'Lights too bright' for young Hoosiers

Indiana had a great opportunity for a big win on Saturday afternoon, but fell short against Notre Dame at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

When the opportunities were there for Indiana on Saturday afternoon, the Hoosiers failed to capitalize. When they were there for Notre Dame, the Irish made the most of them.

Credit the Irish's experience or blame Indiana's youth, but whatever the reason, the Hoosiers could never quite get over the hump in a 79-72 loss.

"We've got a lot of young guys and they didn't get a lot done," Indiana coach Tom Crean said afterward.

In his postgame press conference, Crean lamented the fact he had to play some guys heavy minutes because others couldn't handle the moment. That's hard to believe, especially considering the fact this team has already played two games at Madison Square Garden and another at Syracuse's Carrier Dome. Bankers Life Fieldhouse should be just another venue.

"We played some guys a lot of minutes because we had some guys that it was just a little bit too bright in there today," Crean said. "I would have liked to have done more substituting for fatigue today rather than substituting and keeping guys in because some guys, the lights were too bright."

Perhaps it'll just take time for Indiana's young players to get used to the big moments, but Saturday's production -- or lack thereof -- is worrisome to me.

The lights shouldn't be too bright for some of these kids. Many of them were highly recruited. Many played at elite high school programs.

And when Big Ten season rolls around, those bright lights will be on in the gym each and every night.

"There's not a lot of drills that you can have to give a guy the experience and understanding of how important every possession is in these kind of games," Crean said.

Freshman Troy Williams played as well as he has all season against Washington in New York. He played one of his worst games on Saturday against Notre Dame.

Devin Davis has earned minutes this season because of his defense and rebounding. He looked nervous on the floor Saturday.

Noah Vonleh didn't look like his normal self. He got to the foul line only one time, and finished with a very average eight points and six rebounds. And on the defensive end, Vonleh was dominated by a couple of guys that aren't really known for their post offense.

"We're not demanding the ball the way that we need to," Crean said.

"Coach kept stressing to throw it in there. I know for a fact I didn't see a lot of looks down there," senior guard Evan Gordon said.

"He needs to demand the ball and we need to get it to him," Will Sheehey added. "It's that simple."

It sure didn't look simple on Saturday. Indiana's freshmen combined for 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Those not named Vonleh or Stanford Robinson accounted for zero points on 0-of-7 shooting.

Robinson should not be classified with the other guys because he played very well and gave Crean solid minutes in the second half. He had six points in 17 minutes off the bench.

Indiana (8-3) is back to the drawing board again, and with only two games remaining until the Big Ten season.

"What I'm learning with a very young team is every time you think you're taking a step toward that identity," Crean said, "it's very easy to take a step or two back."

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