DAYTON, Ohio – Indiana had a very spirited practice during its open session in University of Dayton Arena on Thursday.
The No. 1 seed Hoosiers (27-6) take on No. 16 James Madison (21-14) at 4:10 p.m. Friday, and they looked ready to go as the practiced in front of a nice size crowd.
Players were in constant motion and there was hardly a time when a shot was not going up during the 40-minute practice. There was also plenty of chatter on the court during the session.
Senior Derek Elston, who didn't play in the Big Ten tournament because of lingering pain in the left knee he had surgery on earlier this season, was moving around well.
The 6-foot-9 forward said he is feeling good as the NCAA tournament gets going and admitted he wasn't feeling great during the Big Ten tourney.
"At this time last week, it wasn't the best," Elston said Thursday. "Right now, it feels really good. A lot better than it has. When I don't have pain like this, I feel really confident."
Elston said he would have played if coaches and trainer would have let him last week.
"I think that's my problem," Elston said. "I feel like I could go if I was in agony pain. If I was in agony, I would feel like I could go. Coach (Tom Crean) is going to put the people out there that he knows can win the game for me. … The doctors put some medicine in there to kind of speed up the process, and the last couple days of practice (Crean) has asked me and he's seen, I'm ready to go."
The Hoosiers are also ready to go for another run in the NCAA tournament.
IU returned to the tournament last year after a three-year absence and reached the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual champion Kentucky.
The Hoosiers said the experience of the tournament in 2012 will help them this year.
"Last year was the first time, obviously, for all of us, it was a very fun experience," guard Jordan Hulls said. "But now that we know what to expect, this year is still just as exciting, but being here last year definitely helps us."
James Madison is coming from the other side of the ledger as the Dukes are in their first NCAA tournament in 19 years.
James Madison did have the benefit of playing in a First Four game on Wednesday. The Dukes defeated LIU-Brooklyn 68-55 to advance to play Indiana.
"It was a good experience for us to get the first game jitters out," James Madison guard A.J. Davis said. "It was good we played in that game to get the jitters out. We played on this big stage, and guys know what to expect now playing the No. 1 team in the country. We already played here, so we know the rims and the sweet spots on the floor."
And even though a No. 16 seed has never defeated No. 1 seed, the Dukes are confident heading into their showdown against the Hoosiers.
"The pressure is not on us, the pressure is on Indiana," James Madison forward Rayshawn Goins said. "We are going to come out and play our best basketball. We've won five straight, just trust in our coaches to come up with our game plan and execute our game plan to a T.
"We are confident. We are ourselves. We ain't changed nothing. Everybody is having fun on and off the court. We are very confident. We came here to win. We didn't come here to lose."