Short-handed Hoosiers ready for Friday’s opener

No. 1 Indiana enters Friday’s opener against Bryant with a thin frontcourt as a result of an injury to Derek Elston and suspensions to Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin. But those setbacks haven’t put a damper on the team’s excitement to tip off the season.

After earning preseason accolades, gracing magazine covers and having countless pieces written by the national media, the hype turns to reality following months of build up.

“We’re definitely excited for it. It will be a different kind of test for us,” sophomore Cody Zeller said Thursday. “We haven’t played a game in so long, it seems like. It’s exciting for us to just get the season going after conditioning and practice, doing summer workouts and weight lifting – we’re finally to the day where we can kind of see where we’re at and get the season going.”

Zeller and senior Christian Watford are the only scholarship players available for the first nine games who are taller than 6-9, which means IU could use some unconventional lineups or junior walk-on Jeff Howard could see time.

“If we play conventional, our back up right now is Jeff Howard,” Tom Crean said. “So there will be some conventional and there will be some unconventional.”

Howard, who has three career points and has never played more than six minutes in a regular season game, could suddenly find himself playing rotation minutes.

“If you are in a uniform and on that roster, you get coached like everybody else every day and Coach [Crean] expects you to be able to step up and answer the call,” associate head coach Tim Buckley said. “Being the NFL guy that he is, he’ll use the term ‘next man up’ and Jeff happens to be the next man up.

“He can really do some things for us defensively. He’s got great feet. He’s got good instincts in that regard. He’s just got to go out there and play with that confidence that he’s capable of and you could very well see him in there and we expect him to do the job that we’d expect any of the other guys to do.”

Watford wearing No. 32

With Elston likely out until at least mid-December, Watford wanted to do something to honor his teammate who suffered a torn meniscus at Hoosier Hysteria.

Although Watford had hoped it would be a surprise, it was announced Thursday that he will wear Elston’s No. 32 on Friday.

“I really didn’t want you all to know that,” Watford said with a smile. “He’s been with me for a long time and I just want to go out there with him. He can’t come out there and actually play on the court, so I wanted to do that for him.”

Crean said that the legality of the number switch had to be looked into before giving Watford clearance to honor his friend and teammate.

“When I thought about it, I thought it was an incredibly noble gesture,” he said. “I think it’s pretty special. I think it goes to show how close these guys are in ways we wouldn’t even imagine.”

Bryant ready for the challenge

After going 2-28 a season ago, coach Tim O’Shea brings what he hopes is a much improved group to face the country’s top team.

Bryant is now a full Division I member after completing a four-year transition from Division II.

“Well I think we’re vastly improved — certainly from where we were a year ago,” O’Shea told Inside the Hall. “But also from where we started this whole process of transitioning from Division II to Division I. That said, we played Indiana a few years ago; they’re also a whole heck of a lot better than they were a few years ago which is obvious by their ranking.”

O’Shea understands the task on Friday night won’t easy. But he also is hopeful that his team, led by junior Alex Francis (17.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg) will learn from the experience.

“We’re going to try as hard as we possibly can and welcome the chance to test ourselves against what most people feel is the top team in the country,” O’Shea said. “We’re excited about it. We’re really honored to be here. We’re kinda opening our first year in Division I against the No. 1 team in the country which is kinda neat. I’m really excited for our guys to have a chance to see Assembly Hall. It’s such a great venue for college basketball.”

Etc. 

· Wooden Award watch: Zeller and Watford were both named to the Wooden Award preseason top 50 list on Thursday.  “It’s definitely a great honor,” Zeller said. “Obviously not many people in the country make the list for how many great college basketball players are out there.”

· No experiments: Crean was asked whether being down three guys in the frontcourt would lead to any experiments on Friday night. His response left little doubt. “There’s no experimenting,” he said. “We’re trying to win and we’re trying to win big. We’re not going out there to feel our way through situations.”

