BOZICH | Hoosiers' Three-Point Hysteria Puts Indiana Atop Big Te - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Hoosiers' Three-Point Hysteria Puts Indiana Atop Big Ten With Wisconsin

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Collin Hartman scored a career high 15 points against Maryland. Collin Hartman scored a career high 15 points against Maryland.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) – Indiana's basketball season was supposed to be on the brink when center Hanner Mosquera-Perea injured his knee 10 days ago.

Actually, that's not entirely true. It was supposed to be on the brink in November. Or maybe it was October. It's been awhile.

Collin Hartman didn't get the memo. Neither did Yogi Ferrell. Neither did the rest of Tom Crean's basketball team, including the head coach.

Chew on this final score from Thursday night in Assembly Hall: Indiana 89, Maryland 70.

It only seemed as if the Hoosiers scored 127 because they made 15 of 22 three-point shots. Don't reach for the calculator. That's better than 68 percent.

Hold it: I'd better not bury the lead. The Hoosiers have now won four straight, three without Mosquera-Perea. With a 5-1 conference record, they're tied for first place in the Big Ten with Wisconsin, a team many believe is bound for the Final Four.

Honk if you saw that coming.

“They knew (this game) was a big deal,” Crean said. “They wanted to know where they stood.”

That's not the narrative that was being written 10 days ago – or even when practice started. In one poll of writers who cover the Big Ten, the Hoosiers were picked to finish 10th in the rugged 14-team league – and only one voter picked Indiana higher than ninth.

What's going on?

Just this: In a college basketball world where teams are straining to score 50 or 60 points, the Hoosiers are all gas and no brakes. They play ferocious offense and live dangerously with an ordinary defense.

After the Hoosiers struggled to make shots last season, Crean recruited two dynamic guards, James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson, to place in the backcourt with Ferrell, the only remaining starter from the Indiana team that was ranked Number One for much of the 2012-13 season.

Nobody in IU's starting lineup is taller than 6 feet 7. But four of the five starters can make the three-point shot – and the fifth (Troy Williams, 16 points, 7 rebounds) leads the team in dunks and acrobatic attacks on the rim.

“We want to play,” Crean said. “You can never underrate shooting. That's what the game is all about. It's fun to have guys who really feel like they can make shots. We want to play even faster.”

It doesn't always work. A pair of 20-point losses to Louisville and Michigan State are evidence of that. The Hoosiers rank last in the Big Ten in scoring defense – and 13th in defensive field-goal percentage.

But they can score – and have scored enough to win 15 of 19 games. Put Maryland in the pile of four Top 25 teams Indiana has now defeated. The other 13 teams in the Big Ten have only combined for five Top 25 victories.

“We basically start all five of us being shooters, so (the other team) may think they have the matchup when we're playing defense, but at the end of the day they've got to guard us, too,” Ferrell said.

In this game, two Hoosiers earned special recognition – Hartman and Ferrell.

Hartman scored 15 points, a career high. He is a sophomore who averaged less than one point per game (0.7) as a freshman.

Two hours before the game Hartman was the first player on the court. He is always the first player on the court. He worked with assistant coach Tim Buckley and three student managers. He started in the left corner and moved around the end of the floor to the right corner.

Three-point shot after three-point shot after three-point shot.

Guess what Hartman made?

Two three-pointers in the first 2:04. He added another later in the first half. His shooting filled Assembly Hall with energy and noise.

“Collin is a guy who's an energy spark,” Ferrell said. “It feels like he's in every single play for us. He's just got his confidence and now his confidence is just rolling.”

“You've just got to do your job every time you go out there,” Hartman said.

Remember this: Hartman is Indiana's center, a 6-foot-7 center playing with a sleeve on his right knee, which was surgically repaired last March. Hartman walked into the post-game press conference with a large bag of ice wrapped around his knee. Crean said Hartman will not practice Friday.

I mention Hartman's size and knee because he also blocked three shots.

“Collin's mom might know the last time he had three blocked shots, but I've never seen it,” Crean said.

Ferrell was just as unrelenting. Crean matched him against Melo Trimble, a guy that Sports Illustrated chose as the best freshman basketball player in the country this week.

Trimble is excellent. But he was no match for Ferrell, who made seven of eight three-pointers while scoring 24 points. Ferrell played 37 minutes and did not turn the ball over while distributing five assists.

“I'm always going to try to be a pest,” Ferrell said.

Thursday night against Maryland, Ferrell was more than a pest. So were all of his teammates.

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