BLOOMINGTON -- Sometimes you have to improvise. A locker room is only so big and Cook Hall is too far away when you're pressed for halftime minutes.
So coach Tom Crean went outside the locker room and outside the creative box. He cleared the hallway outside Indiana's Assembly Hall locker room and went to work.
Specifically, the Hoosiers walked through their full-court press. What happened? In the first 10 seconds of the second half guard Victor Oladipo got a steal and a dunk as top-ranked IU pressured Coppin State into irrelevance in an 87-51 victory Saturday night.
Crean had planned to use a press, went to it early in the first half to boost the energy level, then tweaked it at halftime to spark a game-busting run.
“We think we'll be pretty good at (full-court pressure) as we get deeper on the front line,” Crean said.
“So we cleared out the hallway and walked through what we wanted to do. (The players) were very alert and attentive. It was quick.”
The hallway walk-through forced security guards to block off the area and disrupted fans heading to or leaving the Varsity Club shop.
“I apologize for those people who went to the store and who had to walk out the other way, but I wanted to make sure we knew what our shifts were going to be.”
That's the nuts-and-bolts perspective. Oladipo considered the overall effect of the press.
“We just picked it up. The game of basketball has ups and downs. In order for us to win, we have to fight through adversity.”
IU fought enough to total 11 steals and force 17 turnovers while holding Coppin State (1-6) to 33.9 percent shooting.
“It was very much a free-flow game,” Crean said, “and (our players) were into the trapping and rotating. We wanted to get the pace going our way. That's what we wanted to get down.
“We have smart players. They (pressed) with energy. They were very aggressive.
“They like to play that way. That's how we're going to play everybody. That's quality of play vs. quantity of minutes. We've got a lot of tired guys because they spent it. That's what you want. They brought fatigue to the game.”
Nobody brought it more than Oladipo. His 20 deflections were the most in Crean's five-year Indiana run and the second most in his career. Dwyane Wade once had 23 deflections at Marquette.
Oladipo finished with 14 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals in 26 minutes.
“We did a good job of what we wanted to do in the press,” Oladipo said. “We've been working on it. Hopefully we continue to work it. We've got a few little things to fix.
“We were active. That's why we got the big lead and got the energy where we wanted it to be.”
IU had perhaps its slowest start of the season, mostly because its shooting was off. It missed its first nine shots, which is why Crean turned to the press to let the defense help create more offense.
“We're human,” Oladipo said. “We're not perfect. We didn't have a great start. We did a good job of playing defensively the whole game. We did a good job of turning it up the second half. The guys off the bench did a great job of playing defense. If we continue to do that this season, we'll be successful.”
Will Sheehey was once again an off-the-bench catalyst with 14 points and six rebounds. Christian Watford finally found his offensive rhythm and totaled 10 points and seven rebounds. Remy Abell continued to impressive with his overall improvement. He didn't miss a shot (4-for-4 from the field, 2-for-2 from three-point range) and scored 10 points.
Coppin State took advantage of IU's slow start to build an 11-7 lead. Crean put the Hoosiers into a full-court press and the defense eventually got the offense going.
IU ended the half on a 26-8 run for a 33-19 halftime lead. Oladipo had a steal and dunk in the opening five seconds of the second half to set a tone.
There would be no upset.
“We had a lot of turnovers in the second half,” Coppin State coach Ron Mitchell said. “They're long and very active. Their press bothered us. It shouldn't have, but it did. They were very aggressive. We got into a situation that was very difficult to get out of.
“Coach Crean has done a great job of rebuilding this program back to where it was.”