Indiana’s Defense Suffocates Montana State 

Photo Credit to Montana Sports

Photo Credit to Montana Sports

Written By: Josh Wilson 11/10/2018

The Hoosiers were back in Assembly Hall Friday night for their second game of the 2018-19 season.  This time around, they welcomed in the Bobcats of Montana State. MSU was supposed to be a step up in competition from Indiana’s first opponent Chicago State, but IU came to play to Friday night, particularly on the defensive end.

Montana State brought in a player in Tyler Hall, who is on pace to be one of the best scorers in Big Sky conference history.  Hall is no slouch, standing at 6’5, he was going to be a good barometer for Indiana’s wings on the defensive end. Indiana came to play on the defensive end last night.  The Hoosiers held Hall to seven points on 3 of 14 shooting from the field in 32 minutes of action. Normally, when you keep a team’s best player in check like that, you’re going to give yourself a great chance of winning night in and night out.

The Hoosiers made things tough all night for the Bobcats. The stats that stood out to me - Indiana forced 25 turnovers, and held the Bobcats to 25.5% from the field and 11.5% from three point land. It is no doubt that the Hoosier length and athleticism is going to be a problem for opponents this season.  Albeit, we’ve only seen it against inferior competition so far, it is certainly a promising start compared to what we have witnessed at the beginning of the last year. Sorry to bring up bad memories, Hoosier fans.

On the offensive end, Indiana still looked a little out of sync, but it’s going to take time.  With all of that, the Hoosiers still managed to score 80 points on the night and did it in a balanced manner. They had 12 players score the ball last night, four of them were in double figures.  Juwan Morgan led the Hoosiers in scoring with 14 points, and he did it on 6 of 6 shooting from the field. I think all of those shots came from the paint. We got a glimpse of the Juwan Morgan we are used to last night.  He inserted his dominance and was a nightmare for Montana State all night long. Morgan also recorded his tenth career double-double, the first of his senior campaign.

Juwan was joined by Justin Smith (13), Romeo Langford (12), and Robert Phinisee with 12 points among the Hoosiers in the double figure point club on Friday night.  Indiana still looked a little sloppy at times on the offensive end. They turned the ball over 14 times and free throw shooting is still a concern. Indiana shot 10 of 19 for 52.6%, not a number Coach Archie Miller can be happy with. A part of that can be contributed to both of Indiana’s first two opponents both playing zone defense primarily.  Zone defense is used either when you are under matched versus your opponent, or when you want to try and disrupt a teams offensive rhythm. I’ll be eager to see how Indiana plays offensively on Wednesday night against Marquette, who will presumably be playing man defense against the Hoosiers.

We will get a good idea how the rhythm flows for the Hoosiers on the offensive end at that time.  But, another promising showing from the IU - Length and athleticism is going to be a strength for this team this year.

Archie Miller shared his thoughts on his team’s length and ability to turn defense to offense in last night’s post game presser:

“We weren't very good at it here early in the season. Our defense, No. 1 has to be a quick, tenacious, half-court defense that flies around. We have to make people react to us in terms of our talent level. We're not the biggest of rim protectors and we don't have an unbelievably veteran crew of guys that have been playing a long time, but we have length. We have speed and we have a lot of it.”

No doubt, he is excited about his team’s ability to play defense, and as the offense continues to struggle, and injuries linger, the Hoosiers are going to make their mark on the defensive end. Just remember, offense wins games, defense wins championships.

IU gets their first big test as the Marquette Golden Eagles come into Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Wednesday night for the Gavitt Tip-off games.  Should be a great matchup for the Hoosiers, and will give us a good barometer of exactly where Indiana is at as it’s schedule ramps up quickly.