Three Thoughts On Indiana’s Win Over MichiganPosted by Deepak Jayanti on February 3rd, 2013
Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.
Winning on the road seems to become a tougher challenge every year in college hoops. Ask Jim Boeheim about Syracuse’s loss to Pittsburgh on the road or Dana Altman about the Ducks unable to close the deal at California on Saturday – road games are no joke at this time of the year. Keeping that trend in mind, imagine the Wolverines’ challenge on Saturday night at Assembly Hall, where they had to deal with approximately 17,000 Hoosier fans who have been marinating in the cold all day thinking about this game. During ESPN’s College GameDay special on Saturday morning, they interviewed a bunch of Big Ten players about the toughest Big Ten venue and Assembly Hall was the unanimous answer. The Hoosiers’ 81-73 win on Saturday night in Bloomington may put IU back at the top of the polls again but let’s not forget that this is the first part of this series — they will play again in Ann Arbor on March 10 where the tables could be turned. Having said that, the Hoosiers played with more intensity right from the tip and executed well on both ends of the floor. The following are three thoughts from the match-up.
- The Hoosiers had more transition opportunities than the Wolverines. The credit goes to the Hoosiers’ transition defense here. They limited Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway from transition opportunities by allowing jumpers. The two Wolverines combined to take 17 shots from beyond the arc and couldn’t find easy buckets around the hoop because Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford hustled back on defense throughout. Without any transition opportunities, the Wolverines were not able to get to the free throw line consistently and finished with just seven opportunities from the charity line. On the flip side, the Hoosiers were running wild to end up with 25 free throw attempts on their end, and as a result, were in a comfort zone offensively. Even in their half-court sets, the Hoosiers clogged the lanes for Burke and Hardaway, therefore giving up only jumpers. Transition opportunities were a key factor in this game and the Hoosiers clearly won that challenge Saturday night.
- Cody Zeller and Watford dominated the boards. Championship caliber teams will always exploit a mismatch when they see one during the game and the Hoosiers didn’t disappoint in this category on Saturday night. Without an effective Jordan Morgan who was still recovering from an ankle sprain, the Wolverines were exposed in the paint and they were out-rebounded by 14 caroms on the glass. Both Zeller and Watford ended up with 10 rebounds each but certain offensive rebounds had a bigger impact on the overall game. With five minutes left in the second half, the Wolverines were within two possessions twice when Zeller had two put-back dunks over Mitch McGary, deflating Michigan’s momentum. As if the Assembly Hall crowd needed more energy to raise the decibel level in the arena, these rim-rattling dunks along with their transition opportunities took the home court advantage to another notch.
- Baby Wolverines will learn from this experience. Nik Stauskas was held scoreless against the Buckeyes during the Wolverines’ first loss in Columbus because he learned that a road game against a big-time opponent isn’t easy. Similar to his experience, Glenn Robinson III had a rough night as he shot 1-of-6 from the field with Watford hounding him throughout. Robinson has certain favorite spots on the floor such as the corners and Watford’s length frustrated him because he could never find a seam to release a good shot. Stauskas scored 10 points but he was very inefficient as he shot 3-of-10 from the floor. Once again, the credit goes to the Hoosiers’ half-court defense here because they did an excellent job of scouting and getting into the heads of those Michigan freshmen. Stauskas’ pump fake and dribble drive into the paint was ineffective for most of the game so he had to settle for flat-footed shots from beyond the arc (1-of-5 3FG). Mitch McGary was a bright spot for Beilein as he played his heart out against Zeller,who is arguably the best big man in the country. The freshman forward was excellent off the pick-and-roll, shooting 5-of-7 from the field to score a much-needed 10 points. For somebody who hasn’t seen extended playing time this season (only 16.6 MPG), he held his own against Zeller on the low post. But there isn’t much McGary could do against Zeller’s ability to drive into the paint from the high post or the All-American’s offensive rebound dunks in the second half. There are very few forwards in this country who could stop Zeller, but that Michigan freshman did a very good job overall.