IU returns home to face rival Illinois
After IU’s 79-54 loss against Ohio State, IU coach Tom Crean called it “a learning development.”
Despite their flat play and passive offense, he disagreed with the thought that his team was in need of a wake-up call. Crean instead seemed ready to practice only moments after the game ended.
“We don’t understand yet that the consistency of practice should lead to the consistency of game effort and energy,” he said.
They passed through a blanket of snow to do so, but the Hoosiers have now been granted an opportunity to translate practice performances into game situations. Whether they have learned in the short turnaround will be on display at 8 p.m. Saturday against Illinois in Assembly Hall.
The rival will fittingly come to Bloomington as IU’s tenacity and grit have been challenged by its coach.
IU and Illinois had competed fiercely in years past, but the rivalry cooled after IU coach Kelvin Sampson left.
Illinois handed IU a 76-45 road loss and beat the Hoosiers, 65-52, at home last season.
Although they do not not present the problems Ohio State did athletically, the Illini suit up a balanced team with five players scoring in double digits.
A preseason top-25 team, Illinois has faced troubles of its own and dropped out of the rankings early in the season. While Illinois has recovered and started the Big Ten season 2-0, IU will address a specific set of problems against the Illini.
Against Michigan, the Hoosiers had only 9 total turnovers. Wednesday night IU turned the ball over 24 times, and the Buckeyes produced 24 points from those mishaps.
The Hoosiers had mistakes – like traveling and errant passes – Crean said IU wasn’t pressured into, adding that leadership comes into play there.
IU is 1-1 in conference after its road opener, and Crean said not even a home atmosphere can save a team that makes the mistakes IU made Wednesday.
Development of youth
With only two Big Ten games under its belt, IU is bound to incur some troubles.
Crean’s players experienced only one conference win last season, and he said the lack of winning experience could hurt the Hoosiers at times.
“We don’t have enough guys that have had success at this level and this pace to keep guys moving in the right direction,” Crean said.
“And as much as I know it’s a process and it’s growing pangs and all that, I don’t like it.”
Sophomore guard Daniel Moore said Wednesday’s game was one they saw themselves challenging for.
“It was real disappointing,” he said. “We thought we could come out and compete and they got us from the start. It was a tough game, but we’ll bounce back Saturday – hopefully.”
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