Indiana apparently doesn’t like to travel. If that’s the case, there is a silver lining in the Hoosiers’ sixth loss in seven attempts in true road contests this season.
IU may not have to worry about traveling for the NCAA Tournament if they can’t find some level of respectability away from Bloomington.
There was nothing respectable about Michigan’s 89-65 dismantling of Indiana at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon.
Unable to build upon a strong showing at home against Iowa on Thursday, the Hoosiers once again fell flat in an unfriendly environment. Somehow Indiana must find answers on the road.
IU will play three of their next four away from home before returning to Bloomington for the final two contests of the regular season.
Indiana (16-9, 6-8) has now lost five of their last six overall, and they will stay on the road as the Hoosiers travel to Minnesota for a 9 p.m. tip on Wednesday night.
Once again after another loss the conversation has returned to Indiana’s lack of focus and effort.
“It’s disappointing,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said. “It’s unacceptable to show you can do it one day and the next day not be able to accomplish the same level of intensity and how you have to play.”
While a road loss against a team that is peaking might be acceptable, the way Indiana lost was certainly not to its head coach.
“It’s not if you lose it’s how you lose, and we got completely dominated today, especially from midway through the second half,” Miller said.
The lack of effort was perhaps best illustrated by Michigan’s 37-21 rebounding margin for the game.
Coming into the game Indiana had only been outrebounded in only five games, and their largest deficit in rebounding margin in any game had been seven against Ohio State.
“Our frontcourt didn’t rebound at all,” Miller told Don Fischer on the radio after the game. “It was total domination in terms of our inability to rebound and keep the one thing we have to do well. It was non-existent.”
While Indiana was able to keep things close in the first 25 minutes, a 21-6 Michigan run early in the second half put the Hoosiers away.
It was an effort that looked nothing like IU’s win over Iowa just days earlier.
“We need more consistency right now,” Miller said. “We’re not getting enough of that. You can’t go on the road with just one or two guys showing up. We need to get a lot of the same things we get some of the time at home. We need more contributors.”
Miller seemed to suggest that there will be consequences for today’s disappointing effort.
“This is not one where you say, ‘Flush it, we go on to the next one,'” Miller told Fischer. “This one is really disappointing.”
Similar suggestions have been made in the past by Miller with little apparent change.
It is a broken record at this point, but Indiana’s fragile offensive rebounding and free throw attempt identity is not traveling well.
That’s another way of saying that Indiana really doesn’t have an offensive identity.
“Our inability to rebound on either end didn’t give us a chance and sort of turned it into what it turned into,” Miller said.
The Hoosiers had just seven offensive rebounds and only five second chance points for the game.
The Hoosiers took care of the ball, committing just seven turnovers. That was a positive development after four consecutive games with at least 13.
But Michigan was content to allow IU to pass the ball around the perimeter and most of Indiana’s post catches were well off the block. As a result Indiana had only seven assists and once again didn’t get a lot of production out of its halfcourt offensive sets. Instead, the Hoosiers were relegated to a lot of individual play.
IU did manage to shoot a respectable 45.9 percent from the field, but most of that came from two players — De’Ron Davis and Al Durham. Beyond that duo’s 35 points, the rest of the team combined to go 13-of-42 (30.9 percent).
“We’ve got to have more than one guy be able to be effective,” Miller said. “It has to be a collective group. We need to get more guys contributing, more guys confident.”
At 1.378 points per possession, this was Indiana’s worst defensive showing of the season.
But you likely didn’t need that data point to help you reach that conclusion.
And neither did Miller.
“Couldn’t defend the ball, couldn’t defend the ball screens, Miller said.
“We weren’t able to get what we wanted to get done a lot by impacting the ball. Our ability to guard the ball, especially in the second half was non-existent. They drove our close-outs, they ran through passes. At the end of the day they could pretty much set a ball-screen and get downhill and get what they wanted.”
With Indiana unable to stay in front of Michigan’s guards on the perimeter, the Wolverines found avenues to the basket and open shooters waiting on the wings and baselines.
To their credit, Michigan might be the best offensive team in the league when at full strength.
But Indiana made them look much better than what they are.
“You look at their free throw attempts for the game. You look at their assist to turnover ratio. We had no answer for them defensively, and couldn’t compete long enough to find a way to hang in,” Miller said. “We had a lot of things go wrong in terms of our (ball screen) coverages. Defensively it was just poor all the way around.”
Michigan converted 57.4 percent of their shots from the field. That was a season worst mark and just the third time all year that IU has allowed an opponent to make more than half of their shots. The Wolverines had 17 assists on just 8 turnovers.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Joey Brunk* (D) Brunk was inefficient on the block and produced just one rebound in 16 minutes of action. He played a role in limiting the production of Jon Teske, but Brunk absolutely has to give this team more on the glass.
- Justin Smith* (D) Smith was ineffective at times defending Isaiah Livers and managed only two rebounds in 24 minutes while committing three turnovers.
- Trayce Jackson-Davis* (D) The true freshman looked the part in this one as he struggled to make an impact in any way, especially on the glass where he too had just two rebounds in 27 minutes. Jackson-Davis has to create his own opportunities by being a force on the offensive glass.
- Al Durham* (C) The junior guard knocked down some three-pointers early and remained a steady force on the offensive end throughout. He continues to struggle to stay in front of guards in the Big Ten defensively, however.
- Rob Phinisee* (D-) Phinisee took care of the ball but he was not a meaningful factor offensively and he struggled on the ball defensively like the rest of his backcourt mates.
- Jerome Hunter (C-) Hunter led the team in rebounds with 5 in 21 minutes. His effort there was a promising sign. It was an inefficient day from the field, however.
- Devonte Green (D-) After he made his first three-point shot things looked promising, but Green missed his next seven shots. One might ask where he went. And no guard gets the benefit of the doubt after this team defensive effort on the perimeter.
- De’Ron Davis (A-) Davis tied the program record for field goal percentage in a game with a 9-for-9 effort. Davis’ day equals the mark set by Will Sheehey. It was an outlier performance in an otherwise dismal team effort.
- Race Thompson (D) For as much positive praise that Thompson rightly earned in recent games, the redshirt sophomore was a non-factor in this one.
- Armaan Franklin and Damezi Anderson also appeared in the game.
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
Seven ways to support completely free IU coverage at no additional cost to you.