After Northwestern loss, IU looks for improvement at Michigan State

  • 01/21/2014 6:34 am in

Following Indiana’s worst loss of the season on Saturday to an 8-10 Northwestern squad, Tom Crean gave his team a partial practice the next day to give his players some rest during a long Big Ten season.

That long season continues tonight in East Lansing, Mich., when the Hoosiers (12-6, 2-3) face No. 3 Michigan State (17-1, 6-0) at 7 p.m., only 17 days after the Spartans beat the Hoosiers, 73-56, on Jan. 4 at Assembly Hall.

“(They’re) really playing well on both sides of the ball, both ends and with very good consistency considering they’ve played without one of the better players in the country the last couple of games in Adreian Payne,” Crean said on Monday during the weekly Big Ten conference call. “We’re trying to continue to get better here at what we’ve got to improve upon and get ourselves prepared in a hurry to get up to Michigan State.”

As if tonight’s challenge won’t be significant enough, doing it on less preparation might make it even more difficult. The Spartans are riding a 10-game winning streak and haven’t lost since Dec. 4 against North Carolina. They have the nation’s No. 20 offense and No. 10 defense.

And Michigan State has maintained success even without Payne, their 6-foot-10 senior forward who is struggling with a right foot sprain. He’s doubtful for tonight’s game, Tom Izzo said on Monday, but for Indiana, stopping Michigan State goes far beyond stopping Payne.

“Their other bigs, they’re hard-working guys and they come in and do the little things,” sophomore Austin Etherington said. “They play hard and they crash offensive rebounds, so that’s something as a team that we know we’ll need to block out.”

But especially after a seven-point loss to Northwestern in which the Hoosiers only scored 47 points, their lowest output since the 2009-2010 season, Crean has simply been looking for any signs of improvement as his team heads into one of the nation’s most hostile environments.

Yes, Indiana did beat then-No. 3 Wisconsin last Tuesday, but it followed that performance by shooting 15-for-60 from the field against the Wildcats. And against a confident Michigan State team tonight in East Lansing, the Hoosiers might just need to regain some confidence to be competitive.

“It’s not like anything is going to miraculously change, nor does it need to,” Crean said. “We just need to continue to improve and understand how we play best and what brings the best out of our team and what hurts our team. Film can show that sometimes, but also just continuing to absorb the fundamentals and having that understanding.”

Etherington: “(Harris) is one of the best guards in the country”

Back when Etherington was in high school a few years ago, he and eventual Michigan State guard Gary Harris played on the same court plenty of times.

Now, with Etherington playing more minutes at Indiana and Harris becoming Michigan State’s star, the Indiana redshirt sophomore was asked what he thinks of Harris’s recent play. Harris has scored at least 13 points in all but one game this season and most recently scored 23 in Saturday’s 78-62 win at Illinois off 7-of-9 shooting.

“He’s one of the best guards in the country right now,” Etherington said. “I’ve seen him in high school do the things that he’s doing now, so he just took his game to another level.

“He hits shots. He does what his team needs.”

In 15 games played this season, Harris is averaging 17.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

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  • thrawnjan

    Crean after the Northwestern game: “And if it was legal to practice at midnight, we would. It’s not, so we’ll start when it’s legal, tomorrow morning.”

    Article: “Tom Crean gave his team a partial practice the next day to give his players some rest during a long Big Ten season.”

    Way to follow up on that one!

  • SCHoosier

    Was’up with College b-ball??. NC goes down again..OSU embarrassed by Neb and of course N-0W ate IU’s lunch. could be a great NIT field this year??!! I had IU 2-4 after its first 6 conference games..but I hope they surprise me tonight. Looks like anything is possible this year. Payne doesn’t play..Hoosiers may have a shot. (which of course they may miss based on the NW shooting)

  • Steve Fischer

    Yeah if we can beat all the Top 50 schools and lose to the rest we might advance to win the NCAA Tourney ( first round game could be vs a non Top 50 School). Thanks Tom Crean for letting us know Michigan State is a good team– go show us how good we are!

  • iuoiu

    I think a lot of folks are looking at this game in terms of it being a win or a loss, but what I’m looking for are big picture things with this team that are crucial for success later this year and beyond. These are things that you’ll be able to see win or lose.

