Indiana's official opener came Tuesday evening at Assembly Hall against Chicago State. Chicago State is probably 20 points worse than IU's exhibition opponent - Division 2 Southern Indiana.
These contests against inferior opponents are necessary, but it honestly doesn't give the Hoosiers much of a look against what they'll see this season. For almost the entirety of the game, the Hoosiers went up against a zone defense, which they'll see next to none of during the Big Ten slate.
With that said, there were a few clips I pulled out that I thought were valuable enough to breakdown in this game's 'Film Breakdown' session.
Our hope is to do these for every game to help you go more in-depth with what the Hoosiers are doing.
Langford Kickout for Corner 3
As we mentioned, the Hoosiers were going up against a 2-3 matchup zone for most of the game. In this play, the Hoosiers overload the zone with 4 guys on the strong side of the floor as Langford catches it. Because of the overload, the bottom guy of the zone on the weak side has to come all the way over to the opposite block. As Langford finds a gap, all 5 defenders in the zone focus on him, and Devante Green is left wide open in the corner.
Langford finds him & Green knocks it down.
Langford to Morgan for a Dunk
I love this action from the Hoosiers because although they’re facing a zone, the ball and the players continuously move. A nice ball fake from Devante Green got the ball to Juwan Morgan in the high post, and then Fitzner came to the ball-side corner to create another overload against the zone.
As the ball is swung to the top of the key to Romeo Langford, he drives a gap and notices that Juwan Morgan has inside position against the bottom guy of the zone.
Romeo feeds Morgan with a nice pass and he finishes it off with a dunk.
Justin Smith Charge
This is probably a clip the Hoosiers are showing in their own film sessions on exactly what their defense is supposed to look like. Archie Miller employs the packline defense, which has a heavy emphasis on ball pressure and playing in the gaps if you aren’t guarding the ball.
Something unique about the packline defense is that defenders on the ball actually try to push the ballhandler to the middle, which is different than the typical style of forcing the ballhandler to the baseline, as you can see the players do in this clip.
As Romeo Langford’s man catches the ball and starts to receive a ballscreen, you can see Romeo shift his stance to force the player to use the ballscreen – which is another staple of the packline defense. The packline wants to force players to use ballscreens because the screener’s man is there to hedge and help – as you can see Juwan Morgan do in this clip.
Because the packline defense employs a hard hedge on ball screens, the man who hedges (the guy guarding the screener), has to trust that his help side defense is there for him to cover their man. As you can see Justin Smith is there, outside of the arc, waiting for Morgan’s man.
The man runs over Smith, and it’s called a charge. It is very apparent this is something the Hoosiers are practicing often.
Evan Fitzner Three-Pointer
Again, I love the way that the Hoosiers employ player and ball movement against the zone. The way zones can hurt teams is when the ball sticks and there is little movement to make the defense work (anybody remember 2013 Syracuse?).
As Langford moves across the floor, again Indiana creates an overload situation against the zone defense with McRoberts, Langford, Davis, and Fitzner.
The bottom guy of the zone comes out to defend Langford on the wing, which leaves Fitzner wide open in the corner. Langford swings it to him quickly, and he knocks it down.
Phinisee On-Ball Defense
This on-ball defense from Robert Phinisee probably made the entire Indiana coaching staff happy. Phinisee keeps his man in front of him, and as his man starts to drive baseline, Phinisee takes the contact in his chest and puts his hands straight up to prevent a foul.
As the offensive player exposes the ball, Phinisee gets a hand on it, then saves the ball from going out of bounds and throws it off of the offensive player. Indiana ball.
The best part? The entire team comes over to give Phinisee some love, and Assembly Hall rose to their feet to let Phinisee know they appreciated his effort. It’s why Assembly Hall is a special place.
Moore to Forrester
It was good to see some of Indiana’s subs get in there and still execute against Chicago State’s zone defense.
In this particular instance, the Hoosiers, once again, overloaded the zone with Green, Phinisee, Moore, and Forrester.
As Moore catches the ball in the short corner, Forrester’s man leaves him to cover Moore. This leaves Forrester open slipping to the basket, and Moore found him. Forrester finished with the right hand.
I’m not sure how much this game can predict the Hoosiers’ success going forward, but it did show me that the Hoosiers can execute against a zone, their packline defense principles were executed well, and that the Hoosiers can play with numerous different rotations.
Be sure to check back for our next film breakdown against Montana State.