BLOOMINGTON – Many factors have played into Indiana’s current four-game losing streak, but a common thread has been the inability to value the basketball.
The Hoosiers have averaged 12.5 turnovers over their last four games and 14.7 turnovers over their last three games.
Turnovers proved costly again Saturday against Purdue as the Boilermakers scored 17 points off 14 IU turnovers during IU’s 74-62 loss to Purdue at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Eight different IU players turned the ball over, led by junior forward Justin Smith and junior guard Al Durham, who had three turnovers apiece.
“Some plays that you’d like to have back that are silly,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “There’s some inexperience that happens as well out there. And we had two illegal screens today, two cross screens that were called illegal screens. Same play, called the same screen illegal both times. You don’t see that much in the Big Ten, an illegal cross screen by a small on a big. But obviously that was the way it was going to be called.”
Last week, nine turnovers in the first half at Ohio State contributed to the Hoosiers falling in a 31-22 halftime hole in an eventual 68-59 loss.
“We need to slow down when we get on the court,” IU freshman forward Jerome Hunter said. “When we get out there, we just need to realize it’s just us and it’s just another game. So we’ve just got to be more comfortable when we get out there.”
IU sophomore forward Race Thompson (hip injury) returned to action for the first time since Jan. 23 against Michigan State.
The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Thompson lofted and missed a 3-point attempt in his only shot attempt. In eight minutes on the floor, Thompson finished with one rebound and one assist.
In all, 12 players from IU’s 1980 Big Ten championship team returned to be honored at halftime, including Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, Anderson native Ray Tolbert, Steve Bouchie, Tony Brown, Butch Carter, Chuck Franz, Phil Isenbarger, Ted Kitchel, Jim Thomas, Landon Turner, Randy Wittman and Mike Woodson.
Several players from the 1990s, 1980s and 1970s also returned and were recognized, including Keith Smart, Scott May and Quinn Buckner.
Wittman said in his opinion, the 1980 team was better than IU’s 1981 team that won a national championship. But the Hoosiers were never able to get on track due to a back injury that sidelined Woodson for much of the season.
“You think about it, that was the boycott of the ’80 Olympics, and we open up right here on this floor against the Russians that was supposedly the best team in the world, and I don’t remember the score — you guys can figure that score out — but it was by 20 or something,” Wiitman said. “And it was an unbelievable team. And then we just never were able — were never able to stay healthy enough to do what we did in ’81. But I think the ’80 team was a much more talented and cohesive group than even the ’81 team.”
VITALE ON BIG TEN
Hall of Fame ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale has been calling college basketball games for more than 40 years, and he said Friday the Big Ten is as strong and deep as it has ever been.
“Now you are talking about 14 teams, and even a school like Northwestern, who is at the bottom, can give you a difficult challenge every single night,” Vitale said.
As of now, 11 or 12 Big Ten teams are projected to make the NCAA Tournament, but Vitale thinks that number will dwindle due to attrition.
“Some of the Ls are going to start to pile up with some teams,” Vitale said.
Vitale, who called the IU-Purdue game Saturday, will host his 15th annual gala to raise money for the V Foundation on May 8 in Sarasota, Fla. Keynote speakers include Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians and ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith. To date, the galas have raised more than $29.5 million for cancer research. More information on the event can be found at dickvitaleonline.com.