Hoosiers pull away from Wildcats, 66-46

At some point after his Indiana arrival, Archie Miller got away from what worked.

In previous years, while at the helm of Dayton, Miller made a habit of wearing the same suit jacket after each win. Early in his IU tenure, for some reason Miller can’t pinpoint, he strayed from his trusty superstition.

But now, in the midst of his most successful week as IU coach?

“I’m back,” Miller confirmed after Indiana’s 66-46 win over Northwestern on Sunday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, adding that his jacket was, in fact, clean.

Miller picked a good time to resurrect his quirk, guiding his Hoosiers (11-7, 4-2 Big Ten) to three consecutive wins and a three-way tie for third place in the Big Ten standings.

To earn its latest victory, Indiana weathered early foul trouble to Juwan Morgan and Zach McRoberts, enjoyed a second-half offensive revival and, most importantly, shut down Northwestern (11-8, 2-4) in what Robert Johnson called IU’s most connected defensive game of the season.

Defense has been a work in progress for this group of Hoosiers as they transition to Miller’s pack-line philosophy, which emphasizes a lock-down approach in the paint and heavy on-ball pressure. Sunday was the best example yet of the gains Indiana is striving to make.

“I definitely would say it’s being more connected,” Johnson said. “When we’re out there, I can feel guys talking more, putting forth a better effort, trying to not let the man to their right or to their left down. So I think we’re more connected and there’s better communication.”

Indiana held Northwestern to 26.8 percent shooting from the field (15-for-56) and only 28 percent from beyond the arc (7-for-25). The Wildcats’ 46 points are the fewest IU has allowed since yielding 46 to Illinois on Jan. 26, 2014. It was tied for the third-lowest scoring total in a Big Ten game for an IU opponent since the 1996-97 season.

IU’s defensive field goal percentage also tied for the second lowest against a conference team since the 1996-97 season. The Hoosiers held Wildcats leading scorer Scottie Lindsey to a 1-for-15 shooting performance, while sending Northwestern out of the arena without a single scorer in double figures.

“We’re a lot quicker, we’re a lot more mobile, especially with our frontcourt,” Miller said. “As De’Ron (Davis) goes down, you get faster and inevitably the guys in the game are quicker and move better. Keeping the ball out of the post has been a big key for us. In general, guys have done a pretty good job on the ball. I thought today, (we had success) in terms of not letting their shooters get comfortable and having to put the ball on the floor.”

IU leaned on defense during the first half, especially, playing almost the entire period without Morgan and McRoberts, each of whom picked up two fouls in the opening minutes.

With Morgan and McRoberts back on the court to start the second half, the Hoosiers pulled away with a 19-2 run that featured Johnson getting hot from 3-point range. Johnson tied his season-high with five 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 17 points.

Indiana shot 61 percent from the field during the second half, refusing to let down as Northwestern wilted.

“In the second half offensively we were much different,” Miller said. “We moved better, really shared the ball and had some guys step up and make some big baskets, alleviate some of the pressure.”

The second-period performance was in contrast to the first half, as both teams combined to start 2-for-16 from the field, matching brick for brick. Northwestern even endured a nearly eight-minute stretch between its first and second basket. But with a patchwork lineup, Indiana struggled to pull away by any more than 10 points.

At the same time, the Hoosiers received good defensive production from the less-heralded players on their roster. Freddie McSwain provided good energy, grabbing five early rebounds, while little-used freshman forward Clifton Moore recorded two blocks and a steal in his first five minutes.

It was all enough to ensure that Miller will be wearing the same jacket when Indiana returns to action on Friday at Michigan State.

“On the defensive end it’s probably been our best game thus far,” Johnson said. “And I think if we can build on that and continue to tighten a couple of things up on the offensive side we’ll be in a good spot.”

71 comments

  1. That was the most enjoyable half of basketball I watched all year. Unbelievable ball movement.

    Little disappointment that the day we bring Romeo to Bloomington, we leave the balconies empty. Well done Hoosier fans.

    1. I think some on here didn’t even think we’d see four conference wins all year…Seems like they’ve sorta gone all ‘crickets’ of late. I won’t mention any names…..(but I think one who claimed this was a very bad team with no shooters rhymes with ‘clunker’).

      Morgan…Smith…Durham. Talented kids. Gotta give Crean some credit for this bunch. Archie is coaching ’em up fantastic. They are all beginning to buy in.
      A beautiful thing for Archie and Hoosier fans, but quite the travesty for a man as comfortable as Crean as he looks at his product from afar.
      Crean had no problem identifying talent destined to blossom. He simply didn’t know how to build a team and build them to peak in March…Nor could he ever get the Hoosiers to play a brand of defense like we are beginning to witness from Archie.

