LAHAINA, HAWAII – After winning their first two games, a 38-point blowout to Notre Dame in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational might be lesson one for IU's young basketball team.
An early deficit quickly turned into a blowout, with the Hoosiers (2-1) losing to No. 8 Notre Dame, 88-50.
"We're obviously in a learning process and we learned a lot today," IU coach Tom Crean said after the game.
Junior guard Devan Dumes and freshman forward Nick Williams hung their heads in the post-game press conference in the Lahaina Civic Center. Seated between the two, Crean described what the Hoosiers did wrong in their first loss of the season.
Citing a lack of communication on the defensive end as the team's number one problem, Crean also said his team failed to play weak side defense and pressure the basketball up to his standards.
"We had 13 deflections, we're not scratching, not even sniffing a win if we have activity like that," he said.
Crean said that total might be the lowest a team of his has had since he's been a head coach. The team's goal is 35 deflections per game.
Despite Crean's assessment, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said he was impressed with how IU played amidst a "huge rebuilding process."
"He has them competing and playing really hard," Brey said. "There are a lot of new faces out there."
Brey, a good friend of IU's first-year coach from their days together in the Big East, said he inherited a similar situation to Crean when he took the head coaching position at Delaware in 1995.
He said the first step is getting your team to play hard and competing everyday.
"Then you start to build your system and things like that," Brey said.
Brey's "system" is built around All-American junior forward Luke Harangody, who was held to 14 points and five rebounds Monday, well below his season averages. But Brey only played the big man 26 minutes, with Notre Dame leading comfortably almost the entire game.
Irish senior guard Kyle McAlarney hit a 3-pointer with 7:35 left in the first half to put Notre Dame up 12. They would lead by double-digits the rest of the way. At halftime the lead had stretched to 21. When Irish senior forward Luke Zeller hit a mid-range jumper with just under 10 minutes to go in the game, the lead inflated to 30.
"After the game is over, win or lose, we have to tell them what they have to get better at and build on the successes in the short time," Crean said.
In a change from their starting line-up in the first two games, Crean went with freshmen forwards Tom Pritchard and Malik Story, freshmen guards Matt Roth and Daniel Moore and Dumes to begin the game.
Pritchard led the team with 14 points and six rebounds. Despite guarding Harangody for a majority of the game, Pritchard finished the contest with no fouls.
"He's still a work in progress, but he's got a lot of potential, no question," Crean said.
Dumes and Williams also finished in double-digits with 10 points each.
The Irish had five players in double figures, led by junior Tory Jackson with 21.
With the Hoosiers second round game slated for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday (1:30 pm. EST), the team doesn't have much time to prepare for their next opponent, Saint Joseph's (1-2).
"We'll let them get something to eat, let them get showered, relax a little bit and then pick the things we need to focus on inside of this game and turn around and put it all into what we want to do with Saint Joseph's," Crean said. "But there is no question we need to see ourselves not being physical enough, we need to see ourselves being out of position and spend as much time on us as we do them."
The Hawks lost to No. 7 Texas Monday, 68-50. Senior forward Ahmad Nivins led the team in the losing effort with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Crean said he didn't watch the Texas-Saint Joseph's game live but plans on watching the film as soon as he gets back to his hotel room.
Prior to Maui, the Hawks opened the season with a 69-57 victory over Rider before losing at Holy Cross on Nov. 16, 73-69.
Note: Matt Dollinger covers the Hoosiers for the Indiana Daily Student
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