ROSEMONT, Ill. – It’s no secret Indiana must improve on defense in order to become an elite team this season.
So far in practice, Tom Crean has been asking his players to pick up the ball full court and apply more on-ball pressure — both tactics largely missing from Indiana’s defense a season ago.
“We don’t want guys to drive into the lane,” said senior point guard Yogi Ferrell. “Coach always emphasizes not letting them go middle. Coach wants us to pick the ball up full. I feel like we can do it because we have a lot more length and size with Juwan (Morgan), Thomas (Bryant), O.G. (Anunoby) and Max (Bielfeldt). So we’re going to put a little more pressure on the ball.”
Beyond more pressure, Crean said the Hoosiers must improve reading screens in 2015-2016.
“Last year we had just some unfathomable delays in reading screen situations,” Crean said. “The Michgan State game’s a great example. You practice three days for this myriad of screens you’re going to see and yet we don’t get around in the right way.”
Crean also noted getting better defending at the rim and beyond the 3-point line as areas the Hoosiers could stand to improve. Individually, Crean said Troy Williams has bought into what he needs to do to get better as a defender, but the staff and his teammates are keeping after him to stay locked into it.
“They know how good he can be,” Crean said. “There’s a difference. Buy in is ‘I got to do this, I understand this is important’. Locked in is ‘I do it every time without thinking’.”
ANOTHER TEAM VISIT IN BALTIMORE
Beyond visiting with the Baltimore Ravens this past weekend, Crean and the Hoosiers also spent time with Dave Pietramala and his Johns Hopkins University lacrosse team. The program has won two Division I national titles (2005, 2007) under Pietramala since he took over the Blue Jays in 2000.
Crean had never met him before, but came away impressed.
“My brother-in-law knows him, Bill Belichick got John to get to know him because I know they’re close,” said Crean. ” … It was just two people reaching out to one another and it could not have gone better. It was an incredibly valuable part of the trip. It was an incredibly valuable two hours. It was an opportunity to see why that program’s so successful as any is in that sport and why he’s as successful as he is … If Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh have an interest in your program, you got to have something going for you that’s pretty strong, right? To me, it spoke volumes. I can see why he wins. It took two minutes to see that.”
BIELFELDT’S LEARNING CURVE
While it continues to sound like Max Bielfeldt is making an impact in the Indiana program, his double duty of leading Indiana’s younger players and learning Crean’s system is proving a challenge at times.
“I’m in there trying to tell them what to do,” said the transfer from Michigan. “But at the same time I have to keep my ears open because I’m still learning what to do. We’re going over the post to post screen yesterday. Indiana guards it a completely different way. So I’m trying to explain to them how to bump the guy on your screen, get out to your man, switching patterns. At the same time, I’m like ‘hang on a second, I got to take 10 seconds to look at this because they do it a completely different way.’ It’s just little things like that you encounter every day.”
From the Michigan side of things, head coach John Beilein spoke highly of his former player.
“Last year, we would not have been 16-16 without Max Bielfeldt,” Beilein said. “We would have been 10-20 or something. He did a great job for us. He’d been around some great teams. He knew how they acted on and off the court. He’s going to be a great addition for being a solid guy, mature, no issues. Coach Crean can just coach him every day and not worry about anything you worry about with younger players.”