Move to big lineup seems likely

Tom Crean isn’t big on talking about lineups, often telling media members they shouldn’t “self-analyze” how he chooses the five guys he puts on the floor.

So when asked if he was going to move to a bigger lineup in Saturday’s 2 p.m. game against Illinois, he politely side-stepped the question.

“We’ve done a lot of different things this week,” he said. “We’ve looked at different combinations, we’re just gonna see what we decide to do once we get into tomorrow. But again, it’s not as much about starting lineups as it is about just being productive. Like we said the other day, the most important thing is that we’re better rebounding the ball. Certainly when we win in this league, we get guard rebounds, we get rebounds all the way across the board. And when we don’t win, we’re inconsistent with our rebounding, so it just kind of remains to be seen for tomorrow.”

So how much the Hoosiers use three forwards tomorrow remains to be seen. However, the bigger lineup — which would presumably feature Christian Watford and Derek Elston at small and power forward and either Tom Pritchard or Bobby Capobianco at center — certainly made an appearance in practice this week.

“Right after the Iowa game we started working on that,” Watford said. “It’s been real effective, rebounding and stuff like that, it helps us a lot. We’ve just gotta play defense together. That’s the main thing.”

Watford said he and Elston both feel comfortable on offense at small and power forward and that each knows the plays from both positions. The biggest challenge, he said, will be on the other end.

“The biggest thing is guarding the three,” Watford said. “That’s the main transition. With our offense, the four man still handles the ball and still does some things that the three does. The main thing is you have to change your whole approach defending that third guard.”

The game represents a homecoming for sophomore guard Verdell Jones, a Champaign, Ill., native. When Illinois came to Bloomington, he said the game wasn’t any different from any other Big Ten game. But he admitted that with about 40 friends and family member coming — he cobbled together 25 tickets, but had to tell the rest of them to buy their own — this will be a lot different.

“I don’t want to come to Champaign and lose,” Jones said.

The Hoosiers’ other Illinois native, Matt Roth, appears to be making progress with his foot injury. He has been out of a protective boot for over a week. Crean however, is not certain when or if he will comeback. Applying for a medical hardship is a possibility because Roth only played two games at the beginning of the season. He would not give a specific date by which Roth would need to return for Crean to decide to burn a year of his eligibility.

“I think there’s one in my mind,” Crean said. “In the sense of when I wouldn’t want to have him to use his year, but I don’t think we’re there yet. It’s coming up, but it’s not there yet. There’s still a lot of season left and he’s worked really hard.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean talks about lineups, Mike Tisdale and Matt Roth

AUDIO: Christian Watford discusses the three-forward lineup

AUDIO: Verdell Jones talks about his personal homecoming game


  1. Have been wondering about this kind of a line up for some time should be very interesting to see. I hope Crean does not just abandon it if it does not work really well right off the bat. Just like with so many other things this team is way too young to be able to pick something up and make it work as good as possible right away. CTC has had more than the normal amount of time between B10 games to try and get it installed hopefully that will help us to make the transition more smoothly. Coach, give it as much time as possible to work for us. It will be a work in progress just like almost everything else with this team.


  2. It would just be nice to see a different kind of lineup. I’m just worried about Elston to be honest. We all know that defense is the reason he see’s the bench most of the time. So I’m not sure if this will help or hurt him with the three bigs in the game at once. He seems lost trying to guard another big, and I’m not sure he can keep up with a three. We’ll see, I just hope the Hoosiers come to play. I don’t care who they play as long as they rebound, keep the turnovers down, and play hard on defense.

    GO Hoosiers, Beat the Illini — we might have a cheerleader, but at least we don’t have crybaby that sounds like a cross between Mike Tyson and one of the chipmunks!!!!

  3. We had a bad Iowa game with guards rebounding poorly but our guards for a while were rebounding better than any of the bigs. Rivers is 2nd on the team at rebounding for the season and while I think that it is important it is the 4 and 5 spot that has not worked. We need that 5 spot to at least getting 9 or 10 a game. Elston can rebound but he has a terrible time guarding the 3 and Watford is not much better. While many want this bigger lineup I am not sold on it. I think we should try moving Rivers into the 3 spot since he is a good rebounder and a great defender. He could better defend the back door, the pick and roll and the weak side. I would like to see us start Elston over Pritchard, Watford at 4 move Rivers to 3 and Jones 2 and Hulls at 1. Just an Idea. I am for trying anything to get a couple more wins. It would be nice to upset someone in the Big Ten Tournament like Purdue. Go Hoosiers!!!

  4. Cross between Mike Tyson and one of the chipmunks LOL now thats good stuff. I have heard him described and/or compared to alot of things but that might just be one of the truest and best ones yet. Maybe someone could do one of those replace just the head in the video deals and someone do a impression of one of those two for the audio part. Now that wouldn’t just be a LOL that would probably be a RAOTFLMFAO !!!! Good one RHF

  5. Has anyone seen Bawa in practice? Can’t he play as good as our other centers. At least he has potential to be a true center. I would just wish Crean would give him a chance.

  6. I didn’t think there was anyone with less brain activity than stevealford….until I heard…wait, nevermind.

  7. Let me guess Brad. You are a Crean apologist and believe Bawa is going to be a star?
    What leads you to believe that Bawa is anything more than a waste of a scholarship?

  8. The 3 bigs will have to communicate & rotate to the help-side well if they’re going to have any luck against the smaller, faster 3s. Elston will have to tap into his mid-range game on offense to keep the floor spread out on offense. Also, if this thing is going to work (& I’ve been hoping to see it for some time now), the guards will have to pull the trigger faster on the post-entry pass, rather than waiting for the perfect look to drop it down low. Once the guys get a seal & flash open, we need to get the ball in the paint & people moving all around it. Should be interesting & Weber won’t have much film to school his Illini with on this match-up.

  9. Now, now silly people…I don’t think it’s kind to speculate on stevealford’s brain cell count…from what I see it is higher than anyone else’s in this thread, except mine of course.

    Until Crean stops clapping and starts coaching, I will darn well question his moves whenever I please; let the whole world of apologists and groupies cry and whine themselves into oblivion.

  10. Sorry, didn’t mean to offend you all the way up there. It can be tough living on a pedestal all the time, watching all us peons.

    Question his moves all you want, but you have as just as much effect as the rest of us (0 if you couldn’t figure that out.

  11. Now I know Steve Alford is a fake for sure. Anybody with a little basketball knowledge can see that Bawa is super athletic and has decent court awareness. IU can make a player out of Bawa. He has already shown a hook shot and quick off the floor to rebound and shot block. Jobe shows none of those qualities sadly. Big talent gap between the two.

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