Sizable challenge awaits Hoosiers in Louisville

With a knock, knock on the table in front of him, Archie Miller smirked.

“Come on, now,” the Indiana coach said, responding to a question about his team’s improving turnover rate. “You guys keep bringing up the turnovers and we’re going on the road to play Louisville.”

It was a simple reminder that for as well as the Hoosiers have taken care of the ball through the first month of the season, road games are different — especially those against the size and length of Louisville.

A week and a half ago, as he studied film of No. 1 Duke, Miller marveled at the Blue Devils’ height and length, particularly around the paint. In recent days, as he dove into film of Louisville, Miller came away with similar takeaways on the Cardinals.

Now, another sizable challenge awaits.

“They are a very big team,” Miller said, “maybe one of college basketball’s biggest teams. That’s how they were constructed. They play a certain style defensively, whether it is their matchup or their man or their zones that they take advantage of the length. That’s why over the last how many years, you can put Louisville at the top in defensive efficiency, and one of the hardest teams to score on.”

Louisville has finished among the top eight nationally in defensive efficiency in each of the previous seven seasons. Entering Saturday’s 2 p.m. tipoff with the Hoosiers at the KFC Yum! Center, the Cards are the No. 11 most efficient defensive team in the country.

The Hoosiers that appeared in last year’s New Year’s Eve matinee with the Cardinals surely remember the problems presented — over-dribbling, missed shots around the rim and, of course, turnovers. Nine of IU’s eventual 14 errors came in the first 12 minutes of that 77-62 defeat, burying the Hoosiers early.

In its seven games this season, Louisville is turning over opponents on 20.2 percent of possessions. The two teams that have defeated Louisville this season — Purdue and Seton Hall — have committed no more than 11 turnovers against the Cards.

IU, meanwhile, is averaging merely 9.8 turnovers per game across its last five contests.

“Guys (are) going into the game not thinking about anything other than the simple play,” Miller said. “I thought we did a really good job against Iowa of getting the ball advanced. It wasn’t any messing around, over-dribbling, hammering the ball up the floor, letting the defense recover.”

Facing Louisville isn’t soley about ball security. It’s also vital that the Hoosiers make the most of the few open scoring chances the Cards present.

Although former IU big man Thomas Bryant was outplayed by 7-foot Louisville center Anas Mahmoud last season, De’Ron Davis gave IU some good, tough minutes in that contest.

Missed layups were the problem for Davis, who posted eight points, but shot only 3-for-10 from the floor.

This season, Louisville leads the nation with 8.4 blocks per game, while allowing opponents to make only 39.4 percent of their two-point attempts. The Cards have also done a nice job closing out on the perimeter, where opponents are shooting merely 31.4 percent.

“I try to attack,” Davis said of his philosophy against Louisville’s size. “Last year, I did the same thing. This year, I think the whole team has to attack their presence, attack their bigs and get them in foul trouble and just attack the rim. We can’t let their length bother us. We just have to play our game.”

Although Louisville’s size presents matchup problems on the defensive end, the Cardinals have been an inconsistent team on the offensive side of the floor.

Their most complete performance came during an 84-42 romp of Southern Illinois last month. Otherwise, Louisville has looked underwhelming.

It squandered double-digit leads in opening-week wins over George Mason and Nebraska Omaha and doesn’t have a single non-conference win of note.

Matchups with IU (No. 83) and Kentucky (No. 12) appear to be the only remaining opportunities for the Cards to secure a non-conference victory over a team ranked in the top 100, according to the KenPom.com statistical database.

The team also doesn’t have many good shooters and is making merely 33.3 percent of its attempted 3-pointers.

What Louisville does have, of course, is athleticism — and an abundance of matchup issues for these Hoosiers. Deng Adel, a 6-foot-7 wing, may be the best such example.

Adel can both score and break teams down with his driving ability. Averaging 16.0 points per game, Adel is shooting nearly 60 percent (37-for-62) inside the arc and has an assist rate of 17.2 percent.

“Where their size is overwhelming — they are always big inside — the perimeter guys with Adell and (V.J.) King just being so big and being able to shoot over top of you or drive it to the basket and overpower you, that is a concern as well,” Miller said. “It’s not going to change who we are or who they are, so we just have to go play.”

19 comments

  1. Interesting matchups with the ‘bad boys’ of college sports. UNC in soccer with their shadow academic departments and Louisville…because…they are Louisville and that’s always slimey.

    Schedule some extra time to shower off the nasty.

  2. I bet it made your night to tell me it made my night to correct the spelling of that word? smh

  3. Soon to come…

    brownbomber: I bet it made your night to tell me it made my night to tell you I bet that made your night to correct the spelling of that word. smh

  4. Checking in on Scoop at 11:34 pm on a Friday night actually makes my night. When I check in tomorrow, it will make my morning. Speaking of which…I wonder if Jeremy intends on ever bringing back ‘Hoosier Morning’..?

  5. I knew you’d come back with something slimey before you tucked yourself in. There are so few chances to correct you; one must go for the most inconsequential and miniscule of opportunities. You just don’t stumble, Chet. …except on a slimey basketball court. lol

  6. Hopefully the Hoosiers don’t crumble under the pressures of the road today.
    Nothing worse than a dry and crumbley cookie. I take that back…A slimey cookie would be worse.

    Question: Why isn’t U. of Arizona considered slimy? Weren’t they also implicated in the Adidas scandal? It always seems to be the Midwestern programs getting the degrading nicknames and labels. Wonder why that is…?

  7. It sure is fun for us good ol’ boys to label another team “slimey” (and then continue the conversation by focusing on spelling), but it hurts our recruiting as this mentality is what drove Mike Davis out and began our slide into mediocrity.

  8. Don’t post much anymore, but in times where I lose someone or health issues creep up, I think about the old guard on scoop from years ago. GFDave, Mike P and others. Even though Tsao never had a kind word for me, I hope he is well. Man, I’d love a win today. Many of us fans need that win today. Sorry if I sound selfish. Chet and Harv…Happy Holidays guys!

    1. JPat, Always good to read your posts. Like to hear the thoughts of GFDave and Mike P about present day Hoosier happenings. Selfish or not a W today in the Ville would be so positive for Arch and team for 2018. A Merry and a Happy. Hang tough.

  9. Really miss Tsao too. He always seemed like the real deal. Missed on an opportunity to meet him. Sure hope he got to see the Cubs win it all.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, JPat.

  10. Hey JPat,
    Hope you and yours are good.

    As I always used to say to my kids, life is what happens while you’re making other plans.

    The things I thought would be important…aren’t…and the things that are on my radar I never knew existed not so long ago.

    Cherish the moment.

    Merry Christmas.

  11. Harv,
    Don’t you love that I put a period after ‘Merry Christmas’.

    Merry Christmas to you, as well.

    A little early.

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