Commentary: IU doesn’t pack enough punch

Here’s my column from last night on the loss to Illinois:

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — I’ll be perfectly honest.

Entering Thursday night’s game at the other Assembly Hall, I thought an Illinois team that had lost six of its last seven games might have a glass chin.

If Indiana could knock the Illini down early and often, they might not get back up — or so my perfectly reasoned thinking went.

As it turns out, we’ll never really know if that was true, because the Hoosiers didn’t pack enough punch to find out.

Rather, IU seemed content to settle for a unanimous decision and instead wound up with its collective keester on the canvas as the final bell rang, the Illini chalking up a stunning knockout of No. 1 in the process.

It was one of those, “I didn’t see that coming” results, but maybe that’s because we ignored some of the telltale signs of danger along the way.

The Hoosiers have played this sort of game with some regularity this season — not that unusual for talented teams — building a lead then fighting off the underdog’s comeback attempt.

And by and large they’ve been successful, the loss to Butler and heart palpitations of the Minnesota game not withstanding.

But on the road, with a potentially hostile crowd looking for a reason to get involved in a game, it’s playing with fire.

There was nothing at the outset of the game to portend such an outcome. The normally raucous Illinois crowd seemed particularly timid and tame on this evening with a healthy sprinkling of red throughout.

It was almost as if they were expecting a beating more than hoping for an upset.

For the first 10-12 minutes, Illinois played favored Indiana to a draw, but slowly and surely the Hoosiers’ cream began to rise to the top.

The IU lead stretched to seven with four minutes to play in the half, and with it came the first test of Illinois’ ability to take a punch.

On the ensuing possession, a teammate missed an open Brandon Paul on the right wing in front of the Indiana bench, prompting the Illini senior to jump and down like a kid told no in a candy store. Seconds later, Will Sheehey made a steal, and the Illini staggered as the Hoosiers pushed the lead to 14 following a Sheehey dunk.

But when the emotional sophomore junior cut loose with a yell right in the face of Illinois’ Tyler Griffey, he was hit with a technical foul that served to snap IU’s momentum before a standing eight-count could be given.

The Illini got four points on the exchange and what might have been a halftime lead of 15 or more was just 12.

The second half was a game of hide and seek with Illinois creeping close, only to see IU open up a little daylight.

Again the lead reached 14 on a Sheehey dunk with 12:50 remaining. The Illini called time out, again teetering against the ropes.

It was at that moment, that Hanner Mosquera-Perea entered the game for Cody Zeller. As IU coach Tom Crean turned and told his bench, “Cody can’t play all 40 minutes.”

But maybe it would have been different if Zeller had played just two more right then, because D.J. Richardson drove around the freshman for a layup on the next Illinois possession. Then Sam McLaurin backed Perea down and converted a three-point play that trimmed the deficit to nine, again escaping a potential Hoosier haymaker.

But those moments were easy to overlook as the lead see-sawed from eight to 13 points over the next eight minutes.

Still, IU was doing its damage without getting to the free-throw line. Averaging 27 trips to the line per game, the Hoosiers got there just 14 times on the night, perhaps one sign of the missing aggressiveness necessary to put the Illini out of their misery.

The lead was nine points with over three and a half minutes left. Those turned out to be a very long 213 seconds, as Illinois finished the game on a 13-2 run.

The Hoosiers’ ascension to the top ranking had also been in no small part due to defense, with an emphasis on getting three straight stops. They got only one stop down the stretch, then completed the inexplicable collapse with a stunning bit of miscommunication that caught them with their hands down.

And the result was a punch Indiana could not take.


  1. I can no longer say I am stunned to see us lose a game we think we should win on the road. Just looking around the CBB landscape this year it’s hard to be surprised by much. Maybe the way Kansas lost earlier this week was surprising. But even they had been trending down recently. IMO Michigan has been the most consistent team this year. They have losses at OSU and IU. They have taken care of business everywhere else. Would it be shocking to see #3 UM go up to Wisky and lose to the Badgers this weekend? I think the easy answer is NO.

    And I disagree that this will be the year that a 16 beats a 1 as some have begun suggesting in the media as the #1s continue to fall. I think that is just an overreaction because people believe there is so much parity in CBB this year. There’s really not that much parity, just not a great team. The teams at the top are still really good and the teams at the bottom are still really bad, which is why I call the Kansas loss surprising. It would be surprising to me if Penn State came into Assembly and won. It’s not shocking to go on the road and lose at Illinois. Ask OSU.

