USA Today

Indiana shakes off Penn State loss with grueling practice during the Super Bowl

After an ugly loss at Penn State on Saturday night, Indiana spent Super Bowl Sunday in the gym.

If you're like most Americans, you spent your Super Bowl Sunday on the couch, in a bar, at a party ... somewhere in front of a TV, surrounded by the junk foods of your choice.

Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos drew 111.9 million viewers, the third-highest total in the history of America's most famous sporting event. 

Tom Crean and the Indiana basketball team were not among those 111.9 million. They spent Sunday afternoon in the gym for a grueling practice after Saturday night's 68-63 loss at Penn State. Crean wanted to make sure the issues from that game were corrected immediately.

"We didn't have to pull teeth to get a really strong, physical practice," Crean said Monday night on his weekly radio show. "They were ready to go. It was a little longer and a lot more physical, a lot more scrimmaging. There was also a lot of teaching to it. Like I said to those guys, 'There's an eighth-grade aspect to this right now.' That's exactly what we've got to do is get back to making this game simple."

Indiana shot a season-worst 36 percent in Saturday's loss, and 27 of the Hoosiers' 47 field-goal attempts were 3s. The Hoosiers shot just 30 percent in the second half, and attempted only eight 2-pointers in the half.

This was among the main issues Crean wanted to address on Sunday. He's repeatedly told his team that they have the most success when the ball touches the paint, and yet Indiana often attempts a 3 or turns it over before it ever goes inside. 

To fix this problem, Crean used a drill inspired by former NBA player Will Perdue, who visited with Crean recently. The drill's purpose is to show the importance of turning defense into offense, and it's played in the half court. A team only gets a point it gets a defensive rebound or forces a turnover before scoring. Score, and you go on defense. But here's the catch: In this drill, 3-pointers are worth 1 point, 2-pointers are worth 2, and layups and fouls are worth 3.

Crean is a big believer in tapering off practice as the season progresses to keep his players fresh for the end of the year. And while he's still using that system this season, Sunday was an exception to the rule. Even though Indiana is 9-2 in conference play and near the top of the Big Ten standings, Crean knows that a slip up -- if allowed to linger -- can change the entire path of a once-promising season.

Crean is determined not to let that happen in this situation. With first-place Iowa coming to town Thursday night and a trip to East Lansing on Sunday, getting things corrected now are of the upmost importance.

"Hopefully they had DVRs so they could watch the Super Bowl later," Crean said. "I'm sure they got to see some of it, but it was important that we get that out of our systems and get ready for Iowa."


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