Tuesday, December 28, 2010

All is not lost

After catching up on a lot of Hoosier basketball on the DVR as my new son refused to sleep on anything but my chest today, I don't feel like the three straight losses should spell gloom and doom for the season- I think IU will still end up around .500 overall, picking up six or so wins in the conference. I see at least one powerpoll (from a hostile source) placing IU as 11th in the conference, but count me down as believing the Hoosiers will bounce back. I do see three major themes weaving themselves through the Hoosier basketball season so far:

1) Overconfidence- in even the cupcake games, this Hoosier team has repeatedly started out slow and gone big chunks of first halves without scoring. Watford, Jones, and Creek all seem all-to-willing to look for their shot without reading the defense. Furthermore, I think the powderpuffs helped convince Jones that he was back at the top of his game before he was anywhere near it.

2) Injuries- Obviously Watford was not himself, which is always a reason for concern when a young guy starts getting back spasms, but he & Crean need to figure out whether he can contribute or not. After all the work done in pre-conference establishing him as the go-to guy, IU's offense gets crippled if C-Wat isn't looking\able to score. However, although lots of ink has been spilled about Creek not being "back" yet, to me it's Verdell Jones that really struggled coming back from several injuries so far this season. So, consider that's all three of IU's top players trying to come back from injuries, not to mention Tom Pritchard's mystery paw and Matt Roth - who might finally be rounding into shape.

3) Youth - Oladipo and Sheehey are freshmen, and may be forgiven for the occasional turnover or poor shot selection. It's Crean's job to limit their minutes (possibly through yanking them out when they do commit these sins) so that they understand what they're doing wrong. And the rest of the guys are figuring out new roles, and the only ones to seemingly adapt without massively increasing their turnover or foul percentage are Rivers and Pritchard.

In any case, the confluence of factors leaves the Hoosiers probably less well off than most folks hoped they'd be by now, but I think Crean teams almost always have a nadir in late December. Look for some improved play and a couple of surprising wins in the months to come.


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