IU escapes LIU-Brooklyn with 73-72 victory

WHAT HAPPENED: Senior swingman Will Sheehey hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:55 to go and freshman forward Devin Davis pulled down a critical defensive rebound with 4.8 seconds remaining to help Indiana hold off Long Island-Brooklyn in a 2KSports Classic game Tuesday in front of 17,096 at Assembly Hall.

Indiana opened the game on a 10-4 run, but LIU-Brooklyn with a 14-0 spurt to take an 18-10 lead and IU was playing catch-up most of the rest of the game. The Hoosiers cut the deficit to 36-33 at halftime however, and the game stayed within two possessions the entirety of the second half.

LIU-Brooklyn took a 70-67 lead on a 3-pointer by guard Gilbert Parga, but Sheehey answered with a 3-pointer at the 2:46 mark. After a missed jumper by LIU-Brooklyn’s E.J. Reed, Sheehey hit another 3-pointer at the 1:55 mark. LIU-Brooklyn point guard Jason Brickman drew a foul on the next possession and hit two free throws to cut it to 73-72 with 1:27 to go. Indiana failed to score on the next possession, but two offensive rebounds allowed them to run the clock down to the 33 second mark. Brickman drove for a layup attempt to give the Blackbirds the lead, but missed and Davis grabbed a rebound that effectively sealed it.

Davis was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Brickman air-balled a 3-pointer close to the half-court line and the Hoosiers escaped.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Sheehey was frigid from the field in the first half, going 0-for-8 from the field and 0-for-6 from 3-point range, seemingly rushing shots and getting bad luck when he did have good looks. In the second half, however, he let the game come to him and only took shots in the flow of the offense. It showed. After missing his first nine shots of the game, he hit six of his last nine. After missing his first six 3-point attempts, he made three of his last five, including those two monster 3-pointers down the stretch. He finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists, facilitating as well as he shot in the second half.

Sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell’s night had a similar trajectory. He was just 1-for-5 from 3-point land in the first half. Late in the frame, though, he made a much more concerted effort to attack basket and only settle for jumpers when they were wide open. He hit two of three second half 3-point attempts and finished with 17 points and three rebounds.

Freshman forward Noah Vonleh kept the Hoosiers afloat in the first half, scoring off post-ups and stick-backs. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, posting his second career double-double in his second collegiate game.

Freshman swingman Troy Williams had a slightly quieter night with nine points and six rebounds, but he hit two very important shots late in the game — a 3-pointer that tied the game at 63 with 5:34 to go and a turnaround jumper off an assist from Sheehey that tied it at 65 with 4:51 left.

Davis didn’t score at all, but he had two important blocks, and most importantly, that rebound.

Brickman led LIU-Brooklyn with 11 points and 10 assists, making plays for his teammates and finding open shooters just as he seemingly always does. Swingmen Troy Joseph, Gilbert Parga and E.J. Reed were the primary beneficiaries. Joseph scored 16 points on 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. Reed and Parga had 15 points each.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: IU coach Tom Crean put this one mostly on inexperience, saying the Hoosiers didn’t entirely process what it meant in this case to take what the defense was giving them, because they were a little too anxious to take what was evidently available and not come by it naturally.

LIU-Brooklyn used a starting lineup without a single player taller than 6-foot-6. IU’s starting lineup only included one player in Ferrell who is shorter than 6-7. Knowing the Hoosiers want to drive the ball and get it in the paint by any means necessary, LIU-Brooklyn clogged the lane in man-to-man defense by backing off their man and effectively daring them to shoot jumpers. Indiana obliged early, often pulling the trigger too quick on 3-point attempts. They were 1-for-16 from beyond the arc in the first half and shot just 11-for-40 from the field before the break. And it wasn’t freshmen who were the primary culprits. As previously mentioned, Sheehey was 0-for-6 from 3-point land in the first half. Ferrell was 1-for-5 and senior Evan Gordon was 0-for-4.

Late in the first half, the Hoosiers stopped shooting and made more of a point to drive the ball even into the teeth of the defense and do whatever it took to get the ball in the hands of the players in the frontcourt. LIU-Brooklyn wasn’t making it easy on them, but the Hoosiers still had a size advantage and they did what they could to exploit it.

It worked much better in the second half, even as the Blackbirds clogged the lane further with 1-2-2 and 2-3 zone. The Hoosiers were able to draw fouls and force the defense to collapse, and they simply moved the ball inside-out and around the perimeter much better than they did in the first half. They shot 16-for-31 from the field after the break and 6-for-10 from beyond the arc, putting themselves in much better position to claw their way back into the lead.

