Before the season began, Indiana head coach make it clear: guards on his team would have to make a concerted effort to rebound the ball.
Even with a more traditional post presence with the additions of Thomas Bryant and Max Bielfeldt, the Hoosiers would need their guards to crash the boards in order to play the fast-paced tempo they wanted.
The results from guards getting involved showed in Indiana's 86-65 victory over Creighton, as Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson and Nick Zeisloft accounted for 19 of the team's 43 rebounds.
"That's the key to some of our games," said Blackmon Jr., who had seven rebounds in addition to his team-high 19 points. "Me, Yogi, Rob, Nick getting in there to get the rebounds and take the pressure off our big men. I feel like every time we do that, we come out with the win.
Indiana's 2015-16 season is still relatively young, but Blackmon Jr. wasn't far off about how the team has fared when the guards contribute on the glass.
Against Austin Peay, Hoosier guards grabbed 13 of the team's 30 rebounds in a 102-76 IU victory. In its season opener, Indiana's guards collectively gathered 19 of the team's 51 total rebounds.
Individually Thursday night, Ferrell had nine rebounds, Blackmon Jr. seven, Zeisloft two and Johnson one. Blackmon Jr.'s first defensive rebound with 17:26 to play in the first half allowed Indiana to push the ball up the floor quickly and resulted in Blackmon Jr. getting an assist off a Troy Williams layup.
Overall, the rebounding efforts of IU's guards contributed to six fast break points and 12 points against the Blue Jays.
Indiana center Thomas Bryant and other frontcourt players are already seeing the benefits the guards being active on the glass.
"It helps a lot," said Bryant, who had 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in Indiana's win Thursday night."With us rebounding, and also with the guards rebounding, that gives us a lot of transition offense that will lead to rim runs, which we had tonight."
Crean appreciate of fan support
Thanksgiving Break isn't until next week for Indiana University, but some students were heading out of town beginning early Thursday morning.
Those who stuck around for Thursday's basketball game and its entirety, even when IU led by as many 27 points, made a memorable impression on Indiana head coach Tom Crean.
"I want to thank the fans, especially all the students who didn't go home when they could've (for break)," Crean said. "The energy in there was fantastic. From start to finish, it really was. Could hear it in the back during warm-ups, and never take that for granted."
The student section was filled all the way up from the general admission section in the lower bowl of Assembly Hall to the arena's east balcony. Multiple times that same crowd was energized by Bryant, who waved his arms in the air and yelled to get them loud.
Crean said the team fed off the energy of the fans.
"To see that kind of turnout tonight, especially with the weekend coming up the way it is, and next week coming up, that was big," he said.
Short turnaround for Maui
Playing three games in three nights won't come close to the restlessness Indiana basketball players feel Thursday morning.
With its first game of the Maui Invitational slated for Monday, the team will be leaving at 4:30 a.m. Thursday to get adjusted to the time change and prepare for Wake Forest.
"It's a huge opportunity," Blackmon Jr. said. "The location doesn't get any better. I don't think the teams will get any better, so we'll be playing top competition and it's just going to be a time for us to bring what we've been working on and get the wins out there."