Notebook: Indiana believes Michigan is just as dangerous despite injuries

  • 02/07/2015 4:32 pm in

After losing so many of its leading players from last season, from Nik Stauskas to Jordan Morgan to Glenn Robinson III, Michigan came into the 2014-2015 season riding the coattails of junior Caris LeVert and sophomore Derrick Walton Jr. — its only two returning starters.

Yet midway through this season, the Wolverines have had to learn to adjust to life without both LeVert and Walton.

LeVert was declared out for the remainder of the season with a left foot injury suffered in a game against Northwestern. Walton, although Michigan coach John Beilein is hopeful he will return at some point this season, also has a foot injury and has not played since Jan. 24.

But Indiana still regards the Wolverines as having a “tremendous system,” one that has not changed from those injuries. And heading into Sunday’s game against Michigan in Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers are on high alert.

“They’re missing some players but they’re not missing their coach, they’re not missing their staff, and they’re not missing their system,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “And when you have that, you’ve got a chance to be very successful.

“So we have great respect for what they are doing, great respect for our battles with them over a period of time, and we are excited to play.”

The Wolverines, much like the Hoosiers, had plenty of changeover during the offseason. Beilein, like Crean, brought in six freshmen — yet only two were rated higher than three stars in 6-foot-7 Kameron Chatman and 6-foot-9 D.J. Wilson. Wilson has missed the majority of the season with a knee injury.

When LeVert went down, he was the Wolverines’ leader in scoring, assists and rebounds. Walton was one of only three double-digit scorers and had started every game this season.

Since then, although the Wolverines are just 1-2, the results have included a 58-44 win over Nebraska and an overtime loss to Michigan State in East Lansing. That hasn’t surprised the Hoosiers, at all.

“I think in the long run it would definitely help them with getting some other guys in who probably wouldn’t play as much,” Indiana junior Yogi Ferrell said. “That would give them some extra minutes going and and down the road, have better confidence.”

Indeed, the injuries to both LeVert and Walton have allowed two freshmen — 6-foot-6 Aubrey Dawkins and 6-foot-4 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman — to have increased opportunities as their replacements in the starting lineup. Dawkins, the son of Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, has recorded career highs in both assists and minutes played since LeVert’s injury. Abdur-Rahkman, who was a 2-star recruit according to the 247Sports Composite, is averaging 12.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists in an average 35.3 minutes per game in his past three outings.

All that has done is give the Wolverines more confidence, Crean said — much like how freshmen starting guards James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson have sparked the Hoosiers.

Sunday’s game will feature much different personnel compared to last season’s two match-ups. But the story remains the same, Crean said.

As long as they are led by Beilein, he believes the Wolverines will remain dangerous.

“Because they have such a great coach, they just respond to it,” Crean said. “You take great players out of any line-up, it’s going to affect them. But they have great spacing. So when you have great spacing and guys who can make those shots in-between the spacing and you have the ability to do multiple things offensively, like John does, that gives you an opportunity all the time.

Blackmon set to play against Wolverines, Crean won’t rule Mosquera-Perea out

Although Crean did not explicitly say it during his press conference on Saturday, Blackmon Jr. is expected to play against the Wolverines. He told CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein on Saturday morning that Blackmon will play after missing Tuesday’s game against Wisconsin with an ankle injury.

“James has definitely gotten better,” Crean said. “I don’t know if I’d go and say 100 percent, but he’s gotten better.”

Crean also did not rule junior Hanner Mosquera-Perea out against the Wolverines, either. The 6-foot-9 Hoosiers forward has not played since Ohio State on Jan. 10 after suffering a knee injury during a practice.

Before his injury, Mosquera-Perea had started all 16 games for the Hoosiers — producing 7.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

“Hanner is getting closer,” Crean said. “Hanner has not gone up and down the court yet, as far as full court scrimmaging and things of that nature, so we’ll see how that goes. But he’s definitely getting a lot closer.

“For me to tell you that he’d be ready to go tomorrow, I couldn’t tell you that yet today but he’s definitely getting closer.”

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  • PBzeer

    And well they should be on “high alert”, as this is just the kind of game that can get away from them if they’re not careful. Especially the way our D turns other teams into offensive juggernauts.

  • David Macer

    We need to hold home court advantage.

  • VAHoosier

    “‘They’re missing some players but they’re not missing their coach, they’re not missing their staff, and they’re not missing their system,’ Indiana coach Tom Crean said. ‘And when you have that, you’ve got a chance to be very successful.'”

    I really never take pot-shots at CTC, even when he drives me crazy. But would anyone ever say this about our team?