    You want to win every game, but my hopes for the Hoosiers are simply this now…… on getting better at the end of games. Work on your basketball IQ in crucial moments. Make better decisions. This team will be able to beat anyone they take the court with in March. But it wont happen if they cant get the turnovers down and cant play smart basketball in the last few minutes of games.

  2. Will is a junior, not a sophomore.

    When Will was pulling his hot dog crap before, the apologists said, “So what? The refs don’t care.”

    And when the refs told Crean to make him knock it off, the apologists STILL said, “So what? Just having fun.”

    And, even when it cost us momentum and possible the game, 4 point swing, they STILL say “So what?” and blame the refs.

    Thanks for admitting you care more about Will “having fun” than our Hoosiers winning…..and doing it with class.

    I guess when you’re on a SOFT team, you need one of your teammates to jump around like an idiot and get the fans to hate you to “fire you up.”

  3. I don’t know that IU lacks punch, as much as they lack defensive depth. Offensively, they played pretty well. Before the last five possessions, the Hoosiers were scoring 1.23 points per possession, decently over their conference average (1.18). That’s turnover-inclusive. No, the problem I saw was letting Illinois gain confidence offensively. Not much is expected of Hanner offensively, but he is expected to make some plays defensively, and as you note, he got burned twice at a key juncture. Also, Jeremy Hollowell played well offensively, but recorded no blocks, steals, or rebounds. In fact, noone off the bench grabbed any defensive rebounds. That needs fixing.

  4. Geoff, you keep making excuses for Will’s crap with “Other players do it too.”

    My guess is when your 5 year old, or teenager, uses that line on you when they pull some garbage you don’t like, you’re going to reply, “I don’t give a crap what others do” instead of saying, “Oh, well, if that’s the case, then go ahead and do it.”

    As I said, the NFL and NBA ban taunting for a reason.

  5. We didnt lose because of Will’s technical(I will trade his production for 2 FTs anyday) and we can point to how good we are on offense(PTs per possesion and all the other statistical crap. Its all bull..We lost because we didnt get the ball to Cody in the last 5 minutes and we gave up 45 points in the second half(again)! We are a terrible second half team

  6. Laffy, I’ve been posting about the arrogance of both Sheehey & Oladipo, his stance under the basket after a dunk mesmerized with himself. Asa former youth baseball coach, I didn’t allow trash talkin or show boatin, not even with my son who has now graduated from HS and playing college baseball. My reasoning is this: if you are so focused on the trash & the showboat, you are not entirely focused on the game. You are wasting energy with the show boatin. I complained to a friend during the superbowl about the crap goin on, it’s only a 15 yd penalty in football & most of the time has little affect. I firmly believe Sheeheys crap last night played a major role in the outcome of this game, period.

    I disagree, it is simply stupid to give away 2 pts on such behavior and yet still have the production. that is 2 pts that should never ever be calculated in the formula. Think of the outcome with his production w/o the T & 2 ft’s? So, if Sheehey scored 20, it be ok to have 2 T’s, sorry, wrong!!!!

  7. As a coach, I could live with the complete mental breakdown of that last play, while still frustrated, but to “GIVE” away 2 easy pts that way I couldn’t. You just can’t “GIVE” pts to a home team in the Big10.

  8. I think my point was that the technical did not lose us the game. It’s the 45 points we gave up in the second half and the fact we forgot we had Cody on our team

  9. FW, to me, it goes to the entire mindset of how/why we gave up 45 points in the second half.

    The team is more concerned with “having fun” “LOOK AT ME EVERYONE” than hunkering down and doing what they NEED to do.

    Like getting Cody the ball inside when he has a clear advantage.

    It wasn’t “just those 2 points” from the T.

    It’s the whole damn mindset of the team…..and that’s part of it.

    Instead of cheering Will on when he pulls that crap, the other players should tell him to knock it off and focus on the damn game.

    One reason why I think we’re going to be better next year is not only Vonleh a STUD player, they say he holds his teammates accountable.

    Well, if we actually had a LEADER on this team…..which we don’t…..I don’t think that crap would be tolerated.

    And Crean doesn’t have the nads to tell them to knock it off and actually encourages it.

    And, they’re softer than pudding.

    Cut the showboating and spend that time working on all the mental mistakes the team keeps making.

    Will can mouth off to the other team but not get a rebound?


