Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Zach Osterman, IndyStar
BLOOMINGTON Tom Crean didn't need to let anyone know Will Sheehey played injured against Penn State. His performance, Crean said, wouldn't have given it away.
Sheehey took a hard fall in practice last Thursday, one that left him so hobbled that he would not be 100 percent the rest of the week. Crean said Sheehey could only participate in the Hoosiers' walkthrough Friday, and he was a gametime decision Saturday in State College.
Neither Crean nor associate head coach Steve McClain specified the nature of the injury on Monday.
PREVIEW: Crean tries for first win at IU vs. Wisconsin
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Whatever it was, Crean said he saw little evidence that it held Sheehey back against the Nittany Lions. He only confirmed that his senior forward was suffering after Sheehey's nine-point, five-rebound performance.
"If I wouldn't have said anything about it, you could have never been able to tell (Sheehey was injured)," Crean said.
Speaking Monday night on his radio show, Crean acknowledged all of the extra responsibilities Indiana has heaped onto its only returning senior. He pointed to tough assignments, like defending stud Michigan State forward Adreian Payne.
Sheehey, Crean said, hasn't backed down from those demands.
"He's working every day at being an even better leader," Crean said. "He brings such a spirit, such a toughness."
BADGERS MOVING THE BALL WELL: Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan has guided his team to a 16-0 start at least in part via an offense that's more productive than the norm in Madison.
Ryan's teams have often been typecast as methodical, even plodding, and they rarely work themselves into the top quarter of the Big Ten in scoring offense. But this season, the Badgers are scoring more than 10 points per game more than they averaged in 2012-13, with four players averaging double-figure scoring.
While the point totals have ticked up, the methods that create those points have not, according to Crean.
"They're not an above-average passing team," Crean said. "They're a great passing team."
Crean said Indiana's rotations will have to be crisp, because Ryan's swing offense is designed to exploit even the slightest defensive mistakes. Disciplined teams can fall victim to the Badgers' ability to free up scorers in their offense, according to Crean.
"They take conventional defensive wisdom and throw it right back in your face," he said.
THE FLIP SIDE – WISCONSIN REBOUNDING CONCERNS: Indiana has leaned hard on its rebounding ability this season. Though young, the Hoosiers' athleticism has helped them become one of the country's best teams on the boards, at both ends of the floor.
Wisconsin, conversely, has allowed 41 offensive rebounds in its last two games. The Hoosiers might pin their upset hopes on second chances offensively.
If they do, freshman forward Noah Vonleh appears poised to lead the way.
Vonleh pulls in 2.6 offensive rebounds per game and 9.3 rebounds per game overall. The freshman sits atop the Big Ten in rebounds per game.
"Size and agility usually have a lot to do with that, and he's got both," Ryan said on the Big Ten coaches' teleconference. "He's got a knack for the ball."
Northwestern head coach Chris Collins yells after his team beat Illinois 49-43 during an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., on Jan. 12, 2014.(Photo: Matt Marton AP)
COLLINS, WILDCATS GRAB UPSET: Northwestern waits for Indiana this weekend, marking first-year coach Chris Collins' first trip to Assembly Hall.
The Wildcats will come to Bloomington with a win against a ranked team – something Indiana still hasn't accomplished – already in their pocket. Northwestern defeated then-No. 23 Illinois 49-43 at home Sunday for Collins' first conference win.
"Maybe not the prettiest thing to watch," Collins said of the win, "but at the end of the day, we made a lot of tough plays and did the things we need to do to win."
JerShon Cobb scored 11 points for the Wildcats, filling in for Dave Sobolewski at point guard.
Though the point isn't Cobb's natural position, Collins said Northwestern benefited from the switch against Illinois. Having the 6-foot-5 Cobb running its offense gave Northwestern a size advantage that Collins had hoped for.
"It gave a different look," Collins said. "I was interested to see how that would work."
HAWKEYES NOTCH SIGNATURE ROAD WIN: Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey's team let a signature road win slip away a week ago at Wisconsin, when the Hawkeyes led at halftime before eventually stumbling to defeat.
In Columbus on Sunday, Iowa didn't make the same mistake, handing then-No. 3 Ohio State its second loss in as many games.
The No. 14 Hawkeyes trailed by nine midway through the second half, but their methodical rally turned into a late lead, and McCaffrey's team sewed up an 84-74 win by making 10-of-12 free throws down the stretch.
"We had a lot of opportunities to go away, and we just kept coming," McCaffrey said. "I'm very proud of my team."