IU better be ready for Round 2 with OSU’s Wesson

One of the highlights from Indiana’s win over Ohio State was its defense versus the 6-foot-9, 270-pound post menace Kaleb Wesson.

That was but a faint, less-than-reassuring memory for IU coach Archie Miller as he previewed Saturday’s rematch in Columbus, Ohio.

“I don’t feel very good right now,” Miller said Friday. “It’s one of our big concerns right now is our interior defense, … especially in our last two games. Our interior defense has been non-existent and it’s resulted in a lot of fouls.”

While much focus went to the Hoosiers’ backcourt following a dreadful loss at Penn State, the Buckeye big man brings attention back to the front line. And they haven’t been blameless in a two-game skid.

In a one-point loss to Maryland, forward Jalen Smith racked up 29 points and 11 rebounds, including the game-winning bucket. He was also fouled six times.

At the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lions out-produced the Hoosiers in paint points, 36-28, and forwards Mike Watkins and Lamar Stevens shot 18 of PSU’s 23 free throws. Watkins and Stevens were each fouled six times.

Wesson is hard to not mix it up with, evidenced by the seven fouls he drew on the Hoosiers last time out. But there is still a formula for how to play Wesson embedded in that IU win at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, which they have to rediscover as they make a trek to OSU.

In the first matchup, the Hoosiers were physical but in the proper position, limiting Wesson to just 3-of-11 from the field. Two of his makes came from 3-point distance, too.

He was gifted just six free throws, converting just three.

“Honestly, we’ve just got to continue to be as physical as possible without fouling,” senior De’Ron Davis said. “We have to wall up, and we just have to try to eliminate as many post-up opportunities as we can, really, and just try to keep the ball out of his hands.”

Because of foul trouble for junior Joey Brunk, as well as freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Hoosiers had to turn to Davis to face Wesson the first time around.

Those 11 minutes versus OSU were the kickoff to a more productive stretch for the veteran forward, who had mostly received spot minutes to that point. Davis played an average of 11 minutes per game during the homestand with Michigan State and Maryland, and he was 5-of-5 from the field in the three games leading up to Penn State.

The senior has flashed a mid-range jumper, and his court vision was more than evident in a three-assist effort versus the Terrapins. On the other hand, Davis just wasn’t as efficient at Penn State, hitting 2-of-7 from the field and committing four fouls in 18 minutes off the bench.

Davis, who has been trying to return to form since an Achilles injury sophomore year, will look to build on what he’s been able to achieve of late.

“Each game we play … you build your chemistry with the guys on the court and your rhythm,” Davis said. “The more and more time I get on the court, the more and more I get a better feel, and I think the better I do.”

IU (15-6, 5-5 Big Ten) will need all hands on deck to fortify the middle versus OSU. But in the Buckeyes, Miller also sees a team that’s shooting better than before.

When the Hoosiers faced them, they held the Buckeyes to 32.7 percent shooting. That was the end of a four-game stretch where OSU hit below 33 percent in three contests. The very next game, the Buckeyes (13-7, 3-6) connected on 54.5 percent of their shots versus Nebraska, and they’ve been above 42 percent ever since.

“Being able to defend inside against him is where the game starts and stops because of the way that he posts and they play, and they play around him,” Miller said of Wesson. “If you’re going to allow the ball in at will, if you’re going to allow him to operate, he’s going to cause a lot of problems.”

One shooter who won’t be available for the Buckeyes is freshman guard D.J. Carton, who is taking time off to address his mental health. His last game on the floor, Carton was 6-of-8 from the field on his way to 17 points.

The situation with Carton puts things in perspective. On Friday, Miller said “there’s no more important issue in collegiate athletics” than mental health, as he recalled a situation he had with a player at Dayton, Matt Derenbecker, who left the team and was later lost to suicide.

“You think about the times that he was with you and the times that he wasn’t, and you just wonder to yourself, could you have done more,” Miller said. “Four or five years later now, it’s much more prepared and you’re much more equipped as a university and as a staff, and it’s more serious when somebody has something.

“But nothing is more important and nothing should be taken more serious when it comes to that type of stuff. … Hopefully, like I said, our thoughts go out to D.J. and his family, and we need to get him back as soon as possible. He’s a great kid. He’s a great player.”

