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Hoosier Notes: Payback Time?

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Whenever I think of UCLA v. Indiana, it brings up some really bad memories from spring break of my freshmen year. It brings up the bad memories of that Elite Eight game from 1992, when Don McLean and Derrick Martin’s senior laden UCLA squad (which was in the top 5 most of the season, and was the number 1 seed out West) absolutely embarrassed themselves against Bobby Knight’s team led by Calbert Cheney. It was a shameful performance. The game got so bad and so ugly, I remember a sure fire FT shooter like Tracy Murray launching air ball from the charity stripes. It was ugly. And it wasn’t fun to see a Wooden Hater like Bobby Knight gloat during the post-game conference. Ever since then I always wanted Bruins to get another shot against the Hoosiers. Well here we go.

Bruins get another shot. We get to take on a very well coached Hoosiers team tomorrow night. This is going to be a brutal game. As a Bruin fan I am certainly not afraid of the Hoosiers (or any other team in America). However, I have nothing but respect for the program Sampson has put together at Bloomington.

Indiana (at least on paper) seems like a pretty balanced offensive team. Take a look at their numbers via Pomeroy and Mid Majority Report. Hoosiers have the 11th best offensive unit in the country (per KP) [Bruins have the 9th best defensive unit]. They are pretty decent 3 point shooting team. However, they definitely like to sloooow things down a bit. If you look at the scouting report, you will see they are ranked very low in terms of number of possessions they average per 40 mins. And they will probably try to slow things down tomorrow night against the Bruins.

Interestingly their style of play may remind us a little bit about Washington State, the other Pac-10 team, which gave us a run for our money on our way to the regular season title. Except Indiana may be more powerful and physical than Washington State. Here is there roster per Sportsline:

PLAYER ROTATION Usual Starters -- F Mike White, F D.J. White, G Armon Bassett, G Roderick Wilmont, G A.J. Ratliff. Key Subs -- G Earl Calloway, G Joey Shaw, F Lance Stemler, F Xavier Keeling, G Errek Suhr.
Again for complete states on each of these players check out MMR.

DJ White is the big star. The 6-9 251lb big guy in the middle is a dual threat as he leads the team both in scoring (13.8 points) and rebounding (7.1). Needless to say Mata and AA2 will have to step up big time, and hopefully they will get a lot of help from their team-mates in the front court. If we keep the defensive intensity up and our double teaming is sharp, we will have a good chance of containing him much the same way we contained Gibson, Brockman and Hawes (at Pauley when we were playing with focus), and Simms (Michigan) during the regular season.

DJ is the superstar. But he is getting a lot of help. Especially from Senior Guard Roderick Wilmont (6-4, 203) who has been on a tear. Wilmont went off on the Zags last night:
Roderick Wilmont scored 22 points and hit six of his team's nine 3-pointers, and the Hoosiers avenged a loss to Gonzaga last March with a 70-57 victory Thursday night in a West Regional matchup pitted as one of the top first-round games in the tournament.

"I love the way we won the game," Sampson said. "We're not an offensive juggernaut. We had to play tough defense, make the extra pass and execute." Wilmont shot 8-for-16 and also added seven rebounds, three assists and a steal to extend his senior season for seventh-seeded Indiana (21-10), which was eliminated by the Zags 90-80 in a second-round meeting a year ago.
Sportsline’s Mejia has a writeup on the Hoosier’s Senior guard. Wilmont has had bit of rough times against better competition in the Big-10. Illinois held him to 2 points in the Big-10 tourney. He did lit up Penn State and Northwestern, but he was also shut out by Michigan State. It will be interesting to see of Howland puts AA on Wilmont. More on the Bruins v. Hoosiers matchup:
Weaknesses: Except for the four-point wins at Connecticut on Jan. 20 and Northwestern on Feb. 28, the Hoosiers haven't found ways to win games when they don't have their adoring home fans urging them on. Wilmont and talented freshman Armon Bassett have a tendency to freelance too often, which can lead to big runs by their opponents. Indiana's bench isn't particularly deep or consistent.

They'll keep winning if: D.J. White plays like the guy NBA scouts used to drool over and Roderick Wilmont doesn't float around the perimeter settling for out-of-rhythm three-pointers and remembers to attack. It would help if point guard Earl Calloway finds the form that resulted in a near triple-double in last year's NCAAs.
I think if the Bruin guards bring their defensive intensity in the backcourt, they will be able to break up the Hoosier’s rhythm by putting a lot of heat on Calloway, Wilmont and co. by disrupting their passes, and by clogging up the passing lanes.

As for the Hoosier defense, it is a little suspect (as noted by Big-10 wonk) despite the fact they have a reputation of being a tough hard nosed ball club. Bruins may not get a lot of easy buckets right away. However, if they stay patient on offense, focus on crisp passing, and attacking down the middle (like they did against Washington State couple of weeks ago), they should be able to get their offense going. As DC said last night after the game, it all comes back to D. Bruins will get going if they can use the defensive energy to get some easy buckets on transition. Really it all comes down to focus, patience, and team-work. I was really heartened to see Shipp and DC not settling for a lot of jump shots as the team seem to focus on getting in rhythm and get their points within the flow of offense. If they keep that up things will turn out all right.

Also keep in mind Hoosiers are not all that great away from their home court. They went 16-1 at Bloomington. However, they are only 5-9 away from Indiana. Something to keep in mind as our Bruins are playing hopefully in front of favoring crowd up at Sactown.

I will have more the Hoosiers later tonight if I have time or tomorrow am. But if you all have notes to share, please do so in the comments section or diary it up.

Let’s get our payback for 1992.