“Nasty, scrappy dogs”

Indiana’s basketball players have decided they’ll need to be “nasty, scrappy dogs.”

Devan Dumes came up with the phrase, and it has caught on according to Verdell Jones.

“Especially when we get into the Big Ten, because it is so physical, we’re not the strongest team on paper, but we’re real scrappy,” Jones said. “We came up with that new term, ‘nasty, scrappy dogs’ and we’ve been upholding it ever since.”

It is no surprise that Tom Crean’s focus so far has been on building a competitive atmosphere at IU practices. He repeatedly lamented the fact that his players rarely faced real strife when playing each other last fall.

Crean has also spent the start of practices working on his team’s communication skills, another aspect of last year’s team that was lacking. In fact, the first 20 minutes of every session are spent running through different exercises — the players never know which beforehand — that force the players to talk.

As far as strategy goes, those of you who prefer or more free-flowing offense will be pleased. Crean has decided that the athleticism upgrade provided by a strong freshman class and the eligibility of Jeremiah Rivers will allow his team to run more out of concepts. He’ll install many fewer sets. But that part of it — the real hardcore teaching — has only just begun.

Indiana will have its first day off since Midnight Madness tomorrow.

You, meanwhile, can hear what was said during media availability today. The team was supposed to practice until 3 or 3:30. It emerged around 4.

Tom Crean discusses IU’s first few days of practice.

Verdell Jones discusses nasty scrappiness.

Tom Pritchard discusses how life has changed now that there are other players taller than 6-foot-5 on the team.

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