Victor Oladipo’s ‘D’ provides a spark for Hoosiers
By Andy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent December 11, 2012 11:16PM
The Big Number
6 — The number of games this season in which Oladipo has had three or more steals.
While Tom Crean was doing his weekly radio show Monday night, IU was celebrating the men’s soccer team’s NCAA title with an event at Assembly Hall.
Crean praised soccer coach Todd Yeagley, whose father, Jerry, coached the Hoosiers to six of their now eight national titles.
“He grew up on the blueprint, he was a part of the blueprint as a player, he was certainly part of the blueprint as a coach, and now he’s got his own legacy moving in the same direction,” Crean said.
Updated: January 13, 2013 11:16AM
BLOOMINGTON — Deflections aren’t a stat that shows up in the box score. There are too many ways to count a deflection, all based on a particular coach’s definition.
Tom Crean has been a head coach for 14 seasons at Marquette and Indiana, and he puts a lot of emphasis on deflections and how they can impact the game. Until last Saturday, it had been a rare occurrence for a Crean-coached player to get 20 deflections in one game.
Victor Oladipo has now done it twice in a row. After tallying 20 deflections against Coppin State on Dec. 1, he matched that number in Saturday’s 100-69 victory over Central Connecticut.
In tha game, Oladipo — with some help from Will Sheehey and Remy Abell — held the nation’s top scorer, Kyle Vinales, to seven points.
“We all did a pretty good job of not letting him get comfortable out there, not letting him get to his sweet spots, and making him use his off-hand,” Oladipo said.
“I think we did a pretty good job on him, and I hope we continue locking people down like that defensively.”
Not that there’s not room for improvement. Vinales’ teammate, Matt Hunter, tied an Assembly Hall record for points by an opponent, with 40.
“So it’s back to the drawing board,” Oladipo said.
Oladipo doesn’t need to fix much defensively. A member of the Big Ten All-Defensive Team a year ago, when he averaged 1.4 steals per game, he’s leading the conference this season with 2.6 steals per game. He had three steals against Coppin State and a career-high five against Central Connecticut to help pad his gaudy deflection numbers.
The steals have also helped set up his offense. He’s leading the Big Ten in field goal percentage, hitting 65.2 percent of his shots. Fourteen of his 45 baskets have been dunks, many set up by his steals.
It all ties in to the Hoosiers’ notion that their defense sets up their offense.
“Once we pick up the intensity on our defense, I feel like the sky’s the limit on what we can do on offense,” Christian Watford said. “Once you get stops, you get a lot more open shots on the other end.”
And it starts with Oladipo, whose presence at the top of Indiana’s press has been key.
He’s not satisfied yet, though.
“I don’t think we have even scratched the surface of how good we can be on both ends of the floor,” Oladipo said. “We just have to continue getting better on both ends, especially on defense.
“I think if we continue to keep doing that, we will continue to play at a high level.”