Crean: Hoosiers still a work in progress

As Indiana prepares to host No. 5 Michigan State on Saturday, Indiana coach Tom Crean acknowledges his team must make major improvements in key areas.

Indiana has a young team that is very much learning to find its way in the world of college basketball.

The Hoosiers will have to continue to learn in a hurry. The Big Ten is an unforgiving league, and there is little time to regroup. The Hoosiers suffered a tough overtime loss at Illinois on Saturday, and it doesn't get any easier this weekend.

Indiana returns home to host No. 5 Michigan State at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Spartans were the preseason No. 1 team in the country.

"It'd be silly for me to stand up here and say we've got an understanding of what this takes," Indiana coach Tom Crean said Friday. "Some guys do, but I try to tell these guys, 'If you're waiting for experience, you're going to be waiting for a long time. You've got to get an understanding as quick as you possibly can.

"I can't tell you when it's gonna click."

The Hoosiers (10-4, 0-1) played well at times in Saturday's loss to the Illini, but they turned the ball over 23 times and went without a field goal for the last 6:40 of regulation and the first 4:57 of overtime.

Plus, freshman center Noah Vonleh was straddled with foul trouble throughout the game and didn't get to play significant time down the stretch.

"The other day, I kept trying to get to some matchups inside of the game, and that's very hard for guys that have never looked at it that way," Crean said. "Last year's team, we just did it like it was breathing. Those things hit when in that we still have a long way to go."

Crean said after watching the film from the Illinois game, he came away with the fact that IU turned the ball over many times because it was indecisive with the ball.

"I think our indecisiveness sometimes comes from not making the play immediately and making it a second later," Crean said.

"You can't cheat the fundamentals of the game. A lot of times for players, they just want to skip from A to D, knowing that B and C are as important as anything to get to that point."

Crean was encouraged, however, by the fact his team played with great energy and effort throughout the game.

"We got our heads down way too quick against Syracuse, there's a loss," Crean said. "This loss the other day, our heads never got down inside that game. If they do, you lose that game some time during regulation."

Now, the Hoosiers turn their attention to Michigan State, a team that has looked vulnerable at times this season but has played better lately. The Spartans (12-1, 1-0) have won five consecutive games since their only loss to North Carolina, including a 79-63 win at Penn State in their Big Ten opener on Saturday. Michigan State outscored the Nittany Lions 39-16 in the second half of that game.

"Michigan State is playing with great confidence," Crean said. "They should be, they've got one of the best teams in the country. I think they're playing even better than they were in the beginning when they were No. 1. I don't know what there health is and all that. They look pretty healthy to me."

The Spartans have dealt with injury issues this year, especially to guards Keith Appling and Gary Harris. Harris, an Indiana native, still leads Michigan State in scoring at 17.4 points per game, but he is shooting just 31 percent from beyond the arc and 40 percent overall.

Adreian Payne has had a huge year for the Spartans, averaging 17 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He's shooting 53 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc.

He has been especially impressive in big games, including a 33-point, nine-rebound performance in a win against Texas.

"You can't build your defense around stopping him because then they'll carve you up with 3s," Crean said. "He can post, he can play at the foul line, he can drive it now, and he can shoot 3s. Not to mention rebound and play defense."


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