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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 11:12 pm

Basketball IQ proves top IU weakness

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette


Long before Indiana's season went off the rails, the team was plagued by a lack of feel for the game. Poor decision making by the Hoosiers, which reached the nadir in Tuesday's 96-90 overtime loss at Iowa, has only grown more frustrating to watch.

How can we put this gently? Indiana might lead the Big Ten in plays that make you say, "Those guys have no idea how to play basketball."

Some very talented players on this roster are getting about 60 cents on the dollar from their abilities. The three freshmen in the rotation are getting about a quarter. The only senior, of course, is hurt, and even the sophomores and juniors have their faults, often baffling with their shot selection.

In fact, I'm not sure there's one guy on Indiana whom you'd really call a heady player. Collin Hartman, on his way to missing the entire season after preseason knee surgery, is the closest thing.

There's something to be said for not beating yourself, for not having defensive breakdowns, for not committing unforced turnovers, for not making dumb mistakes -- in short, for not doing the things that have caused Indiana to lose five straight and seven of eight.

The Hoosiers' meltdown in Iowa City would have made Charlie Sheen envious.

"We're making some mistakes that defy description," IU coach Tom Crean said on postgame radio. "Mistakes come down to awareness, simplicity."

Crean can simplify schemes, but this is more about fundamentals. At the end of the day, Indiana's basketball IQ is too far from the national norm for anything else to make much difference.