The Hoosiers were OK at best defensively. There were time when they allowed Blackman to beat them off the dribble and when they left shooters on the wing open. This game gave the Hoosiers a better idea of ways well-organized teams will be able to beat them despite their length. After blocking 13 shots in the opener, Indiana had just two in this game. They also seemed to get called for many more fouls at inopportune times. Fair or unfair, they committed 22 fouls and allowed LIU-Brooklyn to go to the line for 27 free throws, of which they made 19. Indiana, meanwhile, was 12-for-17 at the line.

They did, however, win the reboundign battle 48-35. They grabbed 20 offensive rebounds for 16 second-chance points and held LIU-Brooklyn to just nine second-chance points on nine offensive rebounds.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Tom Crean’s optimistic view of the situation is that the young Hoosiers needed to get involved in hard fought games early to figure out how to win them and that they will be able to draw on these lessons later in the season. It’s easy to counter that position by pointing out that Crean’s non-conference schedule doesn’t exactly reflect the rigorous scheduling philosophies of his mentor and friend, Tom Izzo, but there is certainly some truth to his point. The Hoosiers did learn a lot about themselves in Tuesday’s game and got an idea of what it’s like when a game comes down to the final seconds and every decision and every move counts. Indiana will certainly be in that position again, and for a team with six true freshmen, it helped that they came by that experience early.

That being said, the near-loss certainly raised myriad concerns. Long Island-Brooklyn is not exactly a cupcake, having been to the NCAA Tournament three straight years with three straight Northeast Conference titles. They are annually one of the top scoring teams in the country and Brickman led Division I in assists a year ago. But the NEC isn’t exactly the Missouri Valley let alone the Big Ten. The Blackbirds had to take part one of the play-in games last year and lost to James Madison for the right to play No. 1 seed Indiana as a No. 16 seed. They lost their two leading scorers from that team, and once again, they were playing with a team that didn’t have a starter over 6-foot-6. Even packing the lane as they did, it should not have been as difficult for the Hoosiers to get the ball in the hoop as it was in the first half, and it shouldn’t have been as easy as it was for LIU-Brooklyn to score either.

It appears all the more evident that half-court offense will be an issue with this team. As Crean said, he’s constantly trying to work to get them to understand spacing, and that’s going to take time. And as far as shooting is concerned, the Hoosiers simply don’t have the lights-out, knock-down guys they had a year ago in Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford. Sheehey and Ferrell showed they can make shots when the ball comes to them in the flow of the offense and they get open looks, but it’s also apparent that they aren’t good enough yet to hit shots when they have to rush or when they’re contested. Basically, the offense has to flow as well as it did in the second half to expect consistent outside shooting from those two, and they simply don’t have the necessary consistency for that right now.


Again, I express gratitude to ASAP Sports

An interview with:






COACH CREAN:  Tonight was a great learning experience in many ways.  What you want to get your team to understand, and I said this even to Don Fischer in the pregame, this team does not have the luxury of going through close games and hard‑fought battles yet.  Some of the players do, like Will, obviously, but we don’t have a team of guys that have gone through that.

Now we really didn’t want to have it have to be tonight, but it was.  The bottom line is if we weren’t ‑‑ if we didn’t have the capacity to get better, if we didn’t have the capacity to improve inside of the game, and if we didn’t have the capacity to understand how the game ‑‑ what the game was giving us, we’d have lost the game by 14, 15 points.  There is no question.  No question about it.  But we did.

We played against a very good team.  We played, and it was two different games.  What was there for us was not what we needed today.  That’s why early on in the game we shot so many jump shots rather than really diving in to what the game was giving us.  I think it’s one of the biggest reasons we shot the ball so much better as the game went on even later into the second half.

But it’s invaluable to have a game where guys can get this kind of experience in their college life this early, and they deserve a ton of credit because I think we really had to win tonight.  I think they played fantastic, and I saw that Zack was the one that referenced that that hyperbole was on the menu when I compared Jason Brickman to Aaron Craft.  I think Aaron Craft is one of the best college basketball players that’s ever played.  Not because of how he shoots, not because of how he passes, not just because of they win, but it’s how they win.  He dominates the game on both ends of the court, and I think the exact same thing that this young man has the capabilities of doing.

That’s what we get paid to do.  We get paid to decipher that and to figure that out, and he almost got us.  He almost got us.  So we’re really trying to learn here what it’s going to take for us to have real success.  Going through nights like tonight will help that.  Understanding that on Friday night everything changed for everybody with these new rules and with the way the game is going to be called and the way the game is going to be officiated.

