At least they didn’t have to stew very long.
Three days after losing their first game of the season and dropping out of the No. 1 spot in both major polls for the first time this season, the Indiana Hoosiers get to play Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against Mount St. Mary’s.
And all they want to do is get on the floor again.
“It’s bad that we lost,” junior guard Victor Oladipo said. “At the same time, it’s good that we get to bounce back and play right away. Just so we can go out and show that we can bounce back from a loss. Like I said, we can’t wait to play. I know I can’t. I know these players can’t wait to play. This coaching staff can’t wait to play. We’re looking forward to tomorrow night.”
And so far, Oladipo and IU assistant Kenny Johnson said, the Hoosiers have responded to the loss the way the coaches hoped they would. Practices, which have included a number of rebounding drills, have been intense and the team has remained focused.
“Our players are resilient,” Johnson said. “I think when they walked in the door, even last spring they signed up for a marathon and not a sprint. Continuing on with the same process that we try to maximize each individual day. That’s our goal. It’s never been about trying to have perfection in December. It’s about making sure that we maximize ourselves as a team each and every day.”
Said Oladipo: “It’s been intense on both ends of the floor. From a coaches standpoint and a players standpoint, it’s been intense. We’ve been holding each other accountable. We had been before, but now it’s everything. Every little thing. Every nook and corner. We’ve done a great job these past couple of days. Me and my teammates and the coaching staff as well. We can’t wait to play tomorrow.”
They go up against a Mount St. Mary’s team whose style will bring back some memories. First-year coach Jamion Christian was an assistant at Virginia Commonwealth last season, and he brings with him the full-court press, run-and-jump defense that gave Indiana fits in the NCAA Tournament before the Hoosiers held on to advance to the Sweet 16.
The Mount is 4-4 and struggles on offense, scoring just 61.2 points per game and shooting 41.1 percent from the field, but they cause 17.9 turnovers per game.
“It’s a lot of similarities,” Oladipo said. “They do the run-and-jump presses and the trap presses as well. We just prepared for that by just working on it in practice. We did a pretty good job. We kind of struggled a little bit with VCU in the tournament. But I think we’re more mature now, and since we’ve been through it, we know more of what to expect.”
The Hoosiers are impressed with how quickly the Mount has taken on some of VCU’s characteristics. Mount St. Mary’s was mostly a half-court oriented team a year ago, but has quickly instituted “Havoc” the diamond press VCU runs under Shaka Smart.
“I thought it would take a little bit longer for them to have that cohesiveness,” Johnson said. “But coach Christian has done a great job with the guys in molding them and shaping them. I expect a lot of great things for them in the future.”