Indiana 69, USC-Upstate 61

IU_BB_UPSTATE

Christian Watford shoots during the first half against USC-Upstate on Monday at Assembly Hall. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Indiana survived a sluggish affair, defeating USC-Upstate, 69-61, on Monday.

The Hoosiers improved to 2-0 this season, led by Christian Watford’s 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Maurice Creek added 14 points, and Verdell Jones had 13. Derek Elston had 10 off the bench.

Indiana turned the ball over 18 times, though, and shot just 53.3 percent from the free-throw line.

“The first thing I would say is, ‘Welcome to the wacky world of freshmen and sophomore-predominant basketball,” Tom Crean said. “That’s where we are at and we have a lot of learning to do. We have a lot of growing up to do to understand how to put people away.”

Nick Schneiders, Upstate’s 7-foot-3 center, controll the paint on both ends of the court. He scored just six points and have five rebounds in 20 minutes (he fouled out during the second half), but altered a series of Indiana shots.

Jeremiah Rivers scored two points, both at the free-throw line, and while he had five assists, also had four turnovers. And Tom Pritchard had just four points and zero rebounds in 10 minutes.

Crean significantly shortened his bench, playing just eight guys for more than 10 minutes. Bobby Capobianco and Bawa Muniru played five and three minutes, respectively, and all in the second half.

32 comments

  1. Reality check?

    The turnovers and free throw shooting serve as a reminder that we are still young and raw. I saw several glimpses of last year’s team tonight.

    However, I also saw enough of the future to stay optimistic. Watford can look like Tracy McGrady down there at times. I love his size and athleticism.

    Creek buzzes around like Earl Calloway. His scoop and-one shot down the stretch was key.

    Elston is part Lance Stemler, part Eminem, and I love his slashing ability. He is going to be that player that will annoy the crap out of Illinois, Purdue, and our other rivals, but will be fiercely loved by the home crowd.

    Lastly, I’ll take a page out of GF Dave’s and Clarion’s playbook: IU had some bad luck with the boards. There were an awful lot of long rebounds off of the 3 pointers that would go right back into USC’s hands. Also, Kentucky only beat Miami of Ohio by 2 points. So our victory looks better.

  2. A few comments/questions:

    1.) Why is Jobe getting in the game before Muniru?

    2.) Our two oldest and “most experienced” players (Rivers and Dumes) are failing to step up. They both exhibited extremely selfish behavior on the floor for most of the game. Rivers looks too selfish — he simply runs down the court frantically and puts himself in bad positions very frequently, and Dumes seems as if he only cares about bolstering his own personal stat sheet.

    3.) Crean needs to establish/implement a consistent starting lineup: I know he’s trying to rest players and give everyone minutes, but the only way we’re going to develop chemistry is if we have a distinct lineup (Watford, Creek, Rivers, Pritchard and Jones, in my opinion).

  3. Casey –

    I believe it has been stated that Tijan gets playing time because he is working his ‘tail’ off in practice and he has improved over the past year. Bawa is just as raw as what Tijan is/was. Bawa is in for offensive and Tijan is for defensive. If you watch when Tijan comes in we go up points or the other team does not make runs. He also provides a spark to the team and to the fans in Assembly Hall. Bawa has 3 more years/Tijan has just this year left. There will be plenty of time for BAWA TIME.

    Your comment about Crean establishing a starting lineup – WHAT? It is only the second ‘real’ game and he basically has a whole new team. Give him and this team time to figure out what works best. PATIENCE is a virtue with this team. It will go a long way in the end. BELIEVE ME. Take your blinders off and put your FAN hat back on and sit back and relax and watch this team develop. It is going to be a bumpy ride at first – BUT you will enjoy it when it starts working and they start ‘developing chemistry’.

    GO IU.

  4. This game looked a little too much like last year…It got me unsettled a bit. I’m wondering if these young kids were looking ahead to Caribbean beaches, warm sun, and beautiful Puerto Rican women? They just seemed occupied. Almost as occupied as Krispy with the use of the word “love” three times in post above..

    I’ll possibly have random comments later about the basketball scheduling…I also don’t think Casey’s comments were that premature…Even if a bit anxious, they’re right on target.

  5. Crean has repeatedly said that he wants competition in practice and hard work there will be rewarded with playing time. He does not want players to regard themselves as being set starters like some did last year. Its one of the ways he’s establishing the culture he wants.

    Rivers had a good first game and Dumas has been hurt and is trying to find his way back. So, imo, its a little early to be calling anybody out.

