Indiana Basketball: Bench Struggles Continue in Win over Northwestern

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIJanuary 20, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, IN - JANUARY 15: The Indiana Hoosiers bench reacts during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Assembly Hall on January 15, 2013 in Bloomington, Indiana. Wisconsin defeated Indiana 64-59. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Indiana Hoosiers have played horribly in the last two-and-a-half games. It honestly doesn't get much worse considering how they've played in those three contests.

Luckily though, Indiana is 2-1 in those three games as they beat the Northwestern Wildcats 67-59 in Welsh-Ryan Arena today. They will host Penn State and Michigan State at home next week to try and get this bad play out of their system.

Part of the problem in this rough stretch is the lack of effort from the bench. I've been on that unit the last few weeks, and I was so high on it coming into this season.

This bench was supposed to be the deepest in the country, and many questioned how head coach Tom Crean would find enough playing time for all the talent. It was expected to see 12 guys play each game for Indiana and they would wear their opponents down.

That's not happening anymore and there's no one else to blame but themselves.

Coming into today, the bench unit was a combined 1-16 in the last two contests. Sixth man Will Sheehey—who was averaging in double figures—failed to score against Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the other trio of Jeremy Hollowell, Remy Abell and Hanner Perea combined to score five points in those two contests.

Today, coach Crean played five guys off the bench, but once again it was a terrible effort. Those five combined for six points, which were all scored by Sheehey. Don't let Sheehey's six points fool you though, as he is still slumping.

Sheehey air balled two shots and still doesn't look right. He should be scoring in double figures easily, but he's not doing that anymore. Abell and Hollowell were a combined 0-3 while Perea didn't attempt a shot.

This recent trend can't continue anymore.

The schedule gets tougher for Indiana, as matchups with Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio State are all coming up. If the bench doesn't do its job and these guys don't grow up, they could lose all of those games. It's time to get some production.