  10. I agree to some degree Laffy. I really like the emotion Will and Vic bring to the table but I think it has gone a little too far. And you are right this team doesnt have that killer instinct to put the opponent away when they have them on the ropes. It’s something I think they can do if they realize when they have an advantage and exploit it

  11. Great article and metaphor for the game Jeremy. They clearly played rope-a-dope in the last 5 min. & took one on the chin.

    I’d love to be at practice today to see what accountability is being assessed….or not.

    I think they’ll be pissed at OSU on Sun., but I don’t know if it’ll be enough. This is a toss up game with both squads coming off of tough losses.

    If I were coach, CWat would sit the start of OSU. He was a complete disaster last night aside from the first 3 min. And if I recall, Z had 10 pts in the 1H & ended up with 14!!!!! NBA? Who’s blowing that smoke?!?!

  12. Not having the killer instinct is clearly indicated in the fact that the team didn’t even try to kill the clock last night with an 8 point lead and 3 minutes left. Instead, they looked frantic, threw up a quick shot, rebounded it, then threw up another one…absolutely unpardonable.

    In football, if you have the ball and a lead with 3 minutes left or under, you RUN RUN RUN the ball and eat that clock or at least force the opponent to use their TO’s. This is so obvious that even the worst armchair QB knows it.

    The same should be true in basketball, and both Crean and his players shoulda known.

  13. There were a number of reasons why IU lost from too many turnovers, to shoddy defense, to Watford making poor decisions on defense with his body, to lack of Cody either getting or demanding the ball more, etc. And while I recognize no one play ever loses a ball game,but rather a collection of poor play, Sheehey did not help his team last night. It cost IU. And any cost last night in an away game cannot be tolerated.

    Crean has to put his foot down on both Sheehey and Oladipo. Whenever they grandstand, he needs to sit them down on the pine. Their showboating distracts from their focus, and the team’s focus, plus can ignite theplay of the opposition. It is time for Crean to expect nothing but classy behavior from them both when they are on the court. If they want to behave like needy, narcissistic adolescents, they can do that in the locker room after the game. But on the court they need to remain focused and contribute to helping the whole team remain focused for the full 40 minutes.

  14. Larry, I’m not making excuses for Will. I’m saying that it was bad reffing. I’m saying that it was an over-reaction by the ref.

    I’m not saying its ok that Will does it because everyone else does it…. I’m saying refs don’t call it on anyone else, so they shouldn’t call it on Will.

    It’s like speeding. I don’t think that going 5 mph over the limit is a big deal. Could the police technically pull over everyone that does it? Sure… But they never do, so I would be pissed if I were the guy they decided to ticket.

    Just like Laffy and many others on here, I think the three to the temple is stupid. I’ve hit thousands of 3’s in games but I don’t think my expression has ever changed on a single one. I’m definitely in the “act like you’ve been there before” camp. But I also don’t consider it a big deal if some dude dunks in front of 15,000 people and goes “WOOOOOO!”

  15. I agree with Larry. The taunting and showboating MUST stop. It isn’t classy at all. I have always said that if you want to “stick it” to your opponent…score on him AGAIN, steal the ball AGAIN, dunk over him… AGAIN!

    Cut the crap and simply play ball. IU has to learn to put teams away. I felt early on when the 1st half play was sloppy that IU was allowing Illinois to think they could play with us.

    The best line was from John Beilein when IU played them on Sunday. Sideline reporter stated she overheard him tell his team, “Let IU make the highlight films. Let’s make sure WE make the plays” That more or less sums up what I’d like to see from IU from hear on out.

  16. interesting update. bobby capobianco just missed a triple double with 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists in his last game for valpo. played 28 minutes.

  17. Izzo quoted on his opinions regarding Zeller as it relates IU getting what is required out of Cody to become a Final Four team…

    Sideline reporter overhearing Beilein’s words of brilliance sent to his team as a warning sign to not fall into the trappings of Indiana’s lost focus…

    NEWSFLASH! We beat both your asses. Maybe you should spend a little time coaching your boys instead of our boys. Maybe explain the mysteries on how to have the score end with more points in your column to go along with the brilliant analysis our shortcomings.

    God forbid we lose at Michigan or MSU when we go on the road..Some Establishment reporter may just have to sit down with Crean as he attempts to explain what magazines and what respectable national news publications he actually reads…Maybe he can even be allowed to play the role of Sarah Palin, get quoted on his brilliant take a pot not so gold for the winners; bestow upon the world the genius spin required when your graciousness and sportsmanship is absent the sad empty skull and how a win for Wolverines or Spartans is simply nothing more than their failing to be all that they can be.

