Men’s basketball: Lots of positives, some concerns at halfway point for Indiana
By ANdy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent February 5, 2013 11:31PM
The Big Number
The Hoosiers have four in the top 15 in Big Ten play in 3-point percentage. Victor Oladipo leads the way, shooting 60.0 percent, followed by Christian Watford (2nd, 53.1 percent), Jordan Hulls (10th, 40.5) and Yogi Ferrell (tied for 12th, 40 percent).
He hasn’t got the attention that classmates Yogi Ferrell, Hanner Mosquera-Perea or Peter Jurkin have — for good or bad — but Jeremy Hollowell quietly continues to improve, Tom Crean said on his radio show Monday night.
“I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t play him more in the Michigan State game,” Crean said. “I know he would have liked to have played more, but instead of going one way, he went the other way after that game. The work ethic of doing extra continued to go up.”
“The biggest thing with Jeremy is that’s got to talk more on the floor. He’s got very good skills. He’s got very good awareness. The more that he talks and can handle the things that are going on defensively and all the quick adjustments that have to be made … that’s where he has to be that much better for us.”
Updated: February 12, 2013 11:55PM
BLOOMINGTON — At the midpoint of the Big Ten schedule, No. 1 Indiana has plenty to brag about — and plenty still to work on as well.
The positives start immediately with the Hoosiers’ record — 20-2 overall, 8-1 and alone in first place in the conference. Last season’s Hoosiers needed 26 games to reach 20 wins and eight victories in conference.
Midway through last season’s conference slate, IU was 16-5, 4-5 in the conference, having lost four of five games. This year’s team has won five in a row, including Saturday’s win over then-No. 1 Michigan.
That victory, coming at the end of a week that saw Indiana also defeat Michigan State and Purdue, vaulted the Hoosiers back to No. 1 in the polls.
Indiana’s offense was impressive enough at this point last season, but the Hoosiers are even better this year, averaging 5.4 more points per game. IU’s top five scorers from last season are also the top scorers this season, with all but Jordan Hulls averaging more points per game.
Likewise, the defense has improved, shaving 3.7 points off from last season to this.
While Victor Oladipo has rightly received much of the praise for his defensive work, Tom Crean noted on his radio show Monday night that the Hoosiers have plenty of other good defenders as well.
“Christian (Watford) can guard so many different people. Cody (Zeller) is second on our team in deflections,” Crean said, also praising Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey and Remy Abell. “Jordan is improving. He can improve more like everybody else can improve more, but he is improving.”
Still, the Hoosiers aren’t without their flaws. While Hulls has improved defensively, the six-footer can still be a liability at times. He’s also been uncharacteristically inconsistent at the free-throw line, missing almost as many this season (10) as he did in his first three seasons combined (18).
Top sub Will Sheehey, who scored in double-figures in six straight games earlier this season, has just one such game in the last eight. And injuries and NCAA sanctions have played havoc with Crean’s ability to fashion a consistent bench rotation.
The schedule doesn’t do IU any favors, with five road games in the second half of the conference schedule.
Crean said during Monday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference that it’s a hypothetical to say whether the tough conference schedule will lead to greater success in the NCAA Tournament.
“I think if you look from past experience (however), it gives you an understanding of how to play from different ways,” he said. “You’ve got to win a lot of fights along the way.”