Hoosiers preparing for Burke, Michigan’s offense

On some level, Indiana coach Tom Crean said, it’s an accomplishment for his basketball program simply to have returned to this point.

Less than five years after he took over the Hoosiers in the midst of an implosion that would lead to three straight 20-loss seasons, his squad is gearing up for the biggest game in the history of Assembly Hall in terms of the teams’ Associated Press poll rankings. It’s also doing so on about as big of a stage as the college basketball regular season can provide, with ESPN’s College Gameday studio show on hand for No. 3 Indiana’s game against No. 1 Michigan tonight at 9.

“It means that a lot of people have worked extremely hard,” Crean said during a press conference Friday. “The vision was real, even when you couldn’t see it. … If you’re at Indiana, you’re going to play in some great games. You’re going to play in some tremendous venues, starting with where you play your home games, and you want to be able to play for the whole thing. When you get into a situation like this, all of those things are there because people believed in it.”

But that was as much reflection as he was willing to do on Friday, and as much as he wanted to say about how far Indiana had come to get to this position. Other than that, he broke down the following obvious point in excruciating detail.

The Michigan team his Hoosiers are about to play is extremely good.

“Gameday will take care of itself,” Crean said. “Guarding Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway and Glenn Robinson and those guys, that’s another story.”

Burke, Hardaway and Robinson are three of the key cogs in what is statistically the most efficient offense in college basketball. The Wolverines average fewer points per game than Indiana with 78.0 to the Hoosiers’ Division I-best 84.0 per game, but they are that close despite playing at a much slower pace. Michigan leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.510) and ranks second to the Hoosiers in 3-point field goal percentage (.408), while leading the nation in offensive efficiency, averaging 124.8 points per 100 possessions. They’re also second in effective field goal percentage — a statistic that adds weight to 3-pointers in the calculation of field goal percentage — at 57.7 percent.

The Wolverines don’t play extremely fast, ranking 275th in the nation in tempo with an average of 63.9 possessions per game, but when they decide to run in transition, they’re nearly unstoppable.

“They are tremendous at running on misses and turnovers,” Crean said. “They really, really run. They’re not only one of, if not the best running team in the Big Ten, they’re certainly as good as there is in the country. They do get out, they want the easy buckets.”

And they get a lot of those thanks to Burke.

The sophomore guard shared the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award with Indiana center Cody Zeller last season, he was a preseason All-American this year, and if the voting were held today, he’d have a very good shot at being national Player of the Year. He ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring with 17.9 points per game. He’s first in assists by a long shot with 7.1 per game, and according to the advanced statistics website KenPom.com, he has the highest offensive rating in the country among players used on at least 28 percent of their team’s possessions at 129.5.

“I think he’s the best point guard in the country,” said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, who also held a press conference for GameDay on Friday.  “Containing him is going to be a big thing. … He gets it across half court in a dribble or two and then really makes good decisions. The key is, and it’s easy to say, but it’s hard to do, is can you corrall him in transition and slow him down. If you can stay in front of him and not get on the side of him where he’s got an angle, once he’s got an angle, it’s over, he’s gonna score.”

Said IU senior guard Jordan Hulls: “He’s really good. He can do a lot of things. He can get to the rim, he can pass. So that makes it pretty difficult, but we’ve gotta just execute the game plan that we have set up and go from there.”

Burke has a lot of weapons around him to kick the ball out to. Junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (15.5 ppg) and freshmen Nik Stauskas (12.6 ppg) and Glenn Robinson III (12.1 ppg) all average in double figures.

But of course, the Hoosiers have tons of firepower as well. Indiana leads the nation in scoring offense, ranks third in Division I in offensive efficiency (122.9 points per 100 possessions) and came into the week ranked third in Division I in 3-point field goal percentage and fifth in overall field goal percentage. They have five players averaging double digit scoring and they’re also leading the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense.

“Let’s run,” senior guard Jordan Hulls said. “We can run, I guess. Obviously we want to do what’s best for the team in what’s going on during the game, but both of our teams like to get out and run and score the ball.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls

AUDIO: Jay Bilas


  1. Let’s run!
    Let’s play solid D and run some good half court sets for CZ and see if we can get there bigs in some foul trouble.
    This is a game where we need a solid 8 man rotation. No need for anyone to say PJ or HMP needs to even sniff the floor.
    I think this is a game that Remy could shine with some lock down D. I would even go as far as to start him over Jordy!
    I remember watching IU beat the fab 5 in the Assembly Hall on a night when we got 8 ” of snow and my boss gave me his center court tickets! That was a great night with great intensity and something I wil never forget! I just hope this night will be just as memorable!

