Tom Crean challenged his team to show up for this rematch with Iowa, which beat the Hoosiers in Assembly Hall earlier this year and sent them skidding, with intensity and renewed fight.
It, once again, did not.
Where do the Hoosiers go from this year? Has the progress ceased for the season? Will these last final games only serve to hammer home the difficult lessons already learned through these tribulations? Is an off-season of weight work and growing up the only thing that will help Indiana?
More to come, once we speak with head coach Tom Crean and a few of the players.
I stand, apparently, corrected.
Tom Crean, Christian Watford and Verdell Jones just told the assembled media that the Hoosiers did, indeed, fight and play tough.
Crean said it was a “very, very hard-fought game” and that his team needed to be in a fight and that it “answered the bell for that.”
Jones thought the Hoosiers made mental mistakes and therefore were not able to stick with the Hawkeyes, who, said Watford, hit tough shots.
It is very possible that I just had a skewered view of what happened here today. The drive here is long. The season has been winding.
I need to go watch the tape of this one.
We’ll have more in a bit, including a few thoughts on what Indiana did to change the way it defended the pick and roll (and how it faltered a few times today).
UPDATE, 10:21 p.m.
The audio follows.
In a rare deviation from the old coaches rule of taking it one game at a time, Tom Crean said on his weekly radio show Monday that he would be “very disappointed” if his Indiana team didn’t come out with a lot of energy in Sunday’s game against Iowa because the Hawkeyes were the team that started the Hoosiers’ nine-game losing streak.
Now with the Wisconsin game past, he reiterated that on Saturday.
“I’ll be very disappointed, OK, for them, for individuals that don’t come out tomorrow understanding that we better have some toughness and fight in this game,” Crean said.
The Hoosiers went into the first matchup with the Hawkeyes on Jan. 24 coming off back-to-back victories. Iowa was the only team in the Big Ten that was picked below them in most preseason publications, so the Hoosiers went in knowing they were expected to win.
It didn’t happen. Iowa won 58-43 and crushed them on the glass, 39-23.
“I think they embraced success a little bit in those games,” Crean said. “We won those two games and I think you try to have a team never read the press clippings and the magazines and all of those things. They’re not as big a deal, but I think they got caught up thinking they were a little bit better than themselves.”
The Hoosiers admitted that was probably the case.
“We were on a winning streak right there,” freshman forward Christian Watford said. “I guess we overlooked them. We didn’t really take that game as serious as we took the other games. We gotta go up there and pay them back.”
In part to show the Hoosiers that they aren’t as good as they may think they are, Crean had the team watch film of the Wisconsin blowout Friday, and each player had to call himself out whenever he made a mistake. Obviously, grading game film is nothing new, but this was the first time the Hoosiers had to vocally take responsibility for each of their mistakes.
“I think it was a good way to do that because that’s not the way we want to play,” Crean said. “… There’s no lying there, you didn’t go to the glass, it shows up. It’s one thing to see it on paper, it’s another thing to see it yourself and have to call it out for the team.”
Tom Crean leaves the court after his second technical foul. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times
You see the story above (in the headline).
Wisconsin once again had little trouble handling the Hoosiers.
But this time, Tom Crean flipped out.
He was hit with two quick technical fouls midway through the second half.
He had to be restrained by players and assistants before eventually making his way to the locker room.
When he arrived, he body-checked the ever-loving crap out of the door there.
We’re waiting for his post-game press conference. We’ll have more on that later.
UPDATE, 12:24 a.m.
Dustin Dopirak here. Tom Crean said a good bit in that press conference without actually saying it. He wouldn’t say exactly what happened to get him the technical, but made it pretty obvious that it didn’t have that much to do with officiating and he was making a point to his players.
“It happened,” Crean said. “I don’t know really what else to say. I’m not going to be evasive, but I’m really not going to be able to say much more than that. I have a responsibility here, and it wouldn’t matter where I’m coaching. But here, there is a passion, people are used to a certain thing. So am I. There’s going to be a mentality that we’re going to play with and I’m going to coach with.”
The players said they got the point.
“He was definitely trying to make a point,” freshman forward Derek Elston said. “He doesn’t need to do it like that any more. He kind of got his point across and he got it across in the locker room. And we just gotta come out and fight. … He just told us to be a team that needs to come in here and fight, really. He doesn’t want anybody to just lay back and take this as just another loss, or whatever.”
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