Indiana overcomes slow start, blasts Coppin State 87-51

WHAT HAPPENED: After starting 0-for-9 from the field and falling behind 9-2 to Coppin State, Indiana overwhelmed the Eagles 87-51 in front of 17,472 at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers shot just 38.5 percent in the first half, but finished the half on an 11-0 run, then built a monster lead early in the second half to easily improve to 8-0 on the season.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Junior guard Victor Oladipo was a demon on both ends of the floor, anchoring the 1-2-2 zone press the Hoosiers employed in the second half, leading the fast break and attacking off the dribble. He finished with 14 points, six assists, six rebounds and three steals, but just as importantly, 20 deflections.  IU coach Tom Crean keeps that last statistic as a non-standardized measure of defensive activity. Players get credit for a deflection every time they touch the ball on defense except on a rebound. They also get credit for charges and each team member on the floor gets a deflection when the opponent has a 35-second violation. No Indiana player in Crean’s tenure has ever had 20 deflections in a game and the only player on any of Crean’s teams who has recorded more than 20 is Dwyane Wade, who once recorded 23 at Marquette.

Junior swingman Will Sheehey continued his stretch of inspired play. he also had 14 points and six rebounds and recorded four assists. He’s continued to defend well and make big shots and offensive plays, especially when the Hoosiers have struggled and been in desperate need of a lift. Sophomore guard Remy Abell had 10 points on perfect 4-for-4 shooting, and he also had three assists against just one turnover. Senior forward Christian Watford was just 3-for-8 from the field, but he also recorded seven rebounds. The Hoosiers struggled to get the ball to sophomore center Cody Zeller against the zone, but Zeller still had nine points and seven rebounds. Freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell had one of his better stretches in recent weeks with seven points and three rebounds. Senior guard Jordan Hulls struggled after a lights-out shooting stretch, but he still knocked down a pair of 3-pointers.

WHY IT HAPPENED: Coppin State was determined to limit the possessions and keep the pace of the game slow. The Eagles took their offensive possessions all the way down to the end of the shot clock and played 2-3 zone to pack the middle, keeping the ball out of Zeller’s hands. The Hoosiers struggled against the zone and shot just 38.5 percent in the first half, missing their first nine shots.

The Hoosiers were eventually able to overwhelm Coppin State with sheer athleticism and defense, but also a 1-2-2 trapping full-court press that Crean employed in the second half. He actually held a walkthrough in the hallway outside the Indiana locker room at halftime to make sure all of the players knew their assignments and how the press was supposed to shift. The dimensions weren’t close to scale, but the Hoosiers apparently got the point. They only registered five steals and caused eight turnovers in the second half, but it changed the game’s pace, making it more free-flowing and less half-court oriented. After scoring just 33 points in the first half, Indiana outscored Coppin State 54-32 in the second to register another blowout.


Tom Crean

On changing the pace of the game:

“We had to find a way to get the pace going our way,” Crean said. “They came in with a mindset and a game plan, and that game plan to be deliberate at times. … The pressure changed that in the second half. Our guys did a great job with that.”

“I don’t think we called a lot of sets in the second half. It was very much a free-flow game, which we’ve got to learn how to play because it won’t be the last time someone tries to play a deliberate style andit won’t be the last time that someone wants to get it down in the shot clock. It won’t be the last time taht the opponent will try to get what they want, which is a one-on-one or that open three.”

On the team in general

“I loved the in. I just loved watching them tonight. I really did. They were on it. They were locked in. They were on it.”

On issues with Coppin State’s zone:

“It’s three things,” Crean said. “No. 1, we weren’t pushing the pace like we should have early. No. 2, because of that, we ended up running sets. No. 3, we made some adjustments. It was harder to get it out of the corner. We like to play it out of the corner. They were doing a really good job of closing at the corner. We needed to do a better job of getting it in the middle. We weren’t as good at that as we could be.”

Victor Oladipo

On taking over in the second half:

“I thought we did a good job of that. I mean, we’re human. We’re not perfect. We didn’t have a great start, but I thought we played well defensively the whole game. We did a good job of turning it up in the second half. The guys off the bench did a great job coming in and playing defense, and if we keep doing that throughout the season, we’ll be successful.”

“We’ve put a big emphasis on defense from the beginning of the year and throughout the year. Defense wins games, and we can’t always rely on our offense too much For us, we score in transition and we score in multiple ways. But essentially, we score off our defense. We’ve got to continue to play defense at a high level, continue helping each other so we can win big.”

On a certain walk on who scored four points in the final minutes.

“Jeff Howard is nasty.”