What to watch for in Indiana’s exhibition opener

  • 11/02/2015 12:12 pm in

Basketball returns to Assembly Hall on Tuesday night as Indiana will host the University of Ottawa for the first of two exhibition games this preseason. 

The game will be broadcast live on BTN Plus at 7 p.m. ET and replayed on BTN on Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET. In lieu of our traditional game previews which focus heavily on the opponent, here’s a look at what to watch for as the Hoosiers take the floor against the Gee-Gees:

· How will the defense look? It’s an exhibition, so drawing any definitive conclusions would be ill-advised, but signs of improved defensive play tops the list of things Indiana fans will be looking for on Tuesday night.

Ottawa shredded the Hoosiers for 109 points in August of 2014 during a five-game exhibition tour in Canada. The Gee-Gees are one of the most powerful offensive teams in Canada and are averaging 94.1 points in nine exhibition games.

Of particular interest to watch: How will Thomas Bryant defend and challenge shots in the paint? Are Indiana’s guards more aggressive with ball pressure and closing out on shooters? Ottawa is shooting close to 43 percent on 3s, so the Gee-Gees are more than capable of making IU pay for missed assignments on the perimeter. And finally, how is IU’s help defense and communications? Both were issues last season and are areas that have been emphasized all offseason and over the first month of practice.

· Where does O.G. Anunoby fit? The freshman forward from Jefferson City, Missouri, is the least heralded of IU’s newcomers, but is generating excitement based on his play in the Hoosier Hysteria and Haunted Hall of Hoops scrimmages.

The 6-foot-8 Anunoby was viewed by many as a player with long term potential, but is he ready to make an impact immediately? It’s one thing to stand out in an inter-squad scrimmage, but it’s another to do so in a live game setting.

Tom Crean has talked in the preseason about his desire to establish a two-deep rotation, but in order to do so, he’ll need reliable contributions from guys like Anunoby and Juwan Morgan. Anunoby has the size to help Indiana in the frontcourt with his size and athleticism and Tuesday night could be the next step in him establishing a bigger role than anticipated.

· A look at one of the premier programs in Canada: Indiana was aggressive in scheduling exhibition games this season as the Hoosiers targeted one of the top programs in Canada as well as Division II power Bellarmine.

Ottawa was the only team Indiana lost to during its trip to Montreal and Ottawa last August and the Gee-Gees return several key players from last season’s team that was a national runner-up for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport title.

Of particular interest is point guard Mike L’Africain, who is averaging 16.6 points and is shooting 50 percent on 3s through nine exhibition games. L’African is also averaging better than four assists in the preseason and watching him go head-to-head with Yogi Ferrell will arguably be the best matchup of the evening.

Furthermore, it’s good to see Indiana reconnect with a program that it clearly gained a lot of respect for last August. The Hoosiers and Gee-Gees played the most entertaining game of IU’s Canadian tour and this game, along with the Bellarmine matchup, holds more intrigue than several of IU’s regular season non-conference games.

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  • Zach

    Excited to see our guys against a real opponent! Can I just go to AH now and wait until tomorrow night?

  • IUJeff

    This will be a tough game for sure. Don’t anyone pencil in the W just yet.

  • 11th and Done (Dunn)

    Can’t agree more about the excitement of our pre-season games. These to schools would mos def beat a few of our season opponents, maybe even a couple conference ones too. (cough cough Rutgers cough)

  • PDXHoosier

    Given the growth of bball talent in Canada, I think it’s a good move scheduling these exhibitions to get some recruiting exposure up north

  • TomJameson

    Not going to look past Ottawa for sure, but seeing as how we should be a better team this year due to returning everybody of note, adding a key missing piece, and having a deeper quality bench … we should be okay. Can’t get cocky and let up on them though, they are a tough team!

    Of course we will be at Assembly Hall as well, not a fairly small gymnasium. LOL I wonder if the Gee-Gees have ever played in the middle of so much noise! They are in for a shocking surprise!

  • Ottawa has already played nine exhibition games? That’s definitely an advantage for them.

  • Hoosier Hall

    9 exhibition games?? That’s a third of a season for NCAA teams. I hope we make a statement during our exhibition games and first 3 home games. Then go and dominate the Maui tournament and send the overrated Jayhawks packing.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i agree with everybody else, this won’t be an easy game. i think it’ll serve as a nice benchmark to show just how much this team has improved defensively from last year. the good news, the bar’s set pretty darn low. all we gotta do is keep em under 109 pts!

  • Gregory Spera

    Has Diallo qualified yet?

  • Hoosier Hall

    No, I believe he is one of only a few remaining freshman that have not been cleared yet.

  • marcusgresham

    I thought they were playing UK in CoRuppt Arena, but that’s Ottawa College of Kansas.

  • Gregory Spera

    Saw that Louisville took a break from their unbridled, Caligula-inspired orgies long enough to beat Bellarmine 71-55.

  • IUJeff

    Ruh roh. No Colin = a 50/50 game. Our D is going to have to grow up real fast. Not that it matters much, but a L in this one would knock IU almost out of the top 25.

  • nmstan

    CoRuppt Arena! Classic!!!!

  • SilentBob

    I’m not really looking for anything in specific in this game. I just wanna see us make a tough exhibition opponent look easy. I don’t really care about if and how many regular season opponents of ours they could beat. Teams deserving of the top 25 should put this team down convincingly. We’re a year older, have a rim protector, and they’re on our turf playing by our rules. I don’t wanna see our starters still in with five minutes to go. We got two players who look like they could have long futures in the NBA (Thomas and Troy) and a handful of other guys who could a get a crack at it and/ or have successful overseas careers. They probably don’t have one player who will even get a shot at the d league. I will feel good about this game only if we make short work of them.

  • IU diehard from CT

    Brother, it doesn’t count. It’s an exhibition. If they lost by 20 it wouldn’t matter

  • Dagwoods

    9 exhibition games under their belt should be a huge advantage. Unfortunately, Assembly Hall isn’t that noisy during exhibition games. If Ottawa is anything like they were last year, this will be a very good game. Great opportunity to see where we are at.

  • inLinE6

    Ottawa didn’t bring its star guard (I forgot his name), due to issue with school work. So I don’t anticipate them as competitive as we have hoped.

  • Ottawa is a high-scoring team, so the defense is going to be majorly challenged. Need to keep them below 80. Seems to me that rebounding on defense will be the key, considering how many 3’s they shoot. I’m betting Assembly Hall will rattle them into poorer shooting than normal. And it’s already a pretty good rebounding team, per last year.

  • MK

    I just don’t agree that not having Hartman tonight makes this game a toss up

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree, but I will be examining our defense more closely than I have in past exhibition games.

  • IUJeff

    I value Hartman more than most. I believe we are about .500 this past season w/out him.

  • IUJeff

    Lose an exhibition game as a ranked team = ranking goes down.

  • Darrell Allen

    Best new player by far, Max Bielfeldt!