  2. Great win. Lots of positives. Nice to see Newkirk and Johnson start to contribute consistently. Great to see Moore get some minutes. Also like the fact Smith is attempting to be an aggressive scorer. Go Hoosiers!

  3. It is amazing what confidence, brought about by success, can bring. I love the 3 game winning streak, but what I love most is the hard play, pounding the glass, not giving up, beating the zone and having a team effort.

    I also love that our coach wears a red tie. It NEVER happened last year, or if it did, it was by accident. Archie gets it folks. And somehow this crew is getting it too.

    I still can’t see us winning more than 3 or 4 more Big Ten games, but who knows?! I’ll be damn glad to be wrong.

  4. A lot of good things to notice coming out of this game. The improving defensive intensity was quite evident throughout the game even with JM & ZM out with foul trouble. Best start to finish defensive effort I have seen out of IU in a very long, long time. Clint Moore’s effort was most encouraging and it will be fun to watch this young man develop. JS put in some good minutes but still has some growing to do much like any Freshman.

    Biggest thing I noticed in the second half when JM came back into the game was the further development of his game. Teams thinking they will shut him down with double team may want to look the the Northwestern game tapes. What I saw was some outstanding passing to the open teammate from JM for easy baskets. That awareness coupled with increasing his shooting range will make him valuable not only at this level but at the next as well. He does however need to spend considerable time working on free throws. He certainly put up some clunkers, which cut down on several additional scoring opportunities.

    All in all a most encouraging team victory. Hopefully a sign of more positive things to come.

  5. Coach Miller’s plan initiated in preseason to establish a consistent D to show up every game is taking root. Offense is now showing signs it is the focus. Plan your work work your plan.

    1. Agreed,

      We all need to remember, Coach Miller is doing this with players recruited to play in the previous system. Imagine what this defensive strategy will look like in a couple years with a majority of the roster recruited to play within this system. Would love to see lock down defenses on par with the best of the Knight era once again. Couple that with the offensive strategies coming into focus and players recruited for that side of the ball. Looking forward to a lot of great basketball in the future.

      No disrespect to the efforts of the current roster as they are having to retool into a system not necessarily working to their strengths. That being said, they are showing signs of adapting very well to the Miller philosophy. To me regardless of whether their skill sets best adapt to the Miller system or not, the effort I saw on the floor yesterday is to be much praised. Says a lot about the where character of this roster is at now. Very glad to see the success they realized over the last few games.

      Would love to see them do the same thing at MSU.

      1. We all need to remember, Coach Miller is doing this with players recruited to play in the previous system.

        Previous “System”: Twenty turnovers per game …? No quality plays after timeouts/stoppages in play…? No ability to figure out a zone? No team defense? Weaves to nowhere? Declining performances and shockingly bad focus in March Madness?

        The “system” Archie is teaching is called basketball.
        Crean forced his hand into a basketball and became a hoops ventriloquist.

        Ball ‘speak’ ≠ Ball ‘teach’

  6. True on the free throws. Late in the game there was a break in the action, one of the NW players spread his arms out to gather his other teammates for a quick huddle on the floor. The other guys looked at him and walked away. They seemed to want it over and done with.

  7. Too bad this isn’t a message board where we can just have one thread dedicated to Tom Crean’s misadventures. Then I can just ignore it forever.

    18 games into the AM era and it’s Tom Crean all day. He gets so much space here he should be paying rent.

    1. You give Dakich way too much space…When’s the last time he was on a coaching staff? Best make a thread for his “misadventures” as well.

      It’s the contrast between genuine and charlatan in full exposure….And until we see some steady pathways to truth in a game that doesn’t shame the banners(thankfully beginning to flourish under A.M.), its every fan’s duty to never let the latter get near McCracken again.

  8. I can understand how most of you want to ignore the last 10 years under dysfunction so quickly…The current genesis unveils just how lost most of you were. Each season after season you apologized for something that wasn’t basketball. Now you act like you knew it all along….as you breathe in the refreshing air of what coaching finally looks like.
    Archie could almost be anyone…. because the contrast from nothing being taught to a result that shouldn’t surprise is the basketball light bulb that now shines bright for all the geniuses here.
    I understand….It hurts to know how some fans contributed to such excruciating amounts of time lost for Indiana Basketball.

    If you want your free throw “god” sorta speak…Look no further than this name. I suggested he be recruited to an IU coaching staff many years ago. But that would be teaching rather than marketing….and empty slogans of resurrection.

