ScoopTalk: Hoosier heart returns, as does Hugh

Michigan State 72, Indiana 58

Verdell Jones makes a funny face.

They tried. That’s enough.

The Hoosiers (9-16, 3-10 Big Ten) did not have the size or talent to stay within reach of Michigan State (21-6, 11-3). The Spartans had the skill and composure to hit every important shot and make every key stop.

Tom Izzo is here. Funniest joke so far: “I saw Creek after the game and I said to him, ‘How could you do that to my buddy, getting hurt?'”

He said he knew the Hoosiers would come out and play with a sense of urgency, and that required a “workman-like” effort by Michigan State. He ended up using his bench liberally, playing 10 players eight minutes or more. “That’s the difference between a team that has some depth and one that doesn’t,” he said.

The Hoosiers were able to get to the line, and hit free throws. They were 25-of-28, while MSU went only 5-of-10. Check the rest of the stats here.

Izzo says that the one thing he’s learned since being in the Big Ten is that when a program goes through dramatic coaching change, it takes time to rebuild. Losing a player like Maurice Creek in the early goings of that process hurts, especially. His team was “like a fish out of water” without Kalin Lucas for a few games earlier this season, and the Spartans have actual depth.

All of which is a way to say that he still believes in his protege, Tom Crean:

“Look me in the eye: he’ll get it turned, and he’ll get it turned quicker than most,” he said.

[9:40 UPDATE]

Crean’s here.

His take: “Every time we thought we were going to cut it, Kalin hit a big shot. He really is a next-level, all-American guy, all that.”

Twice he was asked about his team’s effort following a series of lifeless performances. He did not take the bait.

“We played hard,” Crean said to the first question.

Then, this: “We played very hard. We competed.”

[11:40 UPDATE]

Here’s some audio for you to listen to:

Fun with numbers

Stats don’t tell much of the tale about the Indiana basketball program right now.

While earlier in the season, you could use specific numbers in certain categories to explain what was ailing the Hoosiers (e.g. free throw shooting, rebounding, turnovers) you didn’t need to see any stats from the last three games to understand what was wrong — a total and complete lack of energy.

But without much going on on this chilly Tuesday afternoon with more than two hours separating us from tip-off, I combed over IU’s season stats and found a list of things I found either intriguing or telling or otherwise strange. They follow.


Discuss it here: Michigan State at Indiana

Crean handles questions about big men, officials

Even though a Tuesday game meant I had to write a preview on a Monday for the first time in a while, I had ambitions of making it to Tom Crean’s weekly radio show tonight. I really did.

But those ambitions died right about the time I got to the bottom of the hill at 17th and Walnut on the way back from Assembly Hall, started to fishtail and drove through a light that was turning red instead of spinning the whole car around. After two more instances of slippage on the way back to the H-T office, I decided that I was only getting in a car the rest of the night if it meant going home. (more…)

Crean: “I’ve had a lot of caffeine today. A lot.”

With his team hoping to a void a seventh straight loss and fourth straight lifeless performance on Wednesday, Indiana coach Tom Crean faced a new round of questions about the mentality of his players and how they can get themselves our of their current funk.

The answers were pretty long.

“I’ve had a lot of caffeine today,” he said after spending about 10 minutes answering the first three questions. “A lot.”

Those verbose answers didn’t necessarily produce any concrete strategy about how to get this team’s heart back, but simply made the point that it has to happen as soon as possible.

“We’ve gotta get that spirit and energy back, and really the believability that you can play and win,” Crean said. “That’s what I think we’ve lost in these games. It’s a product of not having the leadership anywhere near where it has to be and not having guys that are truly confident that they can really make a difference. That’s what we gotta continue to build. We’ve gotta have a collective mindset. And so every day in practice, we’ve just gotta stay with it. … Getting that spirit back is more important than anything.” (more…)

Selby won’t visit IU again

Maeshon Witherspoon, five-star guard Josh Selby’s mother, wouldn’t go so far as to formally declare Indiana out of the running for her son’s services, but she did say that her son will not take an official visit to Bloomington.

“I don’t see time with the schedule for us to make a second trip out there,” Witherspoon, who handles all media inquiries regarding her sons’ recruiting, said Monday via text message. Selby took an unofficial visit to IU in the fall.

A report said that Selby, a 6-2 guard from Lake Clifton High School in Baltimore, had narrowed his list down to four schools — Arizona, Kansas, Connecticut and Kentucky.

Witherspoon wouldn’t say that was a done deal, however.

“Not sure right now,” she texted when asked if those were the only four schools still in the running.

She did, however, confirm that those are the four schools to which Selby had taken an official visit or was scheduled to visit. He  visited Arizona earlier this season and visited Kansas this past weekend. He reportedly has visits scheduled to Connecticut on Feb. 28th and Kentucky on March 7th. Selby will not take an official visit to Syracuse, another team that had been on the list.

Witherspoon was asked if IU had done anything or failed to do anything that took them out of the running for an official visit.

“No, they haven’t done anything wrong,” she texted. “It’s just timing.”

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