What To Expect: Sam Houston State

Following their 87-61 defeat of  North Dakota State on Monday, the No. 1 Hoosiers will be back in action against Sam Houston State at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Assembly Hall. The game is part of the Progressive Legends Classic. The Bearkats are 1-1 this season, splitting games with Arkansas (L 68-73) and Hardin-Simmons (W 82-31).

The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and, as always, it will be broadcast on the IU Radio Network.

While the play hasn’t always been pretty, the top-ranked Hoosiers have cruised through their first two regular season games. On paper, Sam Houston State is comparable to both of Indiana’s first two opponents, though the Bearkats do pose a threatening inside-out duo in Darius Gatson and Michael Holyfield.

Gatson, a 5-foot-11 senior guard, is averaging a team-high 14.5 points per game through the first two, including a 20-point performance against Arkansas. He averaged 6.7 points and 4.5 assists for the Bearkats a season ago.

“Darius Gatson really pops out on film when you watch him,” said Indiana assistant coach Kenny Johnson. “You can tell a floor general when you see one and he makes that team go.”

Holyfield, a 6-foot-11, 255-pound sophomore center, is averaging 5.5 points and nine rebounds through the first two games. He could be especially dangerous to the Hoosiers’ given their continued lack of frontcourt depth early in the season. Holyfield will be the biggest guy Indiana has played against so far.

“He is very good. He poses challenges with his girth and his strength,” Johnson said. “He runs the floor a lot better than you may think he would. I know he made strides last season when they had some injuries. We’ve been watching him on film and he’s a great screener, he contests shots and he did a great job of rebounding the other night. So he’s going to be a challenge just making sure we always keep a body on him.”

Learning their roles

Thursday night’s game will serve as the last “tuneup” for the Hoosiers before they head to continue play in the Legends Classic next Monday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Before then, the Indiana players will continue to try to learn and get used to their individual roles.

So far, Indiana coach Tom Crean has toyed with a number of different rotations. Some guys — such as Remy Abell — have thrived. Others have struggled a little bit.

When Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo met with the media on Wednesday evening, roles and playing time were discussed at length.

“Everyone has brought a level of energy to the game,” Sheehey said. “Some guys get angry about not playing this amount of time, but I feel like everyone that has come in has brought a certain amount of energy.”

Due to adding new pieces like Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell — and because of early-season suspensions to Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin and an injury to Derek Elston — it has been difficult for the Hoosiers to establish firm roles at this point. Sheehey and Oladipo said that is something that continues to develop.

“You have to know your role,” Sheehey said. “Everyone should know what their role is. You do what you do well, and that is what you bring to the table. You can’t do things that you don’t do well because it shows up on the film.”

What it comes down to

The Hoosiers could potentially run into trouble against Sam Houston State only if Cody Zeller gets in foul trouble. While Holyfield has the body to make that happen, he’s still not an established offensive player at this point in his career. His focus will likely be on keeping Zeller under wraps on the other end of the floor.

The Bearkats do have a number of outside shooters, though, so Indiana’s perimeter defense will have to continue to improve.

Editor’s Note: You can read a Q & A with Sam Houston State coach Jason Hooten in the forum.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.wojcik Eric Wojcik

    First, good grief, can we get some better opponent for the early schedule next year?
    Second, I’d like to see better energy out of the gate and some consistent performance from all starters. I doubt it will be an issue in the long run, but I don’t want them thinking they can depend on the bench.

  • 5_Banners

    I agree with you everything here. The opponents, I believe, will improve next year. Definitely like to see them play top opponents early now that IU has the talent to compete every year.

    As for this game, IU needs to come out and lock down defensively. It’s still only their third game this season, so some rust is expected. Just would like to see a more solid game from start to finish before the competition level increases.

  • 5_Banners

    I agree with you everything here. The opponents, I believe, will improve next year. Definitely like to see them play top opponents early now that IU has the talent to compete every year.

    As for this game, IU needs to come out and lock down defensively. It’s still only their third game this season, so some rust is expected. Just would like to see a more solid game from start to finish before the competition level increases.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    predicting a big game from Watford tonight. He’s got it in him, and he’s just been waiting….

