Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Deja lose

This is not the Hawaiian getaway Tom Crean likely envisioned, sun and sand and palm trees notwithstanding. He's half a world away from Bloomington, but this morning he no doubt felt the seat he occupies there warming up again. He's used to that by now, but still.

Still, it would have been nice to get past Thanksgiving without awakening the firecrean.com crowd.

That perpetually annoyed segment of Indiana's basketball fan base could not have been pleased with what it saw last night, when the Hoosiers -- freshly risen to No. 13 in the latest polls -- tripped and fell from their new perch. They had unranked Wake Forest down by eight with less than five minutes to play, and then they didn't. A missed 3-pointer here, a missed 3 there, a little turnstile defense somewhere else -- and before long, the buzzer was sounding on an 82-78 loss that felt all the worse for its suddenness.

And for the way it happened, which seemed awfully familiar.

This was supposed to be an Indiana team that would not live and die on the perimeter, but once again last night it lived -- and ultimately died -- on the perimeter. James Blackmon and Yogi Ferrell, the engines of the Hoosiers' outside game, missed 14 of 19 shots overall and eight of nine 3s. That pointed the way for Indiana to 26-of-60 shooting overall and 10-of-29 from the arc.

Live by the 3, die by the 3. Same storyline, different day.

This would be easier to take if not for the arrival of Thomas Bryant, the presumptive solution to Indiana's deficiency on the low blocks. Bryant did take eight rebounds, but the Hoosiers were out-boarded 43-30. Their second leading rebounder was Ferrell, with seven. That looked disturbingly like last year, when the guards had to go hard to the glass to give Indiana any sort of presence there.

And so, let the low grumbling begin. Low for now, anyway. 

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