    Let’s quit pretending that any respect comes toward Indiana to go along with the high rankings. Our coach gets mockery and smirks in press conferences after a road loss. When a Michigan coach loses in Indiana he gets treated like Bobby Knight at his 900th victory gala party at the Ritz Carlton.

    I guess it’s somewhat deserved seeing how Hoosier fans, dated fans, can never let go the banner years under Bobby. We turned Cook Hall into a museum as if our greatest days will always remain in the rear view mirror. We painted the past as being perfect. Now we must listen to the new experts the college basketball world to explain how we should tie our Mop Lady shoes and sweep the dust off the dead maple of a storied McCracken with no more stories.

  18. Good you’re following along, coachv. I believe Harvard pointed out the leaner and meaner Capo a couple weeks ago(the Detroit Mercy game in which he was ejected after committing what the refs whistled as a flagrant 2).

    Wouldn’t it be a blast if Valpo won the Horizon League tournament and we ended up going against them in an early round game? They are a very dangerous Cinderella with a coach no stranger to magical ‘One Shining’ March moments.

  19. Rip off the rear view mirror and throw it out the window.The blinding bright lights in the windshield is a road trip to Ohio State.Keep it between the ditches.

  20. Nice metaphors, RAM. You have some skills.

    Hard to keep it on the pavement with all the lovely red barns and crows to remind of Matta’s showstopping nose on the drive to Columbus. A much larger beak would require its own zip code….

    How does Motta complain to the refs a wrong whistle…?

    Horrible caw-caw!! caw-caw!!

  21. If Wisconsin beats Michigan, Purdue upsets MSU at Mackey, and IU would suffer another road loss at OSU, there would be a 5-way tie for first in the Big 10 standings. Michigan, MSU, OSU, IU, and Wisconsin would all be 8-3.

    Could things be any tighter?


    I agree. And I also hope Will doesn’t temper his defiant “Billy Jack” persona to simply satisfy the anal-retentive crowd stuck in a pair of Alfrod short shorts.

  22. Wow..Is anyone else watching Wisconsin vs Michigan. What an unbelievable last 3 seconds of regulation!

  23. Wiscy knocks off no3 MIchigan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Wisconsin Badgers: most annoying team in conference, ever. Bunch of no name white guys w a token flat-top wearing black guy; wind down the clock time after time and swish 30-footers.7 total points scored in OT betewwn them and Mich. Utterly disgusting.

    That being said, glad they won on this day.

  25. I find Michigan just as annoying.

    Kartje was the quintessential representing everything “faux” and “fab” in Ann Arbor. They would be lost without the kid from Chesterton that does the blue collar work for that bunch of soft NBA dreamers.

  26. Anal-retentive is making excuses for a player just because he’s on our team when you’d crucify him if he was pulling the same crap on another team.

    Anal-retentive is saying “winning with class” is “fuddy-duddy.”

    I bet you loved it when the Dook fans taunted the player about his grandma that just died.

    Just having fun, right?


  27. Geeee Laffy, you go on the personal attack when you’re proved wrong!!!! Nothing like the pot calling the kettle black!!!! You been around long enough or claim to have enough knowledge about college bb, you haven’t learned what the Big10 season is all about, esp this far into the season.

  28. You know there is in my opinion 8-9 top notch BB coaches in college and there are some days when Bo Ryan is 2 of them.

  29. Didn’t Miami used to be a football school?

    Wasn’t UNC once a basketball school?

    Could Cody handle Gamble? Man, he looks like a handful.

  30. Is it true that Gamble is their backup post player? Hate to see what they look like inside when they get the starter back.

    Miami #1 by end of February?

  31. Here we go again….

    First of all, I did not start the personal attacks. That would be you and your buddy HH.

    Or does it not count when HE calls people “anal-retentive” and it’s only “personal attacks” when thrown back at you?


    Second, how in the WORLD did you “prove me wrong”?

    You didn’t “prove” ANYTHING by crying about “mouth pieces.”

    I guess football wasn’t “physical” when Dick Butkis played because they didn’t have all the pads they do now.


    Please tell me how it is “more physical” now when most big guys spend half their time taking outside shots they never did before?

    Also, please forgive me for laughing at you for whining Michigan is soft just because they lost.


    Hate to break it to ya, Sunshine, but just because a team loses doesn’t automatically make them soft.

    IU teams have lost in the past and I never once called them soft…..because they weren’t.

    LOTS of teams lose and it has NOTHING to do with “being soft.”

