Hoosiers transitioning from practice to ‘game shape’

  • 10/30/2014 8:38 am in

Whether Indiana’s 2014-2015 squad is ready or not, the season is fast approaching.

The Hoosiers’ first exhibition against Northwood University is now just a week from today, and the season opener against Mississippi Valley State is only two weeks from Friday.

With that time-crunch, Indiana coach Tom Crean said he faces the annual challenge of getting the team into “game shape.” But as of last Saturday, Crean said the Hoosiers still have a long way to go.

“I think we have a lot to learn,” Crean said following Hoosier Hysteria. “I think we’re learning a lot. Like I said to them, right now, we’re in practice shape. And we’ve got to get more and more into game shape. And you only get game shape by being in games and being in multi-scrimmages. And we haven’t had a lot of scrimmage situations.”

Since the Hoosiers traveled to Canada in August for their five-game exhibition tour, the team has yet to scrimmage at an extensive level. Saturday’s Hoosier Hysteria was the longest the team had even scrimmaged this preseason — and that was for just 20 minutes.

Crean said on Saturday that he has spent more time than usual “breaking it down,” as this year’s squad is behind in their details of in-game speed. With nine newcomers, it is not their fitness that is lacking, however, more of their defensive awareness, Crean said.

“So what happens is it’s not the fatigue that shows up real easily, well this guy didn’t run hard, or this guy didn’t cut hard or this guy didn’t have his feet ready,” he said. “No, it’s the fatigue defensively. It’s the fatigue where maybe we’re not as vocal, or we don’t have our ball-side foot up on the weak side, or we don’t have our hands up as much or we’re not stunting and stepping, all the little things we’re trying to teach.”

But Crean has taken encouraging signs from the Montreal trip.

Though he did not have junior Hanner Mosquera-Perea or freshman Emmitt Holt, he called the experience “invaluable” as he has seen carry-over in spacing, ball movement and attacking off the dribble.

That said, Crean said he still wants to see more from his team on defense — something he observed in Canada and has seen carry over into practice.

“I’m watching us come off shooters, and we never do that,” Crean said. “That’s the one adjustment that we made constantly being in the Big Ten is that you cannot chase the ball in penetration when there’s so many good shooters in the league. You’ve got to defend the shooter. Stop the ball, but defend the shooter. That kind of slippage is there, but we’ll work that out.”

Nonetheless, with the season fast approaching, Crean noted he will not rush things for this year’s team. After all, he said he does not want the team peaking early.

“We’ve just got to continue to build it up, and the pace will come,” Crean said. “And we haven’t even put our presses in and things like that yet and we’re not trapping yet or trapping ball screens.

“But we’ve got to continue to build our base before we can start to really extend it. And we’re still in right the middle of trying to build the base.”

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  • HoosierHuckleberry

    I can hardly wait to see if TC will employ a version of Nolan Richardson’s “40 minutes of Hell” press, or perhaps take a page from John Wooden’s playbook and use a 1-2-2 or 2-2-1 zone press. UCLA won titles in ’64 and ’65 with NO player over 6’5″…a small athletic bunch of guys. Of course we don’t have the equivalents of a Scotty Thurman, Corliss Williamson, Cory Beck, Clint McDaniel, Walt Hazzard, Gail Goodrich, Kenny Washington or Keith Erickson, but it’s a long season.

  • ForeverIU

    You make me nostalgic for the Razorbacks, was at U of A the year they played UCLA in the final and lost, a year after they’d won in all!

  • Snookafly

    I’ve been waiting over a year to see that type of commitment to a press. Honestly though, if we’re a week out and he hasn’t even started practicing it, I don’t think it’s going to happen. If you want to see full court intensity like Pitino’s UK squads or “40 minutes of hell” you can’t just half-ass the implementation, which is kind of what we’ve seen the last few years.

