Indiana trying to take lessons from Notre Dame game, play Nicholls State on Friday

Not surprisingly considering his post-game comments after Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame, Indiana coach Tom Crean made practice since that game a week-long lecture on this Hoosier team’s identity. The Hoosiers play Nicholls State at 7 p.m. tonight and are hoping to put that into action.

“The biggest thing is just establishing more and more what our style of play is and where we want to take it to,” Crean said. “And learning from the most recent game of Notre Dame. Learning from some of the past five games or so, the pluses and the minuses of those games and just really locking in to our improvement. … What we’re continuing to learn is how do we win? Last year’s team, the last two years’ could make a ton of threes. That’s not this team right now. They’re all getting better with it, but that’s not this team. There’s some proven things for us that we can win with if we’ll do that. It’s my responsibility to make sure that we’re doing that.”

The improvements are the same he talked about after the game and that he talked about at his radio show on Monday. The Hoosiers first have to get better at getting the ball inside.

“Our style of play needs to be a lot of different people contributing,” Crean said. “Our style of play needs to be forcing the tempo on both ends. Our style of play needs to be moving the ball constantly, getting the ball through the paint whether it’s a drive or a post-up, no matter what the defense is. Last Saturday, every time that we played through the paint, on a catch, on a drive, on a post-up, no matter what the defense is. Again, from last Saturday, every time that we played through the paint on a catch, on a drive, on a post-up, catch at the foul line against the zone, whatever it was, we got great things, it’s amazing how much the perimeter opens up when we do that.”

On the defensive side, Crean said the Hoosiers need to get better at ball pressure, creating turnovers, but also not letting opponents make easy passes into the post.

“(We need) really active hands,” Crean said. “… I learned this from Jerry Tarkanian a long time ago. He said, ‘You can never let the ball go through you. He said you want it to go under you, around you, over you, but never through you. And when you don’t have your hands as active and you’re not trying to create an angle and you’re not forcing them into a pass fake or to change their angle, they can just make passes right under the top. We had everyone from seniors to freshmen with that issue the other day.”

Pressuring the ball will matter today, but more so will sticking with Nicholls State’s offensive players through all of their motion. The Colonels are 3-5 and they average just 66.1 points per game, but they are somewhat difficult scout. Crean said their offense was unlike anything he’d ever seen before.

“There’s a lot of cutting to it,” Crean said. “They want middle drives, they want backcuts, they want you to screw up. They want you to screw up. We’ve gotta be really sharp in how aggressive we are, who we’re guarding the way we want to guard them. … They’re a very good shot fake team, they’re a very good mid-range team. They want open threes. Some of their biggest guys are 3-point shooters. They have that, but they want you to screw up and they want you to run it until you do so they get the shot that they want.”