FORT WAYNE – Indiana coach Tom Crean wants his team prepared to play in the environment of Minnesota as much as against the Gophers players.
The Hoosiers (14-8, 4-5 Big Ten) play the Gophers (15-8, 4-6) at Williams Arena tonight, and Crean said Friday his team will have to quickly get used to playing on a raised floor.
It is just different, Crean said. The bottom line is you dont overdo it, and you dont talk about it too much. You just try to get them on the court. Hopefully the travel schedule goes well and we will be able to get on the court (Friday night) and shoot. Then we will have our walk-through (today). I just think it is them getting used to it.
Its like anything else, when you walk in for the first time and go up a couple steps to get onto the court, thats different, and once you settle in and play, everything is fine.
IU will also have to deal with a Minnesota team that has its leading scorer back.
Andre Hollins, who averages 15.1 points, returned for Wednesdays 77-74 triple overtime loss at Purdue after missing two games because of a sprained left ankle he suffered 16 seconds into an 81-69 win over Wisconsin on Jan. 22.
Hollins had eight points in 36 minutes against the Boilermakers.
Andre gives them a bonafide lead guard and one of the better ones in the country, Crean said. He can score, he can shoot with range, he can get people shots, he can defend; he is very crafty and very cerebral. There are so many different things that he brings to the table.
Im sure after one game under his belt and getting that much more healthy, he is going to be the tough matchup that he always is.
The Hoosiers will try to be as tough a defensive matchup for the Gophers as they were in their 63-52 victory over No. 10 Michigan at home Sunday.
IU held Michigan, which leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage at 48.7 percent, to 40 percent shooting. And the Wolverines, who make 39.2 percent of their 3-pointers, shot 23.1 percent from behind the arc against the Hoosiers.
I think we are improving, theres no question about that, Crean said of the teams defense. Where the limits are on it, I have no idea, but I think they are really grasping things really well. When we stay disciplined to what needs to happen and where our coverages are – where the 3-point shooters are – and Ive said this before because it is so hard for the players to grasp, every team has a way that they want to win and want to play. And we try to take that away and make them think that its not there.
IU could be short a man tonight as freshman Collin Hartman is battling an illness. The forward has played in only 14 games, averaging less than five minutes per game.
Collin Hartman has been out with a virus so thats been tough for him, Crean said. We havent seen him, but the doctors and (athletic trainer) Tim Garl have been helping him the last couple days. His status for the game (today) is unknown, as we get ready to leave later (Friday). We dont want to do the wrong thing for him, and we have to keep an eye on that.
Note: The Big Ten announced that Indianas game at Purdue on Feb. 15 will be televised on ESPN. The 4 p.m. game is the only regular-season meeting between the in-state rivals this year.