Upon Further Review: St. Joseph's College

Tom Crean's Hoosiers used an up-tempo, attacking style to dominate its Division II foe from the outset in a 95-67 win Monday night at Assembly Hall. Hoosier Nation breaks down the 95-67 win over St. Joseph's, including what we found most impressive, surprising and concerning about the contest. We also name our game MVP…

Game MVP - Jeremiah Rivers. Indiana wanted push the pace and attack the basket from the opening tip and Rivers set the tone. Whether it was off a miss or a make, the 6'5" junior was constantly attacking in transition and looking to either take the ball all the way to the basket or to create for his teammates. He did that on two of IU's first possessions of the game – he first used a Tijan Jobe screen to drive to the right, and then on the next trip used a Jobe screen to go to his left and score on a layup while getting fouled. Rivers' approach rubbed off on his teammates, as Indiana attacked early and often and never relented. Rivers – who had been sick over the weekend – finished with 15 points, four rebounds and a team-high five assists while committing only one turnover in 23 minutes. He had one of the evening's highlight plays, finishing an alley-oop layup while getting fouled on a pass from Devan Dumes with 5:47 left. Rivers' ensuing free throw gave Indiana's its first 30-point lead, and Rivers sat out the game's final five minutes.

Biggest Surprise… Tijan Jobe being in the starting line-up. It's only an exhibition game, so there shouldn't be too much read into Jobe being picked to start in the post ahead of Tom Pritchard. IU Coach Tom Crean has been publicly lauding Jobe's communication skills and improvement in practice, and that's undoubtedly why he found himself getting the starting nod Monday. Some might take Jobe's start as a suggestion that Pritchard has taken a step backward, but Crean said that isn't the case whatsoever. Instead, he said it's about wanting to get other players meaningful minutes in the exhibition games and realizing that there's a lot more competition for minutes than there were a year ago. "His day in, day out battles far surpass what he went through a year ago," Crean said of Pritchard. "The toughest battles he had were in the games, not in practice. Now everyday he's got to battle someone with a body, the same size as him, maybe someone longer and athletic like Bawa (Muniru), maybe somebody that can take him out like Bobby (Capobianco). I wouldn't take it as a struggle at all. It's part of everybody on this team understanding that every day really, really matters and he's no different than anyone else."

What I Found Most Impressive… Indiana's 46 trips to the free-throw line. While the emphasis on transition offense and defense has been a focal point in the first two exhibition games, so has getting to the free-throw line. Indiana made 29 trips to the charity stripe last Wednesday against Grace College and then had that many in the second half alone Monday night against St. Joseph's. Indiana is earning those trips to the free-throw line by having perimeter players that are attacking the rim with reckless abandon. Jeremiah Rivers and Verdell Jones are most effective when they're getting into the paint and attacking the basket. As the team's ‘4', Christian Watford will have a mismatch as well against most opposing big men and can attack off the dribble as well. Add in Maurice Creek and a healthy Devan Dumes and Indiana has a plethora of players that can attack off the dribble and get to the free-throw line. Indiana ranked in the middle of the conference rankings a year ago in free-throw attempts, and it's a good bet that will improve this season.

What I Found Most Concerning… Indiana did surrender 21 offensive rebounds and 23 second-chance points to St. Joseph's, and those are numbers that will need to improve as the regular season gets underway. In Indiana's defense, St. Joe's did miss 52 shots from the floor (compared to 23 for Indiana), so it shouldn't be a shock that it had more offensive rebounds than the Hoosiers. But as Indiana becomes better at corralling those misses it will free Crean's team for everyone more opportunities in transition. Of St. Joseph's 22 missed 3-pointers, the Pumas secured offensive rebounds on half of those misses (11). Long defensive rebounds off missed perimeter shots should feed nicely into what Indiana is trying to do offensively with its transition offense.

Turning Point: Leading 13-9 early on, Indiana put together a 10-2 run over a four-minute stretch to open its first double-digit lead and St. Joseph's would get no closer than seven the rest of the way. Christian Watford and Maurice Creek both converted a pair of free throws following hard drives to the basket, while Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth added 3-pointers to help the Hoosiers blow out St. Joseph's early.

Quotable: "This year I'm just there to do whatever Coach Crean wants me to do. If I have to run and block shots and rebound shots, if that's what I need to do to help my team win, that's what I'll do to help my team be successful." – Bawa Muniru

"The first game, everyone was anxious, everyone didn't really know what to expect. It was the first competition for people since late February. It was the first time I'd played a game in a year and a half, so for me it was about trying to get a better rhythm., and I thought today everyone had a better rhythm." – Jeremiah Rivers

"(The last three days of practice) have been real long. We went full amounts all three days. A lot of full-court, transition drills. A lot of conditioning. A lot of transition stuff. A lot of rebounding stuff. My body is a little banged up right now." – Verdell Jones

"They are working at a very hard rate. They're getting tougher…they're starting to learn this competition thing is for real. You really have to come and bring it every day. You might have a bad day, but you're not going to have two bad days in a row and see yourself in that line-up." – Tom Crean

"(Bawa) is a man-child. I thought he had a great debut. He'll keep building on that and become a great player." – Verdell Jones

"(Maurice Creek) was a plus-24 in the plus-minus, and that's strong…I thought he looked comfortable. I think he's buying into the defensive energy sets the tone for his game, he's picking up what we're trying to do better, he's getting in better shape…I thought he was aggressive." – Tom Crean


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