By JOHN BAUERNFEIND | IDS
PIn the wake of the IU men’s basketball team’s 54-47 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats, the lone bright spot for the Hoosiers was freshman forward Noah Vonleh.
Vonleh finished the game with a double-double, posting 17 points on 5-for-15 shooting while pulling down 12 rebounds. This was Vonleh’s first double-double in Big Ten play, and his first since Dec. 7 against North Florida.
After the game, Vonleh said at halftime it was emphasized to the guards to feed the ball inside.
“Coach brought that up and told the guards to get the ball inside because they (Northwestern) always send guys,” Vonleh said. “If I can’t score, I’ll be able to kick it out, and I kicked it out to Yogi (Ferrell) at the top a couple times. We just didn’t convert.”
Dishing it into Vonleh in the paint for him to make plays would’ve worked if not for IU’s poor shooting, which saw it go 15-for-60 from the field. Sophomore guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell and graduate student guard Evan Gordon combined to go 5-for-26 from the field.
Indiana’s scoring woes were evident from the start. After Vonleh got the scoring started for the Hoosiers, knocking down a 3-pointer one minute and 41 seconds into the game, Indiana would go nearly nine minutes between made baskets. A Hanner Mosquera-Perea layup with nine minutes and 34 seconds remaining in the first ended the scoring drought.
Vonleh would end the game 2-for-4 from behind the arc against Northwestern. He was the only Hoosier to make more than one 3-pointer, and in Big Ten play Vonleh has made 8-of-11 3-pointers.
IU Coach Tom Crean said Vonleh is getting better and developing as an all-around player.
“He’s playing in a lot of crucial situations,” Crean said. “He’s very good around the bucket. I think he’s developing just fine, and I think he’s developing in a lot of ways.”
Exactly half of Vonleh’s rebounds were offensive, and as a team, IU recorded 13 offensive boards, seven more than the Wildcats. Still, Northwestern, which had been getting outrebounded by nearly nine rebounds per game in Big Ten action, lost the rebound battle by one to the Hoosiers, recording 40 boards to IU’s 41.
Vonleh and Northwestern senior guard/forward Drew Crawford tied for the game-high in points at 17. Like Vonleh, Crawford also pulled down 12 rebounds while playing a game-high 39 minutes. The Naperville, Ill., went 7-for-15 from the floor and was a matchup problem for most of the game for IU’s lineups.
Vonleh and graduate student guard Evan Gordon led the Hoosiers in minutes with 32. After the game, Crean said it’s sometimes difficult to remember that Vonleh is a freshman playing significant minutes for his team.
“Some days we have to remember that he’s a young 18 year old, and other days we look at him like he’s been around for 17, 18 games in college,” Crean said. “But the bottom line is he’s in his first year, and he’s got a lot to learn. The good news is that he wants to learn.”