Hoosiers Start Exhibition Season With 96-73 Triumph Over Grace
Nov. 4, 2009
Bloomington, Indiana - Indiana had six players score in double figures and scored 20 second half points off of turnovers and 14 via the fastbreak in the final 20 minutes as the Hoosiers pulled away from NAIA power Grace (Indiana), 96-73, in front of 15,453 in Assembly Hall.
"We've got a long way to go," said Indiana Coach Tom Crean. "There is a lot of room to improve; a lot of things we do we have not even covered in practice yet. But I love their mindset; I love their attitude; I love their desire to get better. I thought they were competitive."
The Hoosiers, who begin their second season under Crean, saw freshmen and sophomores tally 81 of the squad's 96 points collectively. In addition, nine players saw at least 13 minutes of action, with none playing more than 27 minutes (Verdell Jones III). Six players scored in double figures led by freshman Christian Watford who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Jordan Hulls had 14 points, three assists and three steals, junior Jeremiah Rivers had 12 points, 10 in the second half, freshman Derek Elston had 10 points and seven boards, while Jones had 10 points and eight assists.
"I thought we were unselfish," noted Crean. "I thought they really moved the ball well. I didn't think we took any real arrogant shots. I thought they really tried to understand how to get into the bonus and what to do once we were in the bonus. That is one of the ways we have to play. I thought they got better as the game went on."
Watford scored on a conventional three-point play off of the opening tip, but the Lancers, led by long distance shooter David Henry, were able to hang tough throughout the first half, leading 16-12 on a layup by David Swanson with 15:59 to go.
There were nine ties in the first half, with the last coming on a triple by Grace's Elliot Smith with 1:33 to go in the half at 36-36. The Hoosiers would score the last six points of the half on a jumper by Hulls, a steal by Maurice Creek and a basket by Elston, and a second steal by Creek who made a layup at the buzzer to make it 42-36 at halftime.
"We are a young team and it takes awhile for them to grasp," added Crean. "We knew that we would be pushed because of how well Grace runs their offense. We certainly weren't surprised by that. That is good for us to learn how fast we have to run it in practice. I thought we pressured the ball and we thought at halftime if we could keep that pressure up there would come a point in the game around the middle of the second half that we would be able to wear them down."
For five more minutes, Grace put up quite a fight and when Smith made two free throws, he cut the IU lead to 48-46 with 15:22 to go. The Hoosiers would then go on a 14-2 run over the next five minutes to break it open.
Indiana would put the game away for good when Rivers would make back-to-back dunks to make it 73-55 for the Cream and Crimson with 7:51 remaining. For Crean, it also gave him an opportunity to empty as bench as all 13 players who were healthy were able to see some action on the floor.
"Our teaching is on-going," said Crean. "There is no question about it. In a game like this, you are playing hard and you are going at it but you are also trying to make teaching points. There were a lot of basic mistakes that young people are going to make. And the opportunity to go through it in a game, the opportunity to correct it in a game, and then most importantly the opportunity to show it on film and get it corrected in practice is where the real teaching value is."
The Hoosiers will host Saint Joseph's (Indiana) College at 7 p.m., Monday, November 9 before opening the season on Friday, November 13 against Howard.
"I thought the crowd was awesome," said Crean. "I've coached in front of big crowds but never a bigger crowd than that for me personally in an exhibition game. Very thankful for the way the fans turned out for them."
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