(Photo Credit: IndianaHQ)
Now, it does feel this team is at the crossroads between salvaging the season and another season that will not be remembered 3 years down the line. In 2019, Indiana is now 1-4 in their conference games. Two of these games, Indiana did not lead at any point. Maybe the one part of this that is a silver lining is that we were only predicted to win one of these 4 losses (Nebraska) while the others we were predicted to lose. However, what makes it frustrating is that we continue to take steps backwards and not meet expectations. Getting outplayed and overrun on offense and defense and this was not more evident than in our last game vs. Purdue.
Losing to Purdue 70-55 in West Lafayette is not what is expected for this season. What makes it tough is that it was a combination of small things that culminated into a substantial loss. Free throws, 3pt%, a few more turnovers, and inability to get Romeo clicking created a perfect storm of despair for the Hoosiers on Saturday.
On the bright side, this was Justin Smith’s best performance of the season by far. He has not surpassed double-digit points this season against any tough opponent until against Purdue. Romeo Langford has been playing lights-out…other than this last game and furthering his stock to be a top NBA pick. The Hoosiers still have what it takes to win plenty of games and compete with the conference’s best. We have the unfortunate ability to get off our stride easily and quickly and demons that have haunted us all season, continue to do so.
Our next match against Northwestern marks the second time we have faced the Wildcats this season, and we were victorious in SSAH. Unlike last time, we are not favorites in the matchup and a tough battle in SSAH with numerous lead changes, ties and no time being ahead by more than 5 points.
Archie Miller must get his team corralled and refocused. We cannot change the past, and per Kenpom there is a 50/50 chance of winning vs #59 Northwestern on Tuesday (as of 1/19). A victory would go a long way in building confidence to finish the season for the #33 Hoosiers.
Meet the Wildcats
- Scottie Lindsey – 6’5” / 175 lbs / Guard / Senior – Hillside, IL. Last year’s leading scorer with 15.2 ppg. Currently on the Grand Rapids Drive, a G league affiliate to the Detroit Pistons.
- Bryant McIntosh – 6’3” / 177 lbs / Guard / Senior – Greensburg, IN. Went undrafted last year and is a member of the Leuven Bears in Belgium.
- Gavin Skelly – 6’8” / 219 lbs / Forward / Senior – Westlake, OH.
- Isiah Brown – 6’2” / 175 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Lynnwood, WA. Transferred to Grand Valley
- Rapolas Ivanauskas – 6’9” / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Barrington, IL. Transferred to Colgate and is now a starter for the Raiders averaging 16.4 ppg, 10.6 rebounds.
- Vic Law – 6’7” / 185 lbs / Forward / Senior – South Holland, IL. The current point leader for the Wildcats, averaging 16.6 ppg.
- Ryan Taylor – 6’5” / 187 lbs / Guard / Senior – Gary, IN. Current starter for the Wildcats. Started his career for Ohio then Evansville and now Northwestern. Has always been a starter. Contributing nearly 13 points per game.
- Dererk Pardon – 6’8” / 235 lbs / Center / Senior – Cleveland, OH. Has 37 points over the last two games. Starter last year and this year. Leads team with 7.7 rebounds/game.
- A.J. Turner – 6’7” / 190 lbs / Forward / Junior – Mt. Clemens, MI. Starter for the Wildcats over the last 5 games. Sporadic in his productivity, scored 0 vs Rutgers last game. Transferred from Boston College.
- Barret Benson – 6’10” / 240 lbs / Center / Junior – Willowbrook, IL. Starter last game vs Rutgers and contributes about 3 ppg.
- Miller Kopp – 6’7” / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Houston, TX. Top 100 recruit in 2018. Seeing a modest amount of playtime this year as one of the starters.
- Pete Nance – 6’10” / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Akron, OH. The other top 100 recruit from 2018 for coach Chris Collins.
- Anthony Gaines – 6’4” / 205 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Kingston, NY
- Ryan Greer – 6’2” / 185 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Atlanta, GA.
- Jordan Ash – 6’3” / 185 lbs / Guard / Senior – Bolingbrook, IL.
- Aaron Falzon – 6’8” / 225 lbs / Forward / Junior – Newton, MA.
