Tag Archives: Roosevelt Jones

Indiana to face No. 23 Butler in Crossroads Classic

It’s been two years since No. 1 Indiana and unranked Butler met in Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the Crossroads Classic, when a pesky Butler team hit almost half of its three-point attempts and knocked off the previously unbeaten Hoosiers in overtime thanks to a runner from walk-on point guard Alex Barlow.

A lot has changed in two years. Only seven players who played in the teams’ December 2012 meeting still play for their respective universities, which doesn’t include former Hoosier Austin Etherington, who transferred to Butler in the offseason. Butler has changed head coaches twice — from Brad Stevens to Brandon Miller to Chris Holtmann — and conferences once.

But what hasn’t changed is the challenge that the Crossroads Classic presents to all four of its participants.

“The bottom line is every time you’re in it, you’re playing a very tough opponent,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said Friday. “That’s what’s most important.  That’s what’s most challenging.”

The script has been flipped from Dec. 15, 2012; this time unranked Indiana (8-2) gets a chance to upset No. 23 Butler (8-2). It will be the Hoosiers’ third game against a ranked opponent this season and their second time playing away from Assembly Hall.

With final exams in Indiana’s rearview mirror, Crean & Co. hope to carry over their success in the classroom to their play on the court.

“We’ve had a productive week hopefully in the sense we’ve been able to get some rest and get energized,” Crean said. “The residual effect is they’re a little more rested when they practice and play because it’s a little bit more exciting when they are there than the drudgery of the long days because they’re spending so much time on their schoolwork, preparing for the exams.”

Crean said initial film studies of the team’s best non-conference opponents — SMU, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Butler and Georgetown — began in the summer. The Hoosiers then reviewed the film in the fall before the season started and built upon their specific game plans once the season started.

Butler’s film and advanced statistics show that the Bulldogs are a strong rebounding team and they’re among the most efficient defenses in the country on a per-possession basis.

Unlike Indiana, Butler isn’t littered with former four- and five-star recruits, but that doesn’t hinder the Bulldogs’ execution on defense or relentlessness on the boards. With only one player taller than 6-foot-8, Butler has comparable height to Indiana, but the Bulldogs make up for a potential lack in size with physicality in their box outs.

“They’re very aggressive on the glass,” Crean said. “They’re going to create a lot of contact when they go to the glass. If you’re not prepared for it, you’ll end up three, four, five feet from where you started.”

Butler’s best rebounding performance of the season came in the Battle 4 Atlantis, when the Bulldogs out-hustled and out-muscled No. 5 North Carolina on the boards to the tune of a 57-40 rebounding advantage en route to an eight-point win. Butler interim head coach Chris Holtman’s team had 29 offensive rebounds against the Tar Heels, a facet of the game that could be an issue for an Indiana team that is 275th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage.

Crean said the Hoosiers will have to be committed to boxing out because Butler’s forwards and wings crash the boards every time a shot is taken.

“Where they’ve had big numbers offensive rebounding-wise, it didn’t appear to me the opponent was committed to blocking them out,” he said. “No question about it, rebounding will be a huge factor in the game tomorrow.  No matter who wins it, that number is going to probably have a lot to do with it.”

Saturday’s matchup will feature the clash of contrasting styles of play. Indiana is at its best when it turns the game into a track meet and its top-10 offense can rain three-pointers on opposing defenses. While the Bulldogs have won games scoring in the 60s and the 90s, they prefer a slower tempo that allows their top-20 defense and physical rebounding to win games.

On offense, point-forward Roosevelt Jones and sharpshooter Kellen Dunham lead the way for the Bulldogs.

“It’s very hard to put anybody out there because of that size and the way that he plays,” Crean said of Jones. “When he’s able to drop his shoulder, he’s really going to a runner, a floater type of shot. You just have to be very efficient, stay in front of him, not give him any angles, and at the same time you got to block him out.”

Crean said the Hoosiers didn’t do a very good job slowing him down two years ago and Indiana will have the chance to get revenge on Jones and Butler Saturday afternoon when the state’s top college basketball talent is showcased in Indianapolis.

“We have a lot of respect for Butler, a lot of respect for how they play,” he said. “I think our guys are excited to go in for that challenge and play in that environment.”

