Crean on Michigan State: “There’s no place to catch breath”

Comments Off by   |   Monday, February 18, 2013 - 7:35 pm EDT

A significant part about drawing up a defensive game plan is finding an opponent’s weaknesses. Figuring out which players you can leave for the purpose of a double-team or to help on drives in the paint. Which players you can give a cushion to on the perimeter or which you can get up into without fear of being blown by.

The problem with No. 4 Michigan State, Indiana coach Tom Crean said, is that the Spartans don’t have those weak points, at least not in the starting lineup.

“They’re one of the best teams in the country, because they’re very, very good at everything,” Crean said. “There’s nothing you can really look at with them and say, ‘We can play off this, we can not worry about that.’ That’s why they’re so good. There’s no place to catch a breath with them.”

The Hoosiers managed to escape the first matchup with the Spartans with a 75-70 win in Bloomington, the Hoosiers’ biggest victory at that point to date. The Spartans haven’t lost since, however, and with the Hoosiers holding on to the No. 1 ranking, Tuesday’s 7 p.m. game between the two teams at the Breslin Center in East Lansing will be the first matchup between two top five teams at the arena. More importantly, the two teams are tied atop the Big Ten with 11-2 conference records, meaning the winner will be alone in first place in the conference.

By crushing Michigan — which was the No. 1 team in the nation when it went to Bloomington just two weeks ago – in East Lansing last week, the Spartans proved they belong in the discussion of the conference front runners. Even in their loss to Indiana, they proved to be the most difficult personnel matchup for the Hoosiers. They have big wings in freshman Gary Harris and sophomore Branden Dawson and a huge frontline with center-sized big men Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix who can make life brutal for Cody Zeller.

Add to that a point guard in Keith Appling who is leading the team with over 14 points per game, and you have a lineup without any holes.

“There’s no where that you go in that game and say, ‘OK, they can’t make baskets,’” Crean said. “We’ve gotta be able to adjust inside of the game like we did there. We have to feel great about our plan and at the same time have a Plan B and C. That’s what we do, because they’re really good. I think the bottom line is we can’t be surprised when Payne is standing out at the 3-point line and a legitimate threat to make it. Gary Harris shot the ball well and he’s been shooting it well against everybody all year, but really since that game. I really think they’re maturing.”

The first time the Hoosiers played the Spartans, they had to go unconventional in many respects, and it worked to their favor, They played more than a third of their possessions in zone and doubled down in the post a lot. Michigan State was able to score off the double teams a lot but the zone kept them on their heels enough for Indiana to take control. Of course, it also helped that junior guard Victor Oladipo was at his most dominant and disruptive, recording 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three blocks.

The Hoosiers hope they can count on that sort of performance, even though Oladipo is coming off a sprained ankle in Saturday’s game against Purdue. The All-America candidate practiced Sunday and Monday and Crean said he expects he will be OK to play Tuesday.

“He’s better,” Crean said. “He was good today. We didn’t push anything to an extreme level. But he was good. He’s excited. I think it’s past the point that it’s really hurting, and I don’t think he’s gonna tell anybody anyways.”

That should give Oladipo another opportunity to prove Michigan State’s Nix wrong. Nix suggested in a press conference last week that he and his teammates weren’t getting their deserved attention. He said that there’s nothing IU’s Cody Zeller can do that Adreian Payne can’t do and nothing Oladipo can do that Branden Dawson can’t do.

Crean was asked if his players were aware of Nix’s comments and if he had directed the Hoosiers to them.

“I don’t have to show any of that,” Crean said. “Those kids, they’re all on Twitter and Facebook and they read. There are no secrets there. We’re spending our time on getting ready for a really good team. If I didn’t have a mature team … they don’t need any more of an edge to go into this game. They know who they are. They’re starting to realize what we’re capable of. They know the pageantry of it. Most of them have been up there. They know the environment, and they’re extremely locked in. I’m sure they’re all aware of that, I know they are, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the drive they have for this game, because that would be short-lived.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Jordan Hulls, Cody Zeller

 

Share the Scoop!

Related content: Read more in Men's Basketball
 
Video: Future Hoosiers at Derby Festival Classic
ScoopTalk: Indiana gets a big man
Hoetzel, Johnson take shot at Derby Festival Classic
Arizona center commits to Indiana
Etherington posts that he will transfer to Butler

Comments are closed.



RSS feed

Comments

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Today @ HoosiersHQ.com

Recent comments on The Scoop



  • M. Tennis. Big Ten Men's Tennis Tournament Bracket Released - Hoosiers will battle Minnesota in 7-10 match up on Thursday April 24 at 2:00 p.m. in East
  • M. Golf. Seger, Kollin Earn Top 20 Finishes at Boilermaker Invitational - The Indiana men's golf team registered a team score of 299 in the final round, giving them a total score of 895 for the tournament and a tie for ninth place out of 15 teams at the
  • Jeremiah April commits to IU - Jeremiah April, a 7-foot, 230-pound center from Westwind Preparatory Academy in Glendale, Ariz., committed to IU Friday evening. Verbal Commits ranks his as a two-star prospect. I
  • Black Key Bulls, Teter capture Spring Series - Black Key Bulls and Teter captured the men’s and women’s white jerseys, respectively in dominating fashion Saturday, winning in Team Pursuit. In the men’s finals, Black Key
  • An 'old school' scorer - For a proven scorer at the highest level of prep basketball, there's not many high flying dunks or
  • Irish offer Rivals250 DB - Lima (Ohio) Central Catholic four-star safety Darius West nearly ended his recruiting process earlier this week, but remains open and now has
  • Photo Gallery: Derby Festival Basketball Classic -

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Check out 30 photos by Jamie Owens from Friday’s Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall featuring IU signees Max Hoetzel and Robert

  • Video: Hoetzel, Johnson talk Derby Festival Basketball Classic -

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Future Indiana teammates Max Hoetzel and Robert Johnson were teammates in Friday’s 2014 Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall, falling

  • Etherington Finds Perfect Fit - Indiana transfer Austin Etherington has chosen Butler after a visit on
  • Etherington Finds Perfect Fit - Indiana transfer Austin Etherington has chosen Butler after a visit on
  • Hoosier Baseball Sweeps Spartans, Maintains First Place in Big Ten
  • The Thursday Thinker