Practices Getting Tough For Hoosiers

Five days into the basketball season, the Hoosiers already have a couple of things to show for it - A broken nose and a busted lip.

Five days into the basketball season, the Hoosiers already have a couple of things to show for it.

A broken nose and a busted lip.

The broken nose belongs to freshman Ben Allen, the Hoosier from Down Under who went up for the opening tip in Friday night's Hoosier Hysteria scrimmage and came down with a handful of blood.

"D.J. (White) got me (with an elbow on the opening tip), and…I went down, got a rebound, out-letted to Marshall Strickland, and looked down and had blood all over my hands," said Allen.

White's elbow sent Allen to the training room and subsequently to the hospital to get it re-set, but the freshman is now back, focused on trying to help the Hoosiers in any way he can during his debut season.

The busted lip, meanwhile, belongs to Strickland, and it came courtesy of another one of IU's big bodies - Marco Killingsworth. While the injury was certainly an accident, the contact that caused it wasn't.

In an effort to toughen up the team, the IU coaching staff has added new, full-contract drill to its practice repertoire – the turkey charge drill. The staff introduced it at practice for the first time on Monday, and Strickland was the first to be left bloodied.

Players take turns standing in the paint and taking charges from three players on successive plays. There's no basketball involved, as players have to stand their ground and take whatever punishment their teammates are willing to dish out.

And it appears IU's players are willing to dish out plenty. Whether it's wide bodies like Killingsworth and Sean Kline or slender players like freshman Joey Shaw and junior Earl Calloway, no one has been shy about plowing into whomever is in their path.

For players like Killingsworth and senior Sean Kline, the latest drill is right up their alley.

"I try my best not to hurt these guys," joked Killingsworth. "Did you see Strickland's face? Today I was trying to make sure I didn't hurt anybody."

While the drill is leaving plenty of bruises and occasionally a little bit of blood behind, there hasn't been any fallout from any of the collisions that leave on-lookers laughing on occasion and cringing at others.

"That drill is about taking one for the team," said senior Lewis Monroe, who said he did the same drill when he was playing at Auburn. "We take joy and pride in it – we like doing it.

"We had one guy, Marshall, get his lip busted, but he got up, shook hands, and that was it."

Newcomer Earl Calloway, who's listed at a very generous 175 pounds, also was launched to his backside on Tuesday courtesy a shoulder and follow-up forearm from another one of Indiana's frontcourt enforcers, senior Sean Kline.

"Sean nailed me, but I'm okay - I got up," said Calloway. "Sean hits hard – he loves that drill. He looks at you with that eye of the tiger, and then comes and tries to knock you out."

IU sophomore Robert Vaden, meanwhile, tried to dish out some punishment of his own, but it didn't go exactly as planned.

"Marco is the toughest in that drill – I tried to hit him, and ended up hurting myself," said Vaden.

These on-court collisions might create some hard feelings if it wasn't for the fact that everyone on the roster knows the drill serves a valuable purpose.

"It builds toughness," said Calloway.

Toughness is something that has been questioned about IU in recent years, and it's something that the staff plans on addressing. Welcoming someone like Killingsworth to the lineup will be a big part of that, but they want everyone on the roster to be better in that area.

Vaden knows it's a style that others in the league play, one IU needs to employ as well.

"It's good to get some contact in there," said Vaden. "Sometimes it's almost like a football game - that's how Michigan State plays, that's how we have to play."

As much talent as there is on the roster, Killingsworth says that without that ingredient of toughness, the team won't accomplish everything that it hopes to this winter.

"Toughness will determine how far we get," said Killingsworth. "If you're not tough, you're not getting anywhere in this league. Period." Top Stories