  • InTheMtns

    I think there are quite a few other coaches who would. It’s part of what coaches do.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Anybody watch AZ vs ASU today? Now that was an epic battle of stellar hoops offenses against solid hoops defenses! Hoops gladiators if u will! I do not enjoy the weave of death, not our defense. I am aghast that Cody (awesome 3/pt shooter), Noah, & Fischer are not utilized to their optimal ability. I am not amped up for games anymore, maybe it is age? I love it when they win and compete, but is this the best we will ever deliver on the court?

  • TomJameson

    What would you rather CTC do, give up some locker-room fodder? “Yeah, it should be a walk in the park, the personal they have left aren’t really much, so yeah, we’ll kick their butts” LOL That’ll get em going!

  • Drew

    Our offense is one of the 10 best in the nation this year, so the “weave of death” as you call it is actually working. Actually, our offense is a lot more efficient than those “stellar offenses” you refer to in AZ/ASU. Give me an example of the trio of Cody, Noah, or Fischer not being used to their optimal ability? Fischer himself was out for a long stretch with an injured shoulder and was being integrated back in to the lineup when he transferred. Noah was a lackluster passer out of the post and turnover prone. He feasted on rebounding and one on one post-ups. A rim runner he was not. Cody, well there are so many things to say about Cody, because he did so many good things for this program and the statistics are there to back me up. Please get off this train of incessant and never ending negativity.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    no i watched the hoops gladiators from Minnesota beat PUke!!

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    every team is dangerous with the OLE!! defense we play, todays game is gonna be a fun one. i look for an over under of 5 dunks for TW they have no one to match up with him and think UM will try to pound it inside to the big men, GO HOOSIERS!! or as my 6 year old says GO IU”SSSS

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Kinda touchy aren’t you? I enjoy watching college hoops, since 1974. screw our efficiency, I do enjoy hoops where the 5 is a minimalist. That offense will never win a National Championship, regardless of its computer ranking. I do NOT enjoy watching it. Can I have my own opinion Adolf?

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Why are you so defensive, the AZ/ASU game was incredible to watch! Are you Goebbels reincarnated? I have a right to my opinion, as do you Drew.

  • ForeverIU

    You can enjoy AZ/ASU without putting down IU. I’d rather have our players than pea-brained gladiators. Go live next to a cactus if it makes you happy.

  • Drew

    I honestly think, and this is just my opinion, that no matter what happens you will always be rooting against Tom Crean as long as he is at the helm of Indiana basketball. Why else would you dislike an offense that is the 7th most efficient in college basketball? You are entitled to your opinion, but any chance you get to lash out your disdain for this team on a public domain such as this, people like me have their right to a rebuttal.

  • Drew

    2 Nazi related slams thrown at me. Nice. I was giving you my take on your comments. If you want to critique any part of this team, it isn’t the offense you should go after. Our defense is what will prevent us from moving far in the NCAA tournament. Our offense has provided us 6 league wins to date. I know you take almost any chance you get to critique Crean, and trust me, some stuff is definitely warranted, why don’t you try to just sit down and enjoy some of the aesthetics this team brings? I want us to be powerhouses again just like any other fan, but the fact is that Crean isn’t going anywhere for a while. I’m always proud to cheer for our team, win or lose. Join the dark side, fam.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    I never root against CTC, I root for excellence in all that I am exposed to! I think this team of munchkins/guards has moxie. But the fans that believe CTC will ever deliver IU a championship are delirious. I think this IU team is full of heart and character, but their offensive scheme is in an aquarium, never to deliver victory in the ocean.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    go live in a strip mine quarry then

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    The FACT that CTC NEVER optimizes his big is apparent. We are not among the ELITE anymore, that sux! Mark Few is a few hours away and he is awesome. CTC is mediocre at best, but has taken on as great challenge. I see the forest through the trees daily, thus my income. I desire IU to be where they were in the past!

  • ‘Nuff_Said

    Need to put the pedal to the metal early and hard and never give UM any opportunity to get back into the game. We need a convincing win not a squeak by win.

  • Drew

    Lol Mark Few was offered the Indiana job before Crean and turned it down.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Thus we r mediocre!

  • Drew

    Good analogy? Once again, it isn’t our offense that will be the team’s demise, but its defense.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Cuz he did not ant to deal with nhs cow poop. It is NOT about who is coaching, but about who WINS!

  • SCHoosier

    Give how UM struggled against Iowas 2-3 zone (better played that IUs)..I would assume the Hoosiers go zone. Must make Spike and Zack shoot on the move, Hoosiers should be able to get to the rack against UM. Must win for IU.

