One of our regular features at AllHoosiers.com following Indiana basketball games this season is to take a look back and what we learned about the IU team from that particular game.
Following Monday night’s 88-86 loss to Eastern Washington in Assembly Hall, there were several things that immediately came to mind:
1. IU HAS TO GET MORE OUT OF Hanner Mosquera-Perea: In the first two minutes of the game, Mosquera-Perea hit a pair of free throws early and then a few trips down the court later he made a nice move into the lane and tossed up a 6-foot jumper that bounced off the front of the rim and went in. At that point, Indiana fans had to feel pretty good. It appeared as if Perea was making strides and starting to feel more comfortable on the court. But that was the end of Perea’s highlights for the evening. He would end up only playing 14 minutes because to be brutally honest he was not able to do anything defensively in the post. And that’s what absolutely has to change. The other thing is that if Perea does not become a consistent rebounder then he may as well sit on the bench. Here’s an alarming statistic regarding Perea: In the last three games, in a total of 67 minutes on the floor, Perea has five rebounds. Four of those came against Lamar on Saturday night. So in two of those games, he had a total of one rebound. That came on the defensive end in the second half Monday night. The absence of Devin Davis is just exploited that much more when Perea is unable to get anything going from a rebounding standpoint or on defense.
2. James Blackmon JR. NEEDS TO LOOK FOR HIS SHOT: So much was made of Blackmon’s amazing 3-point shooting prowess in the first four games. He was 16-of-25 from beyond the arc, 64 percent. Overall, he had attempted nearly 12 shots per game. And they were consistently in the flow of the offense. Monday night, he attempted eight shots and hit three. He hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 17:13 to play in the first half to cap a 12-0 run at that point and give IU a 14-2 lead. His next made field goal was with four-tenths of a second to play in the game. The reality is that Blackmon needs to not only get his shots but to look for his shots in the flow of the offense. Tom Crean made a good point that IU was able to take the ball to the basket at will Monday and some of the drive and kick opportunities weren’t there. But Blackmon only attempted three 3-point shots and for someone who shoots them as well as he does, he simply needs to attempt more within the course of the game.
3. IU HAS TO TAKE AWAY THE DRIBBLE PENETRATION: That’s the single biggest thing that is hurting Indiana at this point in the season. Opposing teams are able to drive at will against IU. Lamar scored 48 points in the paint. So did Eastern Washington. Drew Brandon just drove the ball to the basket time after time and IU couldn’t stop him. Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford said it best in his postgame remarks. He said that it was clear that IU wanted to take away the 3-point shot and he believed his team could be effective in other ways. “We were able to turn it into a two-man game on the interior,’’ Hayford said. “We’re as much about attacking the basket as we are shooting the three. They wanted to take away the three, so that’s what they gave us.’’
4. Collin Hartman CAN BE A CONTRIBUTOR: When Hartman came to Indiana I was skeptical as to what his role would be for the Hoosiers moving forward. And then when he got hurt last year I wondered how long it would be before he was comfortable enough to play. His impressive return has been well-documented. But I thought he showed again Monday night that he can really be a contributor. He scored seven points in a variety of ways. He hit a 3-pointer, he scored on a rebound follow shot and he got two free throws off of another offensive rebound that he almost converted for a basket, too. He played 15 minutes, including 10 in the second half. He made 2-of-3 shots from the field, hit both of his free throws and four rebounds. He had one steal and did not commit a turnover. That’s premium play from Hartman in my opinion. If IU could get that every night, I’m guessing Crean would take that.Indiana struggles to defend paint in loss
Notebook: IU-Eastern Washington