The internet loves lists. And after trying to write something about this IU basketball team for the last month and not pressing publish on any of them, I’ve decided to write myself this list and share it with you. So, here it is, a list of the things this IU team is not good at.
Defending the pick and roll
Have you ever moved from a Queen Sized Bed to a King and tried to roll over and make actual physical contact with your spouse or live-in paramour (no judgements to all of your living in sin) only to realize that you have to roll over twice more before you’re close enough to touch them? That’s how much room there is between our defenders and their shooters at least once a game after a ball screen. Our level of badness is Joe Buck trying to host a comedy show on HBO bad. And our level of surprise each time it happens is Joe Buck asking a drugged out Artie Lang to be a guest on his first show and then being horrified at the results surprise.
We’re so bad at screens that the managers had to print out a sign in font big enough and red enough to be seen from the bench that said “Call Out Screens.” It has happened enough that they made a 20-year-old kid write it down for other 20-year-old kids to read it while wearing shorts and running.
Making a Quick Post Move
Look, I get it, you expect Thomas Bryant to be double teamed and you want him to hold the ball long enough to see where the double team is coming from so he can pass out of it to a wide open shooter. Except, can’t he just make the post move before the double gets there and score already?
He can’t? Oh, well. Hmm.
Shouldn’t you teach him how to do that? Get a tape of Kirk Haston and play it on a loop for him with his eye balls held open while the Ludwig Von plays if you have to, but everyone one of our post players waits to long, gets double teamed and then throws a bad pass. Either teach him how to do it right, or teach him how to do something different.
Going up Strong
You know what’s easy to do? block the shot of a guy who take 10 seconds to decide he’s going to shoot and then doesn’t bother to jump. Go ask all of our opponents. They’ll back me up on this one. I come from the Why-did-Ricky-Calloway-try-to-dunk-that-ball-against-LSU-in-1987-instead-of-just-laying-it-up-they’re-both-worth-two-points school of basketball, but holy hell, DUNK THE BALL! Every time. Dunk it. Or at least go up hard enough to dunk it. This is stupid. Our post players play so timid that there’s only ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE THEM AND I’M GONNA SPELL IT OUT FOR YA!
Making anyone they play uncomfortable at all
Oh, don’t get me wrong. They’re great at making the fans uncomfortable, but their opponents get shot after shot in rhythm, cut without being impeded, dribble and pass wherever they want on the court, and get to run their offense exactly as they drew it up and practiced it against chairs and managers.
Our defense is as disruptive to them as when the kid who prints out the “Call out Screens” sign guards them.
And when our opponents get comfortable. They stay comfortable for the whole game. They shoot 60% and beat our brains in.
Making good decisions
You know what good decision I’m going to make right now? I’m not going to look up our turnovers per game. It will just irritate me. But it’s too much. My frustration with Thomas dribbling is exactly the same as Mr. Miyagi’s with Daniel during their training. He dribbles too much, at the wrong time, into traffic. It’s maddening. And everyone throws passes to the other team all the time.
Oh, and that shot? Don’t take that shot either. It’s a bad one.
This one may seem unfair, because kids get hurt, but come on!
Last year’s team really stepped up when guys got hurt. Not this team. OG is hurt? Is it cool if we just don’t show up at Michigan? James is out? Well, no one expects us to win at Northwestern do they? I mean, look at our hurt.
Keeping me interested
There are reasons I’ve been MIA writing this season. Most of them are not basketball related. Most of them involve the people who pay me to write things paying me to write things and my having very little brain left for this. But some of them is that I am not emotionally invested in this team enough to take the time.
Last night, I was playing Monopoly with my son, watching The Royal Rumble, and watching the IU game at the same time. The game got the TV while the Rumble got the iPad, but the Rumble got the volume and I looked up at the TV less than one might think. Partially because the outcome of the Rumble matches were less pre-ordained to me than the outcome of the IU game, which is its own special kind of indictment of what’s going on with this team.
I have no answers for this team. Or for you who is likely also really frustrated. But, I know the problem isn’t injuries. They were bad before that and they’re bad now. And no, the answer isn’t fire Tom Crean who has two Big Ten Titles in four years with vastly different teams so shut up with that. It just sound reactionary and dumb. But this team is bad and may miss the tournament.