IU commits 20 turnovers, still rolls 79-66

WHAT HAPPENED: Despite 20 turnovers and some generally sloppy basketball, Indiana cruised to a 79-66 victory against an overmatched Nicholls State squad in front of a semester-break crowd of 16,646 at Assembly Hall.

The Hoosiers improved to 9-3. Nicholls State fell to 3-6.

Indiana actually fell behind 4-0 to start the game, but an 8-0 run between the 5:41 and 4:22 mark in the second half gave the Hoosiers a 30-16 advantage. Even though the Hoosiers never truly blew the Colonels away, Nicholls State could never cut the deficit under double-digits and Indiana took a lead as great as 22 points.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell wasn’t without his flaws on Friday night, committing four turnovers of his own, but when he got rolling in transition and whipping the ball around, he was essentially unstoppable. It certainly helped that Nicholls State couldn’t provide that much resistance, but his passes were dazzling, he got to the rim and he also hit threes, knocking down three 3-pointers to score 16 points to go with his eight assists. 

Senior swingman Will Sheehey also scored 14 points, hitting a pair of three-pointers. Sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell had 14 points, hitting on six of his nine attempts field goal attempts.

On a night when Indiana coach Tom Crean took his already extensive substituting to a new level to account for Nicholls State’s deep bench, Sheehey, Ferrell and Hollowell were the only three players who played 20 minutes in the game. Guard Stanford Robinson had eight points in 12 minutes and was the leading scorer outside of those two. Noah Vonleh played just 17 minutes and had six points and nine rebounds.

Nicholls State guard Dantrell Thomas scored 24 points.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Basically because Nicholls State didn’t have the muscle to take it to Indiana when the Hoosiers were making mistakes, and Indiana had just enough to overcome their own.

The flow of the game was choppy by design on some level. Crean said he wanted to “bring fatigue to the game” which is the reason he used a full-court press so extensively and why he substituted so much. That made it difficult for any of the players to get a rhythm, which Crean said he expected to be the case.

On some level it worked. The full-court press was by no means a well-oiled machine and it was evident that the Hoosiers hadn’t practiced it much, but the combination of length and some tenacity helped the Hoosiers cause some turnovers and take Nicholls State out of much of a rhythm. The Hoosiers scored 19 points off turnovers including six on fast breaks. Those are relatively modest numbers, but after a first half in which Indiana had more turnover (9) than field goals (11) it helped them to just see the ball go in the hoop.

For all the messiness, the Hoosiers actually shot better in Friday’s game than they have in all but one game this season, knocking down 24 of their 44 attempts (54.5 percent) and hitting on 15 of their 24 second-half attempts (62.5 percent). The Hoosiers were a decent 5-for-12 from the field with Ferrell and Sheehey picking up all of the makes.

Defensively, the Hoosiers did a lot of mixing of defenses and switching off of screens. Even their man-to-man defense was only man-to-man for four of the players with the center basically parking himself near the rim to watch cutters giving space to whatever five-man Nicholls State happened to have on the floor. The Hoosiers were good in the half court in the first half with Nicholls State hitting just nine of 25 attempts. In the second half, they weren’t as good, allowing the Colonels to shoot 52.8 percent. Still, that wasn’t enough to make the game competitive.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Barely anything.

Defeat would’ve certainly been a disaster. The ugly play doesn’t necessarily bode well, but few teams truly play well coming off of final exams, which is a big part of the reason coaches — not just Crean — try to get the easiest games on their schedule between exams and the beginning of conference play. Crean obviously accomplished that mission.






COACH CREAN:  I thought what was really important tonight was that we would do our very best to build on our style of play that we want to keep establishing, and in a game like this where the other team is going to be very deliberate in their offense and shorten the game, we certainly wanted to figure out how to lengthen it.  I think to us the ability ‑‑ we needed to get to the foul line tonight.  We needed to get into the paint.  But the bottom line is we wanted to bring tempo and pace to the game.

I thought our guys did a good job of adjusting on defense, of doing things that we don’t normally do throughout the game, which is stay in pressure and then mix defenses, press into some different defenses.  We just kept mixing it up.  So any time you have a situation like that it’s not going to be as smooth, but it certainly gives us something to work with, to build on, and most importantly tonight was to bring pace to the game no matter what the other team wanted to do.

