BLOOMINGTON-Things are getting pretty competitive around the IU basketball program.
The internal battle isn't over the usual minutes or shots or points that often have teammates bickering. Instead, this is the sort of competition that the coaches enjoy. It's on the defensive end, where the players are clashing to see who can be the best at stopping the opposition to the rim.
"That's one thing coach (Mike Davis) and I talked about early on, that we wanted to be a team that drew charges and everyone was going to have to buy into it," said IU Assistant Head Coach Donnie Marsh.
That's apparently taken place as just about every player on IU's roster have drawn a charge this season. In the first three games of the season alone, Indiana drew 23 charges, led by Lewis Monroe and Errek Suhr, who drew six apiece.
It was an area Marsh knew the Hoosiers would have to better at if this was going to be a good defensive team. Without the presence of shot blockers like Jeff Newton, Jared Jeffries and George Leach on the roster, coupled with the absence of D.J. White in the early going, Marsh knew Indiana would have to be a team that got a body in someone's way, not just a hand.
"We weren't going to be a team that was going to block a ton of shots, so we had to be in good position all the time to do it," said Marsh. "Now we understand that if there's any penetration someone is going to step up and stop that penetration. It will be rare for guys to get all the way to our rim because guys understand when and who is supposed to step up and they also understand the rotations involved after someone steps up."
Indiana has been doing that, and they've been particularly in shutting down foes on the defensive end in the last three games. During the Hoosiers' recent three-game winning streak, they've limited their foes to 31.3 percent shooting (56-of-179), including 19.4 percent (14-72) from behind the 3-point arc.
"We're pleased, especially with these last couple games," said Marsh. We've done a good job of getting on the same page – that's as much the issue for us as anything. We spent good time in practice breaking it all the way back down to the foundation of our defense to make sure everyone understands all of our terminology and movements and different actions."
It's been paying off with success on the court, and the desire to excel defensively has been rubbing off on everyone on the roster.
"These guys are competitive enough that they'll look at the stat sheet afterwards to see how many (charges) did I have, how many did we get (as a team)," said Marsh.
"I think we have a group that really understands we need to be that type of defensive team for us to make this a special season like we want it to be."
Hoosiers Taking Charge On Defensive End
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