Fran-Graphs, Indiana

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Yay! We won! That's novel!  I'm glad the Hawks won, but I have to say that long stretches of this game were not particularly impressive basketball on our part.  Iowa played lackadaisically for most of the first half and went into the locker room up 10 when they should have been up 20 or more.  Indiana was playing without Verdell Jones III and looked very depleted, but Iowa kept bailing them out with stupid fouls*, making mistakes on offense, and generally not putting the Hoosiers away.

* Iowa fell into a terrible habit of fouling 35 feet from the basket, when the man with the ball had approximately 0.0% chance of doing anything at all threatening with the ball.  Usually these were poorly executed traps, where Brommer or Cole or Basabe would let the guard get around their trap and then try to recover by sticking out their hip at the last second.  A lot of fans were booing the refs for these calls, but they looked like good calls to me.

When you combine Iowa's sloppiness with Indiana's general lack of ability, it got a bit farcical at times.  Indiana would make some elemental mistake, like triple-teaming one player, and then Iowa would respond with an equally elemental mistake, like not passing out of the triple team.  But then the second half started, Iowa started playing more alert defense, and Eric May started dunking all over everyone.  May had one near-dunk in the first half that would have brought the house down, but he made up for it by recording back-to-back epic throw-downs early in the second half.  On the first, May took a throw-ahead from Bryce Cartwright and finished with a nice Tom Chambers-style two-hand jam.  The second was even more impressive: May got the rebound, weaved in and out of traffic all the way up court and finished with one-hand.*

* Cole gave a key assist on the second dunk, doing the old running-screen-convoy on his man to open up the lane.

Matt Gatens and Melsahn Basabe played solid games, but the real surprise was Devyn Marble.  He played point guard a fair bit and looked uncomfortable (as usual) bringing the ball up the court, but once he got the ball in the half court, he managed to make a variety of sweet jump shots over his (usually shorter) Indiana defenders.  I don't see him as a point guard (and probably Fran doesn't either--we're just super thin there), but as a small forward, he has a knack for creating space for a pretty reliable jump-shot.

Anyway, we won!  And we should have won (we looked like the more talented team), and we did win.  Happy days.

Stray observations:

  • Okay, the refs.  This is just my perspective as a fan in the stands, but they looked awful.  It didn't affect the outcome, but there were far too many mysterious ghost fouls that left fans wondering where the foul was supposed to have occurred or who it was on.  It didn't help that Indiana was flopping around like the unholy offspring of Vlade Divac and Manu Ginobili (although the refs seemed to catch on to that and ignored it after a while).  The weirdest refereeing moment came with nine minutes left in the second half: Matt Gatens got the defensive rebound, Derek Elston reached in to get the ball and committed a foul... but the whistle didn't blow.  So he reached in again, and fouled again... and the whistle didn't blow.  Then he fouled two more times, the whistle finally blew, and Gatens swung his elbow up to protect the ball, hitting Elston in the face.  The refs huddled for FIVE MINUTES (during which time everyone in the crowd was thinking, "just call something - we want to get home to see the Bears"), and finally came to the conclusion that it was a foul on Elston, and a technical on Gatens.  Here's the thing: if they had just called the first foul when it happened, Elston would have stopped mugging Gatens and Gatens wouldn't have elbowed him.
  • Another bad call happened with 14 seconds left, when the game was out of reach and the arena was mostly empty.  Indiana was still clawing, there was a loose ball, it clearly went off an Indiana player and out of bounds, but the refs made a retcon foul call on Iowa to give the ball back to Indiana.  The game was full of that kind of stuff.  But the reason this is a second point is that Tom Crean was really pressing to make this game look closer than it was.  He had his team pressing and launching threes even down 19 with two minutes left.  That's competitive, I guess, but kind of sad, too (not that we haven't been on that end of things).
  • Unintentional humor #1: A guy shooting for free tuition during a time-out had severe difficulty making a lay-up, miraculously missing about six of them before getting the ball stuck between the rim and the backboard.  Poor guy.
  • Unintentional humor #2: The Hawks had a nice halftime ceremony for Iowa basketball legend Sharm Scheuerman, which was unfortunately capped with the announcement that the Hawks were wearing an "SS Patch" in Scheuerman's honor.  Uh, really, guys?
  • Unintentional humor #3: The halftime entertainment was one of those pre-teen girl dance troupes.  Their soundtrack?  All Lady Gaga.  Her brand of hypersexual glam rock has its adherents, but I don't think the nine year-olds appreciated all the S&M double entendres in "Poker Face."  It queasily brought to mind Sparkle Motion.
  • Apparently Doc Rivers was in the stands.  I guess he has to take his free weekends as they come, but it didn't prove to be a particularly good game for his son (8 very quiet points).
  • I was going to say that Crean looks like a condemned man, but apparently he's under contract until 2018.
  • Christian Watford looks like a pretty nice player, and he's only a sophomore.  He's agile for a 230 lb. 6'8" guy, and showed good range (he finished with 30 points).
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