Four Thoughts on Indiana’s Loss to SyracusePosted by Max Jakubowski on December 4th, 2013
Indiana was dismantled by Syracuse Tuesday evening, 69-52. The Hoosiers were looking to avenge last season’s Sweet Sixteen loss in the NCAA Tournament, but that lengthy Syracuse 2-3 zone stumped Tom Crean’s offense again. Here are four thoughts on last night’s game and what it means for Indiana going forward.
- Yogi Ferrell and Noah Vonleh led Indiana with 12 and 17 points, respectively, but after that there was minimal offensive production from the other Hoosiers. Senior Will Sheehey really struggled from the field, going 1-of-7 and finishing with only three points. Ferrell will get his from long-range shooting and Vonleh can finish on the blocks and on putbacks, but Sheehey has to give Tom Crean another offensive weapon for this team to be successful. Over the previous two seasons, IU hadn’t faced a problem of offensive inconsistency, with players like Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo able to create their own shots. This season, the veteran Sheehey needs to really improve as a three-point threat to keep the offense flowing (he’s shooting a career-low 21.7 percent). With Sheehey also Indiana’s best on-ball defender, it’s proving tough for him to transition from defense to offense.
- One way to beat a 2-3 zone is shooting from beyond the arc. Indiana didn’t follow through on that tip, shooting a dreary 28 percent in last night’s game. Last year, the Hoosiers had four players who shot over 40 percent from distance. This year, Ferrell has the highest percentage at 38 percent, and he was the only one to make a three against Syracuse (4-of-7). Sheehey can normally knock down perimeter shots and freshmen Collin Hartman and Troy Williams can shoot as well, but the key shooter is sophomore Jeremy Hollowell. Hollowell resembles his former teammate Christian Watford; a big, athletic wing who can stretch defenses with his bombs. The problem is that Hollowell only attempted one three-point shot against Syracuse; he needs to become more than just a specialty guy when he’s on the floor 29 minutes for Tom Crean’s team.
- I won’t go as far to say that the Evan Gordon experiment has sunk, but it sure looks like a listing ship. The former Arizona State product was supposed to provide a veteran foothold in the backcourt to assist Ferrell. But from the looks of it so far, Ferrell doesn’t need any help from the fifth-year senior. In almost 20 minutes of play per night, Gordon only averages 6.0 PPG to go along with a horrendous 11 percent mark from deep. His career average from three was 34 percent coming into this season, so it was expected that he would help relieve the shooting void left by Jordan Hulls. To top it off, Gordon isn’t even averaging a full assist per game. As a result, freshman guard Stanford Robinson has seen more playing time as Gordon has struggled. There’s still plenty of season to go for Gordon to turn things around, but the transfer appears to be losing minutes as we speak.
- The biggest takeaway from last night’s game might be that Indiana is still without a key non-conference victory. Coming into the season, most agreed that the Hoosiers were a solid NCAA Tournament team. Playing in the Big Ten helps to help bolster resumes dramatically for Selection Sunday, but a good non-conference win would help its case in the event the Hoosiers end up at something like 9-9 in conference play. So far IU has lost to two resume-worthy teams in #4 Syracuse and #12 Connecticut. The last chance for a quality non-conference win for the Hoosiers will be against Notre Dame in the annual Crossroads Classic Saturday after next. This is almost a must-win for IU if it hopes to relieve some pressure from its non-conference slate.