    1. H4H,

      I am going to take a shot at this for better or worse. The Crean era could be described as you have, dysfunctional, but whether anyone realizes it or not, it could have succeeded. Obviously you are wondering how could this have ever happened? There does exist a pathway in which it could have worked. Unfortunately Tom Crean could not pull off the Joe B Hall method for success at Indiana, if for only one time.

      Lest anyone forget or not be old enough to know, Joe B Hall was every bit, if not more x’s & o’s challenged a coach while at Kentucky. Yet it spite of this shortfall, he managed to win a National Championship. How could this be you might ask? It was through a combination of luck and the amassing of so much talent he was able to win it all despite his coaching deficiencies.

      Whatever you might say otherwise, Joe B Hall was able to get serious talent to Kentucky year end and year out. Not too much unlike the current Kentucky regime. Tom Crean just could not pull in sufficient enough talent to Indiana to duplicate the Joe B Hall method. I suspect you and other posters could probably enumerate the many reasons why he couldn’t do it, but it has been done elsewhere successfully. I doubt it is a method anyone posting to this board would espouse, but no one would have complained if he had pulled it off.

      1. Joe B Hall….did get to 3 Final Fours(to go along with the one championship and one runner-up) and 6 Elite Eights.

        Tom Crean didn’t get to one Elite Eight while nine other Midwestern programs went to a collective 23 Elite Eights during the last seven years.

        Sort of sounds like you’re comparing apples and oranges….Hall is more like Izzo.

        1. I will have to disagree on the Izzo analogy. With the talent Joe B had, no telling how many championships Izzo would have accumulated. No disrespect to who has played for Izzo, but Joe B stocked half of the NBA (exaggerating somewhat for effect) for years with players coming through Kentucky. Far too much talent coming through in those years to only have one championship to show for it. Kind of like the Atlanta Braves with a staff full of future hall of fame pitchers and only one World Series to show for it.

          1. Three Final Fours(one Championship…same as Izzo) …and 6 Elite Eights in 12 seasons…? Izzo has been at it for 22 years.

            And Calipari is soon approaching 10 years at UK…with currently only one Championship and three Final Fours. Think he’s had a lot of talent?

            But, again, Crean couldn’t even get us past a Sweet 16 with 10 seasons under his belt. His most talented rosters were on a train to nowhere…like his “weaves to nowhere.” His talented players should demand a Final Four celebration refund….due to misrepresentation of coaching acumen.

  9. I was one to say this was an “unlikable” team with poor shooters. I still think that. I did not watch this Northwestern game, however. I hope I was wrong with my early assessment(s). We have a nice stretch coming up with away games and tough teams (I still do not consider Northwestern a “tough” team). Let’s see what happens “on the road”. Go Hoosiers! Beat Michigan State and Naryland!!!

      1. They don’t have reunions for runner-ups. 22 years @ MSU and Izzo has only brought home the big prize once. Hall was at UK for 12 seasons(not much longer than Crean at IU) and accumulated 3 final fours, 1 championship, 1 runner-up, and 6 Elite Eights.

        Izzo is 1 of 7 at Final Fours….When he gets to a Final Four, his odds of winning it all are less than a random draw(around 14%). Knight was 3 of 5….When he got to a Final Four, he won 60%.

        Izzo is a hot fudge sundae with no nuts at Final Fours. Melts quickly and has no crunch time.

  10. RJ and Hartman are far from poor shooters…..Morgan is also very adequate. Hard to believe, but we’ve had some pretty agile post players in our past that were still shockingly bad shooters around the bucket…or 10-15 away. Morgan has a nice stroke.

    It’s still a thin team….but they are starting to gel and buy into playing 40 minutes of defense. I don’t pretend to think any future road game will be easy. Then again, games @ Northwestern and Penn State were never “easy” under the past regime.

    Teams have cycles. McIntosh is far from 100%…If you make exceptions for Davis playing poorly while hurt, we must do the same for the competition’s point guard/leader. Northwestern is not any “weaker” team than 2/3 of the Big Ten(especially when their point guard is healthy).

    If we don’t stumble at home…and steal a couple road wins, this season will turn out far better than the majority of IU fans anticipated. There are corners being turned….Freshmen are gaining confidence. Shooting will improve.

  11. I think witnessing some young kids separated at the heart….now showing maturity and buying into their new coach …makes them exceedingly likeable. Archie may end up loving this bunch of Hoosiers more than any his future days. It sort of grabs you by the heartstrings to see a team come together and do their utmost for a coach unexpectedly thrust into their Hoosier home/lives.

