Game Analysis: Vonleh limited to 3 shots

Noah Vonleh, even when you take into account shots where he was fouled in the act of shooting, managed just three shot attempts Wednesday night against Penn State. How can that happen? Check out this analysis from

If you turned off the Indiana game with 4 minutes to play Wednesday night believing that the Hoosiers had that one in the bag with an 11-point lead you had a rude awakening Thursday morning when you picked up the paper or checked the score on your phone.

Final Score: Penn State 66, Indiana 65.

This will be a variation of our usual game analysis feature looking back at Wednesday's Assembly Hall collapse by the Hoosiers.

And it will definitely be different in that in this one I'll just focus on one troubling fact that emerged from IU's 10th loss in 24 games.

Take a look at the statistics sheet Wednesday and there's one individual number that literally jumps off the page.


The first obvious question that comes to mind is how is this possible? How can a player who was so dominate the first time these two teams met and scored a career-high 19 that night only manage three shots this time around? It absolutely makes no sense. If Indiana had a ton of other scoring options that would be one thing. But Indiana fans know that's simply not the case. Vonleh took one shot in the first half and two in the second. And that includes the times he was fouled. Let's take a closer look at those shots:

11:31 to play in the first half: Vonleh gets an inside look but can't finish around the basket.

19:41 to play in the game: Vonleh makes a strong power move on IU's first possession of the second half and scores to put the Hoosiers on top 38-30.

12:33 to play in the game: Vonleh is fouled in the act of shooting and converts two free throws. This puts IU on top 50-41.

7:56 to play in the game: Vonleh gets a follow jam off a missed inside shot by Evan Gordon and let's out a roar to put IU up 56-47.

Translation: That means Vonleh did not attempt another shot for pretty much the final 8 minutes of the game. It means he truly took, even with free throws, three shots in the game where he was taking the ball to the basket: the missed shot early, the power move coming out in the second half, and the play where he was fouled in the act of shooting. His other two free throws were a 1-and-1 opportunity and his other bucket was off a rebound flush.

This all takes me back to the original question: How can a player of Vonleh's ability only get what amounts to three looks at the basket in a game?

Analysis: You might be able to make the argument if this had been an opponent he didn't match up well against that it was difficult for Vonleh to get any open looks. But this was a Penn State team that he scored 19 points against just over a month ago. This is a Penn State team that has had trouble defending. A Penn State team with one player taller than Vonleh and that's Jordan Dickerson who played 4 minutes Wednesday night. In the first game he attempted nine shots and hit five of them. And he also took eight trips to the free throw line. He also hit a pair of 3-pointers something he didn't appear to be looking for Wednesday night either.

Vonleh is good at the high ball screen, or as I saw in some sets faking the high ball screen and rolling to the wing, but a few things have to happen here. Number one, Vonleh NEEDS TO DEMAND THE BALL IN THE POST and then his teammates did to get it inside to him. The other thing that needs to happen is that Vonleh needs to simply develop more of an offensive mentality. Here is the little factoid that we haven't even discussed yet. Vonleh's three shot attempts Wednesday night came in 34 minutes of action. Why is that number significant? That's a career-high for Vonleh. So on a night when he played the most minutes he had ever played in his college career, he managed just three shots. Rebounding? There's clearly not a problem there. He is focused on cleaning up the glass and really goes after the ball. But on the offensive end, where this team needs him, too, Vonleh still has not completely bought in to what he needs to do to help his team be successful.

It's all quite surprising actually because in recent games it appeared the Vonleh had figured out that he needed to be more assertive at the basket. In his previous six games, Vonleh had attempted a total of 52 shots. That's eight shots per game. His high in that run was 15 against Northwestern and his low was five against Nebraska but he had also back-to-back games the last two times out against Michigan and Minnesota where he had taken nine shots.

But three shots from a player of Vonleh's caliber makes absolutely no sense at all. If you're in foul trouble and limited in what you can do that's one thing. Vonleh's one and only foul in this game came with 3:27 to play. That means he played the bulk of his 34 minutes without a foul. If anything that should have freed him up to do more not less.

There were plenty of other areas to dissect in this game but this is one that clearly stood out and was worth an analysis all its own.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Top Stories