  2. I think you’re right. We need to run. If the Hoosiers have a shortcoming it’s the ability to impose our will on a good team setting the pace of the game. Good teams have been able to control the flow of the action, even when we win the game. Call him slow if you like but Jordy’s at his best in a fast paced game. He’s gotten a number of steals in transition. Jordy will be fine in an up tempo matchup.

    As will everyone else. That’s the team CTC has built. I’m guessing that’s why PJ hasn’t seen the floor. You could probably spare him some minutes in half court defense, even now, but we’re built for the racetrack. That’s probably a hard thing to scout when it’s not the style of play a high school team employs. Then he lost a quarter of a season because he once stopped at the same intersection as Ted Kitchel’s paper boy.

    With a full season under his belt we may end up with a solid back up 7 footer. That’s more than worth a season spent mostly as a cheerleader. Hopefully, we’ll win some titles at year’s end by a large enough margin that he can see the floor.

    Hope everyone got enough game food for both Super Bowls this weekend. Have fun everybody. JPat, on the outside chance we don’t pull out the W, immediately go play with your kids. There ARE bigger things.

  3. ESPN story this morning “IU trying to play back to #1”.
    I think that is totally wrong. Believe IU is trying to win a ball game and the last thing they care about is being #1 again.

    CTC & the players are calling this game “fun”. Great attitude.

    Home noise may make the difference for this game.

    Hate this calm before the storm. Not attending the Game Day show. 1 1/2″ of snow last night. After last 35 yrs in Florida not ready for snow/hills between here and there.

  4. I dont think anybody has to worry about this game being slow. Both teams push the ball, #1 & #2 in points per possession.

    I look to the past to predict the future. Last year’s game at IU occurred before the students got back to campus. Advantage: IU. The kids are going to be raucous tonight.

    Last year Burke & Hardaway went 11-34 from the field at IU. That happens again, IU wins.

    Last year Jordy scored 4 pts. And shot the ball 4 times. That happens again, MI wins. These guards present a bad match-up for him which worries me.

    Z & CWAT had 43 of our 73, going 16-21 from the floor. That happens again, IU wins.

    I think this game comes down to foul trouble. If Oladipo, Yogi and Z stay clean, we win this game by 8 – 10 pts.

    BTW, best sign at “Gameday” is: “The Home Dipo”

  5. It’s going to be good for Tom Crean’s guys to eat some humble pie. It will make them stronger. Two more losses in the Big Ten Tourney and the NCAA and they will be even stronger for next year! Tom Crean: making IU stronger loss by loss.

  6. I am an I.U. Grad and an avid I.U. Fan but don’t think they can beat Michigan. This could be the start of 4 or 5 big ten losses for our guys.

  7. That may be true. It would make them dig dipper for the rest of year, But hell, No Body wants to get beat by a team like Mighigan. Ooops. Did I spell that wrong. Sorry. Can’t spell Kentuuuckyyyy either.

  8. I so hope we don’t have any fans that are so lame they’d troll Michigan boards.

    That’s just embarrassing for UM.

  9. I have nothing against UM personally. In fact, one of my most fun game experiences was showing up in Ann Arbor on Friday evening with nothing but football tickets to get us through. It was about 10 degrees outside. We went to the Ann Arbor version of Nick’s and closed down the place. Some Michigan fans took us in for the night possibly keeping us from freezing to death.

    Amazing game. Anthony Carter scored on a long pass for the win on the final play of the game. The previous play a UM player tossed/fumbled the ball out of bounds to stop the clock. During the off season the NCAA changed the rule so you can’t do that (the so-called “Michigan rule”).

    So, nothing personal. I just want the Hoosiers to bury the Wolvies.

    I have so much food for this weekend…and a 60″ plasma with full theater sound to watch it all on. Even the dogs are stoked for it all.

  10. So, nothing personal. I just want the Hoosiers to bury the Wolvies.

    Sounds like the Wiscy Syndrome 101 all over again Chesterton. Start eating now dude and never stop. This way you’re going to be a tad ahead of the post-game depression.

    The only chance for an IU win is: Tom Crean already in New Orleans to speak to both 49ers and the Ravens on behalf of the Harbo brothers (as their slightly more famous brother in law.) Kids play on their own and win (big game from CWat, Temple, Deep Oh, Trip Marcotulio, Hullsie and the Stellar Zeller. With Crean in town though we’re doomed.

    AZHoosier: u funny guy.

  11. I so hope we don’t have any fans that are so lame they’d troll Michigan boards.

    There once was a troll from Seattle…

  12. Oh great….Teddy “the drama queen” Valentine doing the game…there goes the home court advantage.

Comments are closed.