Indiana coach Tom Crean said during his Monday radio show that he doesn't have any time line for the return of starting guard Verdell Jones, but hopes he'll be back in the lineup soon.
"I'm not sure," Crean said. "We're hopeful that it won't be that long, but there's no way to know right now. We've just got to keep rehabilitating every day and hope it feels better quickly."
In response to a listener's question, Crean contrasted Jones' situation with that of Maurice Creek. He said that while Creek is out for the season, he hopes IU will have Jones back "in the near future."
Jones missed Sunday's game against Iowa because of inflammation in his right knee.
Crean said that losing Jones hurt IU on offense and on defense because Jones is good at getting back quickly on defense, one of many things the Hoosiers didn't do as well Sunday as they had done in their last two games. But Crean also said IU's mental errors in its transition defense, in letting Iowa drive the middle of the lane and in not beating the Hawkeyes to loose balls were the biggest problem, not the loss of Jones.
The mental errors came on things IU practices day after day, Crean said, which makes it tough to sleep after a game like Sunday's.
IU's shooting was badly off, as well, which put the Hoosiers behind and left them playing catchup, as well as not helping their confidence any.
"After watching the film, we missed more open shots than I'd even imagined," Crean said.
In response to a listener's question about why Indiana generally hasn't played as well at the end of games against good competition, Crean said the Hoosiers must get better resolve after halftime and learn to have a nasty attitude when they need it.
"The bottom line is we've really, really got to be a better second-half defensive team," he said.
"Our freshmen and sophomores are not understanding how tough they really have to be," Crean added. "We've got a couple of guys who when they get bumped, their game changes. You can't do that in this league."
IU hasn't had the leadership it has needed to overcome its second-half difficulties, Crean said, and that's partly because there haven't been veteran leaders to pass those qualities down over the past couple of years and partly because the team may not have had natural leaders on it, but he does see leadership developing and improving.
Crean said that after taking a step backward against Iowa, his team needs to take a couple of huge steps forward this week in difficult games against Illinois Thursday and at Michigan State Sunday. He said he hopes Sunday's disappointing play with Jones missing his first Big Ten game and with shots not falling will prove to be an aberration.
"We've just got to let it loose in front of a sellout crowd," Crean said of the 9 p.m. game against Illinois in Bloomington. "There's no reason for it not to be bedlam in there."
No time line for Jones to return to IU lineup
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