BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – With five losses the last six times out, Indiana has fallen to 10th place in the Big Ten standings.
“Not a great performance by any stretch,” said head coach Tom Crean after the 75-63 home loss to Michigan. “It’s back to the drawing board a little bit.”
Injuries have hit the Hoosiers hard, as OG Anunoby and James Blackmon Jr have both missed time lately (along with the season-long injury to Collin Hartman). By and large, those left in the lineup have not filled the voids.
“Our maturity’s gotta raise,” added Crean. “I’m in here as far as I need to get to work and continue to find out more ways that this team can compete on the defensive end and find easier ways to get them baskets.”
Indiana never led Michigan while allowing the Wolverines to earn their first true road win of the season. With such a disappointing result, no doubt the Assembly Hall faithful in attendance were looking to place the blame on something or someone. To Crean, the harsh spotlight shines on one group in particular.
“Immaturity in the backcourt,” he says. “We don’t play both ends of the floor with the same purpose that we have to play when our shots aren’t going. We’ve had injuries in there too, but that’s gotta change.”
“When we don’t hit shots,” explains junior guard Robert Johnson, “we allow it to affect other areas of the game, and we can’t do that.”
Shooting is no doubt part of the Hoosiers problem, as is turning the ball over 10 times in the first half against UM. Coach Crean singled out poor defensive rotation as an issue as well. As with any team stuck in a rut however, there’s plenty of blame to go around.
“It all falls on the upperclassmen,” adds Johnson. “Me, James (Blackmon Jr), guys that have been here.”
“If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in nine years, it all falls on me,” says Crean.
And now the Hoosiers NCAA Tournament hopes may fall on the final stretch of a season that sees IU play four of their last five games on the road.