Tuesday evening, IU Coach Tom Crean’s squad will play its second game of seven in the span of 19 days.
The Hoosiers will take on LIU Brooklyn, a team that won its third-straight Northeast Conference title last season and clinched a trip to Dayton to face IU’s eventual NCAA Tournament first round opponent, James Madison.
The Blackbirds fell to the Dukes 68-55, but Crean said he saw enough of the Blackbirds to declare them a worthy foe to help the Hoosiers prepare for the rigorous conference slate.
“The sustainability is not there yet, so it’s going to be a very, very interesting week for us playing three games this week with the level of competition we have,” Crean said. “We do need the experience. We scheduled it that way.”
In particular, Crean said the Blackbirds’ starting senior guard Jason Brickman will pose a challenge for IU’s young team on the defensive end comparable to guarding Ohio State senior Aaron Craft, who was named to the 2013-14 Preseason All-Big Ten Team.
“I think getting ready for someone like Brickman is getting ready for somebody like Aaron Craft,” Crean said. “He knows how to find people. He makes everybody better on the court. He’s a capable scorer and certainly a capable shooter.”
In the team’s first game of the season Saturday against Saint Peter’s, Brickman scored 13 points and dished off 14 assists as his team’s leading facilitator and dual scoring threat.
Friday in IU’s opening game against Chicago State, Crean said his team was able to get away with using its lengthy players to make up for some of his younger players not being in the right spots on the defensive end.
But with a crafty passer and floor general such as Brickman to defend, Crean said the Hoosiers can’t continue to be out of place and using incorrect spacing in transition.
“The strength has to be the discipline of our defense, the discipline of not reaching, not gambling, not going for a play that’s not there, not being late on a rotation, not switching and having our hands down,” Crean said.
Crean continued to emphasize that he wants this team to play quick, but also in control while running the court. The Hoosiers committed 19 turnovers against Chicago State, and Crean said that his players can’t get moving too quickly and let Brickman control the pace that they play.
The Blackbirds are not a nonconference foe to be overlooked, Crean said.
“Every one of these games matter, and when they understand that every one of these games really matter, they’ll understand the value of every possession,” Crean said. “If they don’t understand these teams come to win, it doesn’t matter. This is not a game where we get on a yellow school bus, and we’re supposed to win by 30.”
Follow reporter Nathan Brown on Twitter @nathan_brown10.