Not with so few veterans and leadership yet to truly emerge.
“There’s no easy practice,” sophomore guard Verdell Jones said. “We come in and work every day.”
Last Tuesday, the day before IU outlasted Grace College 96-73 in an exhibition game, the team practiced and then lifted weights.
This weekend was more of the same. On Friday, the team had a tough player-driven practice, Crean said. They played after the IU football game Saturday, and Sunday morning they were at it again.
“I think we’ve had a good weekend,” Crean said Sunday. “They’re fatigued. They’re tired. They’re being pushed through many things. I think guys are starting to really awaken to the fact that there’s real competition for minutes and spots.”
In the grand scheme of things, the final score of today’s exhibition contest with St. Joseph’s College, a Division II school, won’t matter.
Instead, it is about the team having pushed through rough practices and translating their hard work to the game.
A player may have busted his butt all week, but if he does not come to play tonight, he’ll have a chair waiting for him on the sideline. There’s no time for “three o’clock All-Americans.” Being a star in practice is worthless if one falls flat during games.
On Sunday, Crean rattled off a laundry list of things the team touched on practice: transition defense, half-court defense, help side and weak side defense, the running game, rebounding and preparation for St. Joe.
They hardly had time to run sets and work on their half-court offense, and Crean admittedly is a bit concerned about that.
“We needed a lot of work on that, but there’s just not enough time in the day if you really want to get better at all those other things,” he said.
That’s the reality of it, though. The Hoosiers don’t have all the time in the world to practice, and that’s what makes every day at Assembly Hall crucial.
Game or no game, the players need to bring it every day. It’s where leadership is formed, and it’s where chemistry is formed.
Besides, there is plenty of playing time and even some positions up for grabs.
A game requires consistent play for 40 minutes, and it is essential that practices are no different.
“The moment that they think it’s just about over is when we’ve got to keep going,” Crean said.
Grace deserves a lot of credit for the way they pushed IU last week, but there’s no reason for IU to get pushed around again this week against yet another smaller team. If they eliminate their mistakes, get back on defense, penetrate and continue to work the ball around, they should have no issues today. The Pumas could cause some fits for IU’s defense out on the perimeter, but it should be another big win.
IU 98, St. Joseph’s 71
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