I thought the fact that we had 10 assists on 15 baskets in the second half was really good.  I thought we had some guys play the way that we need to play.  I thought we played a lot of guys, because we knew they were going to play a lot of guys, so you’re never going to get into a great rhythm.  But it wasn’t about rhythm tonight as much as it was just about all‑out, hard‑nosed, bring pace to the game, put a lot of pressure into the game, and then there’s things certainly we’ve got to clean up.  There’s no doubt about that.  We’ve got to clean up our rim defense, got to clean some of our awareness.

But again, we were switching defenses, and sometimes we were pretty good at that and sometimes we weren’t as good.  But it’s all a part of giving these guys as many experiences and giving them a chance to understand how important awareness is, how important all the parts of communication are, and how to do it when you’re really tired and under fatigue.

We made progress tonight.  I thought Yogi Ferrell had an outstanding game, not only because he had eight assists but because the pace that he played at on both ends, and the way that he talked and then certainly the shooting I thought was a byproduct of that.

Jeremy, Noah with the rebounding, Will, a lot of good basketball from a lot of different guys where nobody was really together for that long a period of time.

Definitely something that we can build on.


Q.  The middle 20 minutes it felt like the press really took hold.  What allowed you to do that?

COACH CREAN:  Well, I think the fact that we stayed in it.  We pressured more tonight than we would have pressed in practice (inaudible) over the entire 52 practices and the 11 games we’ve played.  We pressed some more in the week.  We’re trying to get our team to a place where we can do different things, and tonight it worked out to allow us to do that.  That’s what the press is supposed to bring.  It’s supposed to bring fatigue to the game without fatiguing you, and at the same time we wanted guys to play to exhaustion inside of their minutes and then come out of the game, and I did very little pacing where guys might pace themselves on one end of the court to play longer minutes, and I didn’t have to really sub for that because that wasn’t what our mission was tonight.  Our mission was to play really hard, bring pace to the game without pacing ourselves, and I thought we did a good job of that.


Q.  Did you come into the game planning to experiment?

COACH CREAN:  I wouldn’t call it experimenting.  I think when you work on it, I wouldn’t call it experimenting, I would call it more just changing the game up, because again, we’ve lost games because we can’t ‑‑ we’re not going to be successful if we let teams set their pace, okay, especially when it’s more deliberate.  We had a feeling, obviously, that that could happen because they run good offense, and they want to get the shots that they want.

It even freed them up a little bit.  The more we pressed, the looser they got, and certainly that’s going to happen.  That’s one of the trade‑offs.  But if you’re going to press, you’re trying to bring exhaustion and fatigue to the game.  It’s more a sense of just changing things up, and if it was more experimental it would have been more experimental lineups, and it wasn’t like that.  It was really more about bringing that speed to the game throughout the game.


Q.  Had you ever used a base defense before?

COACH CREAN:  We had, but this team hadn’t done that, but we’ve done that in the past.  So that was something that we worked on this week, and a little bit more personnel ‑‑ and it caught us one time when we didn’t match up because they could go from having a non‑shooting five men in the game to a three‑point shooting exclusive five men in the game.  So we had that, then the communication has got to be really good, and we’ve dealt with that in the past in games, too, but that’s where we have to go now.  We have to be able to ‑‑ we’ve got to get this to the point where we can do multiple things.  It’s like you want multiple effort players, you’ve got to be able to do multiple things in the game, and that’s ‑‑ and again, you’re going to get a lot more out of your concepts, but there are game plan things that have to happen now that we haven’t been so good at, and some of it is because of the youth and inexperience, but some of that has also been indecisiveness, and we wanted to push that decisiveness limit to the hilt by how we had to be talking decisive, aware under fatigue, and playing as hard and fast as we could, so a lot of times we did that.


Q.  What did you see differently in Yogi’s second half?

COACH CREAN:  What did you see?  Because it’s kind of obvious.  He was flying up the court, right?  I mean, he’s moving the ball, he’s attacking, and he’s also our leading scorer.  I think it’s pretty obvious when he plays that way.  Now we just need to keep it going that way.  I thought you saw, I thought everybody saw some really good examples of just how good he is.


