Indiana shouldn't be this bad
And Mike Woodson has less time than he thinks to figure it out
The fast break was rock bottom, at least for the night.
Yes, Xavier Johnson and Indiana were already having a nightmare of a rivalry game against Purdue; yes, Johnson had already committed a silly flagrant foul against all-world Purdue center Zach Edey, slugging one of the world’s largest humans in the midriff as if no one would notice. It was Johnson’s second recent flagrant, and it was just, like, dude: What are you doing? We all see you! What’s in your head? So that was bad, and Johnson’s whole game was bad, and Indiana was losing by double digits, and so you’d think the worst part wouldn’t be a well-defended take on a one-on-one transition midway through the second half, when it was clear Indiana wasn’t up to the task but still might still cobble a little game pressure together if things got weird or Purdue got nervous, when Johnson, flying in transition, decided to swing the ball all the way around his back.
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This complication conferred no advantage. Quite the opposite, actually. It was blocked and stolen. Johnson fell to the floor, looked at the ref, begged for a foul. It wasn’t a foul. It an embarrassing and unserious sequence. It was one of the worst parts of one of the worst nights in Indiana men’s basketball history.
That’s not hyperbole: The last time Indiana lost at home to their ancient rival by a margin as large as Tuesday’s 87-66 defeat, in 1934, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was still new to the Oval Office. The angst was everywhere online in the days after, and understandably so. Indiana wasn’t merely the inferior team against Purdue — that would be forgivable, Purdue being extremely good and all — but were, more gallingly, also outsmarted, outworked and outcoached.
It’s one thing to be mediocre, or even just plain bad. Indiana fans would get mad about that, of course, but they could at least get their heads around it. It is when you are so obviously underachieving against your talent and potential — when you go to Wisconsin a few nights later no real hope of winning, when the coaches and players routinely do things that make the team very obviously less likely to win basketball games, and when you disgrace your precursors with a steady stream of stupid flagrant fouls — that fans start asking serious questions about the unserious direction of the program.
Indiana, midway through the third year of Mike Woodson’s otherwise modestly successful tenure, is suddenly already there.