Hoosiers stay focused ahead of regular season finale against Michigan State

  • 03/07/2015 6:52 am in

As rumors swirl surrounding the future of Indiana’s men’s basketball program, the Hoosiers will play in their regular season finale this afternoon at 12 p.m. against Michigan State in Assembly Hall.

The past few days has been nothing short of dramatic — from athletic director Fred Glass giving Tom Crean a vote of confidence to speculation about Indiana coach Tom Crean’s future in Bloomington to news that McDonald’s All-American Thomas Bryant will in Assembly Hall for today’s game.

But all of that has remained out of the Hoosiers’ players focus. And as their sights are set on the Spartans, the Hoosiers aim for their 20th win of the season and their 10th conference win — in their third attempt to achieve that feat.

“I think our guys are fantastic,” Crean said. “I’m proud of these young men. They’ve done a fantastic job all year long and all week long. And I think they’re absolutely focused, as is their coach and their coaches and everybody else on what they need to do.”

The Hoosiers’ task of facing the Spartans has always been difficult — just two months ago Michigan State defeated Indiana by a 70-50 score in East Lansing and out-rebounded Indiana by a 50-28 margin, the Hoosiers’ worst offensive output this season. And heading into this afternoon’s game they have lost four of their past six games and seven of their past 11.

They also are coming off a 77-63 loss against Iowa on Tuesday, in which the Hoosiers struggled to move the ball against the Hawkeyes’ zone and failed to gain traction on the boards — especially in the second half.

On Friday, junior Nick Zeisloft said the keys against the Spartans include ball movement and rebounding — something the Hoosiers struggled with in East Lansing and just this past Tuesday.

“We need to keep moving the ball, keep bodies moving offensively,” Zeisloft said. “We know when that happens we’re tough to guard, and on top of that it’s going to be a big transition defense game Saturday and a big rebounding game Saturday.”

But both Zeisloft and Yogi Ferrell also didn’t question this will be a big game for other reasons.

Neither are focused on the outside issues surrounding the team. Ferrell said “we’re not going to listen to what anybody else says. It’s basically us against the world.” But he said they feel a need to rally back from back-to-back losses against Northwestern and Iowa. That they “hit a lull.”

For much of the season, Ferrell noted, the Hoosiers have battled adversity and have responded to it. When they lost by 20 in East Lansing, they won four straight games. But they have not won back-to-back games since that four-game win streak in January.

And that makes today’s game that much more important, Ferrell said, even as questions remain regarding the future of the program.

“We’re going to go out there and leave it out there on the court,”Ferrell said. “And show our fans how hard we want to go out there and win this game.”

Hartman ‘getting closer’ to a return

Sophomore Collin Hartman is “getting closer” to a return from a bone bruise in his lower left leg, although Crean said he “can’t give you a concrete answer” as to whether the 6-foot-6 forward will play against the Spartans.

On Friday during his pregame press conference, Crean mentioned the impact of having Hartman sidelined since the Hoosiers’ 84-54 win over Rutgers, as they have gone 0-2 since then and have notably struggled on the court.

“When we look at the numbers, we miss Collin a great deal,” Crean said. “It’s amazing how down our percentages are just because of one guy in the sense of the way he moves the basketball. He’s got such a great basketball IQ. And again, he’s 6-6 and he’s playing out of position, but you have to guard him and he moves the basketball.”

For much of this season, Hartman has played at the No. 5 spot on the court on an undersized team, even replacing 6-foot-9 Hanner Mosquera-Perea in the starting lineup for seven games in January and February while Mosquera-Perea was sidelined with a knee injury.

Hartman, according to KenPom.com, ranks as the No. 7 player in the Big Ten in terms of offensive efficiency and played in all 28 of the Hoosiers’ games before sustaining his injury in Piscataway. In addition, he leads the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage in league play (17-of-32), despite not even making a single 3-pointer all of last season.

He also spent all of this past offseason rehabilitating a torn right ACL suffered during a workout just two days after Indiana’s final game last season.

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  • Jtime

    They had better be focused. This game could likely decide the fate of their coach and this year’s NCAA tourney hopes.

    I look forward to seeing if this team has any heart after getting embarrassed the other night. My concern is that Thomas Bryant will be in the stands. We can kiss him goodbye for sure if our crowd starts booing our own team. Keep it classy today B-town.

