Eastern Illinois (and Jim Harbaugh) in Bloomington for season opener

  • 11/13/2015 8:05 am in

After winning both of its exhibition games, the IU men’s basketball team opens up the regular season against Eastern Illinois at 7 p.m. tonight in Assembly Hall.

The Hoosiers, ranked No. 15 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25, face sky high expectations from fans, something sophomore guard Robert Johnson welcomes.

“We’re definitely excited with the expectations we have,” Johnson said. “It’s always fun to go out and play with those types of expectations. You have something to live up to.”

Eastern Illinois has never beaten a ranked team in school history, and has not won a season opener since 2009 when it beat Toledo.

The Panthers have nine new members to this year’s squad – six freshmen, two junior college transfers and one four year transfer.

“This team plays very fast,” Tom Crean said. “They play very innovative, they can play through all five guys and they can isolate.”

Eastern Illinois is led by senior wing Trae Anderson, who averaged 13.2 points per game last season and also pulled down 4.9 rebounds.

On Thursday, Crean said his team will be making more of an effort to get the ball in to the post to freshman Thomas Bryant and senior Max Bielfeldt. EIU has just one true big man, senior Luke Piotrowski, who stands at 6-foot-11. He is also one of the few returnees for the Panthers.

“This team does a really good job of dropping the ball to the baseline,” Crean said. “So we’ve got to make sure we’re able to take away that element of their offense.”

Bryant has played limited minutes in the preseason in part to a minor foot injury that caused him to miss several preseason practices. Through the first two exhibition games, Bryant has started along with Bielfeldt, Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams.

Johnson, who started 32 games last season, isn’t letting a potential role change bother him or affect his approach.

“I look at it the same,” Johnson said. “I try to come in and do some of the same things I did when I was starting. Give energy, play defense, look for opportunities to score.”

Crean said he expects the pace to pick up for his team over time on both ends of the floor, and that the new shot clock won’t affect play on offense.

“We’re not even playing nearly as fast as we’re going to play when it comes to the pressure,” Crean said. “We’ve got to get our half-court defense solid and we’re working towards that, but eventually we’re going to play much faster.”

Crean will have a visitor at the game, as brother-in-law Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the Michigan football team, is in town for Saturday’s football game.

“If he wants to sit on the bench like he did before, he can do that,” Crean said. “If he wants to sit behind the bench, sit at the scorer’s table, whatever he wants, we look forward to seeing him.”

Filed to:

  • O.G.Ehman

    3 things I would love to see tonight as we begin another wonderful season of Indiana University basketball:

    1) Limit our TOs to 12 or less
    2) Win the rebound battle by at least 15
    3) Start fast and comfortably control the game throughout

    GO HOOSIERS!!!

  • SCHoosier

    Would also like to see more ball movement with the pass..and key players (Troy) playing under control.

  • marcusgresham

    One thing I would love to see tonight—-the game.
    Friggin’ idiotic BTN online nonsense.

  • Ole Man

    Harbaugh is the “enemy”….behind the bench is okay, but not on it. Treat him to dinner after IU beats Mich tomorrow!!

  • Steve Shoda

    Jim Harbaugh is Coach Crean’s family. Jim Harbaugh is not a Basketball coach, he wants to support his brother in law. UM coach Beilein should be the one upset if anyone is. Harbaugh is a great coach, I wish Harbaugh was IU football coach. So Jim is here to support our Coach and his team or to give the team a motivational speech, let him! Family comes first for Harbaugh, I like it!

  • Arch Puddington

    I am interested in three things:

    1. Defense
    2. Defense
    3. Defense

    Everything else will take care of itself.

  • straight no chaser

    Oh please, have a sense of humor!

  • straight no chaser

    LOL!

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I see the humor forever IU – snc

  • straight no chaser

    LOL, I’m stuck with that name, forever!!

  • straight no chaser

    I went to Brothers (in Bloomington) for the second half of Bellarmine. I was probably the only person watching the game (hopefully because everyone else was in AH, and because it was Bellarmine!). The broadcast was without audio. Halfway through the second half the bartender asks me if it’s okay to turn up the audio on the Bears game, which was playing on another monitor. It was weird, because my brain kept superimposing the Bears game commentary on our basketball game, despite my attempts to keep them separate. A surreal experience for sure. Oh, and of course I was carded upon entry.

  • straight no chaser

    The problem is that if Troy plays under control, he won’t make half the turnovers, but also would not make half the points. Pick your poison! LOL.

  • VailliencourtFan93

    The fans at Assembly Hall have to bring the Illinoise.

    WHOO!!! You get it? Noise!

    This is fun.

  • CreanFaithful

    I believe either Yogi or Troy said the team goal is 10 or less turnovers in the post game video to the last exhibition game.

  • Hardwood83

    Anyone heard if BTN will replay this game like it did the exhibitions?

  • IU22

    10pm on sunday, I believe.

  • Hardwood83

    Thanks! I’ll set my DVR.

  • TomJameson

    9pm central, of course. 🙂

  • TomJameson

    May as well go back to your true self. LOL

  • TomJameson

    10 TOs max.
    15 rebound differential per half
    blow them out by 40 — make a statement

  • Arch Puddington

    It’s a fine goal, but frankly not realistic. Everything about CTC’s philosophy and preferred style lends itself to a high turnover rate. Uptempo, open-court breaks, “positionless” half-court sets in which players other than a traditional PG initiate the offense, and a focus on dribble-drive attacks to create shots are all prone to turnovers. The trade-off is a high scoring offense that plays efficiently despite lots of turnovers.

    Less than 10 TO’s per game is Bo Ryan land. For us, less than 15 is probably good enough.

  • Kyl470

    Seriously how do we start a petition to stop this BTN Plus nonsense? I already pay extra on my cable bill to get the “sports package” just so I get the BTN and now I have to pay more to watch the game online if I want to see it live. What is the point of showing other games instead of the IU game in the state of Indiana? This is complete bull and I’m tired of it. Again seriously if anyone knows how we can start some sort of petition I’m all for it.

  • CreanFaithful

    We averaged 12 last year…

  • Donnie Vick

    I’d like to see him on IUFB’s sidelines or the Colts sidelines next year

  • Arch Puddington

    Right, but:

    a) that is the lowest total in all of CTC’s years at IU. Even the 2012-13 team averaged 13, and every other year has been between 13 and 16. Thus far we are averaging 16 in two exhibition games.

    b) It’s a small number in absolute terms, but a large difference nonetheless. Nine is 25% less than twelve; an 25% improvement in any area of performance is significant, especially when the established level has been consistent for years.

    As has been argued elsewhere, the number of TO’s isn’t all that big a deal in and of itself. The rate of TO’s is more important, and since we have an above-average number of possessions per game, a higher-than average number of TO’s is to be expected. As long as the rate is manageable, no big deal. And what may be an even more important measure is TO differential. If we commit 14 TO’s but create 16, we win. So in that sense as in most others, our ability to improve our defense is much more important than our ability to improve our offense. We are a perennial top 10 offense, turnovers and all; the question is, can we defend well enough to contend for championships….

  • CreanFaithful

    We had 14 games last year with 10 or less turnovers. I’m not saying we will be a 10 or less team over the course of this season, but I don’t buy that mark being an “unrealistic” goal.

  • IUMIKE1

    I hear ya ! The point of them doing it is because they know a whole bunch of IU bball fans, unlike fans from of a lot other teams, will bite the bullet and shell out the money. Greedy a$$holes. My local provider, that gave me BTN as part of their basic package, is going to become an internet only provider. I’ve been checking around and it looks like, for my area anyway, I have to buy a special “sports package” that comes with an additional fee of course, if I go with Dish and to get BTN on Direct I have to purchase one of their higher end packages to get it. I’m looking at having to choose one of those options and then the BTN wants me to pony up even more money to see certain games, and online at that, no f’ing way. They can kiss my candy striped a$$ ! If you or anyone else puts some kind of petition together I’ll sign it before the ink at the top of it is dry.

    OK, rant over, I don’t think I left the BTN with any doubt as to how I feel about that.

