In an ideal world, Indiana got all of its mistakes out of the way against Ferris State. Starting with Friday’s season opener against Florida Gulf Coast (is that a school or a spring break resort?), the Hoosiers would be a smooth running machine ready to roll into a year to remember.
But idealism takes a bashing these days. IU’s 78-65 exhibition overtime victory showed resiliency and heart and toughness, all attributes coach Tom Crean continues to push hard. Still, if Ferris State doesn’t choke on the free throw line, it wins easily. It missed eight free throws and two layups in the last seven minutes.
The Hoosiers made enough mistakes to provide a month worth of teaching points for Crean.
What were the problems?
The Hoosiers lost the rebounding battle.
They shot 35.7 percent in the first half, 28.1 percent in the second, and struggled to solve Ferris State’s zone, mostly because they hadn’t spent much time on zone offense in practice.
“That’s on me,” Crean said.
The assist-to-turnover ratio was lousy. They had 12 assists and 20 turnovers.
Poor first-half defense. They let Ferris State shoot 59.1 percent.
The good news was it didn’t count. IU has plenty of time to learn from this.
“The momentum shifted because of our defensive energy,” Crean said. “We did not deal with physicality of the game at the start. We’ve got to be way better than that. We’ll get better.”
It’s important to understand that Ferris State, a NCAA Division II program, is a good team. It’s at least the equivalent of a solid mid-major team.
“We played good basketball for a long period of time,” Ferris State coach Bill Sall said. “But we shot 20-for-38 from the free throw line and we turned it over 25 times. Last time I checked, that makes it difficult to win.”
For IU, this win didn’t count. But how the Hoosiers earned it just the same could have major impact down the road.
Maybe the Cream ‘n Crimson world could end up ideal after all.