After looking like a force to be reckon with on the national stage in their first three games, the Indiana Hoosiers laid an egg in their first game of the Maui Invitational against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Just like the first time, Indiana coach Tom Crean brought his Indiana program to Maui in 2008 and this team followed suit with a loss of their own in the opening round to send them to the losers bracket.
What was different about Crean's Indiana team in 2008 was that they didn't have nearly the same expectations and skill level on that team versus the team he has now.
This opening round loss in Maui has to be more disappointing than anything. They were going up against a Wake Forest team that wasn't that highly thought of on the national stage and were picked to finish dead last in the ACC. The Hoosiers just went out and laid an egg.
Indiana has gone out and scored a lot of points in their previous games, and Monday wasn't anything different on that side of the floor, but the big issue was the defense. In particular, the perimeter defense really let the Hoosiers down in this one and came from maybe even something as simple as a "lack of communication."
"I'd just say a mindset [was the issue]," Indiana guard Robert Johnson said. "For myself and everybody else we've got to continue to build a defensive mindset that we're going to go out there and stop you."
One thing Wake Forest did well was shoot the ball from three (43 percent) and fed the ball inside to their big man Devin Thomas, who finished with 21 points and was one of five Demon Deacons to score in double digits. The Hoosiers just couldn't stop Thomas and down the stretch when Indiana needed a stop, they just couldn't get it done as the Demon Deacons ended the game on a 17-6 run.
In the end, what may have doomed the Hoosiers was taking bad shots on offense as well as turning the ball over down the stretch, but Crean was the first one to come out and take the blame for their play down the stretch.
"I'm going to blame myself because if we're not going to be able to play and read the flow of the game and try to make things that aren't there, then we're going to have to play much slower and much more half-court oriented offense," Crean said. "They beat us at their strengths, and for a while we were taking away their strengths and playing to our strengths, and we got away from our strengths and we let them have their strengths back, and you can't do that against anyone."
This loss was unfortunate on many levels, but one reason that may not show up until March rolls around is the strength of their non-conference schedule that took a major hit with the loss.
Instead of moving on to play the likes of Vanderbilt and Kansas, the Hoosiers move to the losers side of the bracket and will take on lowly St. John's in the second round of the tournament. The Hoosiers may not have been expecting this outcome, but they will now have to live with it and get back on track.
"It obviously wasn't something we planned for," Indiana senior forward Max Bielfeldt said after the game. "We were hoping to go all the way, and first obstacle is tough because it just didn't go our way today."
The #14 Hoosiers will now have to rally the troops and get ready for a 9:00 A.M. local time game in Maui against an opponent in St. John's that just got blown out of the gym by Vanderbilt in the first round.