Crean on Syracuse: “We can’t focus on ‘rematch'”

  • 12/03/2013 5:11 am in

Whatever you call it, Indiana won’t think of it as a rematch.

Less than nine months after Syracuse knocked Indiana out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16 in Washington, D.C., the two teams will face each other tonight at the Carrier Dome at 7:15 p.m., as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

For Indiana senior Will Sheehey, he experienced the loss firsthand. He played 26 minutes that game, as the Hoosiers’ national title hopes were dashed in their lowest scoring output of the season, a 61-50 defeat. But even he, on the eve of their matchup against the No. 4 team in the country, hesitated to call it a rematch.

“We’re going to look at it just purely as a basketball game, not really at the emotions surrounding it,” he said. “Obviously, reliving the end of your season last year is not what you want to do but we’re going to dive into the film, and we have been, in looking at specific things within the game. Not necessarily the emotional part, but more like the X’s and O’s.”

Yes, eight months removed from the decisive game, both teams are much different — each losing significant contributors to graduation or the NBA. Indiana lost four of its five starters. Syracuse lost three of its four leading scorers (Brandon Triche, James Southerland, Michael Carter-Williams).

“We can’t focus on ‘rematch,’ ” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “We can focus on the things we learned from the game, but it’s two different teams.”

Still, much remains the same.

As Crean noted on Monday, the Orange retained their athleticism, their length, their ability to create turnovers and block shots and follow that with getting the ball to the paint and the foul line.

“They’ve got very good players at every position,” he said, “and it seems like they really understand what they’re trying to get out of every position right now.

There’s one other thing that hasn’t changed about Syracuse: its 2-3 zone defense. In March, it forced the Hoosiers’ offense into a stall. It forced a season-high 19 turnovers and a season low in field goal percentage (33.3 percent).

So how does Indiana plan to combat that same defense tonight?

Crean said his team will have to find the best shot each possession — whether it be at the beginning, middle or end of the shot clock. His team will have to combat Syracuse’s attempts to force Indiana into its desired pace. But most importantly, according to Crean, his team will have to stay aggressive and not have many mental lapses.

“They are very good at getting you to settle,” he said. “And I think settling is a recipe for disaster.”

In practice, Indiana has worked specifically on its offensive rebounding and its movement. Constant movement will be key, Sheehey said, and that could in turn lead to second-chance points.

After all, Crean pointed out that last season, his team played at times too fast and then didn’t attack enough and made too many mistakes against a Syracuse defense that was very hard to score against and limited the Hoosiers to only nine second-chance points.

He said it comes down to the same factors in December 2013, too.

“You just have to go in and do what you do,” Crean said. “We’ve been putting a lot of points on the board, we’ve been getting very good ball movement and our shot selection continues to improve.

“The bottom line is taking care of the basketball; it really is. We’ve got to make sure we do enough to get to the foul line. We didn’t get to the foul line enough when we played them in D.C.”

Eight months later, the Hoosiers continue to talk about how they can apply the corrections to the mistakes they made from that 11-point defeat at the Verizon Center on March 28 to tonight’s game in upstate New York.

As much as both teams might have changed, based on what IU believes will be the keys to the game, the basis of the matchup is the same.

Whether Indiana has truly learned will be put to the test in only a matter of hours.

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  • MillaRed

    All of the coaches in any sport go this route but I don’t buy it at all. I coached a youth team that was just hammered by the same opponent 5 years in row. We finally knocked them out to win a championship and there was no better motivation than the “we will not lose to these guys again!”

  • MillaRed

    Is there no better opportunity for CTC to prove people wrong when suggesting his X’s and O’s are not up to speed? Yes we are young and will turn it over but it will not be hard to see what we are “trying” to run out there. I think it will be very interesting.

    Let’s “try” to focus on the game within the game. Revisit in The Minute After.

  • Blair McKee

    I really don’t like the excuse of a zone defense for how Indiana lost that game. Everybody in the building, all over America and all the ships at sea knew what the defense would be, and they had plenty of time to prepare.
    The Hoosiers were psyched out and beaten before the tip-off. That cannot happen again. So say what you will about this not being a re-match (and there are very few rematches in college hoops), but this is a chance to prove that the Hoosiers are mentally tougher and more prepared than last year’s team. Certainly Yogi and Will are going to bring their game.

  • Katie M.

    I am going to put money on Collin seeing serious minutes tonight. Kid has good vision, directs the team well, and his mid-range game has been solid. Let’s see if he can step out a bit tonight.

  • PDXHoosier

    beating them would be great, but there is no way it makes up for an NCAA loss

  • PDXHoosier

    I agree with letting them loosen up a bit. last year it looked like they were stuck thinking about how to “attack the zone” and not playing their game

  • Chicagoland Hoosier

    “So how does Indiana plan to combat that same defense tonight?”

    The answer should have been that they need to feed the ball to someone that is camped the free throw line. When you get the ball there and face up the defense that brings the guy in the middle of the zone up and you get your wing players open and isolated on one defender. Last year the offense seemed to just pass it around to guys stationed 3-point line extended and then force drives on a static zone. That is not going to disrupt a well played 2-3. You want to force the ball into the middle of the zone so that defenders collapse and leave perimeter players open for shots, or lanes open for cuts to the basket.