    So, are you going to keep ducking my question? Here it is for about the 5th time:

    Do you think all the national sports writers are “out to get us” for saying Cody is soft?

    Also, since this is at least the second game where Cody has had a clear advantage yet disappeared, do you blame him for being soft or Crean for being a crappy coach?

  32. 1. Why did CTC take Hollowell out when he was on a roll?
    2. Which coach didn’t tell someone to park their butt under the basket with 0.9 to go?
    3. Why in helter skelter does Crean substitute like a schizophrenic?
    4. Wh was Oladipo handling the ball with 10 seconds to go?
    5. Why did we not call a timeout with 10 left to set up a play?
    6. Is it even possible to win any championship on any level with a coach that recruits good players
    but gets lost in the weeds when strategy time comes at the end of games?
    7. How many times did we take out players and throw in hodgepodge line ups this year only to
    give back half of the lead we had built?
    8. Does anyone really think Cody is ready for the NBA?
    9. Does CTC go into the locker room after a loss and clap?
    10. Will CtC EVER complain enough to get a technical foul?
    11. Can we stop with the funky player introductions at AH and turn the lights back on, stop
    the self indulgent highlights, and stand up like men and run out when our names are

  33. Wisconsin just took IU off the Big Ten hot seat. Michigan’s loss to Wisc gives IU a good opportunity to win the Big Ten. But we must win a couple more of these road games. We won’t win all the road games against OSU, MSU, MN and MI, but we can win two or three of those road games.

    Maybe, just maybe, the loss to IL will piss enough of those guys off they will come back and play with a vengeance for the remainder of the season. They need to get mad.

  34. We’ve heard the “maybe they’ll get mad” before.

    Ain’t happening.

    They’re probably choreographing Will’s new dance for the next time he hits a three and the rest of them dance it back to “show their unity and energy.”

  35. My pregame anxiety is starting already.

    We clearly must win 2 of the road games @ OSU, @ MN, @ MSU, @ MI to have a shot at the league title and #1 NCAA seed. (& hold serve @ home, of course). Roughly 1 mo. to go & I’d say we are at worst a #2 seed if the above happen. Then the committee probably gets their kicks this year by lining us up in the same bracket as Butler as a #3 or #4, while placing UK at the #7 or #8 for our 2nd game. Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    I just hope we can go up to OSU, withstand the 1H and keep it close, then have a chance to win down the stretch. I’m not even hoping for a lead until the last possession because we clearly can’t manage one anyway.

  36. We’ll probably draw the bracket with Nevada and get another look at Malik(kudos to Geoff for noticing the ex-Hoosier that appears to be a very decent and mature young man).

  37. Crean needs to get control of Sheehey and Oladipo’s childish antics (see the Oladipo dunk after the horn v. UM). It’s one thing to show emotion and celebrate with your team within the flow of the game. It’s completely another to blatantly taunt opposing players, coaches, and crowd.

    I don’t care if other schools’ players do it too. I find it classless and embarrassing. Not to mention, we look like even bigger chumps when we act all “hard” then turn around and choke away a game like that.

    I agree with the column in the sense the IU had multiple chances to put the Illini well in the rearview mirror, but failed to finish. However, going along with my take here, I’d suggest a big factor was our attitude/play the last 6 or so minutes. Looked to me like we just expected they would roll over since we were the “superior”, #1 – rated team.

    Crean has got to start demanding more maturity out of this team, both in on the court conduct and mental preparation and handling not being under the radar this year. You have to respect the opponent now matter what. Announcers – if accurate – mentioned talking to Crean about the need for #1 to be very confident, but watch fine line with being cocky. They looked very cocky and self absorbed to me.

  38. There seems to be a select few who think that every team we put on the court has to be from the same mold…tough, gritty, Brian Sloan on roids!!! But what some fail to understand is that not every team has that makeup. Some teams are more finesse in their structure. I’m not sure we can be this far into the season and expect this team to change or morph into something it’s not!
    This team reminds me of the 80’s Laker teams without a Magic at the point…run and gun with a center in the middle…now can Cody just develop a sky hook???

    This post was written without the use of CAPS or (rolleyes) or a bwhahahahahahahaha

  39. These guys are trying to get to the NBA.They copy the styles of NBA players.Is it any wonder they also copy the antics.Blaming the ONLY guy on the bench who played well is just plain crazy.We’ve all seen worse antics not get called.Refs punishing Will for the Purdue gloat.Can’t say I blame will for doing what he and many other players have been doing all year.

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