IU working defense for Minnesota

As you’d expect after Indiana allowed Ohio State to score 85 points on 60.5 percent shooting on Friday  defense has been a priority in the Hoosiers’ practices since.

“Eighty percent of our practices have been on defense,” junior guard Verdell Jones said. “… We’ve been working our butts off.”

And it’s just been on the basics. Defending the dribble. Communicating on the pick and roll. Rotating.

“It’s our team defense,” Jones said. “Our individual defense hasn’t been very good, so our team defense has to be great. Help side has to be great and things like that. That’s our biggest weakness right now.”

Which is a big reason why teams have been shooting so well. The Hoosiers have allowed their opponent to shoot over 50 percent in each of their last three games. They’ve given up 21 3-pointers in their first two Big Ten games.

“We let that basket look like Lake Michigan (to Penn State in the Big Ten opener),” Crean said. “Same thing with Ohio State.”

To stop that, Crean said, they have to start by being better against the dribble, and then to communicate better on pick and rolls so the man who is being screened knows where the help is.

“Our one-on-one problems are more lack of retention of technique and footwork than anything else,” Crean said. “You cannot play the ball with your feet even. You cannot play the ball with your feet outside of your shoulders, in my estimation. You can not play the ball with your hands in tight. … All you have to do in this game to be good is guard one dribble. If you want to be great, guard two dribbles. If you want to get drafted, guard three. … You have no chance if you’re footwork’s not right.”

Whether their footwork is good or not, they will have a hard time with Minnesota’s size. The Golden Gophers (11-3, 0-2) already had two huge centers in Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson III, and after the power forward escaped legal trouble, they added 6-foot-9 junior Trevor Mbakwe, currently the second leading rebounder in the Big Ten. Mbakwe was recruited to Marquette by Tom Crean but left the program after Crean left. He spent a year at Miami-Dade Junior College and

“He never left me,” Crean said. “Even though I’m gone and he’s gone, he’s one of those people that I have strong feelings for, and I’m proud of what he’s done. I was always disappointed that he wasn’t as comfortable staying at Marquette after we left. But he’s back home and he’s back with his family now, and he’s playing like the player that we thought he would be. He continues to get better. He’s explsoive. He’s got incredible length, and he’s got a very strong lower body. When you put those two things together, you see a guy that can make things happen at the basket. He’s making foul shots, he’s shooting a great percentage. He can shoot the ball from 13-15 feet or so. When that shot goes up, he’s a wrecking crew.”

AUDIO: Verdell Jones talks about cutting down turnovers

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 1

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 2

4 comments

  1. Coach Crean, if your team plays all-out 100% defense, and all-out 100% rebounding, and all-out 100% selfless sharing of the ball on offense, almost no one would be critical for the rest of the season. Those that would still be critical would be ostracized by all true Indiana fans! DO IT don’t talk it!

  2. Well let’s hope IU has learned from the recent embarrassments but I’m not too optimistic. Crean may be a decent recruiter but I have yet to see him coach worth a damn. He’s certainly not worth the money IU is paying him. We have high school coaches in this town that prepare teams and develop teams over a year better than Crean does.

    This team is so fundamentally flawed in so many areas that it’s probably too late in the season to make effective changes at this point.

    Are we still using the dart board to choose the starting lineup?

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