The increasingly-infamous 7:30 a.m. practice Sunday was necessary, guard Jeremiah Rivers said.
“We just got better, really,” Rivers said. “It happens. It’s part of the journey, part of college basketball. It’s what we needed. It’s a wakeup call after just a lackluster game we gave on Saturday. It was embarrassing.”
The focus of that practice was competition, Rivers said. That’s not surprising, given what we know about coach Tom Crean’s overall coaching philosophy and his reaction to Saturday’s loss to Northwestern.
“I wouldn’t say it was different stuff (than a normal practice), but it was definitely more competitive-oriented,” Rivers said. “It was competitive fighting throughout the entire practice. It was relentless and it was fun. I had a blast.”
The Hoosiers, Crean said, have responded and are now ready to come out with the necessary level of effort against Purdue at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“I think we’re really excited to play,” Crean said. “I don’t have any doubt about that. … I think everybody understands that we’re not only playing an in-state school, we’re playing a program that has a great rivalry with Indiana but we’re also playing one of the best teams in the country.”
The Hoosiers lost by 14 at West Lafayette, the second in what is now a four-game losing streak. But that game was played without Christian Watford, who could make an impact in this contest beyond scoring points.
“He’ll be an x-factor if he can contribute (on defense),” Rivers said. “I think he will. I know he’s ready.”
Watford is one thing that will be different from the first meeting. The second is the fact that the game is played at Assembly Hall. This team, perhaps more than others, seems to feed off the energy of the home crowd and seemingly almost relies on it.
“The home crowd is so important to us,” Rivers said. “Our fan base is so strong, and so fun. They see us fighting each and every night, and giving it our all. They’ve had our back.”
Rivers (who admitted that before he came to Indiana he did not know Purdue was in the state) said he has been watching more film than usual in order to get a feel for how to better defend E’Twaun Moore, who scored 38 against Ohio State.
“He was hot,” Rivers said. “He did thing. What — 40 points, 38 points? (Told it was 38) Yeah, if I was him I’d be telling everybody I had 40. For me, it just makes me more excited because I like the challenge. I like to compete against him.
“There were a few breakdowns on defense that gave him open looks (in the first game against Indiana). It wasn’t that he was just hitting shots, it was just bad communication between me and the bigs, and me and some of the other players. We’ll get that corrected.”
Overall, Rivers said Wednesday is about one thing: “We just got to come out and play.”
(Photo: Chris Howell | Herald-Times)