IU prepping for Northwestern offense

Tom Crean refuses to buy in to the notion that Northwestern is vulnerable.

The Wildcats are coming off a defeat against Illinois for which “humiliating” would be an extremely understated description. The final score was 88-63, but other numbers were much more telling. For one, the Fighting Illini shot a preposterous 81.8 percent from the field (18-for-22) in the first half and 70.5 percent for the game. They also made 9 of 14 3-pointers.

Seven members of the Illini scored in double digits. None missed more than three shots. Only one — Tyler Griffey, who was 0-for-1 — shot under 50 percent. Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said it was a game in which he found no silver lining.

Crean, however, said he considers that game irrelevant.

“You gotta throw out the game on Thursday night,” Crean said. “That’s not them. Illinois played outstanding. Didn’t miss shots. Northwestern missed shots they usually make. We’re not gonna spend a lot of time on that game. We know we’re going to get a great game from them. They’re going to be hungry at home and they’re going to want to come out and redeem themselves, as do we. I think that’s what’s most important.”

The Wildcats present a unique challenge in the Big Ten as the squad most dedicated to what is known as the “Princeton Offense,” a system predicated on backdoor cuts and outside shooting. The Hoosiers have spent most of the week making sure they’re ready to defend it.

“I don’t know if you can ever just guard those guys one way,” Crean said. “No matter what you think you know, they know it so much more. They’ve got an answer for everything. It’s not just the system, it’s the personnel inside of the system. We’ve gotta be really really locked into what their strengths are.”

The Hoosiers have at least one player who knows the system cold. In his first two years of college, Jeremiah Rivers played at Georgetown, which also runs the Princeton system.

“I’ve been teaching guys the tricks and trades of this thing,” Rivers said. “What they’re gonna try to do offensively against us. Especially the first five, 10 minutes of the game it’s going to be easy to guard the backdoor cuts because we’re going to know. But the last five minutes of the first half, beginning of the second half, we’re going to be alert and aware to where we can still be able to guard that. That’s what I’m trying to teach these guys. it’s easy to guard when we’ve got energy. It’s when we’re tired, when we’ve got our hands on our knees and we’re standing up, that’s when they’re going to try to take advantage of us.”

Still, Rivers said he feels confident. Both teams will be trying to get their first Big Ten win, and he thinks it’s IU’s time.

“I know the team does,” Rivers said. “… I think most definitely this is the game we’re going in to win.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean discusses Northwestern

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AUDIO: Jeremiah Rivers talks about the similarities of Northwestern to Georgetown

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