Tuesday, February 23, 2010
IU Keys To Beating Wisconsin
Sometimes, if you’re Tom Crean, small is better, mixing defense is crucial and ball movement is Priority No. 1.
What does this have to do with Wisconsin?
Perhaps the keys to victory.
Yes, the struggling Hoosiers (9-17) will not be favored in Thursday’s game. The Badgers (20-7) have already hammered them in Madison and are building toward a postseason run. Indiana, meanwhile, has a ton of vulnerability only time, experience and recruiting can make go away.
Still, there are signs of what is coming once Crean has everything in place.
For instance, take the offense. It’s no secret IU has struggled in this area. A lot has to do with the injuries to guards Maurice Creek and Matt Roth. Creek was the Big Ten’s top-scoring freshman when he went down just before the start of Big Ten play. Roth, a strong three-point shooter, hasn’t played all season after off-season surgery.
A deep, veteran team could overcome those injuries. The Hoosiers can’t. But guard Verdell Jones has elevated his game (although the flu has limited him the last week), Christian Watford is benefitting from his baptism of fire and Devan Dumes shows flashes of big-play potential.
The key is moving and passing, aspects Crean has pushed all season. Sometimes the players get it. Sometimes not. In the second half of the Minnesota loss, with Crean going with small ball, they got it. They moved and passed and scored and if it didn’t produce a victory, at least it showed promise of future success.
“Even though we really didn’t threaten (in the second half), I did learn a lot and see a lot,” Crean said. “It’s like I told these guys, I’m not going with traditions, I’m going with energy and that’s the only way we can really attack.
“The more we move the ball, the more the ball reversed, the better we are. There’s nobody faster defensively than the speed of the ball.”
So what does this have to do with Wisconsin? First, being at Assembly Hall gives IU an edge. The Badgers are only 3-5 on the road.
If the Hoosiers tap into the energy they showed against Purdue, if they move the ball and attack, if they rebound and contain the dribble penetration of Badgers guards Trevon Hughes and Jordan Taylor (easy to say, not to do, which is why IU will mix man and zone defenses), if they play with 40 minutes of toughness, all things are possible.
If not, well, we’ve seen that before.