SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – If Indiana is looking for a defensive test, Gonzaga forward Adam Morrison is ready to administer the exam.
After leading the nation in scoring during the regular season at 28.4 points a game, Adam Morrison rallied the Gonzaga Bulldogs over Xavier in the first round of the NCAA tournament by tallying 35 points. The Indiana Hoosier coaching staff got a first-hand look at what they will be up against, scouting the second-round foe.
"He's a competitor," said assistant head coach Donnie Marsh. "He's tough. The tougher, the tighter, the more fierce the situation gets, the more he rises to that occasion. That's to be commended on his part. It's a challenge for our guys as well.
You have to understand you don't want to wake a sleeping dog. If he's kind of going through the motions, letting things happen, if he wants to do that for 40, let's let him do it for 40. But he's a kid that will wake up at any time and put a team on his shoulders and make plays."
Indiana already had a taste of the nation's second-leading scorer when the Hoosiers faced Duke and J.J. Reddick in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in late November. Even with Indiana throwing different players at him throughout the game, Reddick still put up 29 points on the Hoosiers with 10-of-17 shooting as the Blue Devils went on to win.
"By far him and Redick are the best two players in the country," said Indiana head coach Mike Davis. "We can't focus on Morrison because if we do it will take away from what we are trying to do offensively.
"He is the leading scorer in the nation. There is nothing we can really do. We just hope he misses some shots. We don't have anyone that can really guard him. No one has figured it out. We're just going to try to focus on our game plan more than focusing on them."
Hoping he misses shots has not worked for Morrison's other opponents thus far this season. Morrison has shot nearly 50 percent from the floor this season and has scored in double figures in every game.
Even in what Morrison called his toughest game of the year, Morrison still scored 25 points.
"I think Oklahoma State as a team (did the best job defensively)," said Morrison. "They had Marcus Dove who was 6-9 and long. He did a pretty good job on me and that was one of the toughest games I've had all year."
Even a player who goes against him everyday in his own teammate Erroll Knight cannot figure out a way to stop him.
"He can score any way and every way," said Knight. "He's 6-8 and he's long so if you give him a little space he's going to shoot and you give him too much he's going to drive you. Having a long frame like Adam's makes him hard to guard and he'll use a right-hand hook and a left-hand hook, anything to beat you."
Indiana will look to play the same type of defense they used against Redick and Duke that allowed the Hoosiers to hang with the No. 1 team in the nation down to the wire.
"I don't think we should get too caught up in trying to stop (Morrison)," said Strickland. "He's a great player, he's going to get his points. We're going to try to make other guys make plays also.
"We threw a lot of guys at J.J. (Redick) when we played Duke and I'm sure we'll do the same against Morrison. We're not going to focus too much on the amount of points he is scoring because we have our own game that needs to be played. He's going to score his points, he's one of the best players in the country."
A key for Indiana will be looking at the perimeter play of the San Diego State Aztecs and try to stop the same type of production from Morrison and the Bulldogs. San Diego State shot 56 percent from the field on the Hoosiers, just the eighth team this season to shoot over 50 percent on Indiana.
"They had a lot of weapons," said Strickland. "They were a very good offensive team. I think teams like that are dangerous in the tournament and Morrison and some of their other guys are just like that. I think it will be a good carryover for us."
The main focus for Indiana will have to be not worrying about Morrison's production, but instead attempting to limit his teammates' involvement in the game. Keeping the ball out of the post and out of the hands of J.P. Batista could go a long way into forcing Morrison to take contested and out of rhythm shots.
"A guy like that, he's going to hit shots," said Roderick Wilmont. "We all know that. But we want him to take tough shots. Any time you have a guy like that, you want to deny him the ball, make him work to get the ball. If you can make him use a lot of energy and make him take tough shots, I think you're fine.
"We allowed (Redick) to get too many looks. We never made him work to get the ball. I know tomorrow we're going to have Morrison work to get the ball. We're going to deny him from getting the ball. If he does get it, just contain him and contest every shot."
Morrison To Be Huge Test For Hoosiers
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