  • IUMIKE1

    You have put how I feel about that in a much nicer and more diplomatic way than I would have ever been able to. I would probably have to go onto the dark web to type out specifically what I think about it. lol

  • Arch Puddington

    Most of the sub-10 TO games came in the pre-season against lousy teams. Looking at the non-cupcake portion of our pre-season (Louisville, etc.) plus the B1G season and tournament play, we were below 10 turnovers just 6 times in 24 games. Our record in those games was 3-3, and two of those wins were against Northwestern and Penn State.

    I’m certain we will have some low turnover games this year, but they are likely to remain the exception rather than the rule, especially against good teams. And my real point is that given our style of play, it isn’t as big an issue for us as it is for some teams. We win plenty of games with high turnovers, and and lose plenty of games with low turnovers. If we shoot well and defend well, we will be difficult to beat even with a relatively high number of turnovers.

  • IUMIKE1

    I keep clicking the upvote arrow, but it won’t keep upvoting it. wth

    I would also like to see some passes to the screener being made if they are open and rolling to the basket open. We’ve finally got a quality big again, so give him (or anybody else that’s open after screening and rolling) the ball when he’s open !!

  • IUMIKE1

    Excellent post !! Couldn’t agree more.

  • I’d like to see IU with roughly 27 dunks and 29 3-pointers. Anything else would only be bonus. Let’s not get too greedy.

  • that sounds horrible. but it doesn’t surprise me at all, considering the specific location.

  • It’s completely within the realm of possibility that this team has fewer turnovers this year. Maybe even likely. Same very good backcourt with no freshman, including possibly the best PG in the country? Stan and Hanner were turnover machines at times last year, and are gone. And I think Troy will settle down soon. They can totally put their average below 10, and I think they’ll approach it. They improve over last year, I expect.

  • Arch Puddington

    Of course it’s possible, and I hope it works out that way. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.

    And more to the point, my real points is that TO’s are not as critical a measure for a team built and trained to play our style of basketball as for teams built on a more conservative approach. I would list any number of indicators ahead of TO’s as important to our long-term success. Offensively, our 3 point shooting percentage and our free throw rates are much more important than turnovers, and almost every defensive measure — overall efficiency, forced TO’s, 3 point attempts, and others — matters more.

    Or so I see it.

  • O.G.Ehman

    140+ points or bust!

  • CreanFaithful

    10/14 were in conference play Arch

  • Arch Puddington

    Not by my count, CF. I was moving pretty fast, but the only conference games I noted with less than 10 turnovers were Maryland (9), Northwestern (8), Northwestern (4), Illinois (9) and Penn State (9).

    But even if I missed one or two, it wouldn’t change anything. We don’t win or lose based on turnovers. Overall offensive efficiency is our calling card, and our offense will be among the most efficient in the nation this year whether we average 11 turnovers or 14.

  • this person gets it!

  • CreanFaithful

    Mich St (6), Penn St. (9), Illinois (9), Maryland (10) ***Mark cited was 10 or less***, Rutgers (10), Maryland game 2 (6), Purdue (8), Northwestern (4), Northwestern game 2 B1G tourney (8), Maryland Game 3 B1G Tourney (9).

  • millzy32

    Is Harbaugh allowed to just walk into Bloomington and root on our Basketball team knowing that he is going to crush our football team’s souls the next day? The irony.

  • millzy32

    One thing I’d like to see tonight: THE GAME but I can’t because I don’t have this stupid BTN Plus so I’ll be watching a more competitive game instead (Pitt vs the Zags).

  • I am interested in 5 things..
    1. Defense
    2. Defense
    3. Defense
    4. Defense
    5. Defense
    Ok I guess were kind of interested in the same thing.. except I want it out of every player on the floor.. IU player that is…lol…

  • I like it. I imagine when we play Michigan in basketball he’d have to be a lot more discreet about it.. But man I’ll take the likes of that guy rooting for IU any day and twice on Sundays. Jim is one great coach and I am proud to have him root for IU. I hope he is on the bench with the guys for sure.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Wow, Ole Man, I agree with you!!!! Great post.

  • straight no chaser

    Why was my comment removed?

  • straight no chaser

    Don’t you see the humor in ole man’s comment? I got deleted for pointing that out.