Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Northeastern 55, Indiana 42.

Box score.

Yeah, I'll admit it. I was eyeballing the Big Ten scheduling, wondering about various home games against Big Ten opponents. No need for that. Any conference game that IU wins will be an upset. I certainly don't want to jump to too many conclusions after the worst effort of the season, but as I mentioned in the preview post, with the possible exception of St. Joseph's, all of IU's losses to this poin would have been defensible for a better team. In other words, even if IU were a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team, the Hoosiers still might have lost to Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Gonzaga, and Kentucky (by lesser margins, but you get the point). The Northeastern loss is simply impossible to sugar coat. It wasn't a fluke. IU was manhandled by an average Colonial Athletic Association program.

The game was played on Northeastern's terms. As I indicated in my preview, Northeastern is very good at taking care of the ball and forcing turnovers. IU has been horrible at taking care of the ball yet fairly effective forcing turnovers. NU prevailed by this metric and most others. First, this game was played at NU's pace--the 58 possessions are even fewer than in NU's usual 61 possession game. John Lazkowski and others continue to focus on IU's per game turnover numbers, and IU's 21 is about average by that metric, but is simply horrendous in a 58 possession game. IU's turnover percentage of 36.1 was the worst of the season, worse even than the Wake and Gonzaga games. On the defensive side, IU forced turnovers on only 18.1 percent of possessions--only notoriously ball-conscious teams Notre Dame and IUPUI turned it over less against IU. IU rebounded reasonably well, particularly on the offensive end, where Northeastern grabbed only 23 percent of its misses. The obvious story from the box score is that IU failed to get to the line (Northeastern shot 20 free throws to IU's 6) and could not take care of the ball. As for the individuals:
  • Tom Pritchard was the sole bright spot for IU, managing 12 points on 6-8 from the field (but 0-3 from the line) and 14 rebounds. On the downside, he was responsible for nearly a quarter of IU's turnovers.
  • Dan Moore was more of an offensive presence, hitting a three pointer and turning the ball over only 3 times.
  • Verdell Jones hasn't found his game since returning from injury. Jones was 1-4 from the fueld and turned the ball over 5 times.
  • Devan Dumes led the team with 13 points but needed 12 shots to get there.
This probably was IU's worst non-conference loss in Assembly Hall history., or at least the worst since a loss to a horrid DePaul team in 1995, a game that ended an 11-year winning streak As the announcers noted last night, this is only the 19th time that IU has lost to a non-conference opponent at the Hall. Again, IU has played better against comparable competition, so I don't think last night's game was a representative performance. But it certainly fades any hope that IU fans might have had of winning a handful of Big Ten games. Every one will be difficult.

IU is off for another six days, and then plays Lipscomb on December 28 before beginning the Big Ten season on January 3 at Iowa. I do hope to take a long look at the nonconference season and overall numbers at that point.

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