    – No “I” in Yogi. Yogi has spent too much time on the bench the past few games because he has a tendency to try to do it all himself, especially when games are tight. Although TC has really started to address it recently I’ve noticed it as an issue most of the year (not every game mind you, but enough to worry). This results in early shots (settling at TC puts it), lots of pretty dribbling that goes nowhere.and teammates who become marginalized as a result. This really becomes evident when he’s playing another guard who is lighting it up – he tries to get into a peeing match with him with mixed results. On my radar this is the biggest worry and I’m hoping like hell we see Yogi that facilitator and not the Yogi who tries to out-duel Gary Harris. Please don’t take this as a shot at Yogi – he’s certainly not the only player with struggles but unfortunately he is the key for this team’s success so everything here is magnified.

    – Ability to compete and maintain effort in tough road venues. This is the toughest the’ll see all year. So far I’ve been happy with their effort in road games, and was really pleased to see them come back from a big hole on the road at PSU. If they continue to do this then that points to a mentally tough team and man will I be happy to have that badge going into tourney time and into next year.

    – The ankle of Will. Not supposed to be serious and he did make it back out for the end of the NW game but we’ve all seen how ankle injuries can linger much longer than anticipated. He has to be out there as a vocal and effective leader tonight and in the coming batch of games so man I’m hoping things are good with it.

    – How Stan and Troy bounce back. Both spent a ton of time on the bench for ineffective play vs NW. We all know the potential that’s locked in each. A big part of their development as Fr. is being able to deal effectively with the highs and bounce back after the lows. Seeing them both bounce back tonight would really make me more optimistic. I love these two and their development is in my opinion THE biggest key to our future success.

    – Finally the wild card….the return of JH? As critical as I was about his play leading into his current state of non-play I’m equally hopeful he’ll make the changes needed to come back and be a positive player for this team. I have no idea if or when he’ll return but long term the team is better off with a redeemed Jeremy than a departed one. Trust me if he makes it back onto the court I’ll be standing and cheering.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I’ve heard that they practiced (ran and ran some more) but that there wasn’t much basketball work being put in…perhaps that’s why he called it a partial practice.

  • John Temple

    A partial practice. Really! After that underwhelming effort against NW. Sometimes TC just completely amazes me with his thinking. Its like he’s just writing off any chance of a win tonight. Rest! Bobby would have kept their butts on the floor after the loss and run them ragged till they got his point.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Ohio State is interesting…they looked particularly disinterested for large chunks of their past couple of games. They look nearly as bad as we do offensively and their supposedly elite defense is merely playing “okay”. I wonder if Dan Dakich would still take Aaron Craft over every other player in the country to start a college team?

  • millzy32

    Play hard and look like a college BBall team. That is pretty much all I’m looking for tonight. That High School team that showed up against Northwestern won’t cut it. Being somewhat competitive and not getting embarrassed on National TV is a win this evening.

  • Walton

    I cringe every time Harris shoots the ball against us. This is definitely a very difficult game for IU. Win or loss, IU needs to stay mentally strong, keep practicing and getting better. It’s a long season.

  • Walton

    Negativity is draining

  • Walton

    Every time Gary Harris shoots against us I cringe. Very difficult game tonight – win or loss IU needs to be mentally strong, practice hard, and want to get better so they can beat the snot out of some of these teams down the road. It’s a long season.

  • Dave Carnes

    I think one of Yogi’s biggest problems is that his best skill “taking the ball to the hoop”Can’t be done night in night out against good competition.
    And the fact the rest of his game is not Elite.Like JH he has not come to terms with the player he is as apposed to the player his AAU coach told him he was.

  • David Macer

    Players play and coaches coach. It’s been that way since the beginning of time. If the players don’t execute then its the coaches fault. Not sure I understand that logic. I don’t like calling out players either, but if they don’t perform as they should they need to sit. Just ask JH or DD.

  • coloradohoosier

    18 games into the season and I’m having trouble being concerned over “The ankle of Will”. I’m not seeing how WS has been a starter this whole season…I don’t see the leadership and production from him necessary to REMAIN a starter…at least on IU teams of the past, anyway.

  • Gregory Spera

    What is coaching if it’s not molding the players into a cohesive team able to execute a game plan on the floor? If the team can’t translate a coherent strategy in game conditions, If all that practicing is for naught, that is a coaching failure. Even if Crean is the smartest coach in the country, if his teachings aren’t getting through to the players, that is a coaching failure. So yes, IMHO, “If the players don’t execute then its the coaches fault.”

  • Hoosier Hall

    Who else could you say has earned Will’s starting job?

  • Alford Bailey

    I blame what we are seeing in cbb with a lack or focus by kids these days and the pro style offenses. Too much individual play which can be stopped with good defense. Pro style offense run by mostly non pro kids.

  • John Temple

    Well, now we know what practice wasn’t. It wasn’t enough for them to hold on to a win that they desperately needed. Maybe today’s practice will be better – maybe a 3/4 practice.