We knew that it was unlikely that IU would remain No. 1 all season, let alone go undefeated, but it was a disheartening loss to a team you can't help but like.
What is really bothersome is the overall effort that the Hoosiers gave against the Bulldogs. If there is one thing that everyone knows about Butler, it's that they won't lose a game due to a lack of hustle and effort. Indiana failed to live up to that challenge.
When the two teams played last season, Hoosiers were diving for loose balls, crashing the boards with authority, and moving the ball with ease. Saturday, they did none of those things.
Here are a few things that stood out:
- Lack of effort rebounding the ball. Indiana was out rebounded 37-31 and allowed Butler to snag 17 offensive boards. A lot of this falls on Cody Zeller. Zeller is a projected top five pick in the NBA Draft, he's seven feet tall and 240 pounds and as fundamentally sound as possible. Just a week earlier he set a career high in rebounding at 19, against Butler he only had five. He was bullied by Andrew Smith, a man who probably won't go to the NBA. To put Zeller's game into perspective, Yogi Ferrell had more rebounds, eight, than Zeller did and he's six-foot on a good day.
- There was simply no ball movement. IU managed just 13 assists, well below their season average. Indiana settled for far too many jump shots rather than trying to find the open man. A hallmark of this team so far has been their unselfish play. It didn't really look as if the Hoosiers were being selfish, but they were definitely lazy. Ferrell attempted 13 field goals, and managed to hit just five. There is no reason Ferrell, or really any point guard, should be attempting so many shots. His three to tie the game late was impressive, but he should be limiting his attempts to about eight and they need to be high percentage shots, not jumpers.
- Zeller had an off day, he isn't overrated. Some have written that Zeller has gotten too many accolades and isn't as good as he is perceived to be. That is a false argument. Zeller makes this team work and without him they are not a contender for a national title. Zeller has always responded well to a bad game and will work hard to remedy his mistakes. For the rest of the season, we will see a much better, stronger, and tougher player at center.
- The defense broke down far too many times. Rotnei Clarke has amazing range, and for most of the game Victor Oladipo did an excellent job guarding him, but he was able to hit far too many big shots to keep the game close. The Hoosiers seemed confused on defense far too often, as if they didn't when to switch off on who they were defending or where they needed to be. Will Sheehey's failure to provide help defense on the game winning layup by Butler was a major lapse. He should have come forward and put a hand up, make at least an attempt to block the shot but didn't. He was in for Zeller and you can't help but think that Zeller would have blocked the shot attempt or at least forced a bad pass (no one else was open).
Indiana will bounce back from this loss and continue to prove that they are worthy of being the favorite to win a title. They still have an obscenely deep team (despite the bench being outscored 24-21) and are also very talented.
The leadership on this team is too solid to allow the Hoosiers to fall off the deep end. IU will face Mount Saint Mary tomorrow and are favored to win by 31 points. IU has three games before they finally go on the road and starting the Big Ten season against Iowa. None of Indiana's upcoming opponents have a winning record and the Hoosiers should be able to fix the problems (toughness) that Butler exposed Saturday.
Indiana is still favored to win a championship this season, with 5/1 odds followed by Duke at 7/1. We'll be closely following Indiana over the next few weeks and checking out recruiting news for football and basketball.
Don't forget to follow us on twitter @hoosiers101.
Editors Note: I will be out of the country for the next two weeks. We will still have game recaps and news updates, but our in game coverage will more than likely be down.
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