Hoosiers need leadership, rebounding on trip to MSG

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Traveling on the road for the first time this season, Indiana coach Tom Crean made it clear to his players that their upcoming trip to New York City was for business first.

So what did he do as the Hoosiers prepared to fly to the Big Apple for Thursday’s 2K Sports Classic semifinal against Washington?

His staff booked a hotel for his players right near Times Square.

“I think the bottom line is we want them to have fun,” Crean said on Tuesday, just before the Hoosiers’ flight to New York. “We want them to see New York, and that’s why we stay where we stay. I want them to experience that. They’ll see an NBA game Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden — the Pacers and the Knicks.

“But like I said to them, when we sit down to watch film, we can’t be 15 minutes in and now I’m locked in. When we get to practice, we can’t be 20 minutes in and now they’ve realized they’re in practice.”

Such a delicate balance between being concentrated rather than distracted is one of Crean’s top concerns heading into the Hoosiers’ road opener. With a team that is so young and has dominated the boards early — IU is 11th nationally with an offensive rebounding percentage of 45.2 — Crean said much like his team’s rebounding, its leadership has to travel as well.

IU’s bigger test thus far will come from playing under the lights at MSG amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City against the Washington Huskies, a team known for its speed.

Led by freshman McDonald’s All-American point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington’s attack is based in transition, Indiana believes. Crean and several players noted on Tuesday that the Huskies are the quickest team they will have played so far this season. And if they do not get back on defense quickly on Thursday night and force the Huskies into a halfcourt offense, Washington could do what Indiana fears — find the open man and score. A lot.

“We want to go in and get established that our identity has got to travel,” Crean said. “And the bottom line is taking care of the basketball and getting back in transition, no question.”

One of Williams-Goss’s main outlets, senior C.J. Wilcox, is averaging 20.3 points per game and is shooting 35 percent from beyond the 3-point arc this season.

“This is going to be our biggest game,” sophomore Yogi Ferrell said. “It’s really going to test our transition defense. Coaches have been preparing us well and we’ve been working on that. That’s going to be the biggest thing for us is getting back, stopping the ball and trying to get the win.”

But should Indiana get back into transition defense, the Hoosiers have a chance at stifling the Huskies’ attack. Overall, Washington is shooting only 41.1 percent from the field and 24.5 percent on 3-point attempts. However, the Huskies are still averaging 84 points per game. Part of that comes from its free-throw shooting, in which Washington ranks 22nd in the nation with 34.7 attempts per game.

Washington’s lone loss was to UC Irvine on Nov. 14, an 86-72 home defeat in which the team shot only 37.5 percent.

“They get to the line a lot off the break,” Crean said. “They’re very, very good at attacking off the break. So transition defense, and again, this is where the new rules really play into it. We’ve got to really be able to exploit the same things.”

As much success as Washington has had in getting to the free throw line this season, no other team in the nation has taken more free throw attempts than Indiana (162) in four games or less. And as much as Washington likes to play fast, so does Indiana.

Should Thursday’s game come down to determination and will, the Hoosiers hope they will be ready to answer the challenge.

“You kind of just have to show these young guys it’s all business,” Ferrell said. “We can always have our fun down there in our off time, but when we step on that court, we’re there to win. We don’t want to come out of New York with any losses, so we’ll do our part to get those young guys focused and get them what they need to do to come out with a win.”

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    the Huskies shouldn’t be a problem for this bunch, IU wins 17 pts. and on to play the other Huskies!!

  • BKLock

    One word – “FOCUS”
    Focus on the game(s) – have fun later.

  • Julie

    A CALL TO ‘HOOSIER NATION’ … THURSDAY – GAME TIME! GO HOOSIERS!

  • CreamandCrimson

    -First game on the road for this group (same can be said for Washington I believe)
    -First game against another major conference opponent (same for UW)

    So, which team adjusts to the speed of the opposition and to the new environment quicker? I think Will Sheehey, Yogi Ferrell and the interior presence of Noah Vonleh gives IU the edge. Just as important, tomorrow night’s game figures to be a track meet and a foul fest. That means one thing, the bench will be key for both teams. Guys like Robinson, Perea, Davis, Gordon, Fischer, maybe even Hartman are going to need to step up and play like more experienced players than they are. I think the Hoosiers will win but it won’t be easy and it certainly isn’t the foregone conclusion some are treating it as.

  • IULore

    #1 rebounding team in the nation! Defense and boards travel when shooting doesn’t!

  • PDXHoosier

    The next game is always the most important game of the season. UW has not looked great this season (not sure how good UC Irvine is), but their athleticism will be a level up from what we’ve played so far. I think it is important to separate ourselves from the pack by winning these next two games.

  • TomJameson

    I agree and add …. winning these next 2 games decisively.

  • Earl Scheib

    This transplanted Hoosier will be there at the Garden to watch the ‘ole alma mater live and in the flesh. A great followup to the Legends Classic in Brooklyn last year. I’m usually the only IU fan around these parts so last year was so great to see Hoosier Nation out in full force. Let’s show up at MSG and cheer our guys on people. Go Hoosiers!

