How did Indiana prepare for today’s nationally televised basketball epic against No. 6 Louisville?
By playing 7 on 5 to try to duplicate the Cardinals’ length and relentless defensive pressure.
In an ideal world, the No. 16 Hoosiers would hit Bankers Life Fieldhouse on a three-game winning streak. But as anyone who saw Wednesday night’s ae-you-kidding-me 87-83 home loss to Nebraska, the Cream ‘n Crimson world is far from ideal.
Yes, that has weighed heavily on Hoosier minds these last few days.
“The bottom line is we just made too many mistakes,” coach Tom Crean said. “We did not play well, we did not play smart, we did not play nearly as tough as we need to be. We played hard, but we weren’t as efficient as we needed to be. Too many mistakes. That’s what these guys learned: anyone can beat anybody on any given night.”
You might have thought that lesson would have been learned against Fort Wayne in late November.
You would have thought wrong.
Now IU faces a huge challenge. It would really help if it can cut down on the turnovers, especially against a Louisville team that has the nation’s best adjusted defensive efficiency according to kenpom.com.
Turnovers were especially costly against Nebraska. The Hoosiers had 19, which resulted in 21 Cornhusker points.
“There were times the other day we tried to take shots when the drop-off was there,” Crean said. “There were times the other day we tried to make the pass when the shot was there.
“Great example: OG (Anunoby) has a wide-open three and the only one who didn’t think he’d shoot it was OG because he thought he had Juwan (Morgan). Well, Juwan is already in rebounding position doing exactly what he was supposed to do, getting inside position. OG was trying to pass the ball, but it ends up being a turnover because he’s gonna try to make the next pass.
“A lot of it comes out of unselfishness. The other day, we had a few shots we need back. If we try to do that (Saturday), they’ll set a blocks record.”
This is absolutely a game IU can win – if it’s tough enough, focused enough and poised enough.