After long layoffs sandwiched around the Kentucky game in part because of finals, Indiana (7-2) now prepares for four games in the next seven days – including two in Las Vegas – and six games in the last two weeks of 2010.
SIU-Edwardsville, (2-9) a transitional Division I team, will lead off the game-heavy stretch, similar to the one that began Indiana’s season.
“I think we’ve already been through it a couple of times, which helps, which is one of the reasons we did it that way,” coach Tom Crean told the media Thursday, speaking about the early-season scheduling. He said his team’s mentality and practice production in the last week following the Kentucky loss was a positive.
SIU-Edwardsville (Friday) and South Carolina State (Sunday) will serve as warm-ups for a two-game run in Vegas right before Christmas. Then it will be home – Crean said his team will be together for the holiday – because Penn State comes to Bloomington on Dec. 27 to kick off the Big Ten season (check for something else on that below).
As for SIUE (Can I just call it that and no one hate me?), Crean expects to defend an offense that encourages a lot of movement, and one with plenty of scoring options. He compared them to Evansville in some of the things the Cougars will try to offensively, saying his team would need to focus on getting out on shooters.
“They have guys that can really shoot the ball,” Crean said. “You really have to guard everybody from 3-point range.”
But Crean and his players also talked at length about their own gameplan and improvement, which Derek Elston said started with being a more physical rebounding team inside. He said he and the other posts have worked most of the week on being tougher on the defensive glass, which in turn would feed another area of needed improvement, getting out on the break.
“Us bigs, we just have to get a little stronger, and that’s what we did all this week,” Elston said. “We feel real good about tomorrow.”
“Well first and foremost, I’m extremely excited along with our coaching staff, to take my team into a game like this. This will be one of the most hostile and enlightening environments our players will see in their time in college basketball. I know our team is excited. It has felt a lot different this week not preparing for numerous games or going from game to game, but it has given us the chance at getting better on both sides of the ball, not only for this game, but also for the season. That is what this week and next week is really all about. There are certain elements about game preparation, but the most important thing for us is to focus on fundamentals. We are not going to have many situations like this the rest of the year where we only have one game a week.
“I think our guys are excited to play. It has been a productive week with one more day of preparation and practice before we go play a team that I think is outstanding. Kentucky’s speed and quickness has not changed. Their players have changed, but they way they attack and get into the lane has not changed. I think they move the ball well and have some very good individual talents who are starting to play much better as a team. So you can see that in a big way as you watch them on tape.”
Sorry, I’m a little late on posting this. We got some time (and I got deservedly mocked for asking a question that got so jumbled up in my brain that I didn’t understand) with Tom Crean today.
The first, and possibly most important, topic we touched on was Guy-Marc Michel. Full audio of Crean’s comments is embedded below, but I wanted to pull out Crean’s comments on Michel, because he was, I thought, honest and firm in his opinions:
“It’s disappointing to say the very least, so, No.1 first and foremost, we want to make sure that Guy has a chance, has a future, and he’s gonna stay with us and basically be a student assistant for us. Then our plan from there will be to help him to become a professional. We would like him to get his degree, certainly. He’s doing an excellent job in school. We’re just continuing to go through the planning stages for him.
But I have trouble seeing any wisdom in the decision. I really do. I have great respect for how we handled it at Indiana. I have great respect for the council we got legally to work with it. It’s an unfortunate situation. It’s just extremely disappointing that there wasn’t any leniency given at all given the situation based on the circumstances. But, you go back to what’s at the top of this, and how do we help him have a better future.