Nobody on Indiana's roster or coaching staff will say this, but it is very much a tuneup weekend for the Hoosiers.
They will play two games over the next three days, before opening the Big Ten season at Illinois on Dec. 31. That starts tonight, when Indiana will host Nicholls State at 7 p.m.
The Hoosiers (8-3) will play Kennesaw State on Sunday afternoon.
Nicholls State ranks 326th out of 351 teams by KenPom.com, making them the lowest rated team the Hoosiers have played to this point in the season. In other words, Friday night will be less about the opponent and more about the Hoosiers working on themselves.
Indiana suffered a disappointing 79-72 loss to Notre Dame last Saturday afternoon, and after a week of final exams, the Hoosiers should be anxious to get back on the court.
"Frustration is for little children," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "It's not frustration, it's determination. What are you going to do about it?
"The biggest thing is just establishing more and more what our style of play is and where we want to take it to, and learning from the most recent game of Notre Dame. Learning from some of the past five games or so, the pluses and the minuses of those games and just really locking in to our improvement. … What we're continuing to learn is how do we win? Last year's team, the last two years' could make a ton of threes. That's not this team right now. They're all getting better with it, but that's not this team. There's some proven things for us that we can win with if we'll do that. It's my responsibility to make sure that we're doing that."
Earlier in the week, Crean took full blame for the loss to Notre Dame because he didn't get his team to throw the ball inside to freshman Noah Vonleh nearly enough. Vonleh attempted only one free throw in the game.
"We had numerous opportunities in that game to take a four or five-point deficit and swing it the other way," Crean said. "We became a little bit too self-reliant instead of team-reliant."
Crean talked after the loss to Notre Dame about some of his players having to sit out because "the lights were too bright for them." He clarified his comments on Thursday.
"Some people might call it the deer in the headlight look, I call it the bright lights," Crean said. "We just didn't have great awareness in that game. The experience of [Notre Dame] the other day was a factor because they had much better awareness."