Hoosiers aware ‘winning is key’ in Big Ten tournament opener

  • 03/12/2015 7:04 am in

Indiana’s 2014-2015 season is at a tipping point. The Hoosiers aren’t afraid to admit that.

As they remain projected to be among the last four teams selected to this year’s NCAA tournament, the Hoosiers (19-12, 9-9) head into the Big Ten tournament in Chicago facing a must-win scenario.

Win tonight against Northwestern (6:30 p.m. ET tipoff, ESPN2), and the Hoosiers could have an NCAA tournament spot sealed. Lose, and the Hoosiers could be NIT-bound, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi warned on Tuesday.

“Teams are at a point that their season can go either way,” sophomore Collin Hartman said. “We know winning is our key and were focused on that and that only.”

It was just over two weeks ago on Feb. 25 that the Hoosiers faced Northwestern in Evanston — their only meeting this season — a 72-65 loss that started the Hoosiers’ current three-game losing streak.

After a 40-40 halftime tie, Northwestern held Indiana scoreless from the 13:23 to 3:17 marks of the second half en route to its first four-game winning streak since the 1966-67 season. The Hoosiers loss, combined with two ensuing home defeats to Iowa and Michigan State, have dropped them to the NCAA tournament bubble.

“They took the game over in the second half and we didn’t respond to it as well,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “And that’s got to be a big part of it.”

The Hoosiers feel an urgency to stop that — as the Wildcats have to travel just 20 miles from their home in Evanston to the United Center and add senior Jershon Cobb to the mix, who has missed 11 games this season due to lingering foot and knee injuries.

They said they can’t let the Wildcats get comfortable in their zone — one which has allowed their top players, including 7-foot Alex Olah, avoid foul trouble. They said they can’t allow them to drive and kick — Northwestern went 40 percent on its 3-point attempts against the Hoosiers. And they said they have to do everything harder — that “we have to cut harder, screen harder and fight for every rebound,” Yogi Ferrell said.

“We can not play tentative at all,” junior Nick Zeisloft said. “If we get a lead, we have to play harder. If we are behind, we have to come right at someone.”

On Monday night during his weekly radio show, Crean said that he and his players know the significance of tonight’s game has on their NCAA tournament hopes. “They’re not living in a vacuum,” he said. “They know that part of it is out there.”

It was less than two months ago that Indiana was 15-4 and 5-1 in the Big Ten coming off an 89-70 win over Maryland. The Hoosiers are 4-8 since then.

But with a win against Northwestern tonight, the Hoosiers are aware their dreams of an NCAA tournament bid will be one step closer to being saved.

“I know that winning is going to take us to where we want to go,” Troy Williams said.

“I think they are aware of (the pressure),” Crean added. “Absolutely. That’s why fixing you and fixing what needs to be fixed with your offense and some adjustments defensively and things like that are so important when it comes to games.”

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  • John

    May paraphrase a bit but the old saying “Those who fail to learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them” fits well with IU’s situation.
    Anxious to see if they have learned anything.

  • Ole Man

    You and some others quite obviously confuse pragmatic with being negative. Simply because I post truth, which apparently some can’t deal with, is not negative nor “rainy”. Quite the opposite, really. I’m open to embracing whatever the team does, good or bad. And cheering just as hard for the boys as you or any other “sunshine/lollipop” guild member.

    Simply because you and others may choose to say manure smells sweet isn’t being positive. It’s being silly.
    To call out others is being stupid.

  • Sam McManus

    Was Loosing the key to learn winning is key now? That would be an epic move by CTC to get them prepared for the tournament!

    “I know that winning is going to take us to where we want to go,” – Troy Williams
    “We know winning is our key and were focused on that and that only.” – Collin Hartman

    I guess CTC must have simplified the game plan for them.

  • cooper

    A loss today may very well be a win in the long run. To think northern Iowa and Wichita state are locks and IU is hoping to best NW

    Is it a coincidence the two blue bloods that have fallen off the map, us and ucla have IU ties….wake me up when this is all over and we are a perennial top 25 team

  • Terry Arney

    Pregame negativity: What’s wrong with some of you? I actually was on a UK site the other day and just read some of the comments regarding Bryant. One individual asked the question as to why TB would want to come here and deal with the disloyal fan base. I concur!

  • cooper

    Easy for them to say when they’ve loss less in a year than we have in a week

  • Michael Crawley

    If they make the tournament does that make the season a success.

  • Michael Crawley

    We are not disloyal but definitely fical we love our players. We know their names we follow them on twitter we eat, drink, and sleep IUBB. But wow we sure scream when we know we SHOULD better than average. We dont bash on our players only the coach when his team does not give it their all or lose to Poopdue.

  • SilentBob

    Interesting question because I think at the beginning of the year a lot of people would have said yes. However after a good start that saw us convincingly beat qaulity teams like butler and Maryland, I think people are going to say we could have done better whether it be true or not. Unless we go on some kind of miracle run id give the season a middle of the road C-.

  • InTheMtns

    Wow, it I’d known you were in a grumpy mood today, I would have just moved along without replying to your reply to me. Cheer up, guy!

  • Michael

    Was it a trick coin ?