Here is an analysis of Indiana's 79-72 loss Saturday afternoon to Notre Dame at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. This analysis is a regular part of our AllHoosiers.com coverage of Indiana basketball this season.
WHAT LOOKED GOOD:Offensively that would be Will Sheehey. The senior forward had a career-high tying 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He looked more confident than he has at any time this year. Now, his 21st and 22nd points came from the foul line with 7:27 to play. So when Indiana needed its senior leader the most he wasn't to be found. But for the first 32 minutes of game time, Sheehey was clearly the offensive star. Beyond that, Stanford Robinson did some things off the bench and Austin Etherington had five points and three rebounds off the bench. Hanner Mosquera-Perea scored four points in 3 first half minutes.
WHAT NEEDS TO IMPROVE:Interior defense was suspect early as Notre Dame players like Garrick Sherman and Tom Knight were extremely good inside. Notre Dame would end up with a 30-24 advantage in the points in the paint. IU also came into the game ranked fifth in the nation in field goal percentage defense but allowed the Irish to shoot 51.5 percent in the first half and 46.3 percent overall. Yogi Ferrell had a tough final few minutes. He missed a couple of drives to the baskets and a key 1-and-1 free throw opportunity with 30.2 seconds remaining. In fact, you could say that Indiana's most veteran players all had late game difficulties. Along with Ferrell, Sheehey had a pair of late turnovers that hurt including one where he got caught in the air and had nowhere to go. And Evan Gordon missed his final six shots of the game. Indiana turned it over 13 times, just under its average and those miscues led to 13 Notre Dame points.
FOR STARTERS: Crean went with his usual starting lineup of Yogi Ferrell, Noah Vonleh, Will Sheehey, Troy Williams and Jeremy Hollowell. That five has now started 10 of the 11 Indiana games. Evan Gordon started the second half in place of Troy Williams. IU's starting five scored 46 of IU's 72 points. The starters were 19-of-43 from the field. They combined for 19 rebounds. The starters got 12 assists led by Hollowell with a career-high seven.
INJURY UPDATE: Devin Davis looked strong in warm-ups and was IU's first sub into the game. But he would play only a total of 6 minutes. He played three in each half. He will now have a few days to rest his sore ankle before IU plays next Friday. Troy Williams, who appeared to injure his hip at the end of the game Tuesday against Oakland, started so it likely isn't something to be concerned with moving forward.
INDIVIDUAL OBSERVATIONS: Here's a look at my own thoughts on three Indiana players from Tuesday night's victory over Oakland:
1. TROY WILLIAMS: After a strong effort with 13 points against Oakland, Williams was back to being a non-factor against Notre Dame. Tom Crean talked about the lights being too bright for some of his young players. Perhaps Williams is one of the ones he was talking about. Williams was limited to 12 minutes, didn't score, missed all three of his shots including a 3-pointer. He did have three rebounds and two assists but he contributions were minimal. Again, for Indiana to be successful this season it needs to get a consistent effort out of Williams.
2. WILL SHEEHEY: This one was a mixed bag. Sheehey did a lot of good things on offense and was IU's go-to player. He had a career-high tying 22 points which was encouraging. He knocked down 9-of-15 shots from the field including 7-of-10 in the first half when he scored 16 of his points. He also had five rebounds and made all three of his foul shots. A lot of good, right? Yes. But he also had five turnovers and didn't score in the final 7 minutes and 27 seconds. When Indiana needed a big shot in the closing minutes he was unable to deliver. That's a role that Sheehey needs to embrace. He needs to be the player that wants the ball in the closing minutes.
3. NOAH VONLEH: Vonleh looked a step slow on defense and was allowing Notre Dame to get the ball in too deep into the post. Offensively, he hit 4-of-5 shots but that was the problem … he only took five shots. And it wasn't a product of Vonleh not getting shots because he was going to the foul line too many times. He only took one foul shot and it was a one-and-one (which he missed). He had six rebounds, four fouls and just one turnover. But the problem with Vonleh is that he's not demanding the ball inside. He needs to want it more and demand that he gets it. Vonleh was pushed around too much Saturday by a player he should have dominated.
NEXT UP: IU is back in action on Friday at Assembly Hall against Nicholls State. The tip is 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch