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Film Session: Big Ten tournament – Inside the Hall

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Editor’s note: Ryan is out on paternity leave. Zion Brown will be writing Film Session in his absence.

Tournament time is here. As it’s done historically, Indiana fell short in the Big Ten tournament in a 77-73 loss to Penn State in the semifinal.

Let’s look at something the Hoosiers struggled with this past weekend and how it could affect them in the NCAA tournament.

We’ll start with a play from Indiana’s win over Maryland. Maryland set up a high-post touch for Donta Scott. Scott surveyed the floor with an empty side. As Don Carey cut to the strong side, the Hoosiers prepared to load up toward Scott. Indiana used its “point switching” technique, leading to an open 3-pointer for Carey.

Indiana’s switch-heavy defense was problematic in both of its Big Ten Tournament outings. Penn State’s offense utilizes many modern NBA concepts, and the Nittany Lions beat IU’s switches with them.

On this play, Penn State fed its star Jalen Pickett in the high post. Andrew Funk sprinted off staggered screens toward Pickett. As Funk corralled a pass from Pickett, Michael Henn slipped his screen early. Trayce Jackson-Davis was set to switch onto Funk, but he hesitated and followed Henn during the slip which resulted in another open 3-pointer.

Indiana’s weak communication cost it a chance to beat Penn State in the second half. Early in the half, Funk was coming to set a ghost screen for Pickett. This meant he entered the pathway of the on-ball defender (Jackson-Davis) without setting a screen.

Funk slipped the screen and popped to the perimeter. Both Jackson-Davis and Trey Galloway chased Funk, and Pickett got inside for a quality shot attempt. Miller Kopp gave solid enough help to force Pickett to misfire.

A minute later, Penn State set up a baseline out-of-bounds play. Pickett inbounded and posted up again. Funk was setting a split screen away from the ball for Camren Wynter. Wynter felt Jalen Hood-Schifino overplaying the screen, so he rejected it.

Hood-Schifino pointed for a switch with Galloway, but both players stayed with Funk. Wynter got to the hoop for a point-blank layup. The threat of Funk (40.5 percent on 3s) also unlocked a lane for Wynter.

The Hoosiers tied the game at 47, but the Nittany Lions responded with a 7-0 run. Wynter received a ball screen from Kebba Njie. Jackson-Davis wanted to switch onto Wynter, but Race Thompson kept guarding the ball. This freed Njie for a seamless slam.

Indiana’s switching tendencies have been beneficial at times this season. Maryland head coach Kevin Willard credited IU’s switching for slowing the Terrapins down on Friday. But switching this frequently means the communication and timing need to be on point. If the Hoosiers want to advance past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, they must communicate with each other much better on defense.

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