the lane. It seems to me to produce a fairly predictable point of attack — right down the key and into the heart of the opposing defense. That allows the help defenders to lay in wait and produces multiple sets of hands jabbing at the IU guys driving the lane. Meanwhile, the other guys sit out on the margins, waiting for their turns in the weave, and perhaps moving a bit to get open, but not picking and rolling or anything like that.

    This resulted in a lot of plays where Watford and Jones, in particular, pushed themselves into tangled masses of guys and either had the ball stolen, blocked or they missed their shots under heavy defensive pressure.

    The dribble drive may be workable, but it seems to me that it requires players who are very quick, which I don’t think we have in spades. If you can outquick your guy to the rack and avoid the help defenders, you’re golden. But that’s not our team this year.

    However, I think we DO have some excellent shooters from 3 if we can get them open. Why not run an offense directed to that? Of course, if you live by the three, you can also die by it, but better to die sometimes and lives sometimes than to die always with the dribble drive. Shucks, Mike Davis rode some incredible 3 point shooting to the national title game, although it wasn’t enough to win that game against a team with a lot of bigs.

    Jordy and Roth, along with Watford, Elston, Creek (although not lately and I think he is too slow -because of his injury- to be able to defend well enough to pay at this time) can all shoot very well from 3. Sheehee too and I think Oladipo is getting better at it. That’s a lot of outside firepower if you can get them open and ride whoever has the hot hand.

    Bob Knight managed to make Steve Alford (by the end of his career – and I’m not forgetting the trauma that preceded that – e.g. “A Season on the Brink”) into an amazing weapon – and Alford was a slow, short guy who could, however, shoot the lights out. Of course, different teams, different eras, but…

    Why not at least add to the dribble drive a series of back picks and/or double picks away from the ball designed to pop a shooter open? Most of the other guys were standing around waiting anyway. That way, if the dribble driver can’t get anywhere down the lane, look to the open shooter for the pop and shoot.

    Again, I’m no coach, but wouldn’t it make sense to consider an offense more focused on that and the other strengths of this team?

  24. I don’t think anyone expects the program to be completely rebuilt after three years.Can we expect that between Kentucky ,Boston Collage,Northern Iowa and Colorado to come away with at least one win? ABSOLUTELY.

  25. I like how the whining at the beginning of this thread has evolved into a more constructive discussion. If you don’t like the coaching, give us the details of what YOU would do. That was some good stuff from WestCoast Hoosier. My personal beef is the lack of decent screening. Our bigs get called for moving screens IN EVERY GAME. That amounts to a few turnovers in every game. That can be the difference between winning and losing in a close game. Come on guys, stop giving up the ball because you can’t set a decent screen 25 feet from the basket. It’s not rocket science — DON’T MOVE.

    My other beef is Hulls not moving without the ball. Hulls could be the next Alford, but only if he learns to get himself open and not rely on his defender helping out and leaving him open. I saw flashes of this at the beginning of the Colorado game, hopefully this will get better.

  26. If Pritchard, Rivers,and Jones are not worthy of a Crean scholarship offer, don’t play them. Also Roth is not a good 3 point shooter, and Hulls could never be another Alford.

  27. Well …at least the Big Ten was kind to Indiana ….we play Penn State and they really really suck …I was in Vegas and Indiana just really sucks …so Indiana should win that game ….Honestly, we all know this years a bust and was pretty much guaranteed … IT will be REAL interesting to see if Crean can coach big time talent that’s coming in ….so far his Top Ten class …well, not so good

  28. Yes, this sophomore class was a top ten class. It’s best player went down last year & has still not fully recovered. You also have to keep in mind that one highly rated class, that high in large part due to Creek, is not going to magically turn a team into Big Ten & NCAA contenders. What that class is, though, is a very good foundation to build on. Which is exactly what Crean appears to be doing. It was a very good group of recruits, but not several one & done players, like UK had. Which is not what we need here.

  29. That’s all well and good but at this time next year no more excuses will be accepted.No more explaining away a mediocre basketball team after all “THIS IS INDIANA”

  30. Our pick & roll offense works well, BUT we can’t seem to hit the open man cutting to the basket. Can any of our guards hit the roll man?!?
    Victor seems to be the only man able to beat his man 1v1 in the dribble drive part. (Rivers can, but can’t seem to make the pass without excessive turnovers.) So, put Victor at the point and have him jumpstop in the paint. This will allow the others strengths to better shine.

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