- Charlie Hall – 6’5” / 210 lbs / Forward / Junior – Los Angeles, CA
- Tino Malnati – 6’3” / 190 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Northfield, IL.
- Ryan Young – 6’10” / 235 lbs / Center / Freshman – Stewartsville, NJ. Three star recruit that has not yet seen playing time.
Expectations for the Wildcats
If there is a chance for Northwestern to get a statement win for their resume, the chance is now. One thing that is difficult for the computers to measure is momentum when it comes to teams and Indiana has absolutely no momentum coming into this game. They have been on the road 3 of their last 4 games, lost 4 in a row and their last victory was against the lowly Illinois team – Northwestern should feel like they have a chance to pull off the W on Tuesday.
Northwestern has also been struggling with injuries, but with their star, Vic Law. He was unable to play against Michigan and struggled against Iowa, but coming back to play and contributing 6 points against Rutgers proved to be the difference in securing the win. Now that he is back, the Wildcats appear to be at full strength vs a Hoosier team that is starting to overcome prior injury bugs as well.
Expect Northwestern to rely heavily on Vic Law and Dererk Pardon again. Together this pair contributed 40 of their 66 points last time these teams met. Juwan Morgan will be looking to stop Pardon again this time around, and hopefully force more defensive stops than last time.
More stops would be nice, but what really needs to occur is for the Hoosier’s offense to start clicking again. Having 0.86 points per possession and 39% FT will not make a win come easy for the Hoosiers. Northwestern is arguably a better defense than Purdue with an adjusted defensive efficiency of 95.3 (#38) vs Purdue’s 97.4 (#61). The Hoosiers may be in for another low scoring battle on the road like their match up with the Boilermakers. Archie Miller needs to wake the Hoosiers up and unleash their former selves on the Wildcats to regain traction in the Big Ten before they play Michigan and Michigan State within the next four games.
What to Watch For
- There is no such thing as a ‘free’ throw – Indiana has been ABYSMAL from the charity stripe this season. 64.9% from the line, #315 overall. There are only a handful of Power 5 teams below us (including UCLA) and none of them are strong teams. If Archie found out a way to make us more consistent from the line, it would open up many more opportunities for victory for the Hoosiers.
- Where are we going? – It seems this team has been spiraling out of control with each game looking more uncoordinated than the prior. We know that the Big Ten is the most grueling conference to play in, but that doesn’t mean we should be dropping all these games and to this extent. We should be minimum 4-3 in conference play at this point, but that is the nature of this conference and we need to figure out a way to get ready for the next opponent.
- The dueling bigs – Juwan Morgan and Dererk Pardon have been crucial playmakers for each of these teams. Scoring consistently in high numbers and grabbing crucial rebounds. Indiana (surprisingly) is the team that has shown more success in the 3P% category of these teams. If we can control the paint and continue our dominance with 2P%, we should secure a much needed win, but losing the battle down low will put us out of our comfort zone and lead to unnecessary threes from a team that has struggled from deep. Additionally, Northwestern has held opponents to 28.3% from deep, making our ability to use this to come back even more futile.
- Slow and steady wins the race? – We wish. Hoosier’s offense has been anemic for weeks. Slowly trickling out in spurts and never out the gate (apart from against Maryland and that didn’t work either). We play from behind decently and shown in the past we know how to win, but how about we just cruise to a victory without putting 100 Hoosier fans into cardiac arrest while we sit at the edge of our seats from start to finish? Remember even UC Davis we didn’t lead at a single point until 6 minutes left in the second half. Same story, different week.
- Is it Baseball Season Yet?– No, no its not. It’s 10 degrees out and the heart of basketball season. Indiana players, coaches, and fans need to remember that the season is not over yet. A four game loss streak is a big blow to our confidence, but the only thing that is worse than this is continuing this streak. Northwestern is the perfect opponent that is memorable enough that if we win, we can build confidence for the season and for it to not feel underwhelming like some other Big Ten conference opponents. LETS GO.
Race Thompson is likely out once again due to a concussion.
Jerome Hunter has declared his intention to sit out the rest of the year as a redshirt. Leg surgery has prevented him from seeing the floor this season.
For Northwestern, Maxime Boursiquot is out for the season.
How to Watch
|Date||Tuesday, January 22nd|
|Time||9:00 PM EST|