BOZICH | Getting healthy matters more to Indiana than getting pa - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Getting healthy matters more to Indiana than getting past Michigan defeat

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IU guard Yogi Ferrell hit the ground in the Hoosiers' loss to Michigan Friday. (Jamie Owens photo.) IU guard Yogi Ferrell hit the ground in the Hoosiers' loss to Michigan Friday. (Jamie Owens photo.)

INDIANAPOLIS (WDRB) – Kameron Chatman’s shot went in. Of course, it did. It’s March. Improbable shots like that go in during March. Indiana loses games like this in the Big Ten Tournament.

I’ll get to the primary reasons why Indiana lost to Michigan, 72-69, Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse as soon as possible.

But there are more pressing things to discuss as Tom Crean’s team awaits its NCAA Tournament destination, things that will shape the end of this IU season more than the reasons why Chatman’s contested shot from the right corner went in with 0.2 seconds to play.

It’s become a game of attrition as well as a game of making shots and defending for Indiana.

James Blackmon Jr. has been gone since late December. Knee surgery. Won’t be back. Robert Johnson, the guard who replaced Blackmon in the starting lineup, has now been out three weeks, missing four games with a severe ankle sprain.

Johnson shot jumpers and layups before the game. Then he did not play. Availability for next week? Unknown.

Juwan Morgan, IU’s freshman forward, gave Crean six minutes with a separated left shoulder. It was the fewest minutes Morgan played in IU’s last seven games. Morgan played like a guy with one healthy shoulder. He did not score and could not finish his only shot at the rim.

You wonder if the injury list added another name – forward Collin Hartman. He missed the final 1:50 after falling on his right arm while trying to block a Michigan shot. Playing 20 minutes, Hartman failed to score for the first time since the season opener on Nov. 13.

When media members entered the IU locker room, Hartman looked like a guy who had been crying. Was the injury to Hartman’s shooting hand or arm more serious than a bruise or sprain?

Stay tuned.

“I just fell on it,” Hartman said. “It’s just a little sore. I’ll get back and take care of it. A lot of treatment. Get back and get ready to go … I just landed on it wrong.”

What did not land wrong for Michigan, of course, was Chatman’s game-winning shot.

Chatman’s shot fit the complete definition of improbable. Derrick Walton, the Michigan point guard who passed him the ball, confessed that he had not even realized Chatman was in the game. Some in the IU locker room were convinced that Chatman traveled.

Kameron Chatman did not want to shoot the shot. I don’t care what Chatman said on the quote sheet. I didn’t have to ask the question.

I was eight feet from Chatman when he launched the ball, his third shot in the eight minutes he played. One of the few guys closer to Chatman was Nick Zeisloft, Indiana’s defender. Zeisloft did his job.

Chatman didn’t have that Steph Curry look on his face.

Chatman had the expression of guy who understood that he was a 27 percent three-point shooter who had made seven shots from distance all season. He was a left-handed shooter who found himself in the right corner. Usually, you tuck a lefty on the left side.

John Beilein does a wonderful job coaching Michigan. That was not the wonderful play that Beilein scripted. That was the madness that March brings.

“He looked off at first,” said Indiana center Thomas Bryant.

“It didn’t look like he was going to shoot, but they were at that point in the game when he had to make a shot,” Zeisloft said.

“I don’t even know if the play was for him,” said Indiana forward Max Bielfeldt, a former Michigan player. “They swung and hit the open man. I thought he was looking for a guy to pass to and realized there was one second left and just kind of chucked it up.”

One small chuck for Chatman. One giant step for the Wolverines, who likely secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament by winning this game. One traditional burp in the Big Ten Tournament for Indiana. IU has yet to win this event since it began 18 years ago.

The Hoosiers retreated to Bloomington for treatment and ice baths after the game. They will await word from the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee on what their reward will be for winning the Big Ten regular season title as well as 25 of 32 games.

Four seed? Five seed? Des Moines? Spokane? Oklahoma City?

“No idea,” assistant coach Tim Buckley said. “We don’t play that game.”

Indiana did not play its game against the Wolverines either. The talk across America will be about Chatman’s game-winner.

The talk in the Indiana locker room was too many wobbles on defensive end that left the Hoosiers unable to string together any runs of more than seven points against the Wolverines.

When Indiana beat Michigan by 13 in February, the Hoosiers closed the first half with a thunderous 25-point spurt and made it 28-0 to start the second half.

Not this time. Not with Indiana missing 13 of 17 three-point attempts. Tom Crean’s team had made at least eight shots from distance in their last nine games. The four three-pointers were their second fewest three-pointers in a game this season.

“It’s tough to explain,” Bielfeldt said.  “I think it just happens. It could be a number of things. But I think it just happens. You can’t really blame anything.“

“We get a lot of threes in transition,” said Hartman. “We didn’t get a lot of transition going today. We were a little more stagnant.”

Too much dribbling? Looked that way to me. Looked that way on the stat sheet, too, where the Hoosiers had only 13 assists on 24 field goals. Looked that way to at least one player, too.

“I did notice that,” Morgan said. “That was a big point we made with each other. The coaches knew what was happening. But we knew we had to get it fixed right then and there.”

Now the Hoosiers will have the weekend to regroup. The time they spend in the treatment room will be as critical as the time they invest in the practice gym.

“Ever since we started in June, it’s been ups and downs,” Zeisloft said. “But we’ve stayed with the process. That’s what got us here. That’s what got us the Big Ten championship and that’s what we hope will get us a lot of wins in March.”

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