  • KevOMG

    I’d like to see the intensity right out of the gate. Not sure if the boys haven’t respected their opponents or are just too focused, but let’s grab a big lead early. Can’t start slow against big time opponents, so let’s not get used to it now.

    my crystal ball predicts…………….oladipo with the big night.

  • http://www.facebook.com/theetommyt Tom Taylor

    I’m going to go out on a limb and predict Zeller has a big game.

  • Taskmaster75

    Ehh, our out-of-conference schedule looks worse just because we don’t have Kentucky on it anymore, as well as having a potential opponent, UCLA, reside in NCAA limbo with Shabazz Muhammed. I prefer a tougher out-of-conference schedule, but these things happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Fischer/691470077 Steve Fischer

    Sam Houston State was good a few years ago and made the NCAA’s but this is a down year or two for them. Its a small college 70 miles north of Houston best known for its top 3 ranked criminal justice program… and rodeo .

  • Hoosier305

    MIAMI HOOSIERS – Where are we watching the game tonight? About time we locked down a bar and set up shop to watch this epic season unfold

  • b_side

    We all want a tougher non-conference schedule. As an Izzo disciple, I’m sure it’s crossed Crean’s mind. But how lucky are we this year, given the injury to Elston and suspensions to HMP and Jurkin that we didn’t go Sparty with our schedule?

    We could be staring down an 0-2 record (playing UCONN and Kansas) instead of providing a cushion for us to learn new sets with various lineups in order to prepare for Georgia, Gtown/UCLA and UNC.

    #BlessingInDisguise

  • b_side

    We all want a tougher non-conference schedule. As an Izzo disciple, I’m sure it’s crossed Crean’s mind. But how lucky are we this year, given the injury to Elston and suspensions to HMP and Jurkin that we didn’t go Sparty with our schedule?

    We could be staring down an 0-2 record (playing UCONN and Kansas) instead of providing a cushion for us to learn new sets with various lineups in order to prepare for Georgia, Gtown/UCLA and UNC.

    #BlessingInDisguise

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Tempo tempo tempo. IU 96 SHSU 60

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Would love to see a home and home series with Louisville again.

  • http://twitter.com/IUinNap Caleb Moore

    For all national adulation around this team you can still see just watching the games that they are trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together now. About half the team is completely new. Add on the injuries and suspensions and if this team played MSU’s first two games they could easily be 0-2 right now and about 12-15 in the country. You would really rather take that than where we are right now all things considered?

  • http://twitter.com/IUinNap Caleb Moore

    I agree. But North Central could beat Georgia right now. Nebraska could whoop Georgia the way they look. That will be no more of a game than this one tonight.

  • JerryCT

    Can Yogi or Remy shut down their leading scorer ? If so that will be a good sign for when we play PSU ( Frazier ), OSU ( Craft ), UM ( Burke ) , UL ( Abrams ), MSU ( Appling ), NW ( Sobeleski ) . In the past we have been burned from this position.

  • b_side

    I know Georgia hasn’t looked great, but they’re still an SEC team, with SEC size, athleticism and experience.

    Don’t forget, we are the hunted this year. You think Georgia was amped to play Youngstown State? Just wait till they see our #1 ranking and the candy stripes. We’ll get their best shot.

  • b_side

    I know Georgia hasn’t looked great, but they’re still an SEC team, with SEC size, athleticism and experience.

    Don’t forget, we are the hunted this year. You think Georgia was amped to play Youngstown State? Just wait till they see our #1 ranking and the candy stripes. We’ll get their best shot.

  • Remy Willing and Abell

    Alex, is there any info about the appeal or Perera’s foot injury . Is this one of those things where the ncaa will take ten games to look at the nine game suspension ?

  • oldiugymnast

    On another unrelated note – I found out a few hours ago that Jim Harbaugh is right now getting a procedure to deal with an “irregular heartbeat” but is expected to be at work Sunday. Given that he is a friend to IU – thought you kids would want to know.

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