by Kent Sterling
There are a million sayings about the importance of defense in basketball. One of the most concise and on-point is “Defense travels.”
Better than any other, that axiom explains why Indiana was unable to beat Northwestern with so much on the line last night in Evanston.
Tom Crean discussed ad nauseum during the postgame press conference how Indiana’s inability to knock down shots cost them the game, but after one half of basketball where Indiana shot lights out (9-of-14 from beyond the arc), the game was tied at 40.
Another great saying among coaches is “First, you need to out-coach the fans.” In “The Outlaw Josey Wales”, Fletcher tells Senator Lane, “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.”
When Crean tries to spin the reason Indiana loses toward shooting woes, he underestimates Indiana fans’ ability to watch basketball with a critical eye.
Indiana loses, and has lost, because of defensive lapses that are elementary. Poor closeouts with hands down, inattention to the ball, and slow feet have made it easy for opposing coaches to attack the Hoosiers.