Buckley: Better communication led to better zone defense

Photo: Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Communication had long been a point of emphasis for the Indiana Hoosiers, especially on the defensive end.

It has gotten better, which has led to good zone defense in wins against top-25 opponents like Illinois and Minnesota, assistant coach Tim Buckley said moments ago during the Big Ten conference call.

“I think they have done a really good job of communicating better,” Buckley said. “With maybe the exception of the game on Saturday, we’ve played some better second-half defense. Which is away from the bench, which requires those five guys to be together.”

How did the change happen? Buckley said the coaching staff never backed off and pressed the team to communicate from the start of practice.

Each Hoosier must call out the name of each stretch during warmup, and that continues through buildup drills (“They are just calling out names and calling out for the ball,” Buckley said).

“The communication becomes just natural for them,” Buckley said.

The Indiana defense will be challenged by the presence of Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson. The senior big man, an All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year candidate, is leading the Big Ten in scoring at 20.8 points a game.

He also gets to the free-throw line at a high rate: 144 attempts in 23 games, second in the Big Ten to Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (177). He converts at a high rate (80.6 percent), as well.

Buckley scouts Purdue throughout the season, and said he has yet to see Johnson be a good matchup for anyone.

If you’re going to limit Johnson, Buckley said, it begins by trying to make him uncomfortable.

“You have to be in a position where you don’t necessarily allow him to catch the ball in the spots hwere he likes to catch it,” Buckley said.

One other note of interest: Buckley was asked about Jordan Hulls, and how he will handle going to Purdue. Buckley essentially said that will not be an issue.

“In my 25 years of coaching, I don’t know if I’ve seen anyone do more than he does to prepare himself to be a good player,” Buckley said.


  1. Can we let 4guards back on the blog for just one day to answer questions about Sheehey and Oladipo (or Sheeladipo, as the students refer to our class of 2010?)

    It would make for great entertainment.

  2. That stretch of games we had “better communication” occurred when we had a true leader on the court running the show.
    Hulls should seriously consider transferring after this season. Why should only the garbage Dakich suggested to leave town have such a right? Jordan Hulls was Mr. Basketball, for Pistol Pete’s sake! The team should have been built around his leadership skills from the day his arrival on campus. He should have had way more playing time his first year in uniform. His stock is way up this year mostly thanks to happenstance when Jones’ brief injury allowed Hulls to prove how much better the team played when moving under his orchestration. He’s proven the naysayers wrong that he didn’t have enough size or quickness to play against the toughest competition in the conference. His entire game has improved. He’s shooting the ball lights out from 3-point range and the Hoosiers look far more in sync when he’s running the offense. Yet, with all the above seemingly in his corner, it appears he’ll never break Crean free from his obsessive and bizarre infatuation with Verdell. Crean will not put Jones in the position of a secondary role player coming off the bench. Should Hulls just wait it out ’til his senior year? And what reward will Hulls attain by just being patient for Jones to graduate? Well, that’s when Yogi Ferrel, a one-dimensional kid that can only play point guard, arrives with a bandwagon of hoopla following him into Assembly Hall claiming he’s the next best thing since Isiah Thomas. What then? Same old same old fro Jordy.. Sharing the position..more confusion in the leadership role..more ambiguity in crucial game situations…more sputtering of the offense. Jordy should take a serious look at Butler. I think Stevens would immediately understand his value and make it clear to the rest of the team the guard on the floor that is in command his coaching objectives.

    Yours truly,

    The Curse of blah…blah…blah

  3. Oops. Yogi Ferrell…acciAdrianDantley knocked off the last “l” in his name.

  4. Just presuming the ‘L’ stands for ‘Letter'(1L=1st year letter, 2L=2nd year letter, etc.) and the ‘HS’ for fresh out of ‘High School’ into candy-stripes…Rivers is only a ‘1L’ because he transferred and it’s my guess that an active player on the roster won’t receive his first ‘letter’ until his 2nd year in a Hoosier uniform(Rivers will graduate with a 2L from IU). The Scoop guys could probably confirm this stuff but they must be involved in more pressing matters(Cutty Sark…guzzle..guzzle). Sorry I couldn’t give you a 100% certainty answer.

  5. Cupcake, your answer is correct there. Larry, Crean was unhappy because the Hoosiers weren’t moving into position fast enough. He yelled at Verdell first, but we’re not absolutely certain why. I’ve watched the replay on that a few times, and the grilling doesn’t last as long as it first appeared.

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