3 pointers for a successful 2nd half
A few keys that could aid Indiana in making an NCAA tourney run
BLOOMINGTON — At the midpoint of the Big Ten schedule, Indiana’s young team has yet to define itself the way the Hoosiers did the past two seasons.
There have been unexpected wins — snapping a 12-game, six-year losing streak to Wisconsin — and surprising losses — shut down at home by Northwestern.
At 4-5 in the Big Ten (14-8 overall), the Hoosiers are in the midst of the conference standings. A run at the regular-season championship seems unlikely, especially with five road games still looming.
But there’s still a chance that a strong second-half effort can push IU toward a third straight NCAA Tournament bid. To get there, the Hoosiers should:
1. Stick with a deliberate offense. IU has the athletes to play an up-tempo, running style. And the fast break shouldn’t be ruled out completely, of course. But the Hoosiers seem to play better offensively when they’re making the extra pass and giving the offense time to set up. Too many hurried shots have turned into fast-break points the other way.
2. Find a rotation that works. Tom Crean drew boos in the first half of Sunday’s game against Michigan when the IU lineup consisted of Stanford Robinson, Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Austin Etherington and walk- ons Jeff Howard and Jonny Marlin. Michigan outscored that lineup 6-0. The way the game played out dictated the unusal substitution pattern, as Crean had to find a way to spell four starters.
“The bottom line is, we have to rest players,” Crean said on his Monday night radio show. “We’ve got to continue to build depth, and the only way you build depth is to get guys to be consistent.”
It’s not the first time fans have been critical of Crean’s substitution patterns. It’s a catch-22 — IU’s inexperienced freshmen and sophomores have to show more consistency, but they have to play more consistently to get more consistent minutes.
3. Find a scorer besides Yogi Ferrell.
There’s no doubt that when Ferrell’s on, he’s on. He was 8-of-10 on Sunday, 7-of-8 on 3-pointers. But no one else has been a consistent enough scorer to help Ferrell out.
Noah Vonleh has that potential, but he hasn’t been able to consistently establish himself in the post. Part of that has been a typical lack of foul calls in favor of a freshman. But it’s also been part of a failure by his teammates to make that extra pass, allowing him to get open down low.