Despite that and the fact that IU is a 6-point favorite on the road, Indiana coach Tom Crean said that Rutgers in a dangerous team.
“I’ve coached in that building and when they’ve got it going in there it is very, very hard place to play,’’ Crean said. “It’s an excellent home court for them. They’re a very good team. They’re the same team that was in here a couple weeks ago. You don’t play their record, you don’t play their percentages, you play the players.
“We had a very tight game with them a couple weeks back. They’ve been in some very close games and they’ve also had some tough losses but they can score. They are more at full strength than they were when we played them the first time with more depth, more bodies, and more people who are contributing for them. We’ll have to play extremely well.’’
Crean said that Friday was spent reviewing film and looking at Rutgers later in the day. But Crean said it’s important for IU to get back to playing the way it wants to play.
“We need to make sure our speed game is where it needs to be in the half court and in the full court which increases our defensive pressure,’’ Crean said Saturday at Cook Hall prior to the team heading for Rutgers. “And again, it wasn’t as much the post-ups or a part of it but the ball pressure we needed to have to make it harder to get in and circle up the post were a little more crucial and that hurt us a little bit defensively. But love their attitude. They’re lifting right now and then we’ll practice. We’ll keep our fingers crossed to get out of here with an on time departure and a smooth landing.’’
Crean was asked if he can take the positives from the last road game, a two-point to Maryland, into a game like this one.
“I don’t think like that,’’ Crean said. “I think you just can’t. You’ve got to stay in the day. We’re not getting into Northwestern. I’ve watched Northwestern but we are not doing anything with Northwestern until we get back. And you can’t help but see those teams when you’re watching other teams and it’s the same thing for our players. They see them. It’s all about making sure our execution is right right now. We’ve got to make sure our transition defense is right. We’ve got to make sure we really understand Rutgers’ personnel.
“So it’s not about getting ahead of yourself and I hope I never get distracted enough as a coach or as a coaching staff or allow a team to get distracted enough to think ahead. It’s got to be where you are at that point. And certainly you know the schedule and who you play. But you’ve got to stay right where you need to be and that right now is to make sure we are ready to pay tomorrow in best possible way.’’
One thing Crean did talk about was Hanner Mosquera-Perea who continues to try and bounce back from his dislocated knee cap injury that cost him three weeks in Big Ten play.
“He has to push himself even harder and sustain it,’’ Crean said. “That’s the big thing. It’s got to be sustainability right now and really handle the simple things. They’re not simple. They’re hard to do since because there is physical contact but they’re things that you do a lot - the screening, the moving, the being in position defensively. His conditioning is not where it needs to be yet but that’s not anybody’s fault. That’s the way that it is. Because he literally was just shooting free throws. There wasn’t a lot of stuff you could do with his cardiovascular lower body and certainly some upper body things but not with his lower body because of the knee. So, that will come back and it’ll help us. And I think he saw in film and I think he knows he is capable of more.
Crean said Perea needs to be stay consistent with his athleticism and stay consistent with his offensive and defensive stance.
“He needs to be consistent with his awareness of what he needs to do defensively and then offensively continue to move him,’’ Crean said. “He’s a movement guy and at the same time we can go to him in the post more. But it really for the most part is staying out of foul trouble and continuing to be able to pay those kinds of stretches. And maybe it’s got to go back a little bit to the way it was at the beginning where it is a little more of that hockey style where the spurts are shorter to get that bigger burst. But you’ve also got to have good cardiovascular conditioning to do that so it remains to be seen.”
Crean said Rutgers is not doing a lot different than it was doing when the Hoosiers played it on Jan. 31.
“No, they’re still running their offense,’’ Crean said. “They are a rhythm team and Etou really came out well and shot well against us. I think he has continued to play well and they have Mike Williams back, so no they’re running their offense.
“Myles Mack can break you down, he can break a defense down, he can break a defender down. And they want to drive the ball, but they’re running their offense crisp. Against Iowa, Iowa made shots and they missed some shots. There was some transition involved and they attacked their zone well. Iowa changed defenses and they did good things, but they just didn’t make as many shots. They got down because Iowa got the transition game going fairly early. But to me they’re a good team, just like everybody in this league.''