Tom Crean, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls addressed the media Wednesday afternoon at the Verizon Center before Thursday night’s Sweet Sixteen matchup with the Syracuse Orange.
Sunday afternoon’s game had so much to it, it was difficult to digest it all immediately after the game. Especially when a late March snowstorm was staring right at the greater Dayton area.
So, after more than 24 hours to think about and analyze the Hoosiers’ 58-52 win over Temple, and how they got there, I took a look at the game in a much more complete way.
First, when I said in my column from Sunday night that the Hoosier won ugly, I wasn’t kidding. It was UGLY in every possible way, and Indiana undoubtedly caught some breaks (like the fact that every Temple player not named Wyatt seemed to forget how to score), but to advance in the NCAA Tournament, you sometimes need an element of luck. Ask Marquette. Or Ohio State. Or Miami.
The fact of the matter is, in a game they had no business winning, the Hoosiers found a way to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. And ultimately, that’s all that matters. I remember sitting on my couch watching the 2008 team play in the Tournament. There was no fight, no will, no desire. The Hoosiers faced adversity, and they quit.
When Tom Crean took control of the program, he vowed to change the culture. So give him credit because he has done that. Even when the Hoosiers trailed and couldn’t seem to do anything right against Temple, they kept believing. They played hurt. They made winning plays.
That, more than anything, is what I take from Indiana’s third-round win. Sure, it was ugly and there are many things that need to be corrected before it sees Syracuse on Thursday night, but we now know that this team has no quit in it (if we didn’t already).
Who’d Wyatt score on?
Not everything about the Hoosiers’ win over Temple, of course, was pretty. There was this guy, Khalif Wyatt, who went off in the first half and poured in 31 points. Wyatt’s done it many times before, but his production against Indiana was a bit surprising because the Hoosiers knew how dangerous he was. And they had the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in Victor Oladipo to check him.
But nevertheless, Wyatt went off in a losing effort. So how much does it mean? How troubled is Indiana’s defense going forward?
DAYTON, Ohio — This was the type of game Indiana rarely finds a way to win. The pace slow, the play physical, the score low, the game ugly.
We’ve seen it too many times before. Butler. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Wisconsin again.
Temple gave the top-seeded Hoosiers everything they could handle on Sunday afternoon in Dayton. They had them on the ropes, had them frazzled. Their dream season was quickly slipping away.
But this time, Indiana found a way — an ugly, low-scoring and physical one — and the Hoosiers are moving on. They won a game in a way they never can. Now, the Hoosiers are more dangerous than ever. Now, they have won in every imaginable way.
Indiana 58, Temple 52.
“It was just a matter of time, the way our guys approached it, that things would break for them,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “If we just continued to defend, if we continued to get good shots and good ball movement and get the ball inside out on offense … That’s exactly what happened.”
What made this one different? Well, it’s really quite simple: Leadership. This team’s seniors have been through it all. They’ve lost too many times to Wisconsin and Wisconsin-like teams to let it end their collegiate careers.
Jordan Hulls, who took a brutal hit to his shoulder in the first half only to come back and hit big shots later, made sure his teammates never quit. He took control in the team’s huddles during timeouts.
“He said, ‘We were down by five with 52 seconds to go at Michigan,'” associate head coach Tim Buckley said of Hulls. “He said that with two minutes to go in the game.”
“Jordan kept saying, ‘We’re not done, we’re not done,'” Yogi Ferrell said.
Hulls’ words were important, but his actions were even more so. He was clearly in pain — he constantly grimaced late in the first half — but he refused to remain on the bench in the biggest game of Indiana’s season. Hulls wanted to be on the floor.
DAYTON, Ohio — Watch and listen to what the IU players had to say inside their locker room of the University of Dayton Arena following the Hoosiers’ 58-52 win over Temple in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
High-definition quality video is available in the embedded media players below:
Indiana’s Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford and Cody Zeller, as well as coach Tom Crean, addressed the media earlier this afternoon in Dayton, Ohio to preview tomorrow’s game with James Madison.
Watch and listen to the press conference in the embedded media player below: