Crean pleased with Hoosiers intensity following defeats

Through two practices, at least, Indiana coach Tom Crean feels confident that his Hoosiers do not look like a team headed for a continued downward spiral.

They have responded in exactly the fashion he was hoping for, Crean said, in that they’ve honed in on the failures of the previous two games and devoted themselves to correcting them. How that will translate to Wednesday’s 7 p.m. game at Nebraska is difficult to tell, but he likes what he sees so far.

“Their attitudes have been great in the sense of just continuing to move forward,” he said. “We’ve looked at that film. It’s like I said on the radio show last night. You gotta have an ability to look at the scoreboard, when you win and when you lose. You don’t accept in victory what you won’t accept in defeat. Then when you have defeat, you look at it and you look at why.”


There are a few obvious answers to that questions. One is that the Hoosiers are missing open shots than they usually make, and considering that they still rank second in Division I in 3-point field goal percentage, they aren’t as concerned with that long-term as they are with fixing a defense that has given up more points in conference games than anyone else in the Big Ten.

“We can’t get our confidence from our offense,” Crean said. “You have to get it from your toughness, from your physicality, from your ability to defend and rebound. That’s a process. It’s a rare team that can do that at a very high level and do that consistently.”

The Hoosiers were during non-conference play, creating turnovers and turning those into transition points, becoming an uptempo team that still ranks ninth in Division I with 80.8 points per game. They held seven of the first 12 opponents they played under 60 points. In Big Ten play, which typically goes at a slower pace, they have yet to hold a team under 70.

“The one constant is people in this league are going to get up and guard you and you’re going to have to guard basically all five on the other team,” Crean said. “That’s not always the way it is in the non-conference. Now Kentucky, Notre Dame, Butler and N.C. State, they’re gonna put five guys out there you’re gonna have to guard, but not everybody else has that. Our urgency wasn’t there, and you’re a split-second or a second late, and people in this league can make you pay for that.”

The Hoosiers say they realize that, and that fixing their defensive issues should be simple.

“I don’t think it’s anything major,” freshman forward Cody Zeller said. “I think it’s kinda getting back to where we were at at the beginning of the season. Getting back to the fundamentals. Getting into people, getting what we’re really about, getting more deflections on defense. It’s nothing major.”

Said sophomore guard Victor Oladipo: “We just have to have a better mindset on defense, you know? We just gotta bust up their plays and continue to work hard, keep our hands up and be more active on the defensive end.”

The Hoosiers especially need some improvement from Oladipo, their best perimeter defender, and junior guard Jordan Hulls, whom opponents have made a point to attack of late. In Oladipo’s case, Crean said, he simply has to get back to the basics

“Victor needs to play with the same fundamentals defensively that he does in practice,” Crean said. “And stay locked in. Not take chances. Not leave his feet. Not gamble. And he doesn’t gamble as much, he’s really cut that back. But when Vic’s got his hands up, Vic’s over 10 deflections a game. And that’s tremendous. So when you have that, I’ve only coached a couple of guys who have been over 10. The bottom line when those hands are up and he’s reading screens — it’s when he’s late and he leaves his feet and he let’s his guy out of an area — it’s very hard to score against Vic when he’s got ya in a box. But when he lets you play because he’s left his feet or because he’s late getting there, he’s usually guarding one of the best players, and that hurts us. He’s gotta carry his fundamentals defensively from practice to the game more.

Hulls needs to do the same and simply find a way to keep his man in front of him. Hulls is almost always defending the least prolific of the opponent’s perimeter scorers, and even then, he’s almost always at a disadvantage in terms of either size or quickness. His offense (12.3 points per game, 3.4 assists per game. .526 3-point field goal percentage) and his leadership making him impossible to bench, but the Hoosiers need him to defend well enough not to be a liability.

“Chest in front, chest in front of the ball,” Crean said. “Anticipation. Better job on ball screens. Using his awareness and his quickness on the help side. But the bottom line is chest in front of the ball. Cutting people’s angle’s off.”

Crean said Hulls’ all-around game needs to get better as well through not allowing one mistake to compound. Hulls is a perfectionist, and has a tendency to let one shortcoming eat at him, leading to another and another.

“Jordan just needs to slow down,” Crean said. “Jordan needs to change direction, change pace, those are the kinds of things that he needs to do, and not get himself rushed. He needs to play through mistakes. He needs to play through a missed shot. He needs to play through a missed free throw, and not let those things contribute to the next thing. Because he’s gonna play, and he doesn’t need to sit there and worry about those things.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 1

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 2

AUDIO: Cody Zeller

AUDIO: Victor Oladipo


  1. Last year we heard about how great the practices were too. What counts will be on the floor at Nebraska.

  2. The team needs Watford playing the way he did against Kentucky and the 1st OSU game. He needs to man up in this coming game and work thru Cody, IMHO.

  3. What!? I must have been watching two different games. The intensity only picked up when the pressure was on, which was only the last few minutes of Minnesota game.

  4. I agree 100% oregoniu! The question is why does he not play like that every game. Ok maybe not even that good but the last three games he folded up period! One of my coaches used to say some players just don’t ming losing. It just doesn’t really bother them or stick with them. This is Watford in a nutshell. And it kills me to say this but until he’s gone along with one other gaurd we got IU basketball won’t be top shelf. That stuff spreads like cancer!

