Indiana Basketball: What Went Wrong Against Michigan State


Before yesterday’s 70-50 shellacking at the hands of Michigan State, the best facet of Indiana’s game was it’s offense. The Hoosiers were averaging 85.2 points per game, good for a top ten offense in America. The Hoosiers were making close to 50 percent of their threes. But, the bottom dropped out in East Lansing? So, what happened?

Half Court Struggles

Most of Indiana’s problems on offense can be traced to this. The half court is not the Hoosiers’ strong suit. They are at their best when they are able to push the pace and catch the defense unorganized. When teams are able to set up and can grind Indiana in the half court, trouble arises.

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This is exactly what the Spartans did. They shut down all lanes to the hoop, kept the ball on the outside for basically the entire possession and forced the Hoosiers to take a long, contested shot. With no true post presence, Indiana has to have its guards penetrate. When they can’t, the offense comes to a standstill.

Finally, IU is 15 games into the season. There is a ton of film on the Hoosiers at this point. Seeing as Tom Izzo is an excellent coach, it probably wasn’t too hard for him to figure out how to stop Indiana’s potent O.

Usually, coaches will start to add wrinkles to their offense as the season progress. Perhaps after this putrid offensive display, it’s time for Tom Crean to do so.

Three-Point Drought

5-of-24. 20.8%. Yeah, it was ugly.

The Hoosiers missed nearly everything from deep. Part of it was they botched wide open looks (which they actually did have in the first half) and part was Michigan State working extremely hard to give the Hoosiers little shooting space. Once again, the half court troubles are in play.

Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana Hoosiers /

Indiana Hoosiers

When the Hoosiers couldn’t get an open look, they (usually Yogi Ferrell) had to launch from three with the shot clock expiring. As we know, that’s not a good shot. All in all, if IU can’t make its usual number of three-pointers (they average 8.9 per game) the offense is going to struggle.

Getting Back to Normal

So how can the Hoosiers get back on track? First, they can’t settle for long jumpers. Indiana has to attack the basket. The half court offense is at its best when there is penetration. Not only can cutters get layups but the shooters on the outside have open looks if their man leaves to double-team.

Better screens need to be set so guards have an easier road to the lane, and once players are in the paint, the right decision has to be made (take a floater, send it back out for an open shot, etc.)

Second, someone has to establish themselves in the post. They don’t even have to score much, just be there and be capable. The Hoosiers just need someone who can post up and hold the ball.

This at the very least will force wing defenders to consider giving more space to Indiana’s shooters. A good pass back out could result in three points with the way this team shoots, so having someone who can be on the block is a must.