The teams and players ‑‑ or the players and teams, I should say in that order, that make the quickest adjustments to how the game is going to be played that given night are going to be the ones who are going to be the beneficiaries. And fortunately for us, with as many mistakes as we made, we had enough things to get us over the top and this team found a way to win.  So I’m proud of them.


Q.  Will, how important was it for your teammates to learn that even when things aren’t going your way, to keep trying and it will come?

WILL SHEEHEY:  Well, we have to realize the game plan and what the game means, like Coach said.  And once you realize that, the game comes a lot easier, trying to figure out how the game’s moving and at what pace and how the flow is.  Once you really find that, you can see our team played at a different level once we really figured out how the game was going.

We settled, obviously, including myself, early on.  They were daring us to shoot and we shot it, which isn’t what you should do.  Eventually we figured out how to win.

Q.  What could they have done better?

COACH CREAN:  I think he just said it, we settled.  You saw the three‑point numbers.  I’m sure they’re out there.  We didn’t take what the game was giving us.  We played basically a compact ‑‑ whether they teach it as the pack line or what it was, they kept the lane.  They had a lot of respect for our driving game.  They had a lot of respect for our postgame.  They didn’t have a lot of respect for our outside shooting game.  I don’t blame them.

We were giving them the opportunity and confidence as the game went on.  There is no question about it.  So what we needed to do was stick with plays, including him early on where there were things that we wanted to do to get the ball reversed two or three times.  Get it inside so we could get our paint game established, so we could get it, and that frees up more movement offensive rebounding‑wise.  Get more penetration, get more reversals, those were the things that were big.

But the thing I like about this team is nobody ‑‑ this surprised me ‑‑ it didn’t surprise me in the sense that we would find a way.  What surprised me is how really nobody got down.  We had some guys that learned the hard way the level of preparation you have to have for every game.  I mean, every game is different.  The concepts aren’t different, but every game is different.

This is a little bit of ‑‑ we’re behind.  But we’re trying to get still so many things, and I blame me on this part.  The things we’re doing defensively, we have not been doing week upon week like we would have in a regular situation with an older team.  We’re still really trying to get the fundamentals and the basics down of our defense.

Then when you start switching coverages a little bit against really good teams, it’s a little bit of a game.  So we could have made the game plan simpler in the first half, but we didn’t.  We have to learn how to do that.  We’re going to play games that are back‑to‑back nights the next week.  We’ve got to make those adjustments quickly.


Q.  Coach, how important was that resiliency?

COACH CREAN:  Down the road it will be huge.  Down the road to have that happen in the second game it will absolutely be paramount to their future to get that.  You know what, even if we had lost the game, there were experiences in there that were invaluable for them, but the bottom line is they found a way to win the game.  And the other team was doing everything they could do to win it too.

But we’re a long ways away from understanding the scouting reports.  We’re a long ways away from understanding the strength of the personnel.  We’re a long ways away from trusting game plans in the sense of our whole job is this leading assist player in the nation coming off a 14 assist game.  He wants to pick you apart with his passing.

We over-helped, and I think that goes in answer to your question again, but guys had to play through it.  It wasn’t like we had a group of senior guys to go down to at the end of the bench and say go in and take care of this.  We had Evan (Gordon), we had Will (Sheehey) and we had a bunch of freshmen and sophomores.


Q.  Will, what allowed you to get a rhythm in the second half?

WILL SHEEHEY:  Well, you know, you get stops on defense, and it definitely fuels your offense.  Also playing inside out, the shots I took in the second half were a lot more open than the shots in the first half.  They came off penetration.  They came off Yogi (Ferrell) two or three times making a fantastic play in the lane, finding me wide open.  Devin (Davis), I think, found me once too.  So it’s really just guys making plays for others.

In the second half we made plays for each other and that’s what it was.

COACH CREAN:  Sometimes for people on the outside, whether even in the crowd or even for you and for coaches especially, it’s so much easier to sit there and see it.  Say, hey, this will really work.  Little harder when they haven’t.  But, again, I thought the way the ball did move, in answer to that question, the way the ball did move and the way he allowed the game to come to him as the game was going on and as everybody did.  I mean, there were a couple moments, obviously.

But knowing that you want to attack the rim, knowing that you want to get the ball inside so you can get to the foul line, but at the same time getting the ball space first and having the confidence to knock down shots, I thought that was really big.






Q.  Coach, you had to go 5 minutes or so without Yogi, what are your options in that situation?

COACH CREAN:  Oh, that’s a big one.  We started that.  I mean, we’re always working on the ball handling and things like that.  I mean, Noah taking the ball off the break isn’t something we just came up with.  That’s something he can do.  Don’t be shocked if I put him out there in that situation at some point.

But Jeremy is really understanding.  He’s getting better every day.  This was not a great game judging by the fact that he had ten free throws the other night.  He had zero free throws tonight and wasn’t nearly as aggressive as he wants to be.  He had the fouls in those situations, but he came in and played well when we needed him to play well.  That is a sign of growth to me.

So he can do that.  Evan can do that.  Stanford still doesn’t understand that the other team is trying to take the ball from you, and that it doesn’t say Indiana on the ball.  I mean, it’s wide open.  They can grab it.  But he’s got to continue to learn that.  He will.  But I was proud of the way Jeremy played in that situation.

And Evan, Evan didn’t score a point tonight, but we don’t win the game without Evan Gordon.  I mean, that’s obvious.  He did so many different things and he kept playing.  When the shot is not going in, I’m telling you now, that’s a hard deal.  Our guys kept their confidence going even when it wasn’t going in, and eventually it did.


Q.  Coach, Noah gets his second straight double‑double.  How much more do you think he can develop?

COACH CREAN:  He’s not even scratching the surface.  He has no idea how hard he can play.  He knows how hard he can play, but he doesn’t know how long he can play that hard.  I thought tonight was great growth.  I thought he was much better tonight than he even was on Friday with understanding what the game was.

In the first half, we missed a ton of lay‑ups.  It’s almost like we were waiting for the foul rather than going up into the basket and forcing our will.  Not in the sense of charging or anything but using the board and things like that.  Those things, this is where these guys were still learning the shots they were making last year.

You’re not getting those shots against anybody here at any level in Division I.  You’ve got to use the glass.  You’ve got to extend on your jump hook.  You’ve got to get the ball up.  You’ve got to escape the blockouts so you can offensive rebound, and that was learning a lot about that.  Noah for a long time has been the biggest player on the court.  Now he’s got to be as athletic and versatile as any player on the court, and he’s learning a lot about that.


Q.  Coach, (Indiscernible)?

COACH CREAN:  No, body movement is, body movement.  You’ve got to move bodies.  We’re a cutting team.  This is as good a cutter as there is in college basketball, and he and Vic were probably tied for it last year, and now it’s him.  When our bodies are moving, because we have willing passers.  We’re still ‑‑ it’s a fine line right now.  I mean, we want to pass, and it will be a fine line.  If some of those guys handling the ball were March sophomores or juniors, it wouldn’t be a fine line because then they’d have to know better.

But sometimes when you’re playing as many young guys as we’re playing right now, it’s part of it.  It’s part of it.  They’re going to make some mistakes.  But when the bodies are moving, and the cutting is there, and the screening and the slipping, and all those types of things, that’s what they did a great job of.

That young man, Jason Brickman, he’s just trying to carve you up with making passes.  When we didn’t trust what we were supposed to do, we paid.  When we did what we were supposed to do, and that’s a great lesson for our guys.  It doesn’t matter who is in another jersey.  If they’re committed to a style of play, they know how to play that style.  And every time we came off and helped, because we thought we were going to get beat on penetration, he kicked it for an open three or kicked it out to the side or found the slip guy.

Keith Ross used to be able to do the same thing.  Have the same kind of movement, same kind of reversals.  The ability to take what the game has given us, play off the defense, and we’re not there yet.  But that’s when the system gets better.


Q.  Coach, has ball movement been a key to the assist/turnover ratio?

COACH CREAN:  Oh, without a doubt.


Q.  Coach, Do you feel like you did better in the second half?

COACH CREAN:  Yeah, all I’ve looked at is the rebounding and deflections.  I did see that we shot 27% and won.  It was way better, way better.  I think it’s indicative.  It’s indicative.  We don’t want people to stop shooting we want people to understand what the best shot is.  As the game went on, we got a lot better at that.

I saw this quote from Brett Brown with the 76ers.  He was talking about playing the Spurs the other night, just how good they are, and really how simple they are in the sense that they just make the next pass.  He said the key to playing the game the right way is make the next pass.  To me, that’s why we were so good last year.  That’s why our free throw attempts were so high.  That’s why our field goal percentage was so high.  That’s why our three‑point percentage was so high.  We created open looks and open lay‑ups for each other.

We’ll get better as a team shooting the ball.  That will take some time.  We have to get better right now like we did tonight in the second half and continuing to understand how important the spacing and reversals are.

But I’ll give you an example.  We practiced on Sunday.  We probably spent a two‑hour‑and‑ten‑minute practice.  We probably spent an hour and 10 to 15 minutes of just spacing in the half court.  If you looked at us tonight, it looked like we’ve never done before.  I’ve got to keep that in perspective.  We’ve got to keep doing that.  We have time and time again until we understand it.





