Hoosier Hysteria. Saturday 7 p.m. Assembly Hall.
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BLOOMINGTON -– For one day the curtain was lifted on Indiana's normally closed basketball practice and this much we know:
Tom Crean never stops moving or coaching.
As a result, neither do the Hoosiers.
“The work ethic has been tremendous, no question about it,” he said. “The focus is really good. I have not even tried to bring a lot of chaos to the practice in terms of situations and things of that nature yet. That will come.
“It's a matter of doing it at a high level day after day if they really want to be good. That's what we've got to see.”
With enough talent and depth for two teams, it will be about the “quality of minutes vs. the quantity of minutes,” Crean said. “That will be a huge determining factor in how good this team is.”
The Hoosiers are, in case you've forgotten, projected as national title favorites.
Rebounding is a major point of emphasis. The Hoosiers used the start of Monday's 2 ½-hour practice for drills that stressed positioning, aggression, intensity and, well, plain old nastiness.
One of the most interesting battled pitted junior Will Sheehey and freshman Hanner Mosquera-Perea. Sheehey seemed to go out of his way to provoke Perea into playing with passion and effort.
That matchup, by the way, was not an accident, Crean said.
Senior Jordan Hulls and freshman Yogi Ferrell played together a lot, an indication of what the season could bring. Hulls is one of the nation's top three-pointer shooters and free throw shooters. Ferrell is one of the most heralded freshman point guards in the country.
“There's no doubt that if we can have those two playing together with the other wings that we have, that we're going to be really hard to guard. You can't take them both away. If you try, you're leaving somebody else open.”
Maurice Creek wasn't lying when he said his shot was as good as ever. He shot at a high rate from a variety of distances all practice, and participated in everything. While he hasn't regained the form that enabled him to average 16.4 points as a freshman, he looks more than ready to have a significant role.
“He has more confidence offensively,” Crean said. “He's still too quiet. He's just a product of not having practiced the last couple of years.
“He's been shooting this way the entire time since we've been in practice mode. He shows flashes defensively. He's got to get the same confidence and swagger on the defensive end he shows on the offensive end.”
There was no problem with the veterans blending in with the four members of Indiana's highly rated freshman class (Ferrell, Perea, Jeremy Hollowell and Peter Jurkin).
“There's a mutual respect among these guys that's outstanding,” Crean said. “We will have our differences and squabbles and issues. Every team does, and every family does. But the mutual respect that they have will allow that to get fixed.”
Jurkin, by the way, has a broken nose and a clear plastic mask to match. While his offense is a work in progress, he blocked a ton of shots, which is what you'd like to see from a 6-11 guy.
Danny Ferry, the Atlanta Hawks general manager, watched practice.
The public can see for themselves on Saturday night during Hoosier Hysteria. The event is set to start at 7 p.m. at Assembly Hall.
“It will be a fun night,” Crean said. “It will be very unscripted for the players. Let them have a great time.”
He paused and grinned.
“Now practice that afternoon will be different.”