IU Insider Blog: Up and Down results

Indiana's up and down season took a turn south on Saturday when the Hoosiers dropped a 54-47 decision at home to Northwestern. One step forward, two steps back may be the theme for this IU season.

The optimist would look at the week for Indiana basketball and say that most people coming in believed that the best case scenario for the Hoosiers was to earn a split in their two games.

The most likely scenario: Lose to Wisconsin and beat Northwestern.

Chances are that Indiana's record at the end of the weekend would be 2-3 in Big Ten play.

Well that's exactly where IU sits as it gets ready to head to Michigan State on Tuesday night for the second meeting in six conference games against the Spartans.

But the predicted formula malfunctioned.

And now the realist will tell you that the Hoosiers cannot be happy sitting at 2-3 in Big Ten play after letting a huge game slips from their grasp against Northwestern.

A few days after knocking off No. 3 Wisconsin and securing the much-needed signature win in their NCAA Tournament resume, the Hoosiers failed to capitalize on an opportunity and dropped a seven-point decision at Assembly Hall to the Wildcats.

On one hand it is what young teams do. Don Fischer said on the radio Saturday that he believed going into Big Ten play that this Indiana team would win a few games it wasn't expected to win, and lose a few it wasn't expected to lose.

Northwestern, which came in 1-4 in Big Ten play, is clearly in that category.

One step forward, two steps back. It's the frustration that comes with a young basketball team. At some point here, you hope the freshmen grow up and look more like sophomores. That's the evolution you hope for by the end of the season.

The problem in this case, however, is that it's not just freshmen playing like freshmen, but it's veterans playing that way, too.


*** There was no excuse for the shot that Evan Gordon put up with less than 30 seconds to play, an off balance 3-point attempt. IU trailed by four at the time. He shot an air ball and the ball went out of bounds to Northwestern. Veteran players, especially fifth-year seniors, need to understand time and score. Did he think IU was down by more than four? Hard to say. The only thing that is important though is that when you only have a few "veteran" players on your team you can't afford for them to make a mistake like that in that situation.

*** Yogi Ferrell was off from the beginning. He missed all six of his first-half shots and then was 2-for-8 in the second half. One of them was a big 3 in the final minute. Before that he was 1-for-12. He also only had one assist in 31 minutes. I understand that Yogi needs to score for this team to be successful but he also needs to facilitate. And one assist isn't cutting it.

*** Will Sheehey was off his game, too. The senior forward was 1-of-7 from the field. He missed all three of his 3-point shots. He managed just three rebounds and didn't have an assist. Again, it comes down to players who are in key roles needing to step up and make plays.

The list could go on and on. The freshmen were far from without blame. Troy Williams was held scoreless in 17 minutes and only attempted one shot. Noah Vonleh had big numbers with 17 points and 12 rebounds but it seemed like he was getting pushed around in the paint. Was he fouled? Maybe. But that's not the point. The point is you have to play through all of that. Stanford Robinson? Basically a now show. He scored two points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field.

What did we learn this week about Indiana basketball? We learned the Hoosiers are going to win some games they shouldn't win and, unfortunately, lose some that they have no business losing, too.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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