Q.  Can the press be a weapon for you going on, and how good can it be?

COACH CREAN:  Well, we’ll see.  We have to become a deep team.  We have to be able to change tempos.  We don’t have ‑‑ we don’t have enough ‑‑ and again, we had our second best shooting night of the year, and we played extremely fast.  So I think that’s important.  But we got some lay‑ups.  We got lay‑ups.  We don’t want to become a team that trades baskets.  We had a little bit of that, but I dealt with that personally because I know we haven’t spent as much time on the press.

In answer to your question, I think we can get good at a lot of different things, and I think very it’s important that we do get good at a lot of different things, because we have length, we have a chance to be deep, and we have guys that are really willing to play hard, and now we’ve just got to get it at a consistent level.


Q.  Talk about Jonny Marlin’s first half minutes.

COACH CREAN: We wanted to do that and see how it goes and put him out there in situations where he can spell Yogi, and at the same time that we don’t have a lot of drop‑off, and he works hard, and we’ve just got to put him out there and see where those capabilities are for this team in running the club.


Q.  How concerned are you about the turnovers?

COACH CREAN:  Oh, I think our turnovers early on where we were trying to find our way were more like that.  We’ve had a long week, very long week, and a long week academically because it’s really been a long couple of weeks academically.  Not only is this the first time through for the young players through all of this game‑wise, but it’s their first time through exams at this level of academics that we have to be at.  I get that.  It’s not an excuse.  It’s something you have to get them to push through it, and we spent a lot of time this week making sure that we did that.

Tonight it wasn’t going to be about ‑‑ I’m always concerned about the turnovers in the sense of when they’re sloppy or when we’re trying to do too much, and we’ve certainly spent a lot of time on that this week, and we’ll do the same with it again.  But that, like our shooting, will get better.  But if we build on some of the things that we did in the second half ‑‑ it’s all a matter of really getting guys to understand that the greatest form of toughness is your consistency, and we’ve got to become a consistent team, and we’ll be a lot better and tougher in a lot of different areas.


Q.  How comfortable is Yogi getting with being the leading scorer as you approach the end of the non‑conference?

COACH CREAN:  I think it’s a matter of our style of play, and I think whoever is in those positions has to be able to play that way, and I don’t think there’s any question that he can.  I think that’s what’s most important for us is that ‑‑ when I’m trying to get these guys ‑‑ they’re not responsible for what everybody does.  They are responsible to help everyone and to bring their own unique talents to the court, and how that meshes and helps everyone is really important.  Certainly he’s got a lot of unique talent, and the bottom line is it just becomes a consistency.  I think he’s got a lot of ‑‑ he’s a very smart young man.  He’s somebody that really works hard, very durable and wants to be a great player, and that’s what that position demands.  I thought tonight he took a lot of steps in this game of playing that way, and that’s something we need to build on.


Q.  What do you know about Kennesaw coming in Sunday?

COACH CREAN:  They’re going to come in here and they’re going to look like a Big Ten‑SEC‑Big East type of team with their bodies, with their athleticism.  They played a lot of tough games.  They have a coach that’s coached at all those levels, be it Notre Dame, be it Penn State, be it Florida.  He certainly knows what players look like.

They’ve been in some good games, played a tough, challenging schedule, and I think the bottom line is we’ve got to build on what we did.  We’ve got to have great team defense.  There were certain things tonight where because we were playing at the pace we were playing at we gave up a couple of things.  I don’t know if we’ll be able to do that as much in that game.  But the bottom line is we want to have great team defense in this and we want to continue to make this game go at a fast pace, and if it becomes a situation where it’s a little slower there we want to try to speed it up, and I think it’s going to be the same for everybody.


