IU gets it over early, earns trip to Philly

IU gets it over early, earns trip to Philly

By Bob Hammel, Monday Herald-Telephone

March 23, 1981

From the March 23, 1981 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

They weren’t subtle at St. Joseph’s about the game plan. It fluttered from a sign in the cheering section: “Four-to-Score to the Final Four.”

“Four-to-score” is Hawk coach Jim Lynam’s spread offense – players aligned in the four corners of the offensive court, a la in the clock-killing ploy associated with North Carolina coach Dean Smith, but instructed in Lynam’s system to look for opportunities to drive and set up scoring opportunites. It’s an offense, albeit a slow and patient one.

It was the threat that hung in the ait when the throw went up for the opening tip. It went to Indiana, and the first offensive sequence took on game-ending importance. The Hoosiers maneuvered and distorted the 2-3 St. Joseph’s zone defense will passes and short drives till suddenly Ted Kitchel was open in the wing area right of the free-throw circle. “I thought it was really important to get ahead,” Kitchel said. He sank the shot, Indiana was up 2-0, and “probably the most important part of the game,” in the judgement of IU guard Isiah Thomas, already was over, 25 seconds into the game.

St Joseph’s did go to it’s “four-to-score” spread. John Smith, 6-foot-5, had 6-10 Landon Turner of IU draped out on all sides of him as Smith tried to find an open teammate. Turner stayed close enough to get a jump ball, controlled the tip, and a few more passesopened Randy Wittman in the leftcorner for a jump shot that, like Kitchel’s swished.

The score was 4-0, Lyman waved his team out of the spread offense into regular movement, and Indiana was on its way to Philidelphia and to a 78-46 romp in the NCAA Mideast Regional’s championship game Sunday at Assembly Hall.

From the March 23, 1981 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

Lynam hadn’t panicked. “We didn’t intend to run the spread the whole game,” he said. “We wanted to go in and ouyt of it.”

And in the spread, he said, “We weren’t trying to hold the ball. We just wanted them to come out and guard us. They did, and they did it extremely well.

“If their defense is not the best in the country, it has got to be tied for it.”

The offense wasn’t bad, either. The opening bullseyes by Kitchel and Wittman – just a day before, Lyman had them in mind when he said, “Those two kids from Indiana look to me like shooters” – started in IU history.

The Hoosiers closed at .686. They shot 51 times and missed 16. It was the seventh time the current club topped .600 in a game. Only the 1979 team’s .711 performance at Texas Tech in its NIT opener beat the Sunday show.

Indiana hit five of its first six shots in taking a 10-4 lead. Just that quickly the chance for St. Joseph’s to do anythingdrastic, with a slowdown died. At the very least,zlyman conceded, it did “give them (the Hoosiers) an air of confidence.”

Turner and Wittman led the early Hoosier charge, with assistance – a most apt word – from Isiah Thomas, who wasn’t particularly afflicted with the hot-hand problem most of his teammates had but fed the ones who were warm to roll up 12 assists.

Turner was three-for-three and Wittman, after hitting three in a row from long range, found a path through the St. Joseph’s zone for a driving shot that gave him a fourth field goal and the Hoosiers an 18-10 lead.

The basket also gave Wittman a seat for the rest f the day, “I caught a knee in my thigh when I made the drive,” he said . The problem was diagnosed as a bruise, ice and rest were prescribed, and Wittman became the onlr cloud on a glourious Hoosier day, his availability for next week at least somewhat questionable.

Jim Thomas came on to replace Wittman with 6:50 to go in the half, and the sophomore from Ft. Lauderdale delivered his second strong reserve performance f the weekend. “He played extremely well,” Hoosier coach Bob Knight said. “He just had a very, very good tournament. He did a good job defensively and he scored well.”

Thomas had one field goal as Indiana pulled out to a 36-16 halftime lead. When St. Joseph’s abandoned its zone and tried to surprise the Hoosiers with man-to-man pressure opening the second half, Thomas worked free to score the first three field goals of the half and puncture any hopes the Hawks had of generating a comeback.

The Thomas spree made the score 38-17, and St. Joseph’s never got the margin under 19 again.

It didn’t really balloon until after Knight had pulled his last two regulars, one at a time to let the crowd of 17,112 lavish its appreciation – tourney MVP Isiah Thomas, pulled with 3:51 left and the score 60-34; then, for the last time at The Hall, Ray Tolbert, with 3:05 to go and the score 65-38.

Lynam also cleared his bench, and the Indiana margin zoomed past 30 to a high of 34 before setting at the final 32.

Turner, NBC-TV’s pick as player of the game, and Tolbert shared Hoosier scoring honors with 14 points. They also shared the game’s rebounding lead with a surprise third partner: freshman Mike LaFave, who matched their five rebounds in playing just two minutes and 53 seconds.

Jim Thomas had 12 points, hitting 6 of 7 shots. Turner was 7-for-8, Tolbert 6-for-8. Because most of the rebounds were occurring at the IU defensive end, the Hoosiers claimed a 33-21 board edge.

From the March 23, 1981 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

Indiana, 24-9 with an eight-game winning streak, moves onto a semifinal game Midwest Regional champion Louisiana State Saturday afternoon at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. Virginia and North Carolina were the other regional winners. The national championship game will be Monday night.

ST. JOSEPH’S 46
M FG FT R A BS ST PF TP
William, f 34 2-4 0-0 4 0 0 0 3 4
Smith, f 32 1-6 0-0 2 3 0 1 3 2
Costner, c 34 3-8 1-2 4 0 0 1 5 7
Clark, g 31 3-4 5-6 4 0 0 0 4 11
Warrick, g 28 3-10 3-3 0 3 0 1 1 9
McFarlan 20 1-7 4-6 2 2 0 0 0 6
Mitchell 3 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kearney 3 0-0 2-3 1 0 0 0 1 2
Springman 3 1-3 3-4 0 0 0 0 0 5
DiCaro 2 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Team 4
Totals 14-42 18-25 21 9 0 3 17 46
INDIANA 78
M FG FT R A BS ST PF TP
Kitchel, f 20 1-4 1-2 3 3 0 1 4 3
Turner, f 29 7-8 0-0 5 2 0 0 5 14
Tolbert, c 37 6-8 2-4 5 2 0 0 1 14
I. Thomas, g 36 3-8 2-3 1 12 0 3 2 8
Wittman, g 13 4-4 0-0 0 1 0 0 0 8
J. Thomas 24 6-7 0-0 3 1 0 0 0 12
Risley 17 1-2 0-1 2 2 0 1 0 2
Grunwald 8 1-1 2-2 1 1 0 0 1 4
Brown 4 0-1 1-2 1 2 0 0 2 1
Isenbarger 3 3-4 0-0 0 2 0 0 3 6
Bouchie 3 1-2 0-0 1 1 0 0 0 2
Franz 3 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 1 2
LaFave 3 1-1 0-0 5 0 0 0 0 2
Team 6
Totals 35-51 8-14 33 29 0 5 19 78
SCORE BY HALVES
St. Joseph’s 16 30 – 46
Indiana 32 46 – 78
Errors – St. Joseph’s 11, Indiana 9.
SHOOTING
FG Pct. FT Pct.
St. Joseph’s 14-42 0.333 18-25 0.72
Indiana 35-57 0.686 8-14 0.571
Officials – Dale Kelly (SEC), James Howell (Southern), Bobby Dibler (WAC).
Attendance – 17,112 (sellout).