COLUMN: Indiana men’s basketball has good excuses, but not good enough excuses

As of Wednesday, January 11 at 7 p.m., Bloomington Cable subscribers had plenty to choose from.

The informed citizen could choose PBS NewsHour. Thrill seekers can check out the 2000 Nicholas Cage vehicle Gone in 60 Seconds on FX. And for those who can’t get enough drama, Bravo had a rerun of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.

But if they really hated themselves, Big Ten Network had just the program for them.

Indiana’s men’s basketball fell 85-66 to Penn State, their third straight loss since returning from winter break.

As is the case when assessing the Hoosiers’ losses in 2023, you have to acknowledge the absences of graduate guard Xavier Johnson and graduate forward Race Thompson. That’s an almost unquantifiable amount of production forced to sit on the sidelines.

One has to wonder what Indiana could have accomplished with Thompson and Johnson on the floor. It could have — oh, I don’t know — kept Penn State below 58% if it shot from the 3-point line.

This statistic sounds fake or, at best, picked from a small sample. If only.

Penn State was virtually untouchable from beyond the arc, knocking down 18 3-point shots. The Hoosiers unsuccessfully chased Nittany Lions around the perimeter, occasionally leaving them wide open.

It was as if Indiana were trying to use a little Cartesian philosophy, where denying the existence of the 3-point line on defense would result in Penn State being unable to score from it. But the Nittany Lions shot a couple of times uncontested; So they scored a lot of points.

Just to make sure no one lost track of the 3-point barrage, Penn State’s student department displayed an ever-growing array of signs that read a blue number 3. At one point, the broadcast swerved to the 3-point tracker , where a toddler was struggling to carry one of the signs to the end of the absurdly long line. For what it’s worth, despite looking too young to master object permanence, this toddler probably could have drained a 3-pointer against Indiana’s defense.

Obviously, the Nittany Lions’ offensive fireworks will draw most of the attention, but the Hoosier offense shouldn’t get out of hand too easily. Once again, it seemed like all of Indiana’s points would have to flow through star senior forward Tracye Jackson-Davis, who finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

To be fair, four different Hoosiers scored in double digits. That’s not bad. However, a total inability to stretch the ground and create open looks for large chunks of game time is not what you would call innovative basketball.

While Indiana capped its turnovers at 11, it certainly made the most of it. Charmin-soft passes straight to the defenders were accompanied by rockets sent straight to the stands.

The Hoosiers occasionally do quite well. Your game includes far more than bad passes and defensive errors. However, those mistakes – part mental, part physical – have paved the way for head coach Mike Woodson to currently drive the fight bus in circles.

Game recaps from Indiana are beginning to enter Mad Libs territory. Pick an adjective that could easily describe the scene of a natural disaster, a synonym for lazy and a mode of wartime transport in the 19th century, and you’ve got a lead, no problem. Do not believe me? Regard.

Devastated by injuries, Indiana’s lax defense overshadowed another Jackson-Davis freight train double-double. Wiped out by injury, Indiana’s sluggish defense overshadowed another double-double from the workhorse Jackson-Davis. Indiana’s sluggish defense, shattered by injury, overshadowed another SS Edmund Fitzgerald double-double – you get the point.

There is still time to repair the ship, but it is unclear how this can happen. First, find a synonym for fantasy and call it a pipe dream.

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