Q. Do you think it was good for the freshman to be in a close game this early in the season?

NOAH VONLEH:  Yeah, I think it’s a great experience.  It’s definitely a learning experience just knowing how to handle situations like this and how to slow things down and just keep getting better.  As far as on the ball movement, we were rushing shots, but the ball movement got better in the flow of the game from the beginning.  I think that’s why we came up with the W.


Q.  You’re one of the few that’s been through situations like this.  What did you tell the team to get them through it?

KEVIN YOGI FERRELL:  Told them to just stay together.  Just take advantage of our possessions, defensive stops each time, and I felt like more towards the end we got down and had a more of a will, I’d say, within with everyone and wanted to get the defensive stop.


Q.  What was the game plan going in?  It seemed like you were rushing and taking a lot of shots.

KEVIN YOGI FERRELL:  I think we were trying to take what the defense was giving us.  I think they were playing a really packed defense in the first half, so we were taking a lot of shots we may have thought that were open but weren’t really open.  We did a lot better job in the second half, as Noah said, of taking shots, better movement, not taking first side shots, getting the ball reversed, two, three or four times.


Q.  Talk about Noah’s impact and your comfort level?

KEVIN YOGI FARRELL:  Well, I feel that maybe teams are going to focus on him more because we’re getting the ball inside to him a lot.  That’s been really good though.  We especially need him on the boards.  I know they kind of focused on him a lot this game, even doubling off the weak side.  His inside presence is going to be good for us down the road.


Q.  Talk about handling things down the stretch in the last 2 or 3 minutes?

KEVIN YOGI FERRELL:  It just took a little bit of poise on our end, pretty much just taking what the defense is giving us, even better than the first half and just getting stops. They hit a couple shots.  I know they hit a couple threes in a row down towards the end, but we kept coming back.  I like how we never did back down at all.  We stayed together.  We didn’t get too carried away trying to force anything down, and it was a good win.


Q.  How big of a part do you think Will Sheehey was to keeping composure towards the end?

NOAH VONLEH:  In the second half we just started slowing things down, kept reversing the ball.  Kicked it to Will, he had the baseline open, and he’d drive it.  He’d either score it, get fouled or get back for that open shot. That was a pretty big part.


Q.  How does it help to see Will have a big impact on a night where he didn’t necessarily shoot too well?

NOAH VONLEH:  He kept on doing the little things.  Rebounding, playing defense, talking on defense, executing the plays correctly and the rest will come with scoring.


Q.  You had a few baskets right before halftime; talk about the play of yourself and the freshman just before half?

KEVIN YOGI FERRELL:  I noticed they didn’t really get back quickly on defense, so I felt like we had to push it more.  We were definitely doing more in the second half, but they had jumped to zone, so it was kind of hard to do it then.  But, yeah, we just needed to get more drives to get to the foul line.

I know we got to the bonus late. We’ve got to get to the bonus 14‑13 minute mark of the first half, not the 8:00 minute mark.


Q.  What’s your level of concern with the outside shooting with last game and this game?

KEVIN YOGI FERRELL:  I’m not concerned with it at all.  I feel like this is just a growing process and I know these are shots that guys can knock down because in practice they’re knocking them down all the time.  Maybe it was just not our night, and that’s okay.  We’re all going to get in the gym, get our shots up, but I have no level of concern for us right now.

Q.  Talk about guarding Jason Brickman?

KEVIN YOGI FERRELL:  The game plan for him: we were just trying to take away his outlets.  We knew he was the returning leading assist guy from last year.  We were just trying to take away his outlets because he’s such a great passer.  So we wanted to level him off.  Not over-help too much on him.  We did that a couple times.  He hit a couple threes, but he’s a good player.

Q.  Ferrell, what impressed you with Will Sheehey’s game?

KEVIN YOGI FERRELL:  He got into the mix of it, and even when his shots weren’t going in, he’d drive to the lane and hit open guys.  But I knew Will would knock down the shots at the end because he does it for us every day.



  1. Man…if this is how games are going to be called, then I guess I’ll have to watch less basketball this year. I have no interest in a free-throw shooting contest.

  2. I am with you Dome. Right now the games are unwatchable. The problem is the inconsistency with which that call is being made. You see it called on one end and then not the other. You will see one ref make the call and another let something similar go. I actually feel sorry for the kids playing because I don’t think the rule emphasis has been well explained to them. They seem confused when they get called for it and not sure what they did.

Comments are closed.