Indiana coach Tom Crean wants to make sure his players are not feeling unneeded pressure.
The Hoosiers have lost three in a row, six of eight and are reeling after collapsing in the final minute in a 66-65 loss to Penn State on Wednesday and getting blown out 82-64 by Purdue on Saturday.
Bottom line is we just have to do a better job of being consistent and then when things get tight, we have to have even more internal leadership, which leads to external leadership when they are out on the court, where guys make their teammates feel like everything is going to be OK and it’s going to work out, Crean said during Monday’s coaches teleconference. When you have guys that are struggling, sometimes for the first times in their lives, that takes awhile to go through that process where they can get that confidence and get that consistency when things are going well for them. That’s what we are trying to work through right now.
Things do not get any easier tonight as IU (14-11, 4-8 Big Ten) plays host to No. 15 Iowa (19-6, 8-4).
Iowa is the highest-scoring team in the Big Ten, averaging 83.6 points, and the Hawkeyes like to push the pace.
We have to take the speed of the game and make it work for us, Crean said. They can do numerous things, whether it is pressure or man or zone or switching because of the versatility.
Roy Devyn Marble leads the Hawkeyes’ offense with 16.4 points per game, and Aaron White averages 13.2 points.
But it is the ability to play so many people around and behind the leading scorers that Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says has led to success this season.
It’s critical from a couple of different standpoints, he said. The first thing you look at is the fact that we are going to try to push the pace. When you play somebody like Indiana, who is also going to push the pace, you got to have some depth. The other side of it is it takes great stamina and depth to guard. The teams in this league are so talented offensively that if you exert all of your effort running the fast break then you can’t stop anybody.
That’s really been helpful to our team that we have this kind of depth, but we also have experience.
IU could be without sophomore Hanner Mosquera-Perea for a second game in a row. The forward was suspended indefinitely after a drunken-driving arrest Friday.
But no matter who is available, it will be difficult for the Hoosiers to add the Hawkeyes to their list of wins over Top 25 teams.
You can see with them being as old as they are and as experienced as any team in this league, that they are playing that way, said Crean, whose team beat then-No. 3 Wisconsin and then-No. 10 Michigan at home this year. They are extremely unselfish with one another and cause so many issues with their versatility. We have a great task in front of us.