Hoosiers try out different defenses

Indiana pressed and played a variety of defenses in Friday night's win over Nicholls State.

In our Hoosier Game Day preview package, I wrote that this weekend's games for Indiana were very much of the tuneup variety.

It looked that way on Friday night.

The Hoosiers pressed more than they have all season, and experimented with a number of different defenses in their 79-66 win over Nicholls State at Assembly Hall.

It wasn't always pretty, but the Hoosiers were pretty effective in the press after awhile.

"We were switching defenses, and sometimes we were pretty good at that, and sometimes we weren't as good," said Indiana coach Tom Crean. "But it's all about getting these guys getting the experiences.

"We pressed more tonight than we would have pressed in practice and games combined over the entire 52 practices and 11 games."

Crean also used a lot of players in the win, playing walk-ons Jeff Howard and Jonny Marlin fairly early in the first half. Marlin was effective in his role, establishing the pace for Indiana without turning the ball over. The crowd clamored for him to shoot the ball on multiple occasions, but he did not.

Starting point guard Yogi Ferrell struggled in the first half with four turnovers, so it seemed that might be the reason for Marlin's early appearance. But Crean said afterward the game that had nothing to do with it.

"I knew all week long that we wanted to do that. We'll see how it goes," Crean said. "Put him out there in situations where he can spell Yogi and at the same not have a lot of drop off."

Crean admitted it was a very long week for the team, especially academically, where Indiana's six freshmen went through finals week for the first time.

It looked that way sometimes on Friday night. The Hoosiers (9-3) were sloppy at times, had a season-high 20 turnovers, and struggled to find a rhythm at times.

Indiana will play its final game of the non-conference season on Sunday against Kennesaw State before traveling to Illinois to open the Big Ten season on Dec. 31.

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