Q.  Do you sense that the free‑throw line can be a strength of this offense?

COACH CREAN:  Well, I don’t think there’s any sense.  I think there’s no question it is, and I think when you look at what our free throw numbers have been all year long, that’s exactly where it needs to be.  They gave up a lot of free throws on average, Nicholls State did, and we wanted to exploit that.  We wanted to take advantage of that.  I think we were giving up 33 or 35 a game.  We got 33 ‑‑ no, what did we get, 35 free throws, so that’s important.  And again, I thought our guys did a really good job of recognizing tonight that they were really packing the lane.  They were packing the middle of the floor really well, and we started to make ‑‑ what I liked tonight is we made adjustments on the fly and there were some player adjustments, and that’s really important.  That’s really, really important.  Can you play fast, and at the same time be aware of what the game is giving you.  We made strides in that area, got to continue to make those strides.


An Interview With:








Q. Yogi, in the second half you guys started to kind of pull away a little bit.  Talk about that.

YOGI FERRELL:  I felt like we did a good job of getting the ball out quick when they scored and just pushing the ball and finding different outlet.  We just kind of flowed really, didn’t want to run too many sets, we just kind of wanted to move the ball, play inside out really.


Q.  What took so long to get the team going?

WILL SHEEHEY:  Well, we’re playing faster.  We’ll correct the turnovers.  20 is obviously too high for our team, but we’re playing a different pace.  We’ve been practicing at a different pace, so we’ll get it fixed.


Q.  Talk about the full court pressure.

WILL SHEEHEY:  Yeah, we haven’t really worked at it too much.  We’re going to continue to work on it in practice, get it to somewhere we can use time and time again.  Yeah, it’s going to be a part of our game, we’re just going to continue to work on it.


Q.  Was there a sense that you needed to do something when hit your two threes to put Nicholls State away?

WILL SHEEHEY:  Yeah, there’s always points in the game where you can kind it pick it out and see where you can pick and choose, where you can really open the game up.  Yogi made a great play on one of them, found me, and when he gets in the lane and makes plays for everybody else, it’s pretty easy to play.


Q.  What worked with the press?

JEREMY HOLLOWELL:  We were trying to just basically take time off the shot clock for them.  I know we got one shot clock violation due to our pressure on the ball.  We just want to get after people.  We don’t want to let other people set the pace.  We want to set the pace for the game, so getting up in them and getting to the ball is something that we’re going to work on and maybe look more to do.


Q.  Was this a game where you tried to break out of the usual mold of this year’s team?

JEREMY HOLLOWELL:  Yeah, we mixed it up defensively.  We tried to get off the press.  Played a lot of guys, so we were just trying to really get up and get after them, go to exhaustion, play as hard as you can and get a sub in and just continue to pressure the ball.  We knew they ran a lot of motion, a lot of cuts, so we were switching and things like that.


Q.  Was it tough to get a flow for the game when you have so many people playing?

WILL SHEEHEY:  No, not really.  We have 18 guys for a reason.  Those guys need to come in and play as hard as they can and give certain guys breaks and whatnot.  No, I don’t think so.  I think that the 18 guys on the team just have to be ready to come out any time because obviously they have a chance to play.


Q.  Was it part of the game plan to have so many people play tonight?

WILL SHEEHEY:  Not necessarily, but everyone has to be ready to play.  I mean, the reason why you’re on the team is to play in the game.  I think that everyone is pretty much ready to play, I thought.  Guys come in, play hard, play on defense first and then their offense will come.


Q.  Talk about the turnovers.

WILL SHEEHEY:  We’ll be fine with the turnovers.  We’ll cut them down.


Q.  Talk about staying with Nicholls State’s cut and motion.

JEREMY HOLLOWELL:  Well, we were in a defense where we had Noah helping out down low so we were really trying to pressure the ball and take away the back press like you said, they ran a lot of motion, a lot of cuts.  But it’s the same thing we’ve been doing, switching out.  We can use that to our advantage with our team and our length, doing the same thing, really.

Q.  What are some of key points you want to accomplish heading into the break?

YOGI FERRELL:  Well, we definitely want to go out pretty strong really this week, and then have a couple days of practice and see what we need to work on and get ready for a tough conference to play in.

Q.  What do you like about the group and what does the team need to work on as you head into Big Ten season?

WILL SHEEHEY:  Well, this is the most I’ve played.  Everyone has got to know their limits.  Everyone has got to really find out what their role is on the team.  I like that we can play so many guys.  Obviously we played a lot tonight.  I like our versatility, as well.  You know, we need to work on being more disciplined, and we will.