Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The IU blueprint, in reverse

We've seen a couple of times this year how Indiana will have to play to be successful. Now we've seen what happens when they don't play that way.

What happens is Michigan State 70, Indiana 50, on Monday night.

It was a classic example of dominoes crashing to the earth, one by one by one: The Spartans took the Hoosiers' penetration away, which resulted in fewer kick-outs to the perimeter shooters. Which resulted in fewer open looks. Which resulted in fewer made shots.

Which resulted in the Spartans clobbering the undersized Hoosiers on the glass, which resulted in more transition for the Spartans, which resulted in too many easy buckets for Sparty on the other end.

Life in the Big Ten did not figure to be easy for Indiana this season, especially for a team that's relying as heavily on freshmen as the Hoosiers. James Blackmon Jr. came to the Big Ten opener as the nation's second leading freshman scorer. In two conference games so far, he's 3-of-23 from the floor. And now other teams -- first up, No. 22 Ohio State -- will no doubt use the Michigan State game as a template for how to play the Hoosiers.

To wit: Take their penetration away, defend the perimeter, crash the glass. Which to me suggests Indiana will see a steady diet of man with zone principles from here on out. Take the drive away and get out on the shooters: That's what Michigan State did, and that's what everybody else is going to try to do.


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