  12. This is the first game since the victory against ND that made me question my amended prediction for the number of wins IU would get this year. Although I expected IU to beat NW in Bloomington, they played inspired team-defense Sunday, which is something they can build on. They’re still terrible shooters and still make way too many mistakes, but I would love to be proven wrong about the number of wins this team will get this season. And if they have to win ugly with nothing but great defense, that’s fine by me.

    And yes DD, it appears Tom Crean Derangement Syndrome (TCDS) lingers within certain individuals for much longer than expected.

    1. Unless you’re a weatherman, predictions “amended” are really not predictions….You’re simply now looking outdoors and unable to admit you had the forecast wrong.

  13. As much as I hate the Tom Crean talk, it’s hard not to compare his coaching to our new coach. It’s also hard not to mention him in regards to the fact he recruited every player on this team that actually plays. I never wanted Crean at IU…I tried to support him, but it was clear he wasn’t the right fit. To his credit he did bring in several players that will always have a special spot in IU history Oladipo, Zeller, Watford, and Hulls to name a few.

    I would like to suggest that we all stop the Tom Crean talk. It’s like beating a dead horse. I’m glad he is gone and for the first time since 1992-1993 we have a head coach that actually cares about and represents our program well.

  14. Ben_M-

    Completely nailed it with your first sentence. We are not experiencing a difference in “styles.” We are experiencing competent coaching vs. incompetent coaching.

    But you can have your “special spot” comment….I found nothing special in all of the talk of bringing IU back to the biggest stages(our next level) juxtaposed with all the uninspiring results in March…along with all of the self-serving NBA hoopla. And then to leave all of those implied promises and unfinished business after being slapped around by Boeheim? Special..? More like especially disappointing?

    1. Now wait a second here. I said he brought in a few players that will always have a special spot. Not sure what that has to do with a Boeheim 2-3 zone. I said THE PLAYERS HE BROUGHT IN….not him. Jordy Hulls is one of my favorite players of all time. A Bloomington kid who DID despite those who insisted he COULDN’T. I remember 4gairds saying how awful Oladipo was being a 3*.

  15. I think everyone misses the entire point. No one said “don’t talk about Crean ever.” It is when you read a thread with 20 comments and 15 of them are about a charlatan chasing F’s or whatever else.

    Sorry Harv, your mission to remind people the Crean sucks is just a big giant yawn. Skip.

    And I’m trying to find one person around here who doesn’t think we have a vastly superior coach, in every facet, currently. So what battle are you fighting? The Germans surrendered, dude. We took away their guns and bombs. Visit for the schnitzel and beer.

  16. 38 posts, 12 by you know who. Nearly a 1/3 of the thread hijacked by incessant, naive redundancy. The Hoosier COMIC Book suffered on the HT.

  17. I read this site for ALL the comments, and am thankful to ALL for them. I started reading this site because I was intrigued by H4H’s comments, and continue to enjoy his elucidations. I don’t mind his verbosity one bit. And I’m PUMPED for Friday against Michigan State (and am going to really enjoy watching Purdue host Wisconsin tonight…I really like Ethan Happ but also really admire how Isaac Haas has developed his skills throughout his career.

  18. I appreciate those kind words, Rock. I also appreciate your acknowledgment of other talent around the league. I appreciated a kid who played on Michigan a few years back who put his team on his back and led the Wolverines to a title game. Sure, I had some extra appreciation because he was from my home town….but the backlash was astounding.
    IU fans were a very insecure bunch over the last decade. I believe competent coaching from a very humble source like Archie Miller will help stop some of the empty gloat, the defensive posturing everywhere but on the hardwood, and the general tone of insecurities(often manifested via bullying speech).

    But thank you again…..It’s nice to get a rare pat on the back.

    1. Nope…That would be a term for those who saw all of the quality basketball with their own two holier-than-thou eyes over the last nine years.

      Then again, what’s wrong with a Hoosier hallucination when a coach tweets of a man with a beard living in the clouds?

      1. I’m not a Tom Crean fan, but there are names involved in this NCAA/FBI investigation that hit close to home Kenny Johnson, Rawle Alkins (Arizona), Brian Bowen (Louisville), not to mention Jaquan Lyle and others who were recruiting misses that probably cost Crean his job for doing things the right way. Crean was definitely an odd personality who brought his faith too close to the fan base for this day and age, but he probably lost his job from not cheating. Any bob knight supporter should have some respect for that at least.

        1. Ben- Show me where I attacked you on a thread you weren’t even commenting until you wanted to throw out snide about how “not to live a life.”