19 comments

  1. OK…we play Ohio State, not Michigan.

    Still, BOTH of those schools have horrid, phony, coaches. Coaches who have totally lost any semblance of control over their team. The “effort level” of Ohio State when they came to Assembly Hall was nothing short of pathetic.

    Yes, our team is reeling after falling apart at Penn State, but we’ve learned now exactly what happens when we throw our hands up in frustration at each other. (i.e., Devonte Greene after making yet another senseless turnover…this time unable to cross the half-court line, there are several other examples in that Penn State game.)

    And THAT is the difference! Ohio State is still “trying to figure it out”, I’m not even going to MENTION Michigan since we don’t play them for a while.

    Look for us getting up 15 or 20 early and hanging on for a signature with (sticking together) as that ineffective borderline moronic Coach for Ohio State continues clapping his hands in an attempt to “reach” his team.

  2. The only thing I can say is the IU basketball fortunes will rise and fall on 3 players in this order, just as it did last year.

    1. Jerome Hunter
    2. Race Thompson
    3. Rob Phinese

    They are the heart and soul of CAM’s foundation to rebuild the program. Romeo was a one and done. CAM took a chance on DA and JF, but the 3 I mentioned were the core group he would rebuild the program around because they would likely be with the program at least 3-4 years.

    Of the players CAM could least afford to have the health misfortunes we have seen, these were the critical ones and all three have been hit. If all three can return to form, the team will change dramatically.

  3. Why is Green playing?

    I’m turning this one off… he’s attempted 4 passes – 2 TO’s, 1 deflection, 1 completed

    Going to see Romeo and Tacko tonight instead… that should be fun.

  4. Romeo? Who cares…? He had about as much commitment to Indiana as a One-and-Nun has to a catholic church. Appropriate he’s a Maine main attraction. It’s the farthest he could get from Indiana without shooting an air ball into Newfoundland. His hype at Indiana was deflated faster than a trainer bleeds Brady footballs. I know Mainers enjoy plenty of lobster rolls up in them parts…but I didn’t realize the New All-boloney was a popular sandwich?

    1. Well, unfortunately Romeo wasn’t there… Neither was Tacko. Both were up with the Celtics. However, I did get to see a former Purdue all American dropped 41. The game ended with a game winner from Tremont Waters, who is another great Celtics draft pick this past summer.
      Much more fun and entertaining game then whatever are you did with the rest of their time that afternoon I’m sure.

      And as far as Romeo goes, he is indelibly on a poster hanging on my sons bedroom wall, so you’ll always be a hero to Grayson.

      1. Time is flying…but how old is Grayson? Didn’t think he was old enough to be picking out posters. Nothing wrong with heroes. Most of mine are dead….or in prison….or should be in prison.

        Dr. J (still have my SPORT magazine with Dr. J dressed up as a surgeon on its cover)….“Tiny” Nate Archibald….O.J. Simpson (yes, regrettably, one of my childhood heroes…I have a 24″ x 36″ color chalk drawing of him I did as a child. It was a shot of him that was also featured on the cover of SPORT magazine I still own)….Ali….Calvin Hill… (I still have a big black & white charcoal drawing I did of Calvin while he was sipping from a tiny paper cup) Bob “Butterbean” Love ( I saw my favorite Chicago Bull, “Butterbean,” when I was very young boy. It was at River Oaks mall south of Chicago. My mom used to take me to the Carson Pirie Scott for my ‘fashionable’ striped bell-bottoms. River Oaks Mall was about a 45 minute drive from Chesterton. “Butterbean” was handing out autographed photos..Hardly a soul around the table…I never knew he had a terrible speech impediment. He seemed like such a kind soul) ….“Stormin’ Norman” Van Lier…. Joe “Willie” Namath….Walter “SWEETNESS” Payton….and many Chicago Cubs. Of course, my favorite Cub was Ernie (I still own a sort of découpage thing I did on a scrap piece of wood from grade school featuring Ernie with the bat resting on his shoulder)….
        You know what’s really funny…I had all these sports heroes (living only 1 hour from Chicago) and my dad never took me to one game. No Bulls, No Bears…No Cubs. Never. Your son is lucky….

        Hoosier hero? Only really one. Steve Downing.

        I was mainly just jackin’ around with you, Geoff. Romeo seems like a fine kid and I doubt he’ll ever brutally murder a girl friend and an innocent bystander.
        If you live too long, many heroes can let you down.
        I have a feeling you are Grayson’s biggest hero….My father was mine.

