Northwestern vs. Indiana tempo-free: Ft. Wayne stand up!

Savvy Jordan Hulls had the 'Cats chasing shadows down the stretch. - David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the formidable offensive talent of the #2 Indiana Hoosiers invading Welsh-Ryan, Reggie Hearn would not let the 'Cats go softly into that good night. Time for the Tempo-Free

Thanks to fellow alum, Mean Gene Yen, I was able to watch the tilt with him from his season tickets spot - Sec. 114. (Don't worry, Sec. 112, I'm stickin' with macarthur31 for the time being.) As we took in a BuffJoe's pre-game meal our hope for this game was to keep it to 2 possessions down the stretch so we could get a chance. Looking at the tempo-free it's hard to believe that happened twice in this game, especially after being down 17. Let's unpack it, shall we?

Used the Worldwide Leader for breaking down the tempo-free.

Pace and Points per Possession

While Indiana was averaging 69 possessions per B1G game, they were able to downshift to 50.4 possessions, while the 'Cats crawled at 57.2. Let's split the difference and put it at 54.

In terms of efficiency:
Indiana: 1.24
'Cats: 1.09

While we can laud the defensive intensity in the second half ("release the kraken!"), the Hoosiers were stellar in efficiency. Damn near impossible to win, when your opponent is cold fusion. Given how terrible our first half offense was, the 'Cats did well to get to 1.09 PPP.

Four Factors

Effective Field Goal Percentage:

Indiana: 52.4%
'Cats: 46.9%

Turnover Percentage:

Indiana: 11.1%
'Cats: 11.1%

Offensive Rebound Percentage:

Indiana: 43.5%
'Cats: 17.9%

Free Throw Attempts/Field Goal Attempts:

Indiana 73.8%
'Cats 36.7%

Takes on the Tempo Free:

  • We actually held Indiana to below their season average eFG of 56.7, good for 4th overall in the nation, and did better than the 42.4% that they were allowing opponents (10th overall in the nation) coming into this game. Nevertheless, there was still too much of a gap.
  • Both teams were very good at protecting the ball - which is a kudos to the 'Cats given the aggressive man-to-man and full court press that the Hoosiers did all game.
  • Again, the 'Cats were rocked on their d-boards, but Indiana was doing that to everybody (they collect 40.3% of their misses 10th in the country) so this isn't surprising. Again, the defensive intensity looks improved, but as Coach Carmody is quick to remind us, "Rebounding is defense, too."
  • Indiana's FTA/FGA was terrific tonight, and of course our desperation in the waning minutes boosted this number. However, keep in mind that the Hoosiers get 24% of their total points from the free throw line, that's good for 24th overall int he country. Again, this is why the Hoosiers are a top 5 team - their offense is awesome in all aspects of the 4 factors.

Burning Storylines

Savvy Veteran Watch (a.k.a. "How'd Swop, Sobo and Reggie do?")

Swop: 40 m, 13 pts, 8 rebs, 2 asts, 2 stl, 1 blk, 1 TO
Reggie: 40 m, 22 pts, 3 rebs, 1 ast, 1 blk
Sobo: 40 m, 9 pts, 1 reb, 2 asts, 1 TO

We got ironman minutes from the three amigos. Unfortunately, Sobocop had a role-player type game for us. While its admirable he had only 1 TO against pretty tough defense, he wasn't very efficient tonight: 33% eFG and 2-5 from FT. Meanwhile, Reggie earned the plaudits as Ft Wayne Scrap Iron had 58% eFG and 8-9 from FT. Swop exemplified this team - as he was 1/5 in the 1st half, but then finished furiously to 5/10 overall, with 65% eFG and doing yeoman work in the paint with 8 rebs.

Life without Drew and Jershon

Ladies and gentlemen, here is your wing play:
Kale Abe: 9 m, 0 pts, 1 reb, 1 TO
Marco: 19 m, 1 reb, 1 ast, 1 TO, 5 PF
Tre Demps: 16 m, 11 pts, 3 reb, 1 TO

Tre Demps was the dim, yet somewhat luminescent light. He was able to get 11 points in scramble minutes, and rebounded decently from the guard spot. Perhaps its time to start him ahead of Kale, who just hasn't been able to get his offense going in the B1G. Unfortunately, Marco also struggled tonight to get open against the Hoosier's perimeter pressure. Wings just didn't get it done tonight.

How'd we do at the 5?

Alex Olah: 23 m, 4 pts, 1 reb, 5 ast
Mike Turner: 12 m, 0 pts, 0 reb, 2 ast, 1 TO

There is no rest for the weary in the B1G. Cody Zeller is one of the top players in the country, and we sent 2 rookies to stop him. Welp, we didn't. Zeller had 21 and 13, and the only times he didn't do well was not getting the ball to fall in when he got fouled. (The Hoosier fan next time kept telling me, "He's great, but he can't finish." God, I wish we had Hoosier problems.)

I've been reading on the boards how much we've needed to get Olah involved. Well, we did try to get him involved early, but he missed both inside and outside. I wonder how much that set back his confidence in this game. I liked how they fed him in the second half on backdoor drives, and he was definitely fired up during that late run. Hopefully he can build on that going forward - especially against Trevor Mbakwe.

Back-Cuts

  • It was great to be at the game today - despite it was 70% Hoosier fans, there was energy in the air. The student section was a little late in filing in, but they got noisy - especially when the 'Cats gave them something to cheer about. Also, the halftime show - a girls jump roping squad - was awesome. For real. But I might be biased, as all my two daughters do at home is jump rope.
  • Zeller dropped back into the paint, which shut down any hopes of back door cuts. Carmody tried putting Swop at the 5 and went smurf, which was able to pull Zeller out. That wasn't sustainable on the defensive end, though. In turn, that left us a bunch of open mid-range jumpers. Reggie was able to hit off the dribble, but everyone else couldn't sink that shot. If opponents are going to copy this tactic, we'll need to connect to free up the paint.
  • Jordan Hulls was the Indiana's player of the game. While Yogi Ferrell is the starter, Hulls really was the point-guard as he paced the squad today with great ballhandling and clutch shots. Kid has some serious swag, and he kept the team from falling apart.
  • Yeah, we lost, but I will happily take that 2nd half - where we took it to the rack (and got into the bonus with 12 minutes left), and had some fire on defense. Before going into the under 8 timeout, Reggie was barking at his teammates after they gang-blocked a Hoosier drive. I loved seeing the fire in the squad. Let that be the identity of the squad moving forward.
  • Moving forward: #9 Minnesota comes to Welsh-Ryan in mid-week. They're reeling from back-to-back losses (to Michigan and Indiana), and kenpom thinks they've got an 83% chance at winning. They'll be ornery and will assault our backboards. If we see the salty kraken, I think we turn those guys over.
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