The Hoosiers practiced Friday night upon returning to Bloomington, followed by practices on each of the next two days.
Monday’s game will act as a tune-up for IU before it travels to face No. 6 Duke on Wednesday. Alcorn State is among the bottom 10 teams nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
IU Coach Tom Crean stopped short of labeling IU’s post-Maui focus as “cleanup” of the team’s play, but he said the Hoosiers didn’t play like themselves last week.
“It was so uncharacteristic of the way we practiced and it was certainly uncharacteristic of the way we played against Creighton and even Austin Peay,” Crean said, citing IU’s double-digit victories in the week prior to the Maui Invitational. “We just made too many careless mistakes and so the biggest things we’ve got to do is we’ve got to play more fundamentally sound and that’s a huge part of our turnover problems.”
IU committed 51 turnovers in its last three games, an average of 17 per contest.
After watching film from the team’s recent games, Crean said speed was less of a factor in the Hoosiers’ turnovers than he initially thought. Instead, he pointed to a lack of vision and recklessness.
“A lot of those turnovers, we went back and actually counted the majority of them were fundamental, base turnovers,” sophomore guard Robert Johnson said. “So just going back and really staying solid and executing on passing and pivoting and things like that will cut down on a lot of turnovers.”
Since Friday, it’s been back to the basics for IU. The team was unable to translate its play from Cook Hall and Assembly Hall to the Lahaina Civic Center.
“We didn’t play like we’ve been practicing up until this point,” junior forward Collin Hartman said. “There’s a lot of fundamental things that we didn’t execute on or do that we practice day in and day out.”
Johnson said besides limiting turnovers, playing sound defense and running in transition are among IU’s priorities moving forward.
It’s difficult to find many advanced statistics that compliment Alcorn State but the Braves crash the offensive glass better than most teams in the country and force turnovers on 18 percent of their defensive possessions.
“They’re a scrappy team,” Johnson said. “(They) have a lot of athletes, guys that crash the boards offensively. They like to get up and down so it’ll be a good test of us being physical on the boards. We really have to dominate the glass and keep them out of transition and get stops.”
Back on its home floor in front of its home crowd, IU has a chance to remedy its ills that plagued the team in Maui. Alcorn State presents an opportunity for IU to set the tone of its play heading into December and arguably its toughest road game of the season.
“They’re going to want to get into a pace of the game and they’re going to want it to be their pace,” Crean said. “We’ve got to be sure that we get to our pace.”
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