At times it was sluggish and at other times things were clicking, but in the end, the Indiana Hoosiers did what they were supposed to do against the Division II Bellarmine Knights, beating them 73-62.
The Hoosiers came out of the gate clicking and things seemed to be working. The Hoosiers at one point held the Knights scoreless for nearly eight minutes and opened up 22-point lead at it’s largest while on a 18-0 run, and coach Tom Crean praised the defense.
“We challenged everything,” Crean said. “When we were late and in rotation, we challenged shots, we rebounded the ball and we did a really good job of not over helping.”
That defense, however, didn’t last all too long once the second half rolled around.
In fact, in the second half, Bellarmine cut the Indiana lead down to just seven points and were looking like they meant business. The Hoosiers’ sluggish second half play down the stretch opened the door for the Knights to make this a ball game, and for a Division II team, they sure made it interesting.
“In the second half we had to make a lot of adjustments,” Crean said. “They adjusted the game. They used their spacing, they used their screening, and they have very good long range shooters that made us adjust and I think that was very good for us as well.”
If there was one thing consistent Monday night at Assembly Hall, it was the play of Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams. They accounted for 21 and 20 points respectively and both kept this team together. Both Williams and Ferrell were active on both sides of the floor and without their play, the Hoosiers may have been in an interesting predicament.
Troy Williams brought a lot of energy to this team Monday night when they needed a spark. There was one sequence in the second half where he had a great block and followed it up with a dunk on the next possession.
“If we need it, I got it,” said Williams.
Indiana got great contributions from Williams and they also ended up getting some decent contributions from role players Max Bielfeldt, Thomas Bryant and Robert Johnson, who all had eight points. After a stellar first half, there weren’t as many answers in the second half of play.
When asked about the defense in the second half, Williams didn’t like it.
“We were outscored 42-38 in the second half,” Williams said. “This isn’t even the Big Ten… this isn’t Creighton next Thursday.”
One very nice thing to see in this game was the rebounding. After playing a smaller Ottawa team last Tuesday, Bellarmine presented a different challenge with some more size. The rebounding was a question coming in, but Indiana answered that by outrebounding the Knights 41-26. The Hoosiers were led once again by Troy Williams and Yogi Ferrell who both collected eight boards. Coach Crean raved about getting a good challenge in the exhibition schedule.
“We couldn’t have asked for more in the sense of playing two championship level programs,” Crean said. “Two different teams, it was very good for us. We had a couple of great runs in both games and a lot to learn from both games.”
Playing these games are for learning and trying things out, and it is safe to say the Hoosiers learned a little bit about themselves.
“What we learned is that we have to bring it all 40 minutes,” said Ferrell. “We can’t go into this game with any drop-offs.”
With the exhibition slate over, the Hoosiers found out a lot about themselves. Coach Crean has talked a lot about going two-deep on their bench and he says he’s not sure how big of a rotation he could play.
“I don’t want it to be game to game because then you don’t have consistency,” Crean said. “Game to game will be match-ups and that may mean lineups, but you want a level of consistency in all of your guys.”
When the regular season gets rolling fast and furious Friday, this Hoosier team looks like a team ready to compete; and after two exhibition wins, they are licking their chops to get going with the season.