When Indiana played Hillsdale in its second exhibition game on Monday, its biggest challenge was closing out on shooters. Hillsdale put five guys on the floor that could knock down 3-pointers, so that was a point of emphasis for Tom Crean and his staff leading up to the game.
When the Hoosiers play Chicago State in Friday night's season opener, the challenge will be much different. This time, Indiana will have to deal with a team that loves to trap, and trap often.
"They feed off their energy and they feed off their press," said sophomore point Yogi Ferrell. "This is gonna be a good test for us to see how well guys handle the ball and how well we can make certain passes."
Added Crean: "It'll be very interesting to see how that inexperienced of a team handles that kind of pressure inside of the game."
Chicago State is a veteran team with nine seniors and three juniors. The Cougars haven't faired well in recent history, but they did make dramatic improvements last season. After winning only four games two seasons ago, Chicago State was 11-22 last year.
The pressure defense the Cougars like to play could be a real challenge for an Indiana team that is likely to start at least two freshmen.
"The pressure they're capable of putting on is enormous," Crean said. "We're gonna find out what kind of instincts we have. You can't come down and turn the ball over.
"You're a press break team or you're a press attack team. We've always tried to be a press attack team."
Senior forward Will Sheehey, who left Monday's exhibition game with a calf injury, is healthy and is expected to play on Friday night.
"He's been fine," Crean said. "He practiced both days. Couldn't tell any difference with him. Sometimes Will thinks he's older than he really is. He's young and he's got some of the greatest quick twitch I've ever seen. He's doing fine."
Yogi enjoys playing off the ball
Yogi Ferrell started and played every game at point guard for the Hoosiers a season ago as a freshman. Ferrell excels in that role because of his special vision, quickness and ball-handling ability.
But Crean is attempting to use Ferrell in an off-ball role a little bit more, and Ferrell has enjoyed it.
"I kind of like playing off the ball a little bit just because I can find the open spots and look to score," Ferrell said. "I kind of watch Will a little bit because he's the best off the ball."
It seems unlikely Ferrell will spend a significant amount of time playing off the ball given the team's lack of point guard depth, but it could be part of his game down the road.
Vonleh not worried about FT misses
Freshman Noah Vonleh has raised many eyebrows with his play through two exhibition games. He's added a good amount of strength since getting to IU, and he looks like a dominant force in the post.
But Vonleh has disappointed in one area: Free-throw shooting. In the two exhibition games, Vonleh was 0-of-8 from the line.
On Thursday, there freshman big man said he wasn't concerned about the misses.
"I'm not really concerned about it too much," Vonleh said. "As you guys know, I went 0-for-8, but in practice I've been shooting the ball pretty well from the free throw line and I think I just have to zone everything out, focus and shoot it with confidence and I think it will go in."
"What we're gonna find out is how deep of a team we have. For people to look at it and say, 'This could be the starting lineup for the year' … I don't see that. I don't see that at all." -- Indiana coach Tom Crean