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December 23, 2008

How Low Can Indiana Go?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 2:13 am

It’s true that one game doesn’t define a season, but Indiana fans are surely reassessing their team after the Hoosiers lost at home to Northeastern last night, 55-42.

Until last night, the glass-half-full types among the IU faithful could cling to the surprisingly competitive loss to Gonzaga at Lucas Oil Stadium and hope that the Hoosiers could at least make things difficult for Big Ten opponents visiting Bloomington this year. Who knows, maybe that will indeed be the case. But losing by 13 on your home floor to what might be merely the sixth-best team in the CAA doesn’t provide a lot of supporting evidence for that particular scenario, to say the very least.

Granted, the Huskies did win by four at Providence earlier this year. Then again they also lost by 20 at Michigan and by 18 at South Florida. So for Indiana the danger stemming from this loss is that their glaring weakness will become their excuse and indeed their crutch. Their glaring weakness is of course turnovers and it was visible again last night, as the Hoosiers gave the ball away 21 times in a markedly slow (58-possession) game.

True enough: this team gives the ball away far too often. Then again even if they hadn’t done so last night, Indiana still would have lost to Northeastern at home. IU’s shooting from the field was less accurate than the Huskies’ and the home team attempted 14 fewer free throws. Indiana is a team whose systemic flaw is much larger than merely an abundance of turnovers. Indiana’s systemic flaw is a lack of points.

We knew going in, of course, that this year would be tough for Tom Crean. Moreover, even amidst the struggles Tom Pritchard has proven to be a legitimate Big Ten player. (In fact he’s one of the finest offensive rebounders in the country. And given the frequency with which he’s fouled, he’s but a few made free throws away from becoming a truly dangerous weapon as a freshman. That’s no small feat on a hopelessly overmatched team.) Crean and Pritchard are seeds of hope for this program, as are the recruits that are on their way to Bloomington. The future looks promising enough.

But make no mistake, the present hurts for IU. Last night Indiana lost by 13 at home to Northeastern.

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