The Illinois Fighting Illini have some key flaws in their game and the Indiana Hoosiers only magnified those flaws by showing off their near perfect ability to play basketball. If you want to see a team that plays hard, passes the ball and looks like they genuinely love each other and the game, Indiana is must see TV. They embody the old Larry Brown saying, “Play the right way.”
Coach Tom Crean has his team playing with the type of energy that makes it look like he has seven players on the floor. He might only have an eight man rotation but he has his team playing with an effort level on the defensive end that would make Bob Knight think about smiling, running transition at a breakneck speed and dominating all aspects of the game. In their 80-64 win they showed they can shoot, 54 field goal percentage, rebound, 33 to 20 for the Illini, and share the ball, 16 assists. Throw in nine steals and six blocks with 87.5% from the free throw line and you will struggle to find flaws in how this team plays the game. They do the little things, they are tough throughout the game and are unselfish with the ball. It’s beautiful basketball.
Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo get all the publicity, but the standard of play is set by seniors Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls. These two players are men playing against boys at this point in their careers. Their physicality and maturity are noticeable at both ends of the floor and provides the leadership that can take the Hoosiers to a national championship. The combination of NBA caliber players and high IQ players that accept their roles is the right kind of basketball.
The complete basketball package is at home in Indiana and championship trophies could be also be coming.