Tom Crean talked about Saturday’s matchup with Wisconsin with the media earlier today. At the opening of his comments, Crean revealed that senior guard Devan Dumes will miss the trip to Madison due to the flu. Here’s the video, courtesy of Crean’s Twitter account:
The first meeting between Indiana and Ohio State produced a woefully one-sided contest, 79-54, back on January 6 at Value City Arena.
Fast forward the calendar five weeks and the rematch was the same old story.
Too much Will Buford, Dallas Lauderdale and Evan Turner. No offensive cohesion. And not nearly the defensive intensity needed to be competitive.
The result: A fifth straight loss for Indiana – 69-52 – dropping the Hoosiers to 9-14 overall and 3-8 in the Big Ten.
“It was pathetic in a lot of ways,” Tom Crean told Don Fisher on the postgame radio show. “It was pathetic defensively. It’s inexcusable, but I don’t have a lot of avenues to go right now in the sense of making different decisions. But we will and we’ll be able to correct it and fix it as we move along.”
Through the first 12-plus minutes, Indiana looked like it might make a game of it. With Turner on the bench with two fouls, the Hoosiers were within one at 18-17.
Ohio State responded with a 16-3 run the last 7:48 of the half to grab a 34-20 halftime lead. And the Hoosiers never got within 12 the rest of the way.
“The margin for error against teams like that are so poor for us, but we don’t have any chance when we don’t play harder than that,” Crean said.
Buford finished with a game-high 21 points, Lauderdale added 14 points and eight rebounds and Turner, the front runner for Big Ten Player of the Year, had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 21 minutes.
It was the eighth straight Big Ten win for Ohio State, moving the Buckeyes into a tie for first place.
Indiana, which shot just 37 percent from the field, got 15 points and seven rebounds from Christian Watford and 13 points from Jordan Hulls.
You could call it hot shooting by Northwestern. Or you could call it poor defense by Indiana. Maybe it was a little bit of both on Super Bowl Sunday in Welsh-Ryan Arena.
But when the dust settled, Indiana looked nothing like the team that had just taken Illinois and Purdue to the wire in a pair of hard-fought losses.
And Northwestern, which inched closer to the .500 mark in conference play, looked like a team poised to work its way back into the NCAA Tournament conversation with a convincing 78-61 win over the Hoosiers.
“We just don’t have a toughness about us that’s there everyday,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told Don Fisher on the postgame radio show. “We didn’t come with a street fight mentality at the beginning of the game at all.”
The Wildcats (16-8, 5-6 Big Ten) jumped out to a 10-2 lead, hit 10 of 25 from behind the 3-point line, shot 52 percent from the field and were never really challenged by Indiana.
All five starters for Bill Carmody’s team, which had 21 assists and just 10 turnovers, scored in double figures, led by 16 from John Shurna. The 6-8 sophomore hit five 3-pointers and had six assists, five rebounds and three blocks. Luka Mirkovic added 14 points and Jeremy Nash had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“We did not come out with the mentality that we were going to get into these guys,” Crean said. “The bottom line was that we had to defend the 3-point line. We had to pressure up, they’ve shot 100 more three’s than us. There’s a reason for that. We did not have the fight in us at the beginning that you need to get started and then you’re playing in an uphill battle the entire game.”
The one bright spot for Indiana (9-13, 3-7) was Verdell Jones. The sophomore guard turned in his best scoring effort yet as a Hoosier with 28 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Jones hit 12-of-13 free throws for his seventh game of 20+ points this season.
“He’s continued to get better. We’ve got to continue to find different ways to get him the ball,” Crean said. “Verdell is certainly getting a lot of things done.”
The Hoosiers had a season-low eight turnovers, but shot just 35 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 20 in the second half.
Up next: Ohio State at Assembly Hall on Wednesday. The 6:30 tip will be shown on the Big Ten Network.
A little over one year ago, I piled into a car with Matt Dollinger and Tom Kirby and headed west to Spaceship Assembly Hall for IU’s first post-Eric Gordon trip to Urbana-Champaign. Less than nine minutes later, Dollinger was begging me to go pull the car around.
I bring that up, because many of you have, at various points this season, asked for more visible improvement from the Indiana basketball team than what you’ve seen so far.
Well, I offer you this: Just 385 days after a 24-4 game-opening run begat a 76-45 pasting at the hands of the Illini, Indiana took what some considered an NCAA Tournament team inside the game’s last second — literally — before succumbing by just two points, 72-70 in one of the Big Ten’s toughest road environments.
No, this isn’t a moral victory. Moral victories are stupid. Really stupid. Annoyingly stupid. This was a loss, and surely a tough one to absorb.
But if you don’t look at this game and see the obvious improvement, then your eyes are closed.
Sorry for the lack of writing from yours truly this week, but duties of the day job combined with a killer sore throat have left me sidelined for a few days. As I found my way back to the computer Thursday night, I stumbled across this piece from earlier this week by Matt Snyder at FanHouse.
Titled “Crean’s Hoosiers Still on Roller Coaster,” Snyder dives into Tom Crean’s first 21 months on the job in Bloomington. He mentions the complete overhaul the program underwent and also talks about the up-and-down play this season. Aimed more towards a national audience, none of this would be news to those of you that frequent ITH.
But towards the end, Snyder looks toward the future and makes a few pointed comments that seem to suggest that the honeymoon could come to an end for Crean next season. Here’s a few of them:
Crean will probably continue to receive a free pass as the team skates to its second consecutive season without a post-season game. That will all change next year, however.
There is no reason that the 2011 Hoosiers shouldn’t be a big part of Selection Sunday.
Remember when Crean took the job and, when asked why he took over such a dire situation, kept saying, “It’s Indiana” with a big smile? Well, come next season, the roller coaster isn’t going to be suitable anymore.
Beginning in 2011, the next time Crean doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament will be very problematic. After all, it’s Indiana. We don’t do roller coaster seasons. We do Final Fours.
Look, I think we can all agree that Indiana making the NCAA Tournament next season would be fantastic. But to say it will be “very problematic” if it doesn’t happen? I’m not buying it.