The Indiana Hoosiers usually can be forgiven for losing to Ohio State and Northwestern.
Ohio State is back to being ranked in the top 15 in the nation, and Northwestern this season has played some incredible basketball, and has even taken down Purdue and Illinois.
But the Hoosiers can not be forgiven for their lack of effort, passion, and intensity seen in the past two games.
It is hard to play well after losing two games that went right down to the wire.
But it is no excuse for this Hoosier squad.
They must understand that they are not talented and experienced enough to just assume that they don't have to give 110 percent.
Unfortunately, many of the mistakes they made don't end up on the stat sheet, but they are in the film, and I'm sure coach Tom Crean and his staff are looking at it as we speak.
Most notably, on defense versus Northwestern and Ohio State, was the lack of defensive positioning and help defense.
In many cases, no one knew where they should be standing on the court, or what to do if more than one player was in their "zone."
This miscommunication and lack of positioning and focus helped Northwestern get easy shots from beyond the arc, as well as some easy dunks inside.
Against Ohio State, the Hoosiers forced the Buckeyes to play in the paint, but the defensive intensity that viewers saw Ohio State use when they were on D, was not what the Hoosiers used, as time and time again the Hoosiers let William Buford, David Lighty, or P.J. Hill drive the lane for an easy bucket.
Also, the Hoosiers were committing to the man driving the lane too early, which opened up either a man outside the arc or a man underneath. As a result, the weak side defense, which is supposed to respond to the double team, was constantly late.
On offense, Indiana failed to execute plays on a consistent basis, and began to go away from team play to one on five.
An obvious reason for the lack of success is the starting lineup.
While Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls, and Verdell Jones III can all be trusted to make shots, when the ball is in the hands of either Tom Pritchard or Jeremiah Rivers, it's almost a fact that they will either miss a shot if they take it, or look only to pass.
This makes it much easier to defend the Hoosiers, because Pritchard's lack of strength down low and lack of any jump shot makes him useless on offense, and without the ability to drive to the net for Jeremiah Rivers, he can't do much on offense aside from set back screens.
Also, the bench right now isn't much better offensively, with just six points against Northwestern, and three against Ohio State.
Another reason for the poor offensive form is the lack of success under the rim.
All too often, Christian Watford, Tom Pritchard, or Bobby Capobianco will have the ball near the hoop and try to put up a shot, which either gets easily blocked, or just doesn't go in because they don't go up strong to the basket.
The lack of any interior scoring lets the defense focus more on keeping the guards out of the game, and recently it has been working.
The Hoosiers are currently mired in a five game losing streak, and if they keep playing the way they have been, there is a good chance it will be seven by this time next week.
Indiana has to go to Wisconsin to face the No. 13 Badgers, before returning home to take on the No. 10 Michigan State Spartans.
Both teams are extremely efficient on offense and defense, and will take advantage of any errors that opponents make.
In just two weeks, Indiana went from a team that looked to have turned the corner, coming just two points short from winning at Illinois and three points away from beating a Purdue team that is ranked No. 8 in the nation, to a team that doesn't belong on the same court as any team in the Big Ten.
While a sign of a young inexperienced team is inconsistency, to go from one extreme to the other in such a short time is not a good sign.
The Hoosiers have just a couple days to regroup and get their act together, before heading up to Madison.
All fans can hope for is that, even if they lose, they leave it all on the court, and come home with their head's held high.
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