  5. Win the next two games: Ship is righted, tournament is all but clinched.

    Win 1 of 2: Hoosiers’ fate remains concerning and nebulous

    Lose both games: Full-on tailspin; forget winning another road game and be thankful if we win 6 Big 10 games. NIT.

  6. IU had better come out & compete in these next 2 games. If I am the coach of either Neb or PSU I am telling my team that IU is beatable…get up in their grill & they’ll back down. I want so badly to see IU compete & play well. Winning is nice but eliminating so many dumb mistakes & then winning would be my choice. It’s disappointing to see the stupid mistakes IU makes over & over again. I know it’s not in style these days to refer to Bob Knight but any real fan couldn’t deny that a little pine time for certain players might do wonders AND I’d like to see IU compete against itself, that is, let the game be the competition & go out to play the BEST, error free game possible. Or, to paraphrase Vincent Lombardi, “The pursuit of perfection is not attainable, but in that pursuit we shall catch excellence”. I’d like IU to catch excellence! Go Hoosiers!!

  7. It’s interesting, if CWat hits that wide open three as time is winding down then we’re talking about their miraculous comeback against Minnesota and the split with OSU. Few would be too concerned that an inspired Buckeye team had a big win at home. I imagine the consensus would be what great shape the team is in.

    One shot. That’s just how fine the margins are in sports sometimes.

  8. Chet, I agree with you. One shot can make a difference. And back on Nov 1st I would have been happy with a 15-3 record on Jan 18, but I want to see IU play well, too. If they lose, OK. That will happen in the B10 like MSU has learned this week. What I want is for IU to see what the possibilities are for them. Yes, one shot would have pulled the Minn game out, but eliminating unforced errors would have put IU in position to win as well, and probably without so much angst.
    I appreciate the discussion. Go IU, Beat the Cornhuskers!!

  9. I’m not so sure about that Chet… I think their was a sizable group that started to wonder what kind of shape we were in after PSU, even in a win. I think the consensus probably would be concerned even if we pull out the Minnesota game. The trends of why and how we struggle would be fully visible at that point.

    I am not sure why anyone would be concerned with a loss at OSU this year.

  10. A few off games is not the end of the world. This team was bound to have a slump; better now than in March. Hopefully they’ll start turning it around now. They’ve also had a wake up call and have seen that they need to bring it every night in the B10. Just ask Mich. St. IU is still in the thick of the league and I think they’ll finish in the top 5. Which is GREAT when you consider that the program was in the toilet the last 3 years.

  11. Ever since the Mich St. game we have seen a whole lot of the same thing, big time pressure on our guards while on the perimeter cause they fear our 3 point shooting but do not fear our ability to drive the ball or our ability to shoot over someone from 3. They have also wisely left certain people open or not guarded closely behind the arc and those certain players, that mysteriously find themselves open, have unwisely continued to shoot and miss from behind the arc. The other teams have continued crashing the boards when a shot goes up regardless of which team has shot the ball because, one, we have not make them pay for doing that and two it has worked for them. Until we show that we can deal with these things we will continue to get a big dose of them and continue to get beat or have it come down to it being a game that could go either way at the end.

  12. and obviously left out the other glaring part, the other team driving the ball, rather easily lately, right around our guards and to the rim for easy buckets. I love JH but I’m afraid the opponent’s scouting report has this at or near the top of it. Whenever anyone is guarded by Hulls put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim.

  13. IUMike1 – that’s certainly what I’d have at the top of my game plan… In fact this is what my 5 things on the final chalkboard would be before my guys ran out of the locker room.

    1. Close out shooters hard and make them put it on the deck
    2. Crash the offensive boards
    3. Attack Hulls and Jones off the dribble
    4. Pressure all guards in the half court
    5. Sprint back and dont allow easy transition buckets

    Of course there might be more specific things based on match-ups, but that’s a generic formula for success against the Hoosiers. Furthermore my scouting reports on individual players would be:

    Hulls – close out and make him put it on the floor; give him relentless ball pressure; show hard on all ball screens; attack him off the dribble; don’t foul at the end of the game if given the option
    Jones – soft close-out on 3-pt line; encourage drive into help and don’t foul; attack offensive boards as he rarely and poorly boxes out; attack him off the bounce
    Dipo – encourage 3-pt shots; cut off baseline and force into help; use off-ball movement to get offense instead of attacking him with dribble; use back door cuts
    Watford – hand in face early; if he misses a couple shots talk to him a little and encourage him to shoot; attack offensive boards – poor box out habits; PF’s power post him; SF’s attack him
    Zeller – pre-catch front him or 3/4 to prevent catch; after catch double team him off Jones and Dipo; always try to force him to make move going left and shoot over right shoulder. Drive under control as he will attempt to take charge; Attack in post to see if he can get in foul trouble – no depth

  14. Why would you want to post a scouting report of your own team on this board? What purpose does it serve? I know other BiG teams have scouts, and know they probably don’t read bolgs, but I’m just saying why here. No disrespect to the posters, the posts seemed to be well thought out and based on observation.

  15. Goeff – Nice assessment. Oregoniu – If us rank amateurs can ascertain our weaknesses and shortcommings, don’t you thank an assistant coach with access to video equipment and slo-mo replay can do the same.

  16. Hey if I am seeing things that paid assistants aren’t I’d be happy to sell my services… I am sure I can do this for teams besides IU, that way I can maintain my allegiance…

    Anyone hiring… This is now officially part of my resume.

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