  • ForeverIU

    The man who only desires what is not his ends up with nothing.

  • pcantidote

    LOL at the OLE! reference. That is what I have been calling Crean’s defense for years.

  • calbert40

    Unequivocally yes. We are all IU-centric in our look at college basketball, so the negatives stand out to us more than they do to people with a more global view, but many other coaches and analysts would absolutely say the same about him.

  • sd chuck

    Just a thought on Dean Smith, I remember a story about Dean that early on in his time at Carolina, the fan base wanted him fired, can’t imagine NC basketball if he had not been allowed to continue. Did not always make the popular choice, aka Charlie Scott, was very innovative, 4 corners brought on the shot clock. All this being said I really liked it when IU kicked their butt. RIP Dean

  • calbert40

    It really is better to ignore him. His mind is made up, which is completely his right. Some people prefer to look at stats and information before coming to a conclusion. Others, like HTH, prefer to come to a conclusion first. Then, if you engage with him, he compares you to Hitler’s right-hand man. It’s a classy, and predictable, move from someone who doesn’t want to engage in meaningful discussion.

  • calbert40

    Of course you are entitled to your opinion. However, your lack of enjoyment at watching IU’s offense has no bearing on how successful it may or may not be.

    Also, food for thought – if you want to just discuss basketball and have your opinions heard and ultimately respected, calling guys with whom you disagree Hitler and Goebbels may not be the best way to accomplish this.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • marcusgresham

    Or worse yet, Rupp!

  • SCHoosier

    That’s part of their problem..UM doesn’t have any real good big men either!

  • SCHoosier

    U mean like the pick N rolls with Yogi- HMP in the second half of the NEB game which was the difference between winning or losing. Or..the showcase Cody and Noah had to become lottery pics in the NBA..Yea you’re right those guys were over-rated and would have gone to the pro’s from any program they were part of.. ..maybe.

  • SCHoosier

    Damn now you are letting fact dominate your debate..not fair not fair!

  • Guyton25

    22 facepalms…

  • I suppose my question is this, then: why are you here at all? CTC is the coach, this team is what it is, it’s not rising to your level of excellence, which means you’re not going to root for them. You should, year in and year out, jump from one most excellent team to another. Never–and I mean never–has IU been “excellent” year in and year out. During RMK’s years, for example, there were some truly bad teams to go with the great ones.

    In short, how can you be a fan of any team for long, since no team is ever uniformly excellent?

  • Drew

    I know the man is set in his ways, I’ve seen it in just about every one of his comments since participating in this site now. I just can’t help it. It isn’t the fact that his logic or reasoning is skewed, but rather I want to get into the mindset of some of these fans like him. According to him, he became a fan in 1974. I was born in November of ’91. I am young, but I really want the perspective of older generations because I want to revel in the success they experienced before my time. Whenever we do hang a banner next, I’d just as much want to celebrate with him as any other member here that I have so much respect for. That is why I ultimately keep engaging him.

  • calbert40

    Age wise, I would probably split the gap between the two of you. I wasn’t around in ’74, so I don’t remember the glory days of the mid 70s, and I was too young to remember the ’81 championship. I do recall the ’87 championship, though, as well as those great teams of the early 90s. We’re all on the same team, but as you said, it is interesting to talk to the fans from different generations.

    It would be interesting to see how old some of the fans are who are the most critical of Crean. Maybe that has something to do with it?

  • Drew

    It is possible. I used to work with an older gentlemen who would always rip Mike Davis for his coaching in the championship game against MD in 2002 and would go on and on about how if Bobby were still there we would’ve destroyed them. It is just funny because beating Maryland would’ve been a bigger upset than our win against Duke. MD won the ACC that year over Duke, only lost one conference game and was heavily favored against a 5 seed in IU who really turned some heads in that tourney but had wayyyy less talent than Maryland. Every time we talked about that game, he always acted like MD winning was an upset of sorts. It wasn’t, but that is the myth of Indiana these days I guess.

  • Drew

    Btw, I remember that game fondly. I was 10, but that was the season I knew I’d be with Indiana for life. I watched every game with my dad, and we both cried when we lost in the title game. It was an unreal thrill ride up to that game. Remember the 3pt barrage against Kent St? And beating a very good Sampson lead OU team in the Final Four? So many good memories and so sad it ended the way it did. I wore my #3 Coverdale jersey damn near every day and now my little brother wears it for every Indiana game. I will always be grateful for Mike Davis solely for that season.