Anyone enjoying this basketball season? Yes? Well good news! There’s another game this Sunday!
Just three games remain on Ohio State’s 2010-11 regular season schedule. The first of those will occur this weekend when Indiana comes to town, seeking to pay back the Buckeyes for the 85-67 thumping that the Scarlet & Gray laid on them back on New Year’s Eve. It seems like a long time ago now, and indeed it has been a bit of a long season for the Hoosiers. Their prior loss to Ohio State came in the middle of a six-game losing streak, and a Buckeye victory on Sunday would result in another winless stretch of six straight games. The only Big Ten wins on the season for Indiana have come against Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota, and all were at home in Bloomington.
The win over Illinois led to one of the more memorable scenes in college basketball this season, as the students rushed the court in Assembly Hall and coach Tom Crean celebrated in the hall…where people were assembled, naturally…a short time later (you have to wait until about 1:00 before he is actually visible):
While it would be easy (and sure, kinda fun) to point and laugh, this was probably a nice scene for the Indiana faithful, and certainly Crean is building a good relationship with the fans that will be important to carry the program through the difficult years like this one into the more successful years that seem sure to come before long. One perspective on the program under Crean is that it is geared toward attracting top-level talent rather than mid-level talent, and while an immediate reaction may be that any program is trying to attract top-level talent, the point is that Crean’s approach is to implement a system that truly relies on getting certain players rather than staying competitive year after year with “interchangeable parts.” With that in mind, and considering the way Thad has developed our team over his time here, it will be interesting to see how Indiana progresses over the next few years.
Looking at Sunday’s matchup, we’ll get to see if Crean’s coaching expertise makes use of the many examples he’ll be able to draw upon related to defensive strategies that have been employed against the Buckeyes between the game back on December 31st and now. Certainly a different tactic will be used than the previously utilized zone that attempted to neutralize Jared Sullinger, as that led to an epic shooting night for the Buckeyes: over 60% from the field overall and a blistering 68% from downtown (coincidentally the same mark we set from the free throw line for that game – yikes!). William Buford led all scorers in that game with 24. Indiana will look to Christian Watford to once again lead the way for them on the offensive end. Watford was out of commission for a stretch of three games after breaking his hand at the end of last month, but he has been back in action since mid-February. The Hoosier fans will also be hoping for another one of these:
In looking for some information about Indiana’s club to comment upon in advance of this weekend’s game, I came across this article on Inside the Hall and was struck by the contrast between the characterization of the Hoosier team and our current Buckeye squad. While you can argue about the merit of Crean’s perspective, the difference between a team that may not have leadership and players seeking challenges and the 2010-11 Buckeyes, where leadership and desire for the tough assignments seems to be the norm, is truly apparent. To put it another way, with just three games left before tournament time, enjoy and appreciate this team as the regular season comes to a close.