    Hopefully we see some of this tonight.

  • ForeverIU

    What I want to see tonight. Go Hoosiers!

  • CreanFaithful

    Yogi needs to lock him up on D and make him uncomfortable. He’s a good distributor for a freshman and no one else has seemed to rattle him thus far in his young career…

  • Ya, mon.

    How quickly we forget the thin bench, exhausted and wounded Hoosiers that took to the court that night. One thing we know is that this team, like last year’s team, will not quit.

    The final score will fall in the range of poor officiating.

  • kyle jenkins

    Hey Coach Crean… Can we see a little full court press??? Let Troy and all the rest of our lengthy forwards get loose, force some turnovers, and use their athleticism!

  • ForeverIU

    I said it in a previous post. I feel Troy will be big tonight. He just seems like the type of player who’d be the Syracuse antidote.

  • kyle jenkins

    He just has to play under control and make smart passes. I agree he has the potential for sure! He has NBA ability. Just has to control himself and knockdown a couple 3’s. Good call though!

  • SCHoosier

    Well last year they shot like they were still in the ballroom….something different for preparation I hope.

  • oldiugymnast

    Not to mention the “not calling it both ways.”

  • Ole Man

    I can becaue JL can slide over to the two the first year.
    I don’t see JL starting over any of our other twos or Yogi, however.
    What do you think, Forever?

  • Hoosierfan60

    Have you heard Sonny Landreth doing ’32-20 Blues’ with Warren Haynes & Govt Mule? Good stuff!

  • cdog

    Can you give a pep talk before the Wisconsin game this year?

  • Alford Bailey

    Just found an article In the Courier Journal of Exum saying he will decide by February.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    I see your point but I don’t know if Jaq. is a one and done and I agree he would want more playing time but how is CTC going to allocate that time. Not my decision but I know how CTC likes his upper-classman. That’s the only reason I stated that. I would assume the same but CTC always seems to play his veteran players first.
    As far as one and done…maybe but really 2 and done. First we have to get him.
    On a different subject:
    I love CTC but for the life of me I can’t wrap my arms around his substitutions? I.E. we get an 8 pt lead then all of a sudden we sub 2 or 3 guys. Why not play the same guys that got us to that point and put the peddle to the metal with the same line up?
    Can someone please explain that to me?
    My other biggest complaint is that every time we call a TO either in the 1st or 2nd half with seconds to play…CTC calls a TO to set up a play but every time it falls apart. They would be better off just running the play that they practice instead of changing the momentum unless it’s under the basket or less than say 3 seconds?

  • CreanFaithful

    A couple years back they said during a tv broadcast that IU had (at the time) one of the highest success rates on out of bounds plays in the country. This team is young. Part of the ability to draw up plays on the fly is practicing such scenarios throughout the season. That will pay dividends down the line (hopefully).

  • Rie

    I know no one asked me, but I would also like to see how Stanford is once fully healthy in order to determine where the openings for Lyle are. I would also say he is a combo guard, like RJ, so he can find time at either the one or two, and maybe even play in three-guard rotations, since he is a bigger college guard.

  • mharv2631

    Don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I see us losing by 10-20 pts. I really hope I’m wrong!

  • mharv2631

    That’s the way to do it!

  • ForeverIU

    I could be wrong and don’t know enough about Jaquan’s aspirations, but my impression is he’s one-and-done caliber. I have the same impression as Rie about the relationship between Jaquan and CTC. My guess is CTC really wants to make this work; his dream scenario is Yogi going to the NBA (perhaps a long shot, but who knows?) and Jaquan taking over. Not sure though if Jaquan would be ready to play a leading role.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    MINE…IU BY 3 unless the Zebra’s give the game away and NV has 2 fouls in 2min.

  • b_side

    Feel the same way about D-Davis. Those two were born to eat up a zone on the inside. I’m fine having Yogi and Will fling from the outside (or Noah from the free throw line) – better a missed shot than a turnover considering our offensive rebounding prowess.

  • kyle jenkins

    Bold prediction: Noah Vonleh will outscore and out rebound CJ Fair.

  • ForeverIU

    Love that image “eat up the zone on the inside”! LOL. Gonna have them for dinner.

  • Guest

    My guess is he will get a DNP- Coaches Decision

  • MisterSlippery

    I wonder if Crean or the rest of the staff have ever heard of the ways to beat a zone? They’re such a hidden secret. Hopefully they’ll read these tips and have their minds blown.

  • CreanFaithful

    LOL! I’ve been linking ITH comments and sending them to CTC in email… we should “be ready” this game. The only problem is that I’m not sure he will check his email for the “halftime adjustment” emails…

  • Michael Crawley

    Does anyone know where the game is being streamed

  • Michael Crawley

    Lol… I wonder how hard he would if laugh if he read all of our opinions. Even if they are good opinions we have no idea what process he uses to think through his game plan.

  • Creamkisses

    CUSE is pulling away. Better cancel those ring orders.

  • mharv2631

    That’s what I thought.

  • CreanFaithful

    Congrats, you correctly predicted IU to lose big, giving yourself a 10 point margin of error. Bold! Thanks for reminding us…

  • mharv2631

    Didn’t think I was bragging, just saw a big loss. The 10 pt margin doesn’t matter.