  • Snookafly

    Tyus Edney going coast to coast in 4.8 against Missouri that year probably cost you #2.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I’ve actually commented on that before. Noah was an amazing talent with loads of potential but was he the best guy for the team? I think we just had so many mismatched pieces and there was such a lack of on-court chemistry that we were doomed to fail. Other than Yogi our guard play and passing was terrible and one of the only negative things that the draft analysts and scouts were unanimous on about Noah was his horrendous passing. I’m worried about the rebounding but I think we will be so improved in other aspects it won’t be as noticeable.

  • Hoosier Hall

    They haven’t missed the tournament in the last 4 seasons, haven’t won any less than 26 games and have 1 final four… So… more success than us…

  • Michael Crawley

    Has anyone heard about Jaquan Lyle he was at Hoosier Hysteria?

  • Hoosier Taxidermist

    Good point. Maybe the game shape and game fatigue CTC is talking about has nothing to do with physical shape but mental shape,( knowing where to be at certain times on the floor and help side defense ) those type of things. Just a thought.

  • ForeverIU

    We’re probably better off practicing how to break a press than how to implement one. I hope CTC won’t add the press to his long “to do” list.

  • ForeverIU

    All I’ve heard (probably week-old news) is that we haven’t offered him a scholly yet and that we’re monitoring his academics.

  • SCHoosier

    The people u mention WERE in a business and I think it’s an appropriate approach for them. IMO the mindset you have to use to develop young players has to be more motivational in style and thruth.

  • SCHoosier

    While most people were thinking “that WAS Indiana.” Wishing don’t make it so. TC was saying..IMO that “the pedigree of the program is there”.

  • SCHoosier

    Can u think of a worse situation that IU had last year. Awful shooting…mediocre defense…TO’s galore and poor team chemistry. All should be improved this year..to what degree is the big question.

  • SCHoosier

    U could say that about the pro’s..feeding their families on being “game ready”..yet the NBA plays are very aggressive pre-season schedule to get them “game condition ready.”Had to disagree with u on this one Arch.

  • SCHoosier

    Good post..especially true for freshmen who are handling being away from home..the academics and 24/7 commitment to team development in a much faster game. My minds is getting tired just thinking about it.

  • Erik Holm

    Yup, that coast to coast gets referenced all the time in the tourney as “something to overcome on the way to a title”. Unfortunately, Tyus Edney only played the first few minutes due to an injured wrist. My brother was at UCLA when they won that year & said it was nuts.

  • IUMIKE1

    “Words are cheap currency”, there’s a lot in those four words !

  • IUMIKE1

    Good comment, upvote given.

  • IUMIKE1

    Even better comment. lol

  • IUMIKE1

    Excatly ! When the body starts to tire, the mental part, of which bball is so much of, begins to becomes harder and harder. As the mental part becomes harder and harder, to do right, the probability of the number of TO’s increasing becomes greater.

  • IUMIKE1

    Their conference isn’t made up of high school teams, but at the same time it isn’t exactly the B1G or even the SEC. Considerable difference when you consider the conferences from top to bottom.

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree and hope we do, but I’ll believe it when it happens for more than a possession or two or when we have to have the ball back at the end of a close game.

  • IUMIKE1

    But isn’t practicing against the press almost like practicing the press on defense. Somebody has to be the guys pressing if you’re going to practice the press breaker and it can’t be the same five guys on offense the whole time.

  • ForeverIU

    I’m not a coach nor have much coaching knowledge, but I’m sure there are individual skills and techniques you can develop (through smaller and partial drills) that are the building blocks of a good press break and that don’t require a highly-skilled press defense in order to practice against. You sort of practice against snapshots of the press, so to speak, isolating its various facets. From basic things like how and where to inbound the ball to allow for the long pass, to be aware of the different types of pressing defenses and how to test them at game time, to studying video of the particular team you are playing against to identify the types of presses they tend to be good at, to passing and dribbling techniques that overcome traps and double-teaming, floor positioning of players in anticipation of the press, etc. etc. I’ve also read about certain specific drills such as playing five against six, even two against eight, artificial situations like that don’t mimic real game-time situations but focus on building the individual tools and skills that might be more commonly needed to overcome a press than a front court defense.

  • Michael Crawley

    Good chemistry allows mediocre teams to be very good teams.