Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thoughts on Iowa - IU 1-23-08

So the Hoosiers continue a winning streak that is becoming impressive for its length, if not necessarily for the quality of its opponents. Still, it seems that few teams in the country are managing to pull out any road wins, so you have to like a streak that includes 4 road wins, 3 of them in conference. It's good times.

That said, this game (HD Box score here) was not one to impress those who like efficient offenses, with both teams checking in at under a point per possession (per the national average for the season is 1.008 points per possession). Still, DJ White and Eric Gordon turned in admirably efficient offensive outings given the overall slugfest that was this game. Also, take a look at Armon Bassett's PPWS. That's what happens when you don't take very many shots but all of them are good. That he is willing to embrace the seldom-used but deadly sniper role is one of the reasons I love having him run the point.

As for Iowa, it's pretty hard to overcome such a dreadful shooting night. And you're not going to win many games when you turn it over on 31% of your possessions (Indiana's home win over Minnesota notwithstanding). But add those two performances together, and there's pretty much no chance.

Yes, defense definitely ruled this game. What really stands out to me is that Iowa only managed to convert 4 of the 15 layups and tips they took. That seems shocking to me. However, I do remember 3 of those missed layups, as they were put up by Tony Freeman (1 for 4 on layups). Freeman had been on a hot shooting streak of late, and the Hawkeyes were setting a bunch of high screens for him, theoretically allowing him to get a drive to the basket, an open 3, or perhaps creating a shot for someone else. Indiana was apparently ready for this strategy, though. After Freeman went around one of those screens and in for an easy layup on Iowa's first possession, the Hoosier big men did an excellent job of taking most any drives or shots by hedging hard. Still, Freeman was thrice able to use that rub to get a step on his man, and he took it quickly toward the hole all three times. Unfortunately for him, "his man" was Eric Gordon, who followed Freeman toward the basket and rejected the proffered layup not one or two, but three times. Marvelous back-checking from the All-Universe freshman from Indy.

Good times, and good W. I suspect we'll see some more strong D played on Saturday when UConn comes to town.

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