  6. I felt like Rivers was pushing because dad was there. I think Dumes us trying to find his role this year and is coming off the injury. I do wonder about Bawa coming in so late in the game and Jobe playing so much. I have to disagree that Bawa is just as raw as Jobe was/is…Bawa is light years ahead of Jobe all around. I do hate blowing leads but it is early and they are young. Looking forward to Thursday, I think!

  7. I’m replying to a little bit of each comment: first off, I thought the starters were the same in each game?? And about Rivers and Dumes, I think that Rivers is unselfish and Dumes is just trying to get back into things. But I don’t think theyre doing bad at all, they both are very scrappy on defense and they do little things right.
    BUT my NUMBER 1 question is: Why isnt MATT ROTH playing? During October and November all I read was that ROTH and Jones were most improved. He may not be playing due to practice effort, but that doesn’t seem plausible, when in the offseason he obviously was one of the hardest workers. I’m just assuming that if he tries in the offseason he would likely try during the season. If anyone has an idea please comment.

  8. FtWyn, I was wondering if it has to do with the faceguard he wears. He is not totally healed up as he fell last week after being hit and stayed down a long time. He then got frustrated with the mask. Just digging for an answer. I also think his ball handling skills and D are a liability. I love the kid and hope he sees more time in the rotation. I wonder if he is the one that will lose out on the guard heavy team???

  9. Casey,

    I think calling Rivers selfish is a little premature and unfounded. What do Rivers and Dumes have in common right now? They’re both coming back from layoffs. Dumes missed much of the exhibition play and Rivers took a entire year off.

    I know Rivers practiced, but nothing can simulate a real game action. Let’s give him some time.

    The starting lineup has been the same both games, we’re you more referring to the constant substitutions throughout the game? If so, I agree, I think one reason we never seemed to get a rhythm was that players were constantly coming in and out of the game. It’s tough to get in stride that way.

  10. OK, let me elaborate a bit, since apparently I ruffled some feathers.

    1.) Rivers and Dumes are by default, two leaders of this team. They’re older an more experienced than anyone else. I understand Dumes is coming back from an injury, and maybe it causes him to try a bit too hard to get back into rhythm — fine. Rivers, however has experience in the Big East, and has been declared our team leader. All I’m saying is, for a “team leader,” he does a whole lot of driving without regard for what he’ll do next. He’s not the world’s greatest ball handler, yet he puts himself in situations where he either throws up a bad shot, or is forced to make a risky pass. It works against USC Upstate, but it won’t against Kentucky and Purdue. For those that think I’m being premature and harsh, we play some really strong teams in Puerto Rico in just a few days…

    Same goes for my comment about establishing a lineup. I understand Crean wants competition in practice, and that’s great. But how will our best players develop chemistry with one another if they’re all seeing the floor at different times, and constantly with different players? I understand the concept of spreading responsibility, but we do need to start developing a solid core of “starters” if we expect to see chemistry between the players.

    More than anything, we need our older players to be calming presences on the floor. Rivers doesn’t need to average 15 points per game, nor does Dumes. What we need from those guys is a sense that things are under control whenever they’re on the floor. All I’m saying is that they look like two of the most anxious players on our team so far, and that can’t be good for our freshman, who look to these players in crunch time.

    And as far as it being “too soon” to call anyone out — I think the fact that I had to sit in the stands and watch an IU basketball team eke out a win over a team that’s in its third year of D-1 basketball allows me to critique the players that weren’t quite cutting it — you know Crean will next practice.

  11. I think Rivers Knows exactly what he is doing when he drives, you can tell by his passes. I think he has the turnovers because most of his passes are so quick, they even surprise the receiver and they aren’t ready.

    And about Roth’s ball handling and D being a liability, I think that if he made significant improvements, that those were probably the categories most improved (just an opinion).

    I just think he’s too good to lose.

    If there are any more opinions please post.

  12. Casey, I understand how you feel but remember we are 2 REAL games in to the season. Also, the Howard game was the largest victory margin since Crean arrived. My guess is Crean is trying to find a group that will gel and my guess is he has an idea or knows exactly who will get the minutes come Big 10 play. The core with most minutes will be Creek, Watford, Rivers, Elston, Pritch and Jones I assume but some may disagree. Crean is most likely enjoying having the depth right now. I have no issue with what he is doing right now. Word in Bloomington is the kids are conditioning really hard and my guess is they rest before Thursday night so they have their legs. It is so early. If things you speak of are happening when we play Maryland and maybe UK…I will be concerned with you. Take care.