        1. Awwww, shucks.
          Ok Harv, here’s the long, winding, proud-dad story, since you (sort of) asked:

          G is 6 going on either 17 or 2 depending on the minute.
          He’s in his first year of “organized” team basketball in the youth program my HS teams help run. Lots of double-dribbling and traveling and smiles and skips and occasional buckets.
          He’s in 1st grade, but playing up with the 2nd and 3rd graders because I’ve been taking him to skills and drills the last 3 years that we put the K-1 graders through and he was about to quit basketball if he had to do it again this year. It’s great too because he gets to play with the other HS coach’s son and the local college coach’s sons, who he’s grown up with through day care, but are a year older.
          (They will be a darn good group to coach in 10 years and hopefully give us a shot at a couple state titles).
          He also became enamored when shooting at half time of one of our varsity games with the 7th grade coach’s 2nd grade son… this kid is a phenom. I helped run 7th grade tryouts, to introduce the lower levels to our system, and this kid was running through all the drills and scrimmaging at the tryout, and was the 2nd best player (after his brother, who’s averaging 34 ppg as a 7th grader!)… so Grayson wants to be just like this little 2nd grader now and says he’ll even listen to me when I try to coach him if it will make him better…!
          We’ll see.

          Ask about Grayson at your own risk going forward. 😉

          1. Sounds like you are one busy dad….You better make that boy of yours attend IU. I don’t want to hear anything about Duke.

            Time certainly does fly….Wonder who our coach will be in 11 years when
            Grayson graduates? I’ll probably not be around to know.
            Maybe you’ll be the Hoosier coach in 11 years, Geoff? Maybe you….? You’ll bring the passion back…and the son will come to play for his father.

            Nate “Tiny” Archibald…? Thought you would enjoy hearing that old Celtic name? No poster of Nate in the house? I have a pencil drawing if you’re really interested. Now that was a very special backcourt engine from back in the day. 1:15 mark – quote from Cousy to Nate: “It’s not about scoring, it’s about running the team.”
            When are we gonna have a guard who can run the team?

            Sounds like you’re having a great time being a dad.

  5. Wow…Who stuck the pins into a Brunk voodoo doll? Oh, never mind….. Kid was going so well until he whacked off his mop of hair. All his funk and heart seemingly depleted almost overnight. It’s like he drove off a cliff after the MSU game. There went our potential leader….Adios.

  6. Kiss the NCAA’s good bye. Robbie Hummel said it best “Im not sure what Archie can do when Indiana cant hit layups or open shots”

  7. Looks to me as if they’ve quit, certainly in this game, but maybe for the season as well.

    Rock, the statement you made about OSU’s effort level when they played at Bloomington seems to be the case today with IU!

    1. They haven’t quit on the season Po, they just don’t care on the road. They are taking on Archie’s excuse about “everybody getting a week off before they play us”. He was moaning about that vs. PSU & OSU. Meanwhile it’s our 4th game in 10 days, I think. There may be something to it, but it is simply a poor excuse for not giving a damn.

  8. Archie Miller is officially on the hot seat. He’s making Crean look like Branch McCracken.

    I can live with losing….but not with watching a team totally absent of fire with zero chip on their shoulder.

    Need to take a page out of the American gal, Sofia Kenin, who just won the Australian Open tennis tournament. I don’t see a Hoosier on our team with 1/5 the heart and guts of that young lady.

    This is now a competitive spirit problem…I just don’t understand it.

  9. Fire Archie!!! not because its anything he’s done or not done…..these players are never gonna play for him

  10. There is no brotherhood — leadership on this team….The look on CAM face at the 6:00 minute mark sum this team and program up at the moment. This team is completely lost and CAM maybe lost also. Maybe this is the year Indiana should go to the NIT and play all their games at Assembly Hall, because they cannot play on the road.

  11. Fire Archie!!!! not because of anything he has or hasn’t done; these kids are never gonna play for him. They sleep walk thru games ..he needs a starter pistol to get their attention during games. As some have conjectured the Instate talent isn’t as good as what is advertised

  12. Geoff. I hate pro sports and pretty much most things they represent. So for me that would be worse than watching IU vs OSU. However, have a good time.
    9 (first half deficit) + 1 (second half deficit) = 9 point loss. Boring non eventful going thru the motions.
    Hummel is a good class act.

Comments are closed.