My thoughts on the Illinois win

Kelvin Sampson said he wanted to know how tough this team was.

I think he got a pretty good indication last night, as the Hoosiers scraped, clawed and fought their way to a most-gratifying Big Ten road game in one of the toughest environments imaginable.

Gordon bump
Click to view video from Assembly Hall II

Here are my thoughts:

  • Indiana did not have an MVP on Thursday. There were four or even five players that they simply could not have gone without: D.J. White, Jordan Crawford, Armon Bassett, Eric Gordon and Jamarcus Ellis. You could even throw Shaun Pruitt into that mix; he was equally as important if not more to Indiana’s victory.
  • They fought. In a close game, with an average opposing player in Demetri McCamey going for a career-high 31 points, none bigger than the 3-pointer he hit at the end of the first OT. But Indiana found a way to win. That’s what great teams do. And by no means am I saying this a great team- they simply are not- but they found a way to win a game in a hostile environment when they played far from their best basketball.
  • Kyle Taber? He’s making a strong case for more playing time. He dropped in that pretty putback in the second half like it was nothing. And while DeAndre Thomas continues to provide little for Indiana besides fouls, I’d expect to see Taber become part of the rotation. You have to love seeing a former walk-on come in an contribute for a team as talented as Indiana; it shows his hard work and dedication has paid off.
  • Is is me, or do you all out there see absolutely no cohesion with this offense? It’s hard to give Kelvin Sampson that much credit, because I really don’t see a set system that Indiana runs and it oftentimes leads to terrible shots (maybe a Jordan Crawford fadeaway?) There absolutely needs to be more movement, more screens and more passing. Why not run Gordon around a few screens (a-la-Reggie Miller/Richard Hamilton) to get him an open look, as opposed to giving him the ball 30 feet from the hoop? I don’t see the methodology behind this. On a staff where every assistant has been a head coach at some point, how can they not run a better offense?
  • Gordon stepped up in the second half last night. You could tell that he was a little rattled early because he was trying to do too much. He was going 100 miles an hour and forcing the ball to the rim. But he settled down in the second half, scoring 18 of his 19 points and he was one of the critical elements to IU’s second half comeback.


  1. The offense wasn’t bad last night, even in the first half. The problem was the zone. Kelvin thought it was the right thing to do, but it turned out to be the wrong thing. It allowed Illinois to get wide open shots and shorten the half (which they wanted to do).

    When Kelvin finally switched to man, it gave the team a bit more energy, and I think that it gave Indiana more of an “attitude.”

    If you don’t think they try to get Gordon coming off of screens, you’re not watching the same game I am. Bruce Weber is a good coach (even though he can’t recruit and is a total whiner), and his guys know how to defend screens.

    And to be honest, Indiana’s best offense was going 1-4 flat with Eric Gordon bringing the ball down the floor. It worked really, really well. To be honest, it was the best offense I’d seen from IU in a long time. If Gordon can play under control, they should do it more often, because he made some good passes and broke Illinois’ defense down.

    But I contend Indiana’s problems are on the defensive end of the floor. Indiana is not imposing its will on other teams like I think they are capable of doing. The fans think the problem is on the offensive end of the floor, but the reason Indiana scored 25 points in the first half was because Kelvin Sampson didn’t want to play man-to-man. The zone allowed Illinois to shorten the game.

  2. Quote: “Bruce Weber is a good coach (even though he can’t recruit and is a total whiner)”

    I think you had a typo in your response. I’m pretty sure you meant to say:

    “Bruce Weber is a good coach (even though he can’t recruit and is a total winner)”

  3. IU’s zone can be seen in most 9th grade games. It isn’t good. No one to cover the corner? Are you kidding me? I could be great. Call me, I can help.
    Actually I usually cringe at IU’s offense but I agree with Hoosier Fan. I saw Gordon running off of many screens. Trouble is he doesn’t know how to use them. He thinks running 100 mph is the way to get open. It’s not. You have to change speeds and directions(i.e Reggie and Rip). Also, you have to have a shooter setting the screen so that they can pop out if their man helps on Gordon. The biggest thing the coaching staff needs to do is explain to each player what a good and bad shot is FOR THAT PLAYER! Turnaround jumpers are not good shots! Fade aways are not good shots. Even for DJ. He can’t follow those.

  4. Taber has the opportunity to be an incredibly effective player on both ends of the floor. He plays hard every minute he’s in and does many little things. My suggestion: Have him pop in a couple of Jarrad Odle tapes and get a solid idea of what kind of role he should play on this team. If he can consistently play tough on the inside, it’s going to make it harder for teams to double down on DJ and therefore provide us more inside scoring opportunities.

  5. I agree with the comments on the zone defense. Kelvin has not coached a lot of zone and I don’t think that the practices until recently have focused much on it either. We should use it in spots to throw the other team off but we leave far too many gaps and easy looks using that approach.

    I have been trying to understand why the team is running the NBA style offense this year. The television analysts have been puzzled about all the standing around and one-on-one play as well and all have said this is not a Kelvin Sampson approach. I have wondered if there was something more to it and perhaps Mariotti was able to clear things up. In his article this morning he has a quote from EJ as follows:

    “I think I made the better choice of staying here at Indiana,” Gordon said before he stepped into the madness. “Basically, coach gave me all the freedom I want. He promised me that, and he’s living up to that.”

    Looks to me like Kelvin promised EJ that he would be able to play in an open freelance and NBA style manner and is living up to the agreement. Unfortunately, we don’t have a surrounding cast that benefits from this style.

  6. Congratulations Illini fans/students/players, you have now proven that you have absolutely zero class! And thanks for helping Coach Sampson in his future recruiting endeavors by showing all prospective recruits that Indiana is truely the cream of the Big Ten crop. Oh, and by the way, get a life!!

  7. I am a regular contributer, because I love this site. I was in Scottsdale, AZ last night and went to Duke’s Sports Bar to watch the game. We had a mini IU cheering section and our waiter had IU connections. It was awesome. I bet Bob Knight even smiled last night.

  8. In regard to coaches: I am not sure having all head coaches as assistants is a good idea–whose system are they teaching theirs or the head coach.
    They still want to be head coaches just watch them who are the players to listen to.
    Not only is Webber a whinner watch him on the sidelines. I think he is on the verge of losing it all.
    Also, if we are to play NBA style then we need NBA style players.

  9. “Bruce Weber is a good coach (even though he can’t recruit and is a total winner)”

    Yeah, total winner. 10-14, 2-9….don’t think there was any typo.

  10. i completely agree with Hoosier Fan and Prophet…that was the first time in a while that I saw someone trying to set a screen for a player in motion. There are two problems that I noticed…1) Prophet mentioned it about Gordon knowing how to USE the screen and 2) I haven’t seen anyone SET a GOOD ONE yet! K.S. should throw in the tape of the Purdue/Wisconsin game last night…cuz those two are far and away the best two screening teams in the B-10.

  11. “Bruce Weber is a good coach (even though he can’t recruit and is a total winner)”

    Uh…I think there was a typo…it should have read that Weber is a total BEEEEOTCH!

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