Indiana smothers Hillsdale in exhibition win

WHAT HAPPENED: Sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell scored 14 points, senior swingman Will Sheehey added 12 and Indiana routed Division II Hillsdale College 79-39 in front of an announced crowd of 17,095 in the Hoosiers second of two preseason exhibition games on Monday.

The Hoosiers fell behind 13-2 to start the game but went on a 25-3 run to take control of the game for good, outscoring the Chargers 46-15 in the second half to more than double their total.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Ferrell scored 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers to make it even more clear that he’s made that his shooting stroke has made tremendous strides. Sheehey was 5-for-7 from the field, also drilling a pair of 3-pointers. He appeared to injure his right calf muscle when he collided with senior guard Evan Gordon and did not return to the game, but he did return to the sideline and IU coach Tom Crean said he didn’t expect the injury to be serious.

Freshman guard Stanford Robinson scored nine points on 3-for-3 shooting in just 11 minutes of action, making it clear that he expects to challenge for minutes. Freshman swingman Troy Williams was impressive again, scoring nine points in 16 minutes. Freshman forward Noah Vonleh was close to a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds, though free throw shooting continues to be an issue for him. He was 4-for-5 from the field, but 0-for-3 at the line. 

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: After communication issues in the first seven minutes led to three Hillsdale 3-pointers and that 13-2 advantage, the Hoosiers cleared those up and harassed the Chargers with their length just as Crean has been asking. Hillsdale was just 7-for-40 in the final 33 minutes of the game and 12-for-50 for the entire game (24.0 percent). They were just 4-for-28 (14.3 percent) in the second half, including 2-for-14 from beyond the arc in that period.

The Hoosiers allowed just 12 points in the paint, won the rebounding battle 43-29 and only allowed five second-chance points. They caused 17 Hillsdale turnovers, which turned into 26 points for the Hoosiers on the other end. They managed to defend mostly without fouling, committing just 21 fouls to Hillsdale’s 28. They had problems in rotations and screens early, but challenged shots much better as the game went along and got better at keeping the ball out of the paint.

On offense, they started by attacking the rim and putting the Chargers in position to foul them. Ferrell only got two buckets inside the basket, but he drew several more fouls. Robinson, Gordon, Williams, Sheehey and others also attacked the basket, which led to 28 fouls and 35 free throw attempts. Indiana made 23 of those, which was seven more than Hillsdale attempted. The Hoosiers continue to struggle without outside shooting, but Ferrell and Sheehey hit a pair each while Jeremy Hollowell and Troy Williams also knocked a couple down in large part because Hillsdale had to collapse on the dribble drive. The Hoosiers turned the ball over 16 times which was problematic, but managed 14 assists on 25 baskets even as they were getting a lot of their points on drives.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Walloping Hillsdale to this degree is significantly less impressive than it would have been if the Hoosiers would have played this game in three days or so because the Chargers were clearly dead-legged after taking a potential MAC power in Toledo to the brink on Sunday before losing 85-84 in overtime. Still, this game showed signs that the Hoosiers at least understand what their identity is supposed to be even if they haven’t achieved it yet. They know they have to turn defense into offense, and they did. The Hoosiers’ communication was much better in the last 30 minutes even if it wasn’t perfect. They contested shots,they got their hands in passing lanes, stole the ball off the dribble and made it difficult to get the ball in the lane. They gambled on occasion, but not too much giving an overall steadier effort than they did in the first exhibition against Southern Indiana.

Offensively there were still issues. They were 6-for-17 from beyond the arc and they turned the ball over 17 times. But ball movement gave them at least a few open 3’s that they knocked down. They were collectively outstanding on the dribble drive, especially Ferrell and Stanford Robinson but also Evan Gordon, Troy Williams and Will Sheehey. Vonleh and freshman forward Luke Fischer were both strong in the post as well. Crean continues to exist that there won’t be definitive positions on this team, but the Hoosiers do seem to have a lot of players who can fill important roles. The Hoosiers will start to learn much more about who they are and what they can and can’t do when they start to pick on teams their own size, but the preseason has provided a number of positive signs:


Tom Crean

“Our whole focus was to start to form an identity and we didn’t form it all the way. We’re still turning the ball over too much and that’s going to take a while because we’re still making too many unforced errors with our footwork and our driving and things like that. But we’re going to play fast so we’re going to work through that. But I thought the identity was formed when these guys learned early on inside of the game, almost couldn’t have worked out any better, you don’t want to be down 13-2 and have your rim look like it has a bubble on it. This team has got to learn like any great team, if they’re going to be great they have to understand it happens with defense and rebounding and it happens with multiple stops. That’s what has to happen for us. The fact that we held them to 20 percent shooting in the last 33 minutes of the game, I thought was really, really impressive.”

“There’s a lot of room for improvement in taking care of the ball. We are going to become a much better shooting team. We spent a lot of time at it. We don’t have just the absolute knock down guys that you and the fans have become accustomed to over the last couple of years, but they weren’t always that way either. … What we’ll do is  keep sticking with the same thing we’ve been doing, which is spend a lot of time making sure we’re reversing the ball and getting the ball inside out. We were phenomenal tonight when the ball hit the point, whether on the post up, whether on the drive.”

Yogi Ferrell

“I think the main thing that changed was our communication. I feel like when we first got out there, no one was really talking to one another, leaving guys on islands. You can’t win leaving guys on islands. You have to have a collective unit. That’s what I kind of felt like. After that first TV (timeout) when we came in, we just said, we need to talk more, give more, better effort on defense, and that will just lead to our offense and get more easy baskets for us. “

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Yogi Ferrell, Stanford Robinson, Devin Davis



  1. What I confirmed…

    Stan Robinson is going to be a force.

    What I learned…

    We are going to lose 2-3 games strictly on FT shooting

    What sucks…

    Where was this hand-checking rule last year??? We were less athletic… Smaller… More finesse…

    Now this year, we have athletes, youth, enthusiasm… But we have to temper the D so we don’t end up in the bonus at the 15:14 Mark every half…

    At least we have depth.

  2. Absolutely the hand check change is going to be a big deal in the B1G. The hand check has been paramount over the years for PUke’s defense. I suspect they will now be somewhat less successful in their heavy handed D.

  3. It’ll be interesting to see how Wisc adjusts. They’ve been playing fast and loose in the gray areas for quite some time. I dunno, but something to keep your eye on.

  4. My concern: Great coaches make average players great. Crean has to have great players to look his best. If he doesn’t teach them to be team players, then they will be OK but not great. The great players will compete for the NBA draft. They will be more interested in showing their talents, than team plays. Is IU turning into KY, one year and out ball players? Remember how it was last year, not enough team players.

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