  13. It has been 2 games. Give Crean at least 5-10 games to narrow the rotation down. He can’t give up on players after 2 games.

  14. Kentucky won by 2 points over Miami of Ohio, sans Wally Szcerbiak. Therefore, we shouldn’t worry about our 8 point win.

  15. Umm, the rotation appears pretty clear to me and its an 8 man rotation. Rivers, Creek, Jones, Watford, Pritchard, Elston, Hulls, Dumes. The other guys I believe all played about 5 minutes or less. And that rotation seems pretty solid to me. I would throw Bawa out there a little more as he needs to grow (and he is far and away more advanced than Jobe) and he can alter some shots. Capo, Roth, and Jobe won’t see much PT imo. Capo I thought was supposed to be a banger, but I haven’t seen that thusfar. Most of the time he is fouling someone or hanging outside waiting to take a jumper. Roth is a designated shooter only. Jobe is well…still raw.

  16. RECRUITING RANKINGS:
    I think recruiting rankings are meaningful, but not the “end-all, be-all.” That said, look at how our existing players have been ranked, at least from a couple of sources:
    Rivals 150 guys – 4 stars: Creek/Watford/Elston; 3 stars: Jones/Hulls/Muniru
    ESPNU 100 guys – Pritchard/Watford/Creek
    (Rivers was not Rivals 150, I can’t find ESPNU 100 that far back)
    Thus far, 4 of our 5 starters are from the Rivals 4 star (which is basically top 100) and/or ESPNU 100…
    Thus far, 8 guys are getting 15 min or more per game (number 9, Capo, is getting 6): the Creek/Watford/Elston/Pritchard group, Jones and Hulls (3 star guys) and Rivers/Dumes (both being transfers who benefit from a few extra years of playing time – and, excluding Jobe, the only scholarship upperclassmen on the team).
    The only ranked player not in the core rotation is Muniru, who IMO, has shown some flashes of promise (remember, rankings are biased toward potential).
    SOME PLAYER COMMENTS:
    Rivers – I think Rivers may have had the “dad is watching” jitters last night… While I call into question how good the HS competition was for Creek/Watford/Elston (who have all looked great thus far), Rivers hasn’t played any real games for over a year. I’m for cutting him some slack.
    Dumes – Yes, he is in the core rotation, but this is a guy who was our leading scorer last year (though, I presume if we just look at the last “x” games of the year, it would be VJ3). I have to think he is still affected by the injury – at least I hope so, because I think he is a guy who can really help the team.
    Capobianco – he hasn’t seen many minutes thus far, but I think we will need big bodies come Big Ten time and right now, there are no more big men coming in next year. If Muniru develops, or we add a front court player to next year’s class, I might feel differently, but I think he can contribute this year and in the future.
    Roth – I think he is going to struggle to find minutes, especially if Dumes steps-up at some point. Sure he is a great shooter, but Crean is definitely going more up-tempo than he did last year, and I don’t think that favors Roth. I’m sure this comment will ignite a few people, but I think he’s probably the one guy who should look elsewhere at the end of the season – especially given that we have two more guards coming next year. If we get Selby (or another guard of that caliber), Roth may never see the floor.

  17. Was the ball over inflated 2-3 lbs. causing long rebounds and quirky bounces? Sorry but Elston would explode any gauge used to measure Stemler’s talent. He is more of a hybrid Eric Anderson with a Fife/Brian Cardinal type motor and with their chip on his shoulder. Dumes is the same as last year. Creates offensive opportunities for the opponents with his reckless decisions resulting in turnovers. Last night he had no shot, didn’t move his feet on defense and is still a poor example of any positive leadership qualities. He did rebound well. His shot and defense probably will recover but since he is a senior the negatives will remain. Rivers just needs more more competitive playing time. Jones learns from every game. When Pritchard gets in early foul trouble the complexion of the game changes with uncertainty. Upstate shot the ball better than I would have expected. Maybe it was our defensive performance they enjoyed. Coach Payne is a credit to the profession of college coaching. Coach Crean’s challenge is big in blending all this youthful talent, styles and personalities into chemistry on the floor. When a true leader emerges I am sure Coach Crean will shift into the next gear and we will find out who are the real ballers.