· Yogi’s ready: When asked about IU’s freshman McDonald’s All-American, Buckley has little doubt that freshman guard Yogi Ferrell will be ready to go Friday night. “I don’t know if I’d say Yogi has to get his feet wet,” the IU associate head coach said. “I think they’ve been wet probably since he was about in fifth grade. I think he’s a player, and he’s been ready to play for a long time.”

  • http://twitter.com/_______Henry Hank Gros

    Any way I can watch this game online?

  • ScoopGeoff

    if I were coaching Howard I would make sure he knew that he will be the best big man on the floor when he is out there. That if he were playing for Bryant he would be their go-to guy. It’s time to go dominate!

  • ScoopGeoff

    Because Creeks number is the unluckiest one out there. Seriously I hope he switched numbers…. That last one was like the plague.

  • ScoopGeoff

    Because Creeks number is the unluckiest one out there. Seriously I hope he switched numbers…. That last one was like the plague.

  • ScoopGeoff

    The “platinum rule” is treat others how they want to be treated.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    jeff howard will be fine. no way perea or jurkin are playin better D right now ,its not like IU has to rely on him to score. Hollowell and Sheehey are the X factors underneath till we get back to full strength. i say we go with a 3 guard lineup and bomb away!!

  • JerryCT

    YESSSS! That actually would do it. Speaking of a blue tongue we just got power back Tuesday …………. and this mornign we finally got tv, phone and internet

  • JerryCT

    YESSSS! That actually would do it. Speaking of a blue tongue we just got power back Tuesday …………. and this mornign we finally got tv, phone and internet

  • JerryCT

    You will have to ask Pritchard how he did it ………

  • JerryCT

    SInce it is Cody and CW who may need the most rest I would go for a defensive lineup that will not hurt us so bad. In this case I think I would probably play zone, or even a zone press to make them play fast with Abell in the game for Hulls and some combo of Sheehey, VO, Hollowell , ehterinton down low.

    This might work for Bryant but UCLA ???

  • Knuckledrager

    Isn’t this basically the same team that made a deep run into the NCAA Tourney? A team the almost beat the national champs twice. We’ve only gotten better and stronger since last year and added a missing piece in Yogi (arguably the best point guard in his class). Mo’s back. Hollowell will be as advertised, even better. I just don’t understand all the doubt in this teams ability. Even missing the 3 bigs we still have a deep bench. Relax and enjoy the ride.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    haha, for a second I thought you were talking about Bryant. I was like “uh….”

  • Evansville Hoosier

    haha, for a second I thought you were talking about Bryant. I was like “uh….”

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    Tijan?

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    Context. It’s a thing.

  • SteveO

    I was in the building when he broke his kneecap against Bryant, and it sounded like a gunshot. Never heard AH that quiet, and never been prouder of an IU player than I am of Mo for coming back the way he has. Repeatedly. Unbelievable tenacity, and it’s perfect that he gets his first regular season minutes in 3 years against the same team as when he first caught the (devastating) injury bug. Can’t wait.

  • b_side

    Sandy is such a (fill in the blank). Glad all is well on the home front. And just in time.

  • freethrow

    Way off on your guess – 106-48

  • kentuckyhoosier

    Glad to hear it Jerry . My thoughts are with you and everyone effected in that area ( just not as MANY thoughts for UK fans in that area ) .

  • kentuckyhoosier

    Alex I’m having all sorts of problems changing my user name …. some how it has changed back to my first user name from 2007 ?

  • Greg

    is there anywhere to watch game online i don’t have the BTN?

  • WhatsUpKnight

    tijan’s not walking through that door! if he does, he’ll be an old man!

  • Steve Alford’s Hair Cut

    I met my wife at a bar and Never tattooed her name on my body.

  • Steve Alford’s Hair Cut

    I met my wife at a bar and Never tattooed her name on my body.

  • Steve Alford’s Hair Cut

    Assembly hall

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