Friday, February 19, 2010

Now IU Gets Minnesota

It doesn’t seem fair. Indiana keeps taking basketball body blows and the punishment never ends.

Now the reeling Hoosiers travel to Minnesota, a place they used to own back when basketball shorts were way too short. Now the Gophers have the edge, with eight wins over IU in the last 10 meetings at Williams Arena.

As if that isn’t bad enough, Minnesota (15-10) regained its mojo by torching Wisconsin there Thursday night. This is the Gophers’ last chance to make a NCAA tourney at-large bid push and it seems unlikely they will take IU lightly.

That means the Hoosiers (9-16 with a seven-game losing streak) must play their best game of the season. They must be patient on offense, rebound like they did against Michigan State, defend like they did, well, like they haven’t all year.

Mostly, though, they can’t get into a turnover tailspin. Minnesota thrives on forcing turnovers, especially at home. They will full-court pressure, trap and, in short, do everything they can to make IU play to its inexperience.

Yes, you could argue that after 25 games the Hoosiers are no longer inexperienced, but arguments won’t win at Williams Arena.

Tenacious play will. If Indiana has it, it has a chance. If not, well, maybe it’s best not to think about that.

Oh, yes. IU's win over Minnesota at Assembly Hall last month will have no bearing on this game. The Gophers are far better at Williams Arena.

“We have to play hard and compete,” coach Tom Crean said. “That’s what it’s about. We have a lot of spirit and toughness inside and we have to bring it. We practice that way. We need to play that way.”

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