Tom Crean says he doesn’t have enough guards right now.
This may surprise the many who send the second-year coach e-mails and comment on blogs about the team’s lack of post presence, but Crean said in order for the Hoosiers to play the uptempo style he envisions he needs more perimeter players.
Through Monday, the Hoosiers ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring in all games, averaging 69.5 points per game. In conference games only, however, the Hoosiers are eighth with 61.4 points per game. That dip coincides directly, of course, with the season-ending knee injury to star freshman guard Maurice Creek.
“I don’t think we’re running enough,” Crean said Monday night on his weekly radio show. “I don’t think we’re running anywhere near the way we’re going to run in the future of this program on the fast break. Some of that is because our guard depth has gone down, without a doubt, and some of that is because if you’re going to run, you have to have guys that can run for layups and guys that can run for threes. We don’t have a lot of guys on that wing right now that are real comfortable shooting a quick three on the break. That’s something, we want to continue to push it, we want to continue to get the secondary break.”
It also hurts the running game, Crean said, that the Hoosiers can’t press as much to cause turnovers.
“We have some guys that are really good at pressuring the ball,” he said. “But we don’t have a team full of guys that are good at pressuring the ball. It’s probably put us in zone a little more now.”
As has so often been pointed out, however, the Hoosiers have commitments only from guards in the next two classes with wings Will Sheehey (Weston, Fla.) and Victor Oladipo (Hyattsville, Md.) arriving next year and Bloomington South’s Matt Carlino and Hamilton Heights’ Austin Etherington verbally committed for 2011.
“Down the road we have a lot of depth in that backcourt,” Crean said. “And we’ll really, really be going to be able to run.”
The question of the day Monday, (and one we kind of wished we asked after Saturday’s game, especially after watching the replay) was why Crean didn’t use Jeremiah Rivers, which he’s called his best defender to guard Illinois Demetri McCamey, who hit the game-winning floater.
“One thing that’s happened as of late at the end of games with Illinois is (freshman guard) D.J. Richardson has been more and more of a go-to guy for them,” Crean said. “We got hurt late on a double stagger at our place when D.J. Richardson hit one. What we started out doing was having Verdell (Jones) on McCamey, who had been on him a lot on the game, Jeremiah Rivers on Richardson, because we feel Jeremiah is probably our best guy at getting through screens. We felt that there was a strong option with what we had seen from them in the past that Richardson would be coming off two screens. What ended up really happening in the situation, we wanted Verdell on McCamey and we ended up having a switch that we didn’t really need to have. (Dumes ended up on McCamey because of a screen.)”
Crean said he didn’t regret the move.
“It’s a good question because Jeremiah Rivers is our best defender,” Crean said. “But D.J. Richardson is the best at coming off the screens. In a situation like that, you don’t want to get beat on a slip. That’s where we didn’t want to switch everything, because a slip layup, there’s not much defense for that. A guy’s gotta take a tough shot, you might have to live with it and unfortunately we did. But there wasn’t much I’d change about the matchups.”
An additional note. IU announced that the flex game at Purdue will be played March 3 at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.