Indiana coach Tom Crean appeared on the Big Ten conference call Monday morning and talked about the advantages of playing Northwestern again so soon, as well as the difference of having Collin Hartman in the lineup this time and also his thoughts on how well Yogi Ferrell has played this season.
Crean was asked about the significance of playing Northwestern just two weeks after playing the Wildcats in Evanston, Ill. Northwestern won that game, 72-65.
Crean said he thought it was a positive.
“Absolutely because there were some really good things in that game but we also saw where we lost our edge in that game as well,’’ Crean said. “We’ve got to do a great job, just as we said then, we’ve got to do a great job on Tre Demps because he took the game over in the second half and we didn’t respond to it as well and that’s got to be a big part of it.’’
In the first game, Demps scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the first half. He finished hitting 8-of-12 shots from the field in 35 minutes. As a team, Northwestern shot 51 percent from the field against the Hoosiers.
Crean said that Northwestern is playing with a great deal of confidence.
“The Michigan win was a huge one certainly after us, the zone is good because it keeps their players on the floor, it keeps them out of foul trouble, especially they can play Alex Olah a lot of minutes,’’ Crean said. “We can attack the zone better. We attacked it pretty well at times and there were other times that we missed what was there. We’ve got to do a better job all the way around in that game but I do think because it is still fresh in our minds from the mistakes that we made and the successes that we had, that it should help us lead into the preparation.”
One difference this time around for the Hoosiers will be that Collin Hartman will be in the lineup for IU. Hartman returned on Saturday after missing games with Northwestern and Iowa with a deep knee bruise.
Crean was asked if he thought it would make a difference having Hartman in the lineup this time around.
“I think it’s going to make a huge difference,’’ Crean said. “And it didn’t make as much of a difference (against Michigan State) because he really played a lot of minutes, he probably played more minutes … he didn’t play more minutes than he was allowed to play doctors wise, but he played more minutes than he was ready to play. We needed him on the court. He was our leading block out guy percentage wise and he didn’t play a great game and didn’t play with his normal confidence and movement and that’s to be expected.
“We’ve missed him. We’ve missed him a great deal. There’s only one or two players whose percentages haven’t been significantly different without him in the lineup while he was out. Hopefully this gives us a couple of more days to get us healthier and get him more in a rhythm, get him more acclimated again.’’
Crean said that Hartman, when he’s playing at a high level, has been a difficult player for opponents to defend.
“We need to get him feeling good because he’s been a huge, huge part of what we’re doing especially in the zone situation,’’ Crean said, “because you’ve got to account for him in so many different places because he can be at the basket, he can be in the middle of the lane and he can certainly shoot 3s. No question, we get him healthy, that’s going to help us a great deal.”
Crean was also asked on the call about the play this season of Ferrell. Crean said he thinks Ferrell continues to get better and better.
“He’s his own worst critic at times and at the same time, he’s got an edge and a level of toughness that is outstanding,’’ Crean said. “We need him to play with that. We need him to play with edge on defense as well as offense and be the stopper and be the team leader on the defensive end of the court that he is on the offensive end of the court because when we have that, we’re good. He does a lot of things. He improves all of the time. He improves every year and throughout the year and I wouldn’t trade him for anybody. He’s done a fantastic job.”