Hoosiers face significant rebounding test against No. 23 Butler

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Heading into Saturday’s game against No. 23 Butler in the annual Crossroads Classic, Tom Crean said he already has known for a while what the game will come down to.

“Rebounding will be a huge factor in the game tomorrow,” he said on Friday. “No matter who wins it, that number is going to probably have a lot to do with it.”

Indiana’s rebounding issues have been well-documented this season — the Hoosiers allow opponents to rebound 35 percent of their misses, ranking No. 274 in the country as of Friday afternoon. Butler, meanwhile, rebounds 35.2 percent of its misses — ranking in the top 75 in the nation. Indiana has had time to prepare, though.

With final exams this week, the Hoosiers have not played since Saturday against Grand Canyon — leaving them time to prep for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. In that span, sophomore Collin Hartman said, Crean has come up with a game plan for the Bulldogs. A plan the Hoosiers are quite confident in.

“We have a great game plan,” Hartman said. “We just have to focus on staying with them and defending. They’re a tough team. They play hard, they crash the boards. We have to box out and run with them on the floor. Just stay to us and focus on what we need to do and our own game plan.”

What caught the Hoosiers’ attention the most about Butler this season stemmed from its 74-66 win over North Carolina — in which the Bulldogs had 28 offensive rebounds against the then No. 5-ranked team in the country. In that game, 6-foot-9 Kameron Woods led the team with eight offensive boards. Just behind him, a name Indiana is all-too familiar with: 6-foot-4 junior Roosevelt Jones, with six.

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Video: Crean, IU players preview Butler

Tom Crean, James Blackmon Jr. and Collin Hartman met with the media on Friday afternoon to preview Saturday’s game against No. 23 Butler in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Watch both press conferences below:

Podcast on the Brink: Crossroads Classic preview

Podcast on the Brink is back for another episode with host Jerod Morris of The Assembly Call.

Morris is joined by Indianapolis Star Butler beat writer Michael Pointer to discuss a variety of topics, including:

· The contrast of styles between Indiana and Butler
· The overall state of the Butler program
· Butler’s most recent game, a loss to Tennessee last Sunday
· What Pointer expects to see on Saturday
· Butler’s 3-0 record in the Crossroads Classic

So tune in and enjoy. As always, feel free to drop the show a note at jerod@assemblycall.com.

Listen in the embedded media player below, download the episode, subscribe via iTunes or subscribe to the RSS feed.

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(Photo credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Devin Davis expected to return to school next semester

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Indiana sophomore forward Devin Davis, who continues to rehab following an accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury, is expected to return to school next semester according to Hoosiers coach Tom Crean.

In an interview on Thursday afternoon on the Dan Dakich Show on 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis, Crean said that Davis, who was struck by a car driven by Emmitt Holt back in the early morning hours of Nov. 1, should be enrolled for the spring semester that begins on Jan. 12.

“At what duration and classes wise, that still remains to be seen,” Crean said. “He’s still very much in the healing process and he’s going to be in the healing process. I know how much he misses it and he’s been through an awful lot trying to respond to this.

“There’s really not a lot he can do when you’re dealing with the brain. He’s just trying to do everything he can possibly do, but at the same time, it’s truly about the healing for his brain.”

Davis, who averaged 2.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game as a freshman, has been at several IU games in recent weeks and has joined the team on the floor during huddles.

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What to Expect: Butler

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After a week hiatus, Indiana returns to the floor following a week of final exams for a meeting with No. 23 Butler in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The game will tip at 2:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1:

Whether you’re a fan of the event or not, the Crossroads Classic returns for a fourth year on Saturday and will continue for the foreseeable future. Billed as a showcase of the state’s top four programs, Indiana, Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame come together each year for a day in late December in the state’s capital.

It’s an event that is heavily reliant on Indiana fans to sell tickets and the program’s long term involvement in such an arrangement raises some questions. Chief among them is the fact that Indiana’s participation in the Crossroads Classic forced the program to miss out on the CBS Sports Classic, which was formed with the goal of bringing together the four programs with the most national championships. With Indiana out, the event moved on to Ohio State and now the Buckeyes, North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA will play a national showcase on CBS this weekend while Indiana takes a backseat on Fox Sports 1.

Nonetheless, the Crossroads Classic moves on as an event that feels stale, offers very little in terms of national buzz and puts the Hoosiers in a no-win situation. Win, like the program did in year one of the event over Notre Dame, and it’s ho hum. Lose, like the program has the last two years to Butler and Notre Dame, and it’s, “what’s wrong with Indiana?”

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Roundup: Oladipo progressing in second NBA season

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Periodically throughout the season, we’ll take a look at how former Indiana players are performing in the NBA. Here’s our December update:

· Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Stats: 15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals in 32 minutes per game

Notes: Oladipo is clearly the top former IU player in the NBA right now and after he missed the Magic’s first nine games with a facial fracture, he’s been one of the better second year players in the league. He’s shooting the ball much better than he did as a rookie (47.4 percent vs. 41.9 percent), his turnovers are down slightly and the Magic are just two games out of the playoffs in a depleted Eastern Conference.

Quotable: “It’s just about moving forward and not letting my head hang. Before, last year, I would let my head hang and nothing got better and it kept getting worse and worse. I tried something new last game – I stayed positive, I pushed forward and made plays. I went from slow to fast and took my time.” – Oladipo to NBA.com.

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News and notes from Tom Crean’s weekly radio show

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On Monday evening, Indiana coach Tom Crean spoke at his weekly radio show hosted by Don Fischer and recapped the Hoosiers’ games against Louisville and Grand Canyon, while also looking ahead to finals week and the Butler game on Saturday.

Below are news and notes from what the Hoosiers’ coach had to say:

· Heading into Indiana’s game against Grand Canyon, Crean took note that it appeared his team did not lose focus by the lower-quality opponent following the game against No. 4 Louisville on Tuesday. When teams get distracted and don’t take each opponent seriously, Crean said, the team loses sight of improvement and the distraction starts to seep into practices. But against the Antelopes, the Hoosiers maintained focus. And Crean said it’s important the team continues to show that moving forward.

· Indiana’s second-half performance against Grand Canyon was exactly what Crean was hoping for, especially after a first half in which the Hoosiers went 5-of-15 from plays through the paint. In the first half, the Hoosiers took too many shots after relaxing instead of playing for the best shot, and they led just 42-31 at the break. But in the second half, Crean noted, his team “dug a bit deeper” and played to get the best shot. The result: a 28-point win and a 37-of-43 rate from plays that went through the paint in the second half.

· Crean said that he has seen freshmen James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson go “through walls already” in their short time in Bloomington, and that the two (along with freshman Max Hoetzel) don’t stop working. In fact, Crean found the three on the court on Sunday — an off day — in a full sweat in between study halls.

· When asked about Blackmon’s continued improvement, Crean said he is a great learner. After each practice, Crean said he asks “What did you learn today?” And the Hoosiers’ coach always enjoys to hear his responses. As far as what Crean hopes Blackmon will improve on most: stepping back more – allowing more spacing for his 3-point shots.

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