FORT WAYNE – Indiana and Purdue have a week to regroup as each team looks for its first Big Ten win of the season.
The Hoosiers (10-5, 0-2) opened conference play with an 83-80 overtime loss at No. 23 Illinois (13-2, 2-0) on Dec. 31 and fell 73-56 at home to No. 5 Michigan State (13-1, 2-0) on Saturday.
The Boilermakers (10-5, 0-2) fell 78-69 at home to No. 3 Ohio State (15-0, 2-0) on Dec. 31 and 82-79 at Minnesota (12-3, 1-1) on Sunday.
IU coach Tom Crean and Purdue coach Matt Painter both said during Monday’s coaches teleconference that their teams will focus on themselves after not gaining a win in the first week of conference play.
For us right now, it’s about getting back to the practice court, making sure we’re building that identity of running, of moving without the ball, getting the ball reversed, getting back on defense, challenging shots better, making sure we’re rebounding at a high rate, finishing better, all those things, said Crean, whose team travels to play Penn State (9-6, 0-2) on Saturday.
If you are spending time on what you need to improve upon, you don’t spend time on this, that or the other thing. You got to really stay in the moment as much as possible for a team to gain confidence. That is what we are trying to do.
Painter said his team will also get back in the gym after the Boilermakers return to campus. He said the team was expected to be able to fly home Monday afternoon, and with a week off of classes, the Boilermakers will have plenty of time to get ready their home game against Nebraska on Sunday.
We try to focus on our habits and continue to do the same things we’ve done from Day 1, Painter said. It’s not talking about a record or where you are in your league, it’s talking about doing the things you need to do to help us be successful. That’s what we will continue to harp on. And if you do those things now, your record is going to improve and you are going to get better. It will take care of itself.
Both coaches also said their teams need to play smarter as squads that rely on a number of sophomores and freshmen try to navigate through a Big Ten schedule.
We have a young group, but we also have some guys that are young that have played and they’ve been in Big Ten contests and been through a season already, and we’ve got to start showing some basketball maturity, Painter said.
The Hoosiers and Boilermakers will also remember that the first week is just a snapshot of the conference season.
And teams’ fortunes can change quickly in a competitive league that features three teams ranked in the top five of the Associated Press Top 25 – Ohio State, No. 4 Wisconsin (15-0, 2-0) and Michigan State – and two more teams in the poll in No. 20 Iowa (12-3, 1-1) and No. 23 Illinois (13-2, 2-0).
It just seems that any given night anyone can beat anyone, said Michigan coach John Beilein, whose team is 10-4, 2-0 in conference play. I think when it’s all said and done, the Big Ten will be either the top conference or one of the top two or three conferences. It wasn’t like this six or seven years ago. It was very top heavy.
There are so many programs without new coaches, and that whole idea of having your culture set, you better be on your A’ game every game or you are not going to win.