Wow what a game.
This isn’t a nail in the coffin by any means for the Hoosiers. Everyone needs to calm down. All this means in the big picture is Indiana won’t go undefeated yet again. They are still on track for a number one seed come tournament time and actually this might help them.
Outside of the Georgetown Hoyas game, they weren’t really challenged much. This year’s North Carolina Tar Heels squad isn’t a vintage Roy Williams team. They have little effective size and perimeter shooting problems. Those are the two areas that Indiana can be attacked as we saw today.
There are a couple things though that trouble me about this loss. First, and foremost, is how easily Andrew Smith pushed around Cody Zeller. Listen, Smith has improved this season. That’s evident to everyone but he is still a fringe starter for most mid level and up BCS conference teams. There’s no way he should take it to a top 5 NBA draft pick and a finalist for player of the year. I don’t think it wasn’t all on him though. Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls seemed a little hesitant to just throw the ball up and let him fight for it in the air. Not every post feed is going to be pretty.
Another concern is how easily Butler won the war on the glass. The Bulldogs are a “scrappy” team, whatever that means. I just view that as them bringing a lot of energy into each game. When you go 9, even 10 deep, like Indiana can, and does, you need to at least match that. Khyle Marshall is really about 6’6. Roosevelt Jones is around 6’4, 6’5. They should not be having their way. This isn’t rocket science.
Zeller didn’t do a great job but I want to see Christian Watford put some more emphasis on defensive rebounding. Too many times he tries to start the fast break. Maybe that’ll be fine when he’s a small forward in the NBA. Not right now.
The poor free throw shooting isn’t the end of the world. The game was choppy at times and that can kill your rhythm. However, the Hoosiers had multiple attempts in the double bonus to get to the line late. This despite the fact they shot 38 free throws in the game! Butler plays an aggressive, physical and borderline cheap style. Make the refs keep blowing their whistle.
Indiana’s got to refocus. That’ll be easier said than done with all the sugary cupcakes coming their way. The next real test comes in the Big Ten opener on the road at the Iowa Hawkeyes. They can only probably afford to lose two B1G games and still get a number one seed. This is their year. Don’t mess it up.
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