There are a couple of ways of looking at Indiana’s schedule the rest of the regular season.
Uh-oh is one way to view a stretch that includes Purdue, at Ohio State, Wisconsin and at Illinois.
Coach Tom Crean prefers another approach, calling facing the top four teams in the Big Ten standings a great challenge.
We’re trying to get our team to understand it’s an incredible opportunity, Crean said during Monday’s Big Ten teleconference. That’s how we’re viewing it as a coaching staff. We want our team to view it that way, our fans to view it that way. We’re excited to get it going.
The first opportunity comes tonight against No. 8 Purdue (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten).
They are playing as well as anyone in the country, Crean said. They are getting great play from a lot of different players and they are getting it on both ends of the court. It’s going to be an incredible atmosphere (at Assembly Hall). It’s a great opportunity for our team.
IU (12-15, 3-11) has passed two Top 25 tests this season – knocking off Illinois and Minnesota when both were ranked.
Indiana played Wisconsin and Purdue tough in road losses this season, losing to the Badgers 69-60 on Jan. 20 and to the Boilermakers 67-53 on Feb. 8.
But Indiana is coming off a puzzling 70-64 loss to Northwestern on Saturday in which mental lapses led to a 10-point halftime deficit. IU tied the game in the second half but never took the lead. After the game, Crean said he would hold a 7:30 a.m. practice the next day.
They responded much like I thought they would, which was very well, Crean said. They have a lot of determination in them, they have a lot of desire to get better. We have to have all the intangibles going, in intelligence, communication, emotion. All those different things.
There were too many times where we let mistakes compound because we had our heads down. Bottom line is you have to have accountability on the court. (Sunday) was very much about that. We’re going to build on that.