For Hoosier fans that have been patiently waiting for the resurgence of one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country, the 2011-12 season has finally been something to brag about.
Head Coach Tom Crean looks like he has finally dug himself out of the hole of Kelvin Sampson’s mistakes. Upcoming in 2012 is arguably the best class in the nation and the most talented in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers return talented play-makers Verdell Jones III, Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo. Add Cody Zeller to the mix, one of the best incoming big men in the country, and it becomes clear why this team has been so competitive.
We had an idea in the pre-season that this team would be good. But knock down Kentucky type of excellence?
The Buckeyes head into Bloomington on the heels of a major win over Northwestern. The Hoosiers will play with a bit of a chip after suffering their first loss of the season to the Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday.
Overall, It looks like we have a great game on Saturday to end the 2011 year.
|Head Coach:||Tom Crean|
After riding the high of a last second buzzer beater against Kentucky, the Hoosiers headed into Big Ten play continuing to prove that they belong in national talks as one of the favorites to compete for the Big Ten Conference title.
At the end of the night, it was the Michigan State Spartans’ 80-65 victory that uncovered for the first time this season what has been the Achilles Heel of the Hoosiers the last few seasons.
When the game gets physical, the Hoosiers fold.
After putting together a 25-2 run to start the game, It was the Spartans closing things out with a 20-0 run with five minutes left on the clock. Conditioning, positioning, and a downright refusal to give up open looks was the cause for Indiana’s collapse.
Ryan Corazza of the Inside The Hall breaks down the run in his latest edition of Film Study. As you can see from his great work, things started to fall apart when Cody Zeller couldn’t get involved in the post. Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne were disruptive in forcing the ball to stay out on the perimeter. Payne, the Dayton native, used his 7’1″ wingspan to his advantage in the post to keep Cody Zeller out of the ballgame.
And when the Hoosiers decided to play zone defense, he slit through it and jam the ball home.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Tom Crean stick to man-to-man defense on Saturday. The only way he is going to slow down Sully is to do so. Cause if you cover him with the 2-2-1 in the post, it will leave three open on the perimeter. As we saw against Northwestern, there is a handful of sharp shooters that have no problem exploiting that.
Overall, the Spartans were able to hold Zeller to just 4 points and 3 rebounds. Michigan State set a blueprint on how to beat the Hoosiers on Tuesday. If you can keep Zeller out of the ballgame, get some second chance opportunities , and let your guards drive to the hoop and hit open shots — you can kill the Hoosiers’ confidence.
Two players to watch for the Hoosiers are Christian Watford and Cody Zeller. Watford eclipsed the 1,000 point mark on Tuesday and has been hot as of late. He has back to back double doubles for Indiana, has shot 8-14 from three point line in the last two games, and had a game high 26 points at the Breslin.
As freshman Cody Zeller goes, so goes the Indiana Hoosier offense. Averaging 14 points per game and shooting 65% from the floor, Zeller has really been the sparkplug that Tom Crean’s squad is missing. Down low he is a bit raw defensively, but off the block, in open space he is dangerous.
As evidenced on Tuesday though, if the passing lanes are clogged, he has a hard time getting the basketball.