Hoosiers getting used to feeling of tournament, time change

Since Indiana’s name appeared on Selection Sunday, just about every experience has felt like a dream to the Hoosiers.

“When I first saw our names on the thing, we were like, ‘Wow, we’re here,'” sophomore guard Victor Oladipo said in the Hoosiers’ locker room in the Rose Garden locker room. “Everything about it. Just coming to Portland. Watching different teams playing on the TV and to just walking into this building today. It’s a surreal experience. It feels good man. And I’m ready to get playing. It’s pretty much just an honor.”

Said senior guard Matt Roth: “I don’t think it’s any one thing. It’s always nice seeing all the NCAA logos around the hotel room and the gym. Kinda makes you realize that you’re here, but at the same time,  we know that we worked hard enough all year to make it to this point and if we continue to work that hard, we can make something of it. … It’s been a journey and it’s just another step along the way.”

This particular leg of the journey has taken them further away from Bloomington than they’ve been all year, requiring a five-hour plane ride and a change of three time zones. To get over the jet lag, the Hoosiers got into town on Monday, taking advantage of IU’s spring break. It’s given them time to explore a little bit while not losing any practice time — Kory Barnett, who lived in Oregon until moving to Indiana as a teenager, has served as tour guide and the team went to the move “Act of Valor” together — and it also helped them fix their body clocks and adapt.

“I feel like I’m adjusted to it right now,” junior forward Christian Watford said. “I’ve never experienced a tournament like this, but we’ll be ready for it.”

The next challenge, of course, is to make sure they’re ready for a New Mexico State team that even they say is as physical as Michigan State, widely regarded as the most rugged team in the Big Ten and one of the best rebounding teams in the country.

“It’s going to be big for us to box out and get some defensive rebounds and get our break going,” Oladipo said. “… From watching film, they’re big, they’re physical, they’re strong, kinda like Michigan State. Like I said before, the great team about our league is the different types of teams and they play different types of ways. We’ve seen a physical team before. We’re gonna have to come out and rebound at a high level in order for us to win. It’s just about coming out with high intensity from the jump. We’re gonna have to do that tomorrow and we’re gonna have to play at high intensity and at a high level the whole game.”

AUDIO: Will Sheehey

AUDIO: Christian Watford

AUDIO: Victor Olaidpo