          You don’t have any clue, Ben. Nobody on here has even spent one day with another member existing as flawless behind a screen name. These are all caricatures. There is no means to validate nor put an objective eye on any gloat to float one’s own boat. There is no amount of BS that can sink a comment box. These are all portraits of our own making. Again, caricature does not make for character.
          I would think many of the current stories of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry would be enough to show any simpleton observer just how removed the character of someone can be from a portrayal.
          Do you really think these are truth boxes? Tell me your ugliest tale and I might begin to believe the gloriously flawless man behind the keyboard.

  19. Have to disagree with you on that one, think. Any time a good discussion/debate get’s highjacked by an obsessive who simply wants to vent his spleen with a redundant list of inanities, it’s not fun. I’d rather dig out old LPs and my old turnstile and listen to them skip, repeating the same few seconds of music over and over. At least the few seconds of music that gets repeated is music I once enjoyed.

    1. Certainly gives one an example of how not to live their life and gives hope to those who want to change and not wait until it’s too late.

      1. Kindness under any form of duress is the mark of youth, character, and hope. You have shown you’re very old inside. I won’t tell you it’s too late for anything…I’ll leave that to a different judge and jury.

        1. I guess 37 is the new old. I entrench my character with my cancer patients. Walk a day in their shoes and you will quickly realize what matters in life. My hope is being the great son my parents raised me to be. The love they gave me can never ever be re -paid and I honor them every chance I get. Engaging in my faith and my community is something I take pride in and you can’t and won’t take that away from me. Thanks though for thinking you knew me. I take that as a compliment and glad I’m still meaningful in your “old eyes”.

          1. Good on ya, Ben. I have also had the good fortune to serve people who needed what I was able to provide. I’m not a religion guy but I’ll file that one away as being a blessing.

            I always felt I got more than I gave.

          2. I’m a firm believer in the best deeds of any man rarely rolling off his own tongue….especially if used to denigrate another.

  20. I’m certainly not telling Harv to go away. I never have. Harv can be impassioned and insightful. You just have to wade through 400 diatribes about how much of a d-bag Tom Crean is to get to them.

    And what a joke, Harv. I find it odd that you slather over University of Michigan’s Mitch McGary, but routinely and relentlessly blast Indiana University’s Victor Oladipo. Because Tom Crean, I guess. So when I give you crap, you have the gall to say it’s due to me being “insecure.” What a lame comment, dude. You have the emotional resiliency of a child sometimes.

    Enjoy your pats on the back. I hope you get more of them.

      1. Against Utah. 742 guards in the NBA and its development league attempting to hog the spotlight and the ball could put up those numbers on any given boring Monday night when nobody is watching and nobody cares.

        He’ll likely get an All-Star selection because 1/2 of the insecure state of Indiana is voting for him. The rest of the country really doesn’t give a hoot about the whole fiasco of All-Star voting. We’ll see if they make the playoffs…and then we’ll watch the bricks fly.

        1. Sure they could. Mitch McGary could do it, too.

          If he was in the NBA.

          Fortunately, Hoosier fans really like Vic. You are so far from being one you can’t even see them because of the curvature of the Earth.

          1. That 38 point performance against the Cavs when the Pacers ended their 13 game win streak was no doubt due to…reasons.

            Pitiful.

          2. Cavs absent the services of the main piece arrived after trading Irving; Isaiah Thomas. Nearly everyone is beating the Cavs of late. It’s not a shock point guards would have big games against a Cavs team playing without their signature backcourt slouch. Any stats amassed in playing the shorthanded Cavs might as well be printed on toilet tissue…They are aging…They are slumping…They are tiring….and they have been without Thomas until recently.

            Young legs will run them off the floor on given nights of a 80 game season. But when it gets to the big games and needed clutch performances by a veteran Michelangelo of the game(and a healthy fireball of a point guard)? You’ll see a different Cavs team in the playoffs.

  21. Ben, I’ll chime in and hope you will read that I admire you for working with cancer patients and have always enjoyed your posts. I find this site wonderful reading and am pumped for Friday against Michigan State. Let’s see how our team can do without the ability to “be really physical” (as Doug Collins stated) “up top” on defense. It’s a “point of emphasis” that if you impede a player’s progress towards the rim (in College) that it’s a foul. Somehow that did not get called against Penn State (early). Still, this season is shaping up for some real drama. I hate to admit it but I’m really enjoying watching Purdue. They have a great team this year and it’s going to be interesting to see if they can battle through here at simon skokdt Assembly Hall.

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