4 storylines for Indiana’s game against Rutgers

1. East Coast weather has forced Rutgers into a tough situation. The Scarlet Knights landed in Bloomington around 7 p.m. Friday — 24 hours after facing Michigan State in New Jersey. A winter storm earlier in the week forced a postponement of that matchup on Tuesday, putting Rutgers in the unenviable situation of a quick turnaround playing in one of college basketball’s best environments. Indiana used two full days to prepare for this game, while Rutgers staffers barely had one.

2. This is a great opportunity for IU to get back on track. Rutgers’ transition to the Big Ten has come with the expected road bumps. The Scarlet Knights have lost five consecutive games after a fluke win over shorthanded Wisconsin on Jan. 11 and drag the league’s worst offense to Bloomington for a matchup with the Hoosiers. It represents a chance for Indiana’s much maligned defense to perhaps find some moments of success to build off of heading into Tuesday’s game against the Badgers in Madison. Rutgers is at the bottom of the Big Ten in offensive efficiency (89.3), effective field goal percentage (43.4), turnover percentage (20.6) and free throw percentage (61.9), according to KenPom.com.

3. Is Stan Robinson ready to show consistency? The sophomore guard has scored more than the four points he managed Wednesday at Purdue, but seldom has he been so efficient on both ends of the floor. Robinson has done this previously, when he’ll put together a positive game and fail to back it up in his ensuing appearances.Tom Crean has lauded Robinson’s work ethic and the IU coach appreciates his desire to improve, but up until this point, Robinson has been unable to capitalize on his own momentum. Saturday is his time to do so.

4. A win is important for Indiana as it enters another difficult stretch. At the midway point of the conference season, no one has played more road games than Indiana, which joins Minnesota and Illinois as one of three teams that have played five times away from home. As much as Rutgers has struggled, a win Saturday would be huge for Indiana. The Hoosiers need to win the games they’re favored to take, especially with road trips to Wisconsin and Maryland on deck in the next two weeks. IU closes the regular season with six of its final 10 games at Assembly Hall, and by doing so much as winning out at home, the Hoosiers could finish with at least 11 wins in the league.

2 comments

  1. It’s a darn shame we have to face Rutgers after two brutal losses. A loss would be unspeakable, and even if/when we win it has to be by a significant margin to make most of us feel better. We go to Wisconsin next, and while UR doesn’t qualify as a trap game anymore– no way we get caught looking ahead– there’s so much at stake. We have to put the clamps down defensively. We have to be able to protect the post. And we have to be able to get good shots and make them. We haven’t done much of that in the last week.

    Most of you on here are much more strategically savvy than I, so these probably seem like no brainers. But you’d think D-1 coaches and athletes can figure at least some of it out.

    On that note, allow me to expend a little hot air offering an alternative explanation for our struggles. A reprieve if you will. Coaching intramural softball, you get skillsets on your team that range from major college flunkies to scholarship couldabeens to varsity HS all-stars to solid contributors to JV participants to never-trieds to the just-here-to-drink-beer-and-hang-outs folk. And in the end– assuming they can show up and fill a gameday roster, you hope they can help lead us to victory. (Marital/parental/vaginal/penile/legal responsibilities notwithstanding…)

    Half of them do, half of the time. But in practice and in games, you can bet your ass I try to teach
    them to hit the cutoff man. To wait for a pitch they can hit. To get the sure out. You’d assume that’s what everybody would do. But it’s not. Fumbles, errors, and misplays aside, you’d assume it’s the inexperienced ones, not pedigreed naturals, who got it. They’d at least try to make the least negative play, right? But it’s as if we’d never practiced a cutoff man. As if I’d never told anybody to not try and be the hero. If the double play isn’t there, make sure you get the out at second base. But no. You’re the hero. Everybody’s the hero. Why keep runners at second base when we can overthrow and let them score, too? Sound familiar?

    Such is Indiana basketball today– at least when it’s not running smoothly. Too often, too busy trying to make the NBA play when making the winning play would suffice. It’s not necessarily just a matter of coaching… (Does anybody really believe that Crean has never gone over inbounds plays in practice? And for that matter, has anybody given credit when they run a great inbounds play?) it’s a matter of internalization and execution, as well. Some of that is experience, some of that is intestinal fortitude, and some of that is understanding you can’t do whatever the hell you want because you think you’re skilled enough to do it. Doesn’t matter what you’re taught, schmucks. You force old habits anyways.

    It’s hard to turn down talent. My guys who can make catches and strong throws and solid contact at the plate usually get the start. I’d like to think if I had realiable guys who could make the fundamental play– even if not the spectacular one —- I could expect to at least be in the game.

    But then, our wins wouldn’t be near as exciting… or ripe for ridicule. And Shiva couldn’t help us if we lose….

  2. punjab… well obviously there’s a big difference between hammering philoposhy, strategy, set plays, spacing, defensive positioning, technique, skills, etc every day in practice 8 months out of the year… and you trying to shout out directions to an unpracticed team in the middle of a game. In one setting you are re-creating (good) habits for them to revert to in the heat of battle, while in your situation your yelling at people who are just as concerned about making sure they can identify their beer when they get back to the dugout.

    Now to answer your question about inbounds plays… Yes, I do assume that Crean works on these, and that’s exactly what bothers me. I have never seen them run an OOB that he deserves credit for, but lord knows I would poop my pants if I saw one. I have never seen a team above the JV level that has had so many issues just getting the ball inbounds. It’s an annual problem, and therefore not a player issue, but a coaching one.

    We’ll smack Rutgers today.

Comments are closed.