Analysis: Defensive woes haunt IU again

There is no doubt that the Indiana has the offense to compete with anyone in the country. But it's the IU defense that continues to be the Hoosiers' Achilles Heel.

A few minutes into Tuesday night’s game at Wisconsin, I made a comment in our Live In-Game thread that I thought when the Badgers jumped out to a 9-0 lead it almost felt like it was a deficit that was insurmountable.

Then of course, Indiana went on a 13-2 run (its only lead of the night as it turned out) and I looked as if I had no idea what I was talking about.

But here is why I said it and why, looking back, I still don’t think I was that far off base.

From the very beginning Tuesday night, Wisconsin looked as if it could score on IU at will. And for the most part it did. Let’s don’t forget the biggest Wisconsin lead in this game was 32 points with under 11 minutes to play.

I get that Indiana is a team full of shooters and shooters can always shoot you back into a game. I get that. But if you don’t show any signs of being able to play defense then I think more often than not your shooters will finally cool off and the other team will find a way to win.

Sure, the Hoosiers did a nice job cutting into the lead and making the final score look respectable but the reality is that Wisconsin dominated the game.

I understand those who will point to the fact that James Blackmon Jr. didn’t play because of a sprained ankle and will say the Hoosiers had a lot to overcome without him in the lineup.

But scoring wasn’t the problem. Other players picked up Blackmon’s scoring slack. Nick Zeisloft had 17 points including five 3-pointers. Indiana made 13 3-pointers in the game.

No, it wasn’t a problem on offense. It never is with this Indiana basketball team.

Instead, it’s a far too alarming theme that when IU faces a team with good post players the Hoosiers are in a big trouble. Either IU attempts to sag in on the big players, front them and forced a lob pass inside. Or the Hoosiers fail to cut off a driving lane and players are left free to take it to the hole.

Then what happens is that Indiana is left slapping at the driver and in many cases watching as the opponent shoots an ‘and 1’.

It has happened over and over again in IU’s four Big Ten road losses in particular to Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and now Wisconsin.

The bottom line is that Indiana can’t stop anybody. At least not on the road.

The good news is that Indiana only has three more road games in conference play. It plays at Maryland, Northwestern and Rutgers. And that means that IU has five home games.

All of that means that when you look at the big picture, Indiana will more than likely find a way to win enough games to become postseason eligible. If you can win five of the last eight, I would think at 11 wins in this conference you are probably in the NCAA Tournament.

But unless IU can figure out a way to do something on the defensive end in a hurry, it will be a quick postseason run.

So was that 9-0 lead insurmountable? It wasn’t in some ways but in other ways that was absolutely the case.


Peegs.com Top Stories