College basketball stock report for week 16

After five consecutive weeks of teams moving up to the No. 1 spot one week and then back down the next as if there was a revolving door for the top spot, Indiana has held on to the No. 1 rank for the past three weeks. Miami (FL) has continued its ascent up in the polls from No. 25, No. 14, No. 8, and No. 3 to No. 2 and 23 first place votes behind the Hoosiers.

The Big East leads all conferences with six ranked teams, followed by the Big Ten with five and Big 12 with three.

With three weeks left of regular season conference play, here is my college basketball stock report:

BUY

Michigan State Spartans-(22-4, 11-2)-Ever since losing by five on the road to No. 7 Indiana, the Spartans have rattled off five wins in a row, including a 23-point drubbing of No. 4 Michigan. Michigan State is tied for first in the Big Ten with the opportunity to have sole possession of first place with a game against No. 1 Indiana tonight in East Lansing, Mich.

Adreian Payne and Michigan State are heating up as March approaches. The Spartans are tied with No. 1 Indiana for first place in the Big Ten entering their game on Tuesday.(Image courtesy of buckey extra.dispatch.com)
Adreian Payne and Michigan State are heating up as March approaches. The Spartans are tied with No. 1 Indiana for first place in the Big Ten entering their game on Tuesday.
(Image courtesy of buckey extra.dispatch.com)

Georgetown Hoyas-(19-4, 9-3)-The Hoyas have taken advantage of Syracuse’s three losses in the Orange’s last six games; Georgetown has won seven straight games, including three against ranked Big East opponents, and is in a three-way tie for first place.

Gonzaga Bulldogs-(25-2, 12-0)-Gonzaga has won 16 of its last 17 games and the Bulldogs’ only loss in the new year was a one-point defeat at the hands of Roosevelt Jones and the Butler Bulldogs on the road. Gonzaga played and defeated the four teams remaining on its schedule by an average of nearly 13 points this season. It would be no surprise if the Bulldogs do not lose until the NCAA Tournament.

SELL

Butler Bulldogs-(21-5, 8-3)-Butler has proven that its best is very good after the Bulldogs defeated No. 1 Indiana in December. However, Butler has lost three of its past eight games. Even though the Bulldogs play in an improved A-10, they have gradually fallen from their top 10 ranking.

Michigan Wolverines-(22-4, 9-4)-There is no doubt that the Wolverines have a roster that has the ability to play in Atlanta for the Final Four but Michigan has slipped up several times lately. The Wolverines lost three of their past five games. All four of Michigan’s losses this season have come on the road and the No. 7 team in the country will have to be able to play away from Ann Arbor, Mich. in order to go deep in the tournament.

Cincinnati Bearcats-(19-7, 7-6)-Cincinnati has been ranked for most of the season but fell out of the top 25 this week after losing three of their past four games and four of seven. All of the Bearcats’ losses have been by ten points or fewer, with four of them being by less than five points, UC has struggled to emerge as one of the best teams in the Big East. Cincinnati is tied for ninth in the conference with games against Connecticut, Notre Dame and Louisville remaining on its schedule. The Bearcats were projected to be a No. 3 seed in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s projected NCAA Tournament but they are falling quickly.

HOLD

Notre Dame Fighting Irish-(21-6, 9-5)-In the past two weeks, Notre Dame defeated No. 11 Louisville in five overtimes and No. 20 Pittsburgh on the road. However, the Fighting Irish also lost to No. 9 Syracuse by 16 and unranked Providence by 17. Notre Dame has a lot of potential but the team has been too inconsistent.

Marquette Golden Eagles-(18-6, 9-3)-With the exception of a loss at Green Bay in December, Marquette does not have any horrible losses this season. The Golden Eagles were routed by Florida and Louisville, two teams that have been at the top of the polls for most of the season, but they have faired well in their conference schedule. Marquette hasn’t proven that it’s a great team but has exceeded expectations in one of college basketball’s toughest conferences. With four road games and two matchups against ranked opponents remaining on their schedule, the Golden Eagles have a challenging home stretch before the Big East Tournament.

