FORT WAYNE – Indiana coach Tom Crean wasn’t surprised that his team came back for a 73-72 win against LIU Brooklyn on Tuesday despite myriad mistakes and awful shooting.
Crean thought his Hoosiers would find a way. What surprised him, though, was that all of them believed that, too.
Really nobody got down, Crean said Tuesday. We had some guys that learned the hard way the level of preparation you have to have for every game. I mean, every game is different. The concepts aren’t different, but every game is different.
That goes for today’s matchup against Samford and former IU assistant Benny Seltzer, too.
Seltzer came to Bloomington with Crean after spending two years at Marquette with the Hoosiers’ coach. He left IU at the end of the 2011 season for the Samford job.
Only two IU scholarship players, senior forward Will Sheehey and junior forward Austin Etherington, got to play for Seltzer.
That speaks to the change the Hoosiers (2-0) have gone through entering this season.
But we’re a long ways away from understanding the scouting reports. We’re a long ways away from understanding the strength of the personnel, Crean said of the one-point win over LIU Brooklyn. It wasn’t like we had a group of senior guys to go down to at the end of the bench and say go in and take care of this. We had Evan (Gordon), we had Will, and we had a bunch of freshmen and sophomores.
That’s a big difference from last season, and even Seltzer’s final year. Since his departure, the Hoosiers have gone from the preseason No. 1 team to an unknown commodity.
The Bulldogs (1-1) could make for another close game if IU can’t learn from its mistakes.
Samford has two Southern Conference stars in junior guard Raijon Kelly, who is averaging 16 points, and forward Tim Williams, who won freshman of the year in the SoCon and is averaging 14 points and 14 rebounds.
IU can expect to see some compact defenses, as it did against LIU Brooklyn and Chicago State, as well as some zone. Teams are daring the Hoosiers to shoot so far, and that strategy almost led to an upset Tuesday.
LIU Brooklyn, a 24-point underdog, had a 3-pointer near half court fall short at the buzzer.
Sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell said he expects better from his team as the year goes on, and the way the Hoosiers handled themselves with a few minutes left against LIU Brooklyn was cause for optimism.
It’s also proof to the six freshmen that talent can’t beat execution at this level.
I know they hit a couple 3s in a row down toward the end, but we kept coming back, Ferrell said. I like how we never did back down at all. We stayed together. We didn’t get too carried away trying to force anything.
Note: Former Bishop Luers guard James Blackmon Jr., guard Robert Johnson and forward Max Hoetzel signed with IU on Thursday.