A full day after Indiana’s loss to Michigan on Sunday, Tom Crean ran his team through drills he would have rather left behind.
“We practiced some things that we really probably shouldn’t be practicing in the middle of February,” Crean said. “But we did because we’re not doing it very well.”
Entering the final stretch of the season with Wednesday’s 9 p.m. game at Minnesota, the Hoosiers remain a team struggling with basic concepts. Turnovers, in particular, continue to feed poison to an offense that doesn’t always see the simple plays and doesn’t feed the post with enough regularity or precision.
Situationally, too, Crean has been bothered with the team’s lack of attention to detail. At critical times when opponents have mounted quick runs, the IU coach has been disappointed by forced or quick shots instead of taking time to open more efficent opportunities around the floor.
“We went through this with all the teams,” Crean said. “We went through this with Victor (Oladipo’s), Jordan (Hulls’) and Cody (Zeller’s) teams. We went through it with Yogi (Ferrel’s) teams. That’s not the time to come down and take a 3. Now we really need to settle in. Sometimes I’m calling it in and we’re still trying to make the play. That’s the lack of maturity sometimes that we get as basketball players. In all honesty, what really bothers me the most is I think we’ve done a pretty good job over a period of time of really teaching basketball IQ, and there’s times that it comes out like we haven’t done it at all. I take that personal. I take that hard.”
Especially in the case of turnovers, which remain an area of play Indiana has yet to correct. The Hoosiers enter this stretch of four road trips across their final five games ranked No. 13 in the conference during Big Ten play with a turnover percentage of 21.3. That’s nearly identical to their season-long turnover percentage of 21.4, which ranks them 319th nationally.
A quick look at the turnover percentages of Indiana’s regular rotation players (courtesy of KenPom.com):
Devonte Green 29.9
Freddie McSwain 26.1
Josh Newkirk 24.2
Robert Johnson 21.5
Thomas Bryant 20.4
De’Ron Davis 19.9
Curtis Jones 18.8
Juwan Morgan 18.1
Zach McRoberts 18.1
James Blackmon Jr. 16.9
“It’s mental toughness and reading the situation,” Crean said. “Trying to make things happen that aren’t there. It’s not as much out of selfishness. Sometimes out of sloppiness, but it’s too much. Thomas and Rob are committing too many turnovers that lead to baskets. They both bring a lot of value to the team. There’s no question about that, and we have to have them on the court, but there are too many turnovers that are leading to baskets.”
Through 13 Big Ten games, opponents have outscored Indiana by 71 points off turnovers.
“We’re trying to get the ball inside,” Crean said. “Even when we do that, sometimes we turn it over. There’s no excuse for that. If I had a clear answer on substitutions or things of that nature, I’d make them abundantly. I really get it to a degree. Some of the young guys are trying to make home run plays. That’s not what we need. They’re not trying to make the mistake, they’re just trying to make something happen. That’s where the veterans have got to come out and say, ‘We’ve got to get this'”