After a couple of days of days to recover, I was finally able to go back and re-watch the Michigan State game. The first half wasn't a problem to relive, but that second half may give me nightmares for a few weeks. Iowa blew an 11-point lead at halftime and ended up losing by 14. A meltdown that epic needed to be broken down to see just what the hell went wrong. So let's take a look.
Note: I apologize if the Vines make the page slow. There is an option to turn the sound off, but not autoplay. I've even tried fiddling with the embed code and that hasn't worked, either. If it is a problem, I'd advise you to look at this post on your cell phone because there is no autoplay on the mobile version.
Travis Trice was Feeling It
We will get to the defensive miscues below, but I thought I would soften the blow by reminding you that Travis Trice was out of his mind in this one. He had a game high 25 points on 8-13 shooting that included going 7-8 from distance. Some of his shots were wide open because Iowa had some bad defensive breakdowns, but he was so hot that a couple of his shots looked like heat checks. The only two point shot he made came on a step back jumper in the corner with a defender in his face. So, to reiterate, part of the reason Michigan State had an 83.3% eFG% in the second half of Thursday night's game was because Iowa played crappy defense. But let's also not forget that Travis Trice was absolutely on fire from long range.
Iowa Settled for Long Jumpers
Jarrod Uthoff did a lot of nice things against Michigan State, but he had a rough night shooting. In the above Vine, he starts to post up Javon Bess, but instead of trying to make a move to the basket or passing the ball off to another teammate, he settles for a contested, low-percentage jump shot that he misses. What makes this really bad, is the fact that it is so early in the shot clock. There was plenty of time to run the offense and get a much better look.
Now, that was just one jumper, and Uthoff wasn't the only one shooting from out there in the second half. This was a team-wide thing, as Iowa struggled to get the ball inside the paint the way they did in the first half. Of their 25 second half shots, according to my count, 8 came near the rim, 7 came from beyond the arc, and 10 were categorized as long twos. In other words, 40% of Iowa's field goal attempts were of the inefficient long two variety, and after halftime, the Hawkeyes went 7-8 from near the rim, 1-10 on long twos, and 1-7 from outside the three point line. This team is not a good jump-shooting team, so only taking 32% of their shots near the rim in the second half is a terrible strategy.
Iowa Missed Olaseni When he was Open
Gabe Olaseni absolutely dominated the Spartans in the first half. He showed great footwork in the post and worked his ass off to get position on his defender, all of which usually resulted in an easy layup or a trip to the free throw line. Olaseni didn't see the ball nearly as much after halftime, as his touches were limited to only 4 (2 field goal attempts, 1 trip to the line, and 1 turnover). Part of what was different in the second half was the fact that his teammates weren't always feeding him the ball when he was open.
After watching the game over again, I didn't see Michigan State defending Gabe any different than they did in the first half. And, in the Vine above, you can see Gabe posting up Matt Costello. Aaron White shouldn't have had any issue getting the ball inside to him, but he decides to put the ball on the floor and kick it out to Anthony Clemmons in the corner for a contested three. He unsurprisingly missed it.
Iowa Forced the Ball to Olaseni When he Wasn't Open
As the second half wore on, Iowa started to look like they were overcompensating for not getting the ball to Olaseni sooner. There were possessions where perimeter players looked like they wanted to get the ball to Olaseni so badly it didn't matter whether he was actually open or not.
Here we see Gabe set a ball screen for Clemmons. Matt Costello had to stay out on Clemmons for a moment to keep him from driving the ball to the basket, which meant that he was unable to get behind Olaseni. As a result, he stayed on the front side of Gabe, denying him the ball. Anthony Clemmons apparently thought he could get the ball in there, but as you saw in the clip, he couldn't.
Essentially, Iowa not only missed the right times to get Gabe the ball, but they picked the wrong times to feed him, as well.
Olaseni Made Mistakes Too
I don't want to blame everything on his teammates, so it's only fair to point out that Gabe made a few mistakes in the second half, too. First of all, he had a costly turnover that looked like he should have probably had an easy bucket.
Gabe's mistakes in the second half were mainly errors in technique. On this play, he catches the ball and turns to make his move to the basket. The only problem is that he doesn't keep the ball up high as he turns, which allows a pesky Michigan State player to knock it loose and start a fast break that ends with a game-tying Branden Dawson alley-oop. Every big man is taught to keep the ball up high in the post otherwise help defenders are going to come in and try to swipe it. That's just a bad mistake by Gabe.
The other technical error that Olaseni made came on his only missed field goal of the second half. On this play, Gabe makes the catch and puts a nice move on Matt Costello, but his shot was blocked because he went up with the wrong hand. When you're on the left side of the rim, you are taught to go up with your left hand in order to keep the ball away from the defender. Another important part of going up with the left hand in that scenario, is that it also allows you to use your right hand to shield the ball away from the defender. Every big man practices going up with the correct hand on both sides of the basket, so this should be nothing new to Gabe. But he goes up with his right hand and that gives Costello easy access to the ball.
If you want to see the correct technique, feel free to watch Jarrod Uthoff here.
Iowa had Some bad Defensive Breakdowns
For a team that was all defense in the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Hawkeyes looked like the same terrible defense that we watched at the end of last season. There were some serious miscommunications on the defensive side of the ball, and they usually led to Michigan State knocking down an open three.
This play was hard to Vine because it's so long-developing, but keep your eyes on Mike Gesell. Travis Trice runs through a whole host of screens in order to get the ball. Mike Gesell is in charge of guarding Trice, but he gets caught up in the sea of Michigan State guys. When that happens, Aaron White takes Trice and Mike Gesell apparently thinks they have switched men and doesn't try to recover. Aaron White had no intentions of switching men and he leaves Trice to go back toward the man he was guarding (Valentine). With nobody following Trice, he gets himself into the corner and Lourawls Nairn Jr. finds him for a wide open three that goes in (even though the Vine doesn't show it).
This wasn't only a second half problem, either. Iowa had at least two other accounts of this that I saw in the first half. One time Dom Uhl seemed to lose Denzel Valentine and left him alone to knock down an uncontested trey. The second came on an inbounds play where Travis Trice was again wide open in the corner because Mike Gesell and Aaron White failed to communicate about who had him. Gesell and White have been playing together so long now, you would really not expect to see this type of thing multiple times in one game.
Iowa Made Some Absolutely Dumb Mental Mistakes
On this play Peter Jok fouled Bryn Forbes in the corner while he was attempting a three point field goal. Forbes went on to knock down all three free ones, but, what made it even worse, was the fact that Iowa was called for a lane violation on the final free throw. Forbes made the fourth free throw, and an 8-point hole became a 12-point hole just like that.
So there you go. I apologize for making you relive this atrocity, but hopefully it was at least a little cathartic. The Hawkeyes played an insanely terrible second half of basketball against Michigan State, and they were blown out because of it. I'm sure the team is going to love breaking this tape down. Hopefully they can learn from this and fix some things going forward.