  • kyle jenkins

    Lets not get to cocky on this bunch. I live in Seattle, Wa and keep up with UDub basketball. CJ Wilcox is and NBA ready player who has and inside, mid range, and long range game. Nigel Williams Goss is a Darren Willaims type of point guard who makes tough shots. The only real advantage we have over them is Noah Vonleh because they will not be able to guard him and our depth because they only play about 7 players. If we can play inside out and get back on transition Defense there is no way we can loose but it wont be a blowout by no means. UDub is a tournament team. Go Hoosiers!!!

  • Ole Man

    Think you’re the only one believing this, Sherron. LOL!
    I’ll just be glad with a win.

  • SCHoosier

    They are without a very good 6-10 power forward who injured his knee in pre-season. Wilcox is a scorer and the new freshman PG who played with Stan likes to shoot..period. They play fast..we play fast..sounds like the team with the best D and fewest TO’s comes out on top.

  • http://www.shawnhoke.com/ Shawn Hoke

    Bummed I’m leaving the city tomorrow to fly to Chicago. Would have liked to have seen them in person!

    I think they’ll do fine in Game One.

  • PDXHoosier

    Do you know where IU alums watch games in Seattle? I’ve been trying to get in touch with the IUAA chapter here.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    i have a good feeling about thursday night!!

  • kyle jenkins

    I don’t know where they meet out here. I do know there is a lot of Alumni in Seattle though.

  • Hoosier Hall

    My prediction: IU over UW by 13, UCONN over BC by 17, then IU over UCONN by 4. If these predictions are correct, our Hoosiers will be ranked right around 17th or 18th next week. Although I do like hanging out right outside of the top 25 in stealth mode.

  • TomJameson

    Two teams that like to run and attack the basket … It’ll be a free throw shooting contest … and the best bench will win. lol

  • ftwaynenorth

    Try Buckley’s in Belltown

  • ForeverIU

    Crean’s idea of fun in NYC is tacky touristy Times Square? Blah! But I still love Crean.

  • pcantidote

    Are you saying that if you had never been to NYC that you would not go to Times Square? Don’t be a snob.

  • pcantidote

    Who pays for the team to go to the Knicks game? Not suggesting wrongdoing, its just funny how the NCAA bans some things but not others.

  • HoosierPat

    It’ll be interesting to see how this team handles being away from Assembly Hall. Hopefully they’ll continue to bring energy on both sides of the floor.

  • IUMIKE1

    Yea, seen a few of their games and if memory serves me right when it came down to them having to have a basket or taking the shot with the game on the line it was NWG that took it most of the time.

  • banarish

    Pretty sure they have a budget for team activities.

  • IU? I’m fine

    UCI’s 7’6″ center disrupted UW. UW jacked the 3 and was cold @ UCI. It was Goss’ 2nd college game. UW probably learned from that experience. UW is fast, can rebound, and they can hit 90% of their free throws. But they play 4 guards at times and have issues on transition defense.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    I agree and add….these two games are now the most important than the Cuse game. We have to win these two games for confidence and separate ourslves as PDX says. If we split these two and the ND & Cuse game, we could be in for a long season. We need to continue to get better each time out and if we can get past these two, then one bump in the road won’t be as bad and may get us ranked in the AP.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    I agree…at this point but we want to continue to move up b4 Middle of the B1G because we could fall out faster as well.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    Playing on an Aircraft Carrier is not only a special activity but one Hell of a privilege. I think the teams aren’t banned from extra-crit. activities once their on the team. I remember when you used to play in the Maui Invent…the team was allowed to tour the Island, perks…still be curious as to what the NCAA has ruled on these type of situations. I could see some schools really taking advantage of it…say like pUKe…..

  • Bleeding Crimson

    Seems like some of us are worried and some are not so I gathered so info on our next oppt:
    Final 4’s: 1 Appearances: 16 TEAM: FG%.41 FT% .78 3Pt%.245 Play’s 7 guys.
    Name Cls Ht Wt Min’s
    Wilcox Sr 6’5 195 35 20 Pts
    Andrews So 6’2 195 28 13 Pts
    -Goss Fr 6’3 185 30 5.3 Ast
    Blackwell Sr 6’9 275 30 8 Reb
    Anderson Jr 6’4 195 24 7.3 Reb
    Johnson Fr 6’5 200 27
    Kemp Jr 6’9 250 22

    Just thought I would pass this on…..I hope it displays accordingly since it’s not a spreadsheet.
    What stands out is that they can hit their FT’s and have to Bigs with some WT.
    But I think if we get them in Foul Trouble early and they only rotate 7 guys we can wear them down the second half.

  • IUMIKE1

    OMG I can’t believe you would say something like that, pUKe would NEVER do something like that, never ever. They would never do something like that at an out of town game(s) cause that would be old hat to them and they are expecting something much bigger and better than what they done while being recruited.

  • banarish

    Some schools have bigger budgets than others, and sometimes athletes do fundraisers or contribute out of their own pockets for special trips or activities, but I’d be a little surprised if the NCAA didn’t set limits on the amounts that can ultimately be spent by any team on hotels, food, activities, etc.

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