Sunday, February 28, 2010
IU Hopes To Grind Out Success
So Indiana is not going to be the three-point-shooting kings of the college basketball world. Coach Tom Crean understands that. The Hoosiers, it seems, understand that.
With perimeter sharpshooters Maurice Creek and Matt Roth injured, IU is three-point challenged. Yes, Jordan Hulls and Devan Dumes can make them, but neither rates among the Big Ten’s best.
Here are the facts. In conference games Indiana ranks ninth in the Big Ten in three-point shooting. It is 10th in three-point baskets. It was 1-for-8 from behind the arc in Sunday night’s 73-57 loss at Iowa.
However, the Hoosiers are a decent free throw shooting team. Okay, they rank last in the Big Ten in free throw shooting in all games, but they are eighth when counting conference games only.
They were 20-for-25 against Iowa. Verdell Jones was 8-for-8. Jeremiah Rivers, who always adds a certain element of uncertainty to free throw shooting, was 2-for-2.
This is important considering IU ranks last in the Big Ten in field goal percentage in conference games.
“We’re not shooting very well and that’s obvious,” Crean said. “We’re not making a lot of shots, so we have to get the ball into the paint and get to the foul line. We’re one of the better free throw shooting teams in the league over the last month.
“That is the way we have to play. Our game is not built on three-pointers. We have to be in a grinder and that is the best way for us to compete.”
Yes, Crean is very much about competing given the Hoosiers are stuck in a 10-game losing streak that shows few signs of ending. They lost by 16 to Iowa, one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. They lose by that much, or more, agaisnt pretty much everybody these days. What will happen on Wednesday when they play at Purdue, one of the Big Ten’s best teams?
Yes, it will help the Cream 'n Crimson that Boiler forward Robbie Hummel is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. The Boilers had little offense in losing to Michigan State Sunday. Still, Purdue figures to have more than enough firepower to beat the Hoosiers, especially at Mackey Arena.
Crean hopes to counter that firepower with belief and attitude and perseverance. He wants guys willing to go the distance and, perhaps, just a little bit more.
“We were in a fight and our guys understood it,” he said about the Iowa loss. “That showed up with the way we played in the end. We look a lot better when we are there with a fighting spirit. That’s the way it has to be. That doesn’t excuse the fact we didn’t win, but we never backed away. That is what we have to continue to find ways to do.”
Fighting is fine, but finding is not guaranteed. Still, if the Hoosiers do one, perhaps they'll do the other.