Silver Bullet Points: Basketball Pregame

Written December 31st, 2011 by Joe Dexter

Happy New Year’s Eve! Here’s to drinking plenty of beers, watching plenty of football, dipping tons of crackers into cheeseballs, and being safe out there this holiday. Coming up this afternoon, we wrap up 2011 with a the Ohio State Buckeyes taking on a much improved Indiana team on the hardwood in Bloomington.

Here are some notes from around the web on tonight’s game at 6 PM ET on ESPN 2/3.com. If you’re already hungover, sit back and grab someone to read for you. We can’t have you puking over any of our work here at tBBC. Happy New Year’s Eve and see you in the liveblog!

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Hoosier View:

 

The Lancaster Eagle Gazette breaks down the numbers of the Indiana Hoosiers this morning. To combat for their weakness on the interior defensively, Indiana has become the highest scoring team in the B1G night in and night out. Now that’s not ripping this squad, it’s just the reality of their personnel this season. Thad Matta though breaks them down almost perfectly.

“They’re a team that can really, really score in bunches,” Matta said. “You look at their games and the runs they’re capable of putting on teams and that starts with their transition. They’re going to push it on makes and misses.”

The one thing you can say is that this squad has all kinds of different talent, and can beat you many different ways on the court.

 

Of course, the passionate folks at Inside the Hall keeps us updated with Tom Crean’s press conference before action this afternoon. Is it just me or does Crean look like he would be a great Simpsons character? Maybe an appearance as a young Flanders? Or a dude that just screams all the time, but is SUPER excited about life? Crean talked about turnover trouble and not being able to reverse the ball against Michigan State at the end of the game. This team is insane. They are Katy Perry Hot and Cold. The ball either falls in or rolls out. Morale goes up and down (okay i’m done trying to recreate that pop song..). Transition will also be key for the Hoosiers. They have to control the pace in order to win.

LaMond Pope of The Journal Gazette breaks down another key aspect for Indiana in this afternoon’s battle. If Indiana want’s to win, they are going to need to out rebound the Buckeyes. If not, they will have a tough time stopping them. The big storyline starts on the offensive glass, where former Indiana Mr. Basketball Deshaun Thomas will be a factor. Of course, in March last season, it was Thomas breaking out with 22 points and 4 rebounds off the bench to help lead Ohio State after a tough loss to Purdue. Thomas shared with Pope some interesting thoughts on his preparation for today’s game.

“It’s going to be exciting, but I’m going to keep my same focus, my same mindset,” Thomas told reporters when asked about returning to the state during a news conference posted on the school’s website on Friday. “I call it ‘just another day in the office,’ just getting ready for practice and keep the same mindset like any other game.”

 

 

With those expectations Indiana would finish at a record of 24-7. I think that is a good low bar. Indiana must jump 24-7 anything more is icing a season ahead of schedule. Anything less would be incredibly disappointing. I think the best and most reasonable expectations for the Hoosiers through the rest of the year is 24-7 with a convincing first round win in March. Anything over that win total or extra noise made in the tournament should have the Hoosier faithful confident in being set up for a potential National Championship run in 2012.

It will be interesting to see where Indiana falls in the Big Ten, but 24-7 might be asking a bit too much in this tough conference. On the road against Purdue, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. At home against Ohio State, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin will be contested games. Heck, throw Michigan in that mix too. Maybe my confidence in this team isn’t there yet, but the physicality of this conference doesn’t suit the Hoosiers. They remind me of Michigan from a year ago. The Wolverines won 7 straight in non-conference play just to be met by losing six of their first seven conference games. They were able to bounce back, but a lot of that had to do with adjusting to the physical play of the conference. Indiana has the talent to bounce back, but It wouldn’t be surprising if they struggle early. Especially if they fall to Ohio State and start off with two losses to start conference play.

The Buckeye View:

Notable: William Buford has made 23 consecutive free throws and is shooting 86.7 percent from the line. The school record for a season is .900 by Jody Finney in 1968-69. … Indiana has the best three-point percentage (.450) in the country, and its three top producers behind the arc — Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and Matt Roth — are shooting 50 percent or better. … The Hoosiers’ top substitute, Will Sheehey, has missed the past two games because of an ankle injury and is not expected to play.

Of course, Bob Baptist is busy this morning bringing us Basketball greatness on the Dispatch. His notables bring up a solid point. Have the Buckeyes improved enough on perimeter defense to stymie a team that has been lights out and very selective from three point land? Depends on the turnover game and if Indiana gets open looks in the transition, but I’m sold that this team has improved defensively around the perimeter.

“Most of the time Sully sets the screen and draws so much attention that they go under the screen and probably try to follow Sully,” Buford said. “When I see them go under the screen, I just see an open look and shoot the ball.”

Rob McCurdy of CentralOhio.com touches on how Jared Sullinger affects the perimeter game. It’s not rocket science, but it’s pretty amazing how every single time, teams bite on it. If you don’t though, he’ll torch you in the paint.

Hope you enjoy some good reads on your Saturday. GO BUCKS!

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