Crean hopes Hoosiers are tougher mentally

On the eve of today's game with Ohio State, IU coach Tom Crean talked about how he hopes his Indiana team gets tougher mentally to be able to handle the rigors of the daily grind of the Big Ten.

Indiana coach Tom Crean is hoping that his team learned some lessons from the 70-50 loss to Michigan State earlier this week.

Some of those are physical, like continuing to set good screens or playing better transition defense.

But Crean said Friday that mental toughness is another area where his young IU basketball team needs to grow as well.

“There were numerous chances to be back in that game,’’ Crean said. “They have to learn to understand - young players have a hard time with this - how long the game actually is. The game is a very long game and especially when you have the ability to make shots like we do. But, we weren’t as competitive as we needed to be.’’

Crean said much of that begins with being tougher mentally. He said that’s something he expects IU to continue to learn today as the Hoosiers (11-4, 1-1 Big Ten) play host to a top 25 ranked team in Ohio State (13-3, 2-1).

“We’ve got to get tougher, there’s no doubt about it,’’ Crean said. “We’ve got to get tougher, we’ve got to get mentally tougher. We’ve got to continue to understand what works for us and we’ve got to be very, very attentive. We’re still building the heart and soul of this team and the identity of this team every day has got to be a level of toughness, has got to be a level of communication.

“It’s got to be a level of determination, all those things take care of the basketball part of it. We’ve got to continue to build that.’’

Crean said what he hopes his team begins to learn is just how difficult the Big Ten is going to be game in and game out.

“In this league you just keep going against one great team after another and that’s what it will be (Saturday) with Ohio State,’’ Crean said. “They’re playing well, they’ve got some experienced leadership in the sense of the three seniors that start for them. They’re getting very good play out of D’Angelo Russell and Marc Loving and Kam Williams off the bench. They’ve got a very good blend of young and old, and they know how to win, they know how to win on the road. They’re well-coached and they do some things extremely well.

“They run very well, they screen and execute their offense very well. They’ve got a very good ability to score at the rim and score from three, they create a lot of havoc defensively and they mix their defenses now. They played a lot of zone early, but now there’s more man-to-man, so we’ll be prepared for everything.’’

Crean said it will come down to IU’s mental approach to the game, too.

“We just have got to have the right mindset to come out and compete and that’s what I’m looking most forward to,’’ Crean said.

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