Indiana Daily Student

IU with an opportunity to fix turnover, rebounding issues against Grand Canyon

Freshman James Blackmon Jr. steals the ball from North Carolina Greensboro's Asad Lamont on Friday at Assembly Hall. IU won 87-79.
Freshman James Blackmon Jr. steals the ball from North Carolina Greensboro's Asad Lamont on Friday at Assembly Hall. IU won 87-79.

IU left New York City with a 20-point loss and a lesson.

Tuesday’s 94-74 defeat against Louisville wasn’t as substantial as it looks on first glance.

In the opening minutes of the second half, the Hoosiers had the lead. For about 32 minutes, IU Coach Tom Crean’s Hoosiers were going toe-to-toe with Louisville Coach Rick Pitino’s ?Cardinals.

Crean didn’t discuss any moral victories after the game. His disappointment in the other eight minutes overshadowed any lessons learned immediately. Those takeaways would come in film leading up to Saturday’s 5 p.m. matchup with Grand Canyon University.

But what IU will have taken away from film study by now is that the same questions the Hoosiers have been facing will get amplified against top-level opponents like they’ll see in the ?Big Ten.

Will IU be able to score enough to make up for mistakes surrounding lack of experience and size in the post?

Games at Assembly Hall against Grand Canyon (4-5) are opportunities for IU (7-2) to better prepare to answer those ?questions.

“(Louisville) deserved to win. They did a great job and I’m sure we’ll find some bright things on it from tape,” Crean said after Tuesday’s loss. “Right now, I don’t see it that way, but we’ve got to be much more competitive on the glass and we have to play with a higher level of intelligence and higher level of toughness in other areas to improve and get better and be able to challenge teams like that and be able to play in our league the way we need to play.”

That toughness and intelligence Crean mentioned stems directly to the team’s inability to rebound and its carelessness ?with the ball.

Being outrebounded is something IU simply doesn’t have the physical personnel to fix right now. Players like junior guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell have said that will come down to being fundamentally better rebounders to make up for a lack of height.

But turning the ball over is something IU can fix.

The Hoosiers turned the ball over 13 times in the first half against Louisville and despite that, only trailed by five points going into halftime thanks to an offensive display that saw IU make seven of 10 first-half 3-point ?attempts.

But as the shots stopped falling after the break — IU made only one of 10 3-pointers in the second half — the impact of being overmatched rebounding and the turnovers became more obvious and the Cardinals pulled away.

“We had some very youthful mistakes going to the basket,” Crean said. “At times we drove to the rim like it was five-on-oh at practice...The objective is to get good open shots. I wouldn’t say we settled, I would say we predetermined our shot rather than making the next play.

“We played young.”

Any criticism immediately following the loss to Louisville comes with a caveat that the Cardinals are one of the nation’s best defensive teams and remain in the conversation of being the best.

Grand Canyon, Saturday’s opponent, is not in that conversation. But IU’s looming games against Butler and Georgetown are.

The problems IU faces are becoming increasingly obvious. Now it’s a matter of studying and working to fix turnovers and rebounding issues.

“Our team has been able to learn from the games we’ve played the last few weeks,” Crean said. “And I hope we learn a lot from (Louisville) because that is what relentless, attacking basketball on both ends looks like, especially on the glass.”

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