FORT WAYNE – Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo said he sees a lot of what he saw last year from Indiana coach Tom Crean’s team, with one difference.
He’s changed it a little bit that he’s letting everybody take the ball up, which is tough on us defensively because they’ve got a lot of different guys that are pushing it, Izzo said in a video on the Spartans’ website. He’s paid the price a little bit. They’ve turned the ball over more than anybody in the league.
The Hoosiers (10-4, 0-1 Big Ten) are averaging 16.4 turnovers entering today’s home game against the No. 5 Spartans (12-1, 1-0).
And with IU averaging only 12.2 assists and going up against a Michigan State team that forces 12.3 turnovers per game, Crean told reporters Friday that each possession will be critical.
This is a team that you have to be incredibly good at the beginning and at the end of every possession, Crean said. It’s not just the beginning and end of the game, that’s obvious. But the beginning and end of each possession with the way that they run and the way they rebound.
We just have to be locked in every possession. It is going to be a challenge, a great challenge, especially when you are dealing with a team that is as confident as (Michigan State) is.
While IU will try to be locked in every time it gets the ball, Michigan State will be focusing on slowing the Hoosiers down when it doesn’t have the ball.
IU leads the Big Ten in rebounding margin at plus 13.9 and averages 45.4 rebounds, and the Hoosiers like to switch from defense to offense quickly.
They don’t have as many shooters, but they like to get up and down, so transition defense will be a key to the game, Spartans guard Keith Appling said.
Crean’s list on what to be wary of against Michigan State is much longer than Appling’s.
He said Michigan State’s help defense is as good as any team’s in the country and that the Spartans can score in nearly every way possible.
They can score inside. They can score outside. They can score from 3-point range. They can score on the break. They can score at the end of the clock, Crean said. Their ability to run and rebound is tremendous.
Crean is also warning his team not to focus on one offensive threat from Michigan State, which is led by guard Gary Harris’ 17.4 points per game.
The Spartans have three other players who average double-digits in scoring in center Adreian Payne, who averages 17 points to go along with 8.1 rebounds; Appling, who averages 15.8 points; and guard Branden Dawson, who averages 11.1 points.
You can’t build your defense around stopping (Payne), because then they are going to carve you up with 3-pointers, Crean said. You can’t go out and overpressure because then they are going to go around you. Denzel Valentine (who averages 7.5 points) and Branden Dawson are both very hard matchups, so now you are talking about a guy like Payne.
He is one of the most elite matchups in the country because he can post, play at the foul line, drive it and shoot 3s, not to mention rebound and defend.
It is going to be a great atmosphere, there’s no question about that, and our guys are ready and anxious to play.