  18. Roth plays in the first half, if he hits his shots-and takes his shots-he plays more: game 1, 7 min, 1/1 Fg, 0/0 3pt, 0/1 A/TO, 0 steals plus blocks, 2 Reb; game 2, 4 min, 0/1 Fg, 0/1 3pt, 0/1 A/TO, 0 steals plus blocks, 0 Reb. That’s 11 min with 0/2 A/TO and 0 steals plus blocks and 2 Reb. So if he is not hitting his shot we have better options. Rivers has 4 TO in each game, 9/8 A/TO in 57 min-too many for a point guard vs this competition. But he has 8 Reb and 4 steals plus blocks. Dumes has 4/7 A/TO in 34 min. But he has 6 Reb and 3 steals plus blocks. Hulls has 2/4 Fg, 1/1 3pt, 4 Reb, 5/1 A/TO and 1 steal plus blocks in 35 min. Roth is not a big and Watford, Creek, Jones and Elston MUST get minutes. So he must shoot well to play. Bawa deserves more time on the court. Both he and Tijan give us a real presence in the middle. In 2 games Bawa has 1/3 Fg, 0/2 FT, 4 Reb, 0 TO in 9 min; Tijan has 0/0 Fg, 0/0 FT, 1 Reb, 0 TO in 10 min. But it is EARLY in the season! Lots of things to work on, however, lots of talent to work with!

  19. A win is a win is a win, but I would have preferred to beat them by 20 instead of 8. Looking forward to watching them play in Puerto Rico against some real teams, but it’s a pity that Williams won’t be playing. Go Hoosiers.

  20. I understand everyone’s points about rest/finding a group that gels/Rivers having the jitters because daddy’s watching/Dumes coming off an injury/the season being young, etc.

    My point is, we’re coming up on some tough games — like, now.

    I’m all for patience and watching the team grow, but my point is, the luxuries we’ve had in our first two cupcake games (e.g. constantly subbing in and out, turning the ball over, getting to the free throw line a ton, facing teams that suck at shooting, etc.) aren’t going to be present when we play in Puerto Rico, or when we face Maryland, Kentucky, Pitt and the majority of Big Ten teams.

    It’s early, and I don’t want to jump the gun — I’m simply identifying some problems I see emerging so far. I think Rivers and Dumes understand the need on the team for leadership, and I honestly think they might be trying too hard. More than anything, we need those two to set an example on defense and calm down the younger players in high pressure situations. All I’m saying is that on the court last night, they looked more nervous and erratic than our freshman do.

    Stop treating them like babies. They’re the oldest members of our team, the most experienced too. When you put on an IU jersey and assume a leadership position, you have to be accountable. I’m simply a fan holding them accountable. If we play against good teams the way we played last night we’re going to get smoked. That said, I see tons of potential. How quickly our players maximize that potential will determine the course of this season. I have a feeling we could see a couple blow outs early, but maybe this is simply a case of us playing down to our competition.

  21. This game is part of the freshman/sophmore roller coaster that the team will be on for the entire year. There will be plenty of ragged efforts and also stellar performances. Its just the way it is.

    As far as leadership goes, Crean has said numerous times in the videos we get here that he is looking for leaders and nobody has emerged everybody is still learning what is expected. He indicates that its all part of the rebuilding process.

  22. Rivers wasn’t any good at Georgetown so I am not sure why some people expect so much out of him. Hulls is the better player and should be starting. The offense runs much more smoothly with him in the lineup and the team just plays better. Rivers is out of control. The good news is that at least Rivers is better than Dumes.
    Watford and Elston are stars in the making. They both need to be in the starting lineup and eat up most of the forward minutes.

  23. Clarion-

    All your observations are excellent…It’s been a long time since the Hoosiers have had an active 6-9 forward with a great shooting touch like
    Elston..I like your Eric Anderson comparison..

    “Dumes is the same as last year. Creates offensive opportunities for the opponents with his reckless decisions resulting in turnovers.”

    Agree 100%. Brett Finkelmeier is more sound with the ball, makes better passes to the post, is a stronger rebounder, plays defense with more tenacity, and keeps his emotions in check… Can Crean remove Fink’s redshirt status?

    Dumes got in another kid’s face last night over nothing..The Upstate kid got the technical foul for retaliating..I’m sorry if this may sound rash , but I think Dumes exudes more negative energy than any minute positive difference achieved from his point production in relation to his high number of turnovers and reckless play. I cringe every time he steps on court…I’m waiting for him to lose it again, to throw an elbow, secretly trip a guy, or do something dirty that will end some kid’s career…Dumes instigates and continues to look more concerned with confrontation than team play. Why can he exert presence on a court without a bullying attitude bent on altercation?
    After the MSU game last year, Dumes should have been placed on a constant “zero tolerance” (negative behavior)leash…I can’t see any benefit to turning a blind eye to his shenanigans on the court anymore…I trying to stick it out with the kid, but I’m not seeing any change. Crean needs to exert some authority with Dumes.

