Indiana Daily Student

Bench play goes beyond stat sheet

Senior Jordan Hulls dribbles past Minnesota defenders Jan. 12 at Assembly Hall.
Senior Jordan Hulls dribbles past Minnesota defenders Jan. 12 at Assembly Hall.

All season, IU Coach Tom Crean has boasted about the depth of his No. 1 Hoosier squad.

With a team filled with at least six starters, he said, it doesn’t as much matter where the production comes from as much as how his team is executing.

But late in the second half against then-No. 8 Minnesota on Jan. 12, IU struggled to find the momentum to close the game out, both from starters like junior guard Victor Oladipo and IU’s sixth man, junior forward Will Sheehey.

IU led by as many as 22 points in the second half and even 10 with just 1:10 remaining, but the lead dwindled to just three before five free throws from IU starters sealed the victory.

The Hoosiers scored 52 points in the first half but mustered just 36 points in the second half off of 28.6 percent shooting from the floor in the final 20 minutes.

The bench added just three points in the game, all off of free throws in the second half, and it was 0-of-8 from the field for the game.

But Crean said as long as his team continues to score at the clip they’ve been, having been kept under 70 just three times during conference play, he’s not as concerned who’s making the buckets. If they’re able to score 88 points again against the Golden Gophers Tuesday night at The Barn in Minneapolis, he likes their chances, he said.

“It’s just important that we play well for 40 minutes,” he said. “If you’re playing well and increasing the score while you’re in, if you’re impacting the game from both ends, that’s what’s most important. We’re scoring a lot of points, so where they come from is not as important as how we’re getting them, and what flow we’re getting them in, and are we getting them off our defense and are we getting to the foul line.”

Sheehey said that coming down the stretch in the regular season and going into the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA tournament, it’s important for the younger guys to realize that as they may see fewer minutes, it’s not as important for them to knock down shots to feel like they’re making a impact.

He said he’s seen the freshmen putting in more time in the gym during the past couple weeks and feels like they’ve been making more of an impact, even if it may not always show up on the stat sheet.

“If shots don’t fall, shots don’t fall, but you can still affect the game in so many other ways,” Sheehey said. “For me, when I was a freshman, I thought the way to affect the game was to come in and score, but that’s really not the main thing. It’s really on the defensive side first.

“If you do that, you’ll be OK, because you get a stop here, a stop there and a defensive rebound or two, and then you kind of get into a good feel, and I think that’s what our team needs.”

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