BLOOMINGTON-Even with D.J. White and Lewis Monroe out of the lineup when No. 13 Indiana (10-3, 2-1 Big Ten) faces off with No. 7 Illinois (16-1, 2-1), the Hoosiers will not be making significant changes to the defensive gameplan.
"We have no plans to change anything because we have a defensive philosophy that we've had all year," said assistant coach Donnie Marsh, who oversees IU's work on the defensive end. "We're built from the inside out on defense and that determines our help side and how we want to stop dribble penetration and so forth. We're not going to change anything."
The Hoosiers will be facing yet another challenging opponent early in the Big Ten schedule when Illinois comes to town. The matchup will be Indiana's third straight game against a ranked opponent, with the Hoosiers knocking off Ohio State at Assembly Hall followed by a 14-point setback to Michigan State in East Lansing.
With White and Monroe missing from the lineup it would be easy for the Hoosiers to try to break tendencies while using different personnel. One of those new faces could be junior point guard Earl Calloway, who will start in place of Monroe at point guard if Monroe is unable to go.
"You have to be able to step up when you're called upon and contribute to your team," said Calloway. "That's what I'm going to do my best to do. Just work hard and compete.
"We're doing the same thing even without D.J. and Lewis. We're going to try to work the ball inside, spot up, run to our spots, sprint and make sure we hit the open man."
White has played only five games this season due to foot injuries, but Monroe has been a staple in the Hoosier lineup. He had started all 12 games before missing the Michigan State contest. His absence was certainly felt on the defensive end, where IU allowed the Spartans to shoot 58.8 percent from the floor, including 64 percent in the second half.
If Monroe is unable to go the Hoosiers lose not only some quality depth, but also lose the leadership of a fifth-year senior on the court. While Monroe's absence wouldn't change Indiana's defensive philosophy, it could play a role when it comes to making switches on the Illini guards on the perimeter.
"Lewis has the ability to put pressure on the basketball and we have the ability to switch a few more things with him because his size and Vaden's size are pretty much the same," said Marsh. "We don't want to do that when we have Earl or Errek Suhr in there just because it creates more of a mismatch than we want. Lewis gives us flexibility from that standpoint and he has no problem putting his body in front of a guy on the drive and taking the charge. He's tough in those situations."
One advantage Indiana may have with Calloway on the floor against Illinois is he has a chance to combat the speed of Illinois senior guard Dee Brown.
"We'll see how the matchup goes during the game," said Calloway. "I'm going to stay attached to him and try to limit his open looks. If the ball gets out of his hands, I'm going to do my best to deny him the ball. I'm just going to go into the game and play hard. We'll see who's the fastest out there."
The speed vs. speed matchup could be a key for Indiana in trying to stop Brown, who is averaging 15.6 points a game and 5.3 assists, but the Hoosiers will also need to play smart against the Illini if they hope to knock off this top-10 conference foe at home.
"Earl gives you a little more speed and the ability to get through passing lanes and he's disruptive from that standpoint," said Marsh. "His speed will certainly help against Dee Brown, but it's really how smart you play against him.
"There are some guys that aren't as quick, but can do a decent job on him just because they understand positioning and try to keep the ball out of his hands when they can. You need to absorb his speed and not try to go speed for speed with him. He's a great conditioned player and he's clever. So you have to respect that he's quick and he can come off screens and you have to respect the fact that they're working to get him open at all times. So you have to do some different things to negate that."
Players May Change, But Plan Still The Same
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