    Jones had a nice game last night, but I still think he should come off the bench…Rivers has great size and strength to go inside…..Creek seems like a very heady kid with an understanding of the bigger picture on the floor…He finds the openings and buries his shots..From what I’ve seen thus far, I like a staring five of Pritchard, Elston, Watford, Creek, and Rivers…Rivers as the floor general…There are tough decisions for Crean ahead..I do still agree with Casey..It’s time to start getting some chemistry on the floor..

    If many our games be analogous to “roller coaster” outings, does Jobe qualify as the “Tower of Terror”?

  24. correction: “Why [can’t] he exert his presence on the court without a bullying attitude bent on altercation?”

  25. ALERT: Warning to Devan Dumes and Jeremiah Rivers. You are now being held accountable by Casey. I repeat, this is a warning.

    But seriously,look around the league. Syracuse lost an exhibition to a DII school. Kentucky squeaked by Miami (OH). UCLA lost to CS Fullerton at home. Cnnecticut needed a late run to beat Colgate.

    Maybe last year’s team would have lost this one. Maybe this game was last year’s Lipscomb.

    In the grander scheme of things, until we see this team on a bigger stage, let’s chill a bit. Even then, we are all aware of the hole we are trying to dig out of.

  26. 1. Dumes is awful! He was selfish and self-centered as a high school player and that hasn’t changed. He is a terrible ball handler and a worse decision maker. The fact that he was IU’s leading scorer only goes to show how bad they truly were. He will be a NONFACTOR by game ten of the season. Crean knows that, trust me.

    2. Rivers came to IU to be a scorer. He was unhappy at Georgetown because of his role as a distributer and defender. He wants to play at the next level, and feels that he has to prove that he can score. If you have watched the first two games you can see why Georgetown’s coaches felt he fit that role. He can’t shoot a lick and is often times out of control. He is this year’s Dumes (a NONFACTOR next year).

    3. Elston is a stud. Creek and Watford will be really good players. He is building, it will just take time

  27. Call me a purest, if you want, but freshman make mistakes. That is a given. What bothered me were the returning players. Dumes left off like he was last year forcing the ball out of control and turnover happy. The one time he did share the ball Hulls got a wide open 3.
    While you got to love the fact that Jones added weight his game did not change. When we get to the big ten he will not be able to dibble through 3 or 4 defenders and his turnovers will sky rocket more than now. When he learns to let the game come to him he will be a good player. Rivers is great on defense and will be a great asset for this team. He needs playing time to stop the other team’s leading scorers at guard or small forward. I liked the lineup when he and Hulls are on the court together. Hull is a
    true point guard who thinks pass first and he will have a great assist to turnover ratio and can knock down shots when needed. We can’t win games if our guards turn the ball over 6-8 times a game like last year. Dumas and Jones are not true point guards like Hulls and Rivers. Lets hope after a few games they understand give the ball to some who can handle it and then set you up to score. I saw too much of last year with Dumas leading the way with T/0’S.

  28. I still start Rivers and Creek in the backcourt…Hulls and Jones come off the bench. I think Hulls size will hamper his game…When he begins to be guarded by quicker and stronger players it will become more evident. Will Crean put his #1 guard from last year and a highly hyped “Mr. Basketball” into secondary roles? It’s all fine, fair, and dandy to talk about spreading minutes and rewarding hard effort in practice at this early stage; it will only prolong the inevitable decision that puts the obvious best talent on the floor with the majority of minutes that allows their games appropriate time to grow and improve. That decision will be quickly upon Crean’s shoulders…I think he understands the game, the size and physical strength of teams we’ll be soon matched against in the Big 10, to have a pretty clear idea what five players should play the key positions in the puzzle…At least I would hope so.

    Rivers and Creek in the backcourt…Elston, Watford and Pritch to round it out.

  29. GFDave-

    For some reason I looked over your post with the video…just watched and enjoyed it immensely …The kid’s expressions were priceless..Reminds me of first time I took my nephew on a coaster many years ago…It was “The Eagle” at Great America…..He nearly slid out from under his seat harness during the upward clickety-clack 140′ climb on the soaring double-track wooden classic. Time goes so damn fast…All too soon the days smooth the twisted track of endless surprises and you’re left yearning for the ups and downs and wondering what the hell you ever complained about in the first place…

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