Tuesday, February 14, 2017 10:08 pm
Errant 3-point shooting hurting Hoosiers
Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette
For a program built around a floor-spacing offense and 3-point accuracy, it is jarring to watch Indiana’s 3-point slump.
Lately, the Hoosiers’ long-range gunners can’t throw the ball in the ocean from a boat.
IU has lost that touch from distance, shooting a miserable 25 for 84 on 3s in the last four games – that’s 29.8 percent.
Bad shooting is about as foreign in Bloomington as a seagull, and it’s driving coach Tom Crean absolutely nuts.
“You know, we’ve led the country, led the BCS in the last five years in 3-point field goal percentage,” Crean said. “We have been a very, very good shooting team. It doesn’t look like that right now. I do not want to be in a panic, but we have to figure out those shots.”
Now comes that shooting backdrop at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, where IU (15-11, 5-8 Big Ten) faces Minnesota (18-7, 6-6) tonight. The raised floor plus a high ceiling gives “The Barn” unusual sightlines.
If the Hoosiers want to snap out of their malaise, they will need to get open looks to fall.
The team’s season 3-point percentage is more good than great (38 percent) but at least in the same zip code as IU’s 3-point performances from the 2015-16 season (41.6 percent), 2014-15 (40.6 percent), 2012-13 (40.3 percent) and 2011-12 (43.1 percent). Those years established Crean’s standard for 3s.
“We shoot every day,” he said. “Haven’t done anything different in our time here. We constantly shoot (in practice).”
Over the last two weeks, it hasn’t carried over into games.
In that span, IU’s two best 3-point marksmen – Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. – are shooting 7 for 34 on 3s. The backup guards in the rotation (Devonte Green and Curtis Jones) are just 1 for 13.
“A lot of it is just not being prepared to shoot before you get the ball,” Johnson said. “A lot of it is not hitting guys on time and on target with passes, and I think it comes as well from confidence in the game.”
Some of the 3-point misses have been open, but plenty are coming on poor looks. Crean echoed Johnson’s diagnosis but added a coach’s irritation.
“Some of it is ridiculous setups and cuts,” Crean said. “It’s just absolute remedial nonsense, and I’m just trying to bite my tongue here, but some of that doesn’t make a bit of sense. We still have some very good shooters out there.”
Until or unless Indiana’s cold shooting changes, Crean knows the NCAA Tournament is likely an unreachable goal.
“Maybe my shooters are feeling too much pressure,” he said. “But bottom line is we’re not making enough jump shots and, again, we’ve got some guys that aren’t close to being healthy, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the setups, setting your man up and being ready to knock down shots.”