A quick takeaway for IU as we near the homestretch

MONTREAL — There are only two more games remaining on Indiana’s six-day Canadian trip, and it appears the toughest challenges are past the Hoosiers.

Obviously, back-to-back games against Ottawa and Carleton, two Canada Interuniversity Sport rivals who played for last year’s national title, provided the best barometer of where the Hoosiers stand against legitimate opponents.

Tuesday’s game is against McGill University in downtown Montreal. The Redmen are void of much size in their lineup, but won their conference last year with a 22-11 overall record.

The size difference of the Canadian teams is at least one thing IU coach Tom Crean wants his players to remember. Seldom will these teams outmuscle anyone under the basket. Rather, they’ve shown to be adept at both finding the proper positioning and using quickness to get to rebounds before they fall out of grasp.

It’s a major takeaway Crean wants IU to bring back to Bloomington.

“Of all the things we’ve seen in three games, the best thing our players can learn from another team over here right now — because they’re smaller at times — is how quick they chase down balls,” Crean said. “We’re going to have to have a team rebounding team. We had some of the best rebounders around the last couple years at Indiana, with Cody Zeller, and Christian Watford was very good, Noah Vonleh was as good of a defensive rebounder as there was a year ago.

“We miss that, so it’s gotta come from everybody. If we’re gonna play small, we’ve gotta be quick, fast, physical and tough. Those are things we can learn. I’d look at that and say we’ll be able to carry that lesson with us for awhile when we get back home.”

In three games, Indiana has outrebounded its Canadian opposition 112-98. Much of that margin comes from Friday’s blowout win over Laval, when the Hoosiers picked up 53 boards to Laval’s 36. Both IU and Ottawa were tabbed for 25 rebounds on Sunday and Carleton won the battle on the glass last night, 37-34.