  • IU diehard from CT

    Support the team. Support the team. Coaches, players, all the way down the line. These are kids, doing their best. It takes time to build a winner. A consistent winner. There were no one and dones back in the eighties. The coaches who became great had that luxury of being able to build teams. Not so easy today. Hard for coaches to get consistent top tier talent other than K or Cal. K had laettner and Hurley and grant hill for YEARS. Didn’t win another one until 10 years later. It. Takes. Time.

  • SCHoosier

    Nobody pushes the ball down court like the Spartans. Transition defense must be good..and TO’s limited. Their 3 pt shooters can go on long rolls..good and bad. Can’t believe Vegas has this as a “pick’em” game..but I hope the Hoosiers give it their best effort. Nothing else will suffice. ESPN game..let’s show the country what a weapon A-Hall can be in a POSITIVE way.

  • sarge

    I remember the Sampson days, and I sure am glad we aren’t Syracuse right now. I know Crean isn’t everyone’s coach of choice, but there is a lot to like about the guy. I posted the final speech from blue chips, which ironically included Indiana as the top team in the nation with RMK, before our ncaa sanctions with Sampson (Not sure if the moderators for the site will show the link, but you should look it up and check it out!). This team has played hard and achieved more than most would’ve given them credit for before the season. Some of these guys that represent Indiana hoops, maybe Crean included, give it their all every game. I don’t know how long Crean will coach or how long Glass will be the AD. But I am thankful that we are not Syracuse right now

  • Go hoosiers!

  • Lance76

    The numbers on Hartman don’t surprise me. If there ever was improvement from freshman to sophmore year, Colin would need to be included. Noticed in several games where he would flash the middle of zone and make smart decisions.
    Today I would like to see any potential boo turned into a chant for Bryant. This is still our team and University, regardless of feelings about other matters.

  • KmanCRK

    Regardless of our opinions on the what the future of IU bball should look like, this is the last game of the season at AH and that place needs to be rocking. If you don’t want to support Crean, then support Yogi and Troy, or the ’75 team being honored. Get loud and get crazy.

    Either way, let’s go get some revenge on the team that spanked us by 20 at their place.

    We have entire offseason to gripe and complain. Let’s go get this W. This is INDIANA.

  • beer30

    Amen…Or give your tickets to someone that wants to attend the game & bring POSITIVE energy to The Hall.

  • “Today I would like to see any potential boo turned into a chant for
    Bryant. This is still our team and University, regardless of feelings
    about other matters.”

    That is a GREAT idea. Fans should absolutely give Bryant some attention. If done well, what a huge boost to the recruiting, to hear your name thundering through Assembly Hall during a game. I can’t help but think that this would have a huge impact on a young player, to get a feel for what he could experience next year for himself, wearing the uniform. From a SOLID fanbase who cares about the team and the game.

    The crowd must be loud, one way or another. It should also chant for Bryant, if he’s there. Somebody get this going!

  • InCreanWeTrust

    Hoosier fans are you reading this? Thon Maker and Thomas Bryant in the Hall today. Be loud, be excited, and most importantly BE SUPPORTIVE. Not just because these guys are here today, because these 18-21 year old kids need to know that we’re behind them.

  • To get geared up for today’s game, google this: (copy and paste the phrase)

    “Indiana Haston Drains 3 to Beat #1 MSU”

    There is a video of the game-winner and crowd/team reaction. I posted the actual video here, but it was deemed immoderate by moderators and taken down. Kirk Haston nails the 3 to beat #1 in the country, with guest appearances by Tom Coverdale and Jared Jeffries, among many others.

    I strongly recommend watching the clip, as another epic game quickly approaches.

  • WAT? Do you have a source for the Thon Maker visit?

    People get up and get ready. This should be a dynamite game. IU absolutely needs a big-time showing from the crowd today.

  • wow, the censors are in high gear today. deleted two of my posts, both concerning Thon Maker and a youtube video.

    Maker will be in the house, but I guess the censors here want to announce the news themselves, instead of from the original source?

  • Show-Me-State HOOSIER

    NO D. State had too many open shots from ALL OVER the court. They deserved the win. Thanks to NZ, we didn’t lose by double digets. This game was never close folks. Let’s look forward to next season. I have been watching IU BB for 30 plus years…..NO fundamentals= lose. This team does not play fundamental BB.