Reflecting on Butler’s Upset of No. 1 Indiana

Saturday’s matchup between No. 1 Indiana and Butler was supposed to be about the 9-0 Hoosiers adding freshmen Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea to their lineup after they served their nine game suspensions. In pre-game warmups, senior forward Derek Elston participated in drills with the rest of the players, indicating that he might take the court sooner than expected after he suffered a torn meniscus at Hoosier Hysteria. However, Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs had other intentions for Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, December 15th was the first regular season appearance for Indiana freshman Hanner Mosquera-Perea.
Saturday, December 15th was the first regular season appearance for Indiana freshman Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Butler entered the game 8-2 with its only losses coming to Xavier on the road and an Illinois squad that’s now ranked tenth in the country. While the Bulldogs were not ranked entering the Boston Scientific Close the Gap Crossroads Classic, their 88-86 victory over Indiana was not their first step into the national spotlight. Butler was the national runner up in both 2010 and 2011. In the Maui Invitational in mid-November, Butler beat then-No. 9 North Carolina 82-71 and led by as many as 29 points in the second half.

Butler never let IU lead by more than seven points, which is dangerous for any team playing the Bulldogs. Butler is the little engine that could and if they hang around long enough in a close game, the Bulldogs can beat any team in the country, as proven by their play over the past four seasons.

Mosquera-Perea, Jurkin, and Elston did not impact the game at all. Jurkin and Elston were on the bench for the entire contest and Mosquera-Perea only played three minutes, scored two points, and grabbed one rebound.

Butler deserved to win because they outplayed Indiana over the course of 45 minutes. While Cody Zeller’s stat line of 18 points and five rebounds does not reflect it, the preseason national player of the year was dominated by Butler center Andrew Smith. Roosevelt Jones posted a double-double for Butler with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Khyle Marshall, Rotnei Clarke, and Erik Fromm also scored in double figures for the Bulldogs.

Clarke was 5-11 from behind the arc, including a three-pointer with 1:40 left in overtime to bring Butler within one point of Indiana. While IU junior Victor Oladipo held Clarke in check for most of the game, fellow Hoosier Will Sheehey could not. Whenever Indiana was on the move looking to make a run, the senior transfer from Arkansas made a big shot. When the Hoosiers maintained a lead for the first time in the first half, Clarke hit a three to steal the lead right back. When IU was winning by five in the final minutes of the first half, he was there again to cut the deficit to two points.

While the Bulldogs made only four percent more of their three-point shots, Butler made 11 to Indiana’s five. Even though Jordan Hulls had 11 shot attempts, he uncharacteristically did not make a three-point basket.

Indiana may have lost the game at the free throw line. The Hoosiers were 27-38 from the charity stripe and just a few more points from made free throws could have changed the outcome of the game.

Once again, Christian Watford was nowhere to be found. He was 1-5 shooting and only grabbed three rebounds. It is no surprise that he has fallen out of 2013 NBA Mock Drafts. He is incredibly inconsistent and has yet to take over a game against a major opponent.

Indiana appeared to be in good position to win the game when the Hoosiers forced some of Butler’s best players into foul trouble. Roosevelt Jones was called for his fourth foul with 15:11 remaining in the second half and Andrew Smith received his fourth with 10:24 to play. However, both players managed to stay at four fouls until two minutes left in the game. Indiana was in the double bonus and had Butler on its last legs but failed to pound the ball into the paint and draw fouls on the Bulldogs.

On paper, Indiana had the advantage in overtime with all five of the team’s starters on the court and two of Butler’s frontcourt players fouled out of the game. Defensive lapses and consecutive three-pointers forced the Hoosiers on their heels. A layup by Alex Barlow with five seconds remaining in OT proved to be the game-winner as Jordan Hulls’ last second three fell short of the basket.

Only eight men’s college basketball teams have gone undefeated since 1939 and no team has since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. There is not a school, even the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers, that is expected to go undefeated. Losses, especially those in road environments such as the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which was filled with Butler and Purdue fans, are chances for growth. Butler is well-deserving of a top 25 ranking and Indiana is unlikely to fall outside of the top five. Teams are still in the non-conference portions of their schedules, which means that there are still several months remaining until the time of the year when wins and losses define a team.

All of that being said, the first year of the Close the Gap Crossroads Classic was a great success. There was high-quality basketball in both the Indiana-Butler and Notre Dame-Purdue matchups. Indiana, Notre Dame, and Butler are all nationally relevant teams and this annual event will hopefully continue to bring lots of competition and pride to Indiana basketball for years to come.