Jeremy Price is the Indiana men’s basketball columnist for the Herald-Times in Bloomington, Indiana. Price also writes for The Hoosier Scoop, a blog run by the newspaper that covers all things Hoosiers. I was fortunate enough to get in touch with Jeremy, and received some great insight on Thursday night’s game between Syracuse and Indiana. Be Sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter here (@JPPrice) to stay up to date on Indiana heading in to the game tomorrow night.
And at the defensive end, I thought they were just a very physical, tough team that really bodied up any time the Hoosiers got near the lane. They knew who they were willing to let shoot, as well as when and where. It really was a similar formula to the one Ohio State and Wisconsin used at the end of the regular season and in the Big Ten Tournament.
ITLH: Jim Boeheim is known for his 2-3 zone, and sometimes his stubbornness in sticking with it. It is an absolute certainty Syracuse will run the zone against the Hoosiers Thursday night. Tom Crean has seen the Syracuse zone in previous seasons when he was at Marquette, and should have a good idea of what it is all about. How has Indiana fared against a zone throughout the course of the season?
Jeremy Price: Indiana has actually fared pretty well against the zone most of the year, and Tom Crean says according to the stats they chart, the Hoosiers score more points per possession against the zone than man to man.
Probably the most problematic zone Indiana saw was Northwestern’s 1-3-1 zone back in January, but the Wildcats played that a limited amount of time, and it did seem like IU began to break it down well after struggling for the first four or five possessions. The Hoosiers have some players like Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey who are very good cutters off the ball and work well on the baseline, a capable passing big man in Cody Zeller and 3-point shooters they can place around the outside, so it would seem they are well-equipped to attack the zone.
ITLH: Victor Oladipo is the Naismith Player of the Year in my eyes. If the Hoosiers did not have such a balanced scoring attack, I believe Oladipo’s scoring numbers could easily be closer to 20 a game or more given his ability. What makes him so tough to guard, and do you think he is the key to success for IU in the tournament?
Jeremy Price: What makes Oladipo difficult to prepare for is that he doesn’t necessarily score a lot of his points in the halfcourt or on designed plays. But he gets so many points off of steals, offensive rebounds and movement off the ball.
There’s no doubt Oladipo is the heart and soul of this Indiana team, and his energy is critical. That said, Cody Zeller is still the most indispensable member of the Hoosiers and just changes the entire look of the squad when he is on the game. It’s perhaps no coincidence that Temple made a large part of its run last Sunday with Zeller on the bench in foul trouble the last seven minutes of the first half.
ITLH: We saw Syracuse struggle heavily against the Louisville full-court press in the Big East Championship.The Orange turned the ball over 19 times in that game, and looked like they were clueless dealing with it at times throughout the evening. How successful are the Hoosiers at running the press, and is that something we might see Thursday night?
Jeremy Price: Indiana has shown a press at times this season, but the depth just hasn’t panned out the way many expected, and I believe that’s the main reason IU hasn’t done more pressing this season. Most of the time when Indiana does press, it’s just pressuring that first inbounds pass, then falling back into halfcourt defense. I see the Hoosiers only using the press as a change of pace, sporadic at best against the Orange.
ITLH: From a match up standpoint, who concerns you from Syracuse offensively? Who do you think will be a key focus of the Hoosiers’ defense in this game?
Jeremy Price: What I’m most curious about is how Indiana handles Michael Carter-Williams. The Hoosiers start a pair of 6-foot guards, so they will have a size disadvantage in the backcourt, but do they possibly put Oladipo on Carter-Williams (which would create a big mismatch elsewhere) or just count on Yogi Ferrell’s speed and quickness to bother him. If Carter-Williams is able to get in the lane and create, it’s a long day for the Indiana defense.
ITLH: Lets hear your prediction. The spread as of today is Indiana -5.5. WhoYaGot?!
Jeremy Price: The funny thing is that I’m not sure this game is particularly close either way. Maybe Indiana is knocking down 3s and dissecting the Orange zone, or it is completely cold as ice and utterly flummoxed by something it hasn’t seen before. In the end, Indiana is a No. 1seed for a reason, so I’m more inclined toward the former than the latter. Hoosiers by a baker’s dozen, 13.
A big thanks to Jeremy to for answering my questions. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@JPPrice) and stay up to date on Indiana.