Upon Further Review: Gonzaga

INDIANAPOLIS - Coach Tom Crean's Hoosiers showed by toughness and resiliency Saturday in a 70-54 loss to No. 5 Gonzaga at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. HoosierNation.com breaks down the game, including what we found most impressive, surprising and concerning about the contest. We also name our game MVP…

Game MVP - Malik Story. Story was back to coming off the bench Saturday, but he played a very big role in keeping the Hoosiers in the game against the fifth-ranked Zags. Story entered 3 ½ minutes into the game and scored five points in the first two minutes to give IU a 10-7 lead. Story drove hard to the basket and scored on a left-handed layup while getting fouled by 6'11" Austin Daye, and then added a 17-footer. In the second half, Story connected on a pair of 3-pointers that kept the Zags within striking distance until the closing minutes.

Story finished with 14 points on just 4-of-11 shooting, and he committed four of IU's 25 turnovers. But as soon as he entered the game he went on the attack against the Zags, an approach that was mirrored by the rest of his teammates throughout the game. Story appears to be the perfect choice as the team's sixth-man, because he gives them a reliable scoring threat off the bench, and he's someone who has the versatility to play four positions on the floor. Expect to see him continue in that role moving forward.

Biggest Surprise… Indiana held its own on the boards, getting out-rebounded 32-30. This marks the second straight game where it appeared on paper that IU would get whipped on the glass, but it has instead battled to a virtual stalemate. Wake Forest out-rebounded Indiana by only four (34-30) despite having a noticeable edge in both size and athleticism. The same was true for the Zags, which has a pair of 6'11" frontliners (Heytvelt, Daye) a 6'8" wing (Downs) and a physical 6'5" shooting guard (Bouldin) who also rebounds the ball well.

Making IU's efforts on the glass even more impressive was the fact that the team's leader in the category this season, Tom Pritchard, was limited to 22 minutes of action due to foul trouble. But Kyle Taber gave IU a nice lift with seven boards in a starting role, and Pritchard managed six offensive rebounds in his limited time on the court. Story, Devan Dumes and Nick Williams each added four more rebounds, showing that a fundamentally-sound approach to rebounding can keep IU from getting dominated in the category this season.

What I Found Most Impressive… Indiana showed resiliency throughout Saturday's contest. Gonzaga appeared ready blow the game open on numerous occasions in both halves, but IU came up with big baskets and key stops to stay within striking distance until the closing minutes. In the first half it was a couple of nice offensive moves by Pritchard that kept the game close and enabled the Hoosiers to be within five at half. After a dreadful turnover-filled start to the second half, it was some timely 3-pointers from Dumes, Story, Matt Roth and even Taber that kept the Zags from disappearing over the horizon. In Wednesday's loss at Wake Forest, IU stayed close early but quickly wilted when Wake Forest hit them with a couple of runs. That didn't happen against Gonzaga, and that's an impressive sign of progress for Tom Crean's young team.

What I Found Most Concerning… Indiana turned the ball over 25 times, marking the fifth time in the last six games that it has committed at least 20 turnovers. The miscues were well distributed, as Daniel Moore (7 turnovers), Pritchard (6), Story (4) and Dumes (3) all turned the ball over too many times. The issue was particularly glaring at the start of the second half, when IU turned it over on its first four possessions and on six of its first seven. That allowed Gonzaga to turn a 29-24 halftime lead into a comfortable 39-26 cushion, and Indiana never seriously threatened to turn the game into a nail-biter the rest of the way.

Indiana has made strides in a lot of other areas during the first month of the season, but ball security continues to be a glaring problem. The Hoosiers are giving up too many offensive possessions and also handing their foes too many easy scoring opportunities because of those errors. It's probably overly optimistic to expect this team to cut its turnovers in half, but it does need to at least get to where it's limiting its miscues to 12-15 per game if it wants to have success.

Turning Point: Indiana's turnover-filled start to the second half allowed Gonzaga to grab its first double-digit lead, and IU got no closer than seven the rest of the way. Dumes started off the run of turnovers with a careless post feed that was picked off by Austin Daye and converted into free throws at the other end. Pritchard then had a pair of turnovers sandwiched around a 35-second shot clock violation, and Gonzaga scored six points off of those first four IU turnovers to open a 35-24 lead.

Quotable: "It was a phenomenal experience walking into this building yesterday – this thing is incredible...I was in awe, and I go to the Final Four every year for the coach's convention. It's not only impressive, it's immaculate. I don't know how you all are paying for it. You might throw some of that money up to the three auto companies." – Gonzaga Coach Mark Few

"I can say this now that I've been in this profession 20-some years, 10 years as a head coach…they absolutely have the right guy for this (IU) job. There's nobody who brings more energy to recruiting, brings more energy to scouting, brings more energy to basketball Xs and Os that I know of in college, and that's what it's going to take – a guy like that, a staff like that." – Few

"(on whether he considered the IU job at any point) Until you've been out and seen what we have out there, I have an incredible situation out there. There were times, where obviously this is a storied program, very attractive and all that. But I've kept it pretty simple – don't mess with happy, don't mess with content. It was certainly one to make you think about it because of everything they've been through." – Few

"The speed of the game is still the No.1 Achilles heel we have right now, because it's just a process of going through it and understanding the intensity, the mindset that teams have that have been together for a while." – IU Coach Tom Crean

"Today was probably the closest to bringing a communication level and a toughness level and a mindset that we could compete that we've had. That guarantees us nothing for tomorrow or the next day because we're a young team." – Crean

"If we're going to get back into this environment and play meaningful games like this, and games in the new year, in the March period, things of that nature, we're going to keep learning how to win. Before you can learn to win, you have to eliminate the things that cause you to lose." – Crean

"I tell them if they need a shot of confidence, just look over because I'm never going to coach like it's over…you have to keep giving them every opportunity to learn lessons, and at the same time the No. 1 lesson is lets come out and compete and see where we stand." – Crean

"I'd be embarrassed with myself if I wasn't trying to give them a positive way to look at how we're going to attack. That may mean it's going to be full of emotion, it may mean that at times it's going to be emotional, it may mean that at times there are things that are going to be said that you don't necessarily want to hear. But we're playing to build a culture here again. That's what we have to do. We've got to get the culture right, eliminate any type of losing mentality, losing habits." - Crean


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