What to Expect: UMass Lowell

  • 11/16/2016 7:02 am in

Following a season-opening 103-99 win over Kansas in the Armed Forces Classic, Indiana returns to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall tonight for its regular season home opener against UMass Lowell. The River Hawks are 1-1 and are coming off a 87-76 home win over Wagner.

The game will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Seth Davis on the call:

UMass Lowell is the first of eight guarantee game opponents that will come to Bloomington between now and Dec. 22. The River Hawks are entering the final year of their Division I transition, which means they’re still ineligible for postseason play.

Coming off a hard fought win against Kansas and a significant amount of travel, Wednesday’s game (along with Saturday’s against Liberty) should afford Indiana the opportunity to get into a rhythm before traveling to Fort Wayne next week for what should be a terrific atmosphere in Memorial Coliseum.

MEET THE RIVER HAWKS

UMass Lowell was picked to finish sixth in the America East preseason poll after a fifth place finish in 2015-16. The River Hawks return 10 players from last season’s team that finished 11-18 overall and 7-9 in league play.

The headliner is junior guard Jahad Thomas (pictured), a preseason All-America East selection. In two games this season, Thomas is averaging 16 points and a team-high seven rebounds. He’s made nine of his 11 2-point field goal attempts and has taken 19 free throws in two games.

Sophomores Isaac White and Ryan Jones have started in the backcourt alongside Thomas in the first two games. White is a capable 3-point shooter who knocked down 43.1 percent of his attempts from distance last season (160 attempts). Jones is far less of a threat to score and was a low efficiency guy last season (43.8 effective field goal percentage).

Junior guard Matt Harris comes off the bench, but is UMass Lowell’s leading scorer through two games at 17 points per game. Harris is a perfect 19-of-19 from the free throw line. He made 41.7 percent of his 3s last season and is a career 39 percent 3-point shooter.

Up front, UMass Lowell starts 6-foot-6 senior Tyler Livingston and 6-foot-8 freshman Stefan Borovac. Livingston can step out and knock down the occasional 3 and finished 59 percent of his 2s last season. He’s averaging nine points and six rebounds through two games.

Borovac has picked up seven fouls in 34 minutes played this season and is averaging 7.5 points and three rebounds.

Three other rotation guys that should figure into Wednesday’s game include 6-foot-4 sophomore Logan Primerano, 6-foot-8 freshman Cameron Wolter and 6-foot-4 freshman Rinardo Perry.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

There’s a method behind which teams Indiana brings to Bloomington for guarantee games and stylistically, UMass Lowell will offer the opportunity for the Hoosiers to get into an up-and-down track meet.

The River Hawks played the 11th fastest pace in the country last season, according to Ken Pomeroy, and are third in adjusted tempo so far this season. UMass Lowell commits a healthy amount of turnovers, but also does a decent job of forcing them. The question for Indiana is: How well can it execute and take care of the ball in a frantic pace? It bears watching.

Beyond that, there’s not a whole lot on the UMass Lowell resume that stands out, which is why this program has finished sub-300 in Pomeroy’s ratings in each of its first three Division I seasons. Last season, UMass Lowell finished with the nation’s 235th best offense and was No. 288 defensively, per Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency rankings.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

Given the travel involved to Honolulu for one game, this should be a solid opportunity for Indiana to get back into a flow against an opponent that won’t provide too much of a challenge.

The Vegas line currently has the Hoosiers as a 27-point favorite, the Pomeroy line is Indiana by 26 and Sagarin has Indiana as a 26.5-point favorite.

This game should give the Indiana coaching staff the opportunity to push tempo and also get some of its younger and inexperienced players some much needed minutes. Two guys that immediately come to mind are De’Ron Davis and Freddie McSwain, both of whom contributed in the Kansas win but are still working their way into game shape with the start of the conference season just 44 days away.

(Photo credit: Bob Ellis/UMass Lowell Athletics)

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  • TomJameson

    TB should have a monster game.

  • Courtney Graber

    Good game for Davis and McSwain to get a lot of minutes.
    Also, maybe some Priller Time!

  • IUowns

    Last night after Kansas took down Duke, I was so happy for us. That Kansas team sure is pretty good and we managed to beat them in overtime on a neutral court. I knew it before that game how important that win would turn out and it already makes us a top 5 team. Its early but if the team continues to develop this journey should be amazing. I am going to enjoy every game and not think way ahead because lets enjoy each win that they can get!

  • Hoosier Hall

    Thomas and OG should dominate. I expect triple digit scoring and a 20-30 point victory. Also hope for less than 12 turnovers.

  • Hoosier Hall

    If we beat UNC we have a shot at being #1 overall. Not that it matters but it makes things very exciting.

  • sarge

    Really, Kansas controlled the game for most of the second half too. Duke was lucky to close the gap and be in the game in the closing minutes. It was Kansas’s game to lose, whereas when they played us I thought we controlled the end of the game and should have put them away in regulation. I think what this shows us is that even though Duke only played 6 guys, Indiana has what it takes to compete with any team in the country this season. We will certainly be much deeper and dangerous once our new guys get some more game experience. MSU and Wisky lost as well and I see us being the clear favorite to win another conference title early in the season. I expect Duke and Kentucky to improve, and nobody should count out Villanova. Indiana is looking tough as anyone.

  • Lance76

    Good comment about limiting turnovers. Above was mentioned about getting experience and game shape for several IU players. I would like the team challenged to see how much defense they could produce in terms of deflections, shot clock violations and low Umas Lowell score. Also would like to see high low action with DD & TB.

  • Hoosier Hall

    It’s always good to set goals against opponents. It helps the players focus on what is achievable instead of the score. Number of shot clock violations is a good one. Number of assists is another good bar to set.

  • Kyl470

    3 Things I Want to See

    1. Limit turnovers
    2. Make an effort to increase post touches for big guys
    3. Don’t allow their guards to penetrate

    On a side note I hope CTC doesn’t play TB and DD together. I know a lot of people want to see it, but I just don’t think that’s IU’s best look.

  • StudentHoosier

    This is wild. After just under a week, we have a legitimate argument to be made as being one of the top 5 teams in the country (hey, maybe a Trump presidency won’t be so bad). This game should be fun more than anything. I think everyone is gonna ball out. We will run away with this, no questions asked. I like TB to go for 16 and 28. Yes, 28 rebounds, just wait. JBJ doesn’t miss a shot, ends up with 31 points. OG does everything, ends the first half with an electrifying one hand slam. Even QT and ZMR get in late and show some good chemistry, and QT picks up his first trillion of the year.

    Bring on the River Hawks. Hoosiers by 44.

  • Nike_Hoosier0527

    We would only be #1 if Kentucky and Villanova both lose. They likely will remain undefeated through November. Still exciting to move up though!

  • Lance76

    I agree with your comment on DD & TB not being IU’s best look. My comment in post above was to have then practice high-low in game conditions to have that as yet another “weapon” in their arsenal for later in year.

  • I think we _should_ work on TB and DD getting some time on the floor together. One game (actually, two games) looms large where having some serious height might be advantageous. I’ll leave it to everyone’s imagination to pick up on who I’m talking about here, would rather not type it out.

  • I want to see defense be the focus. I don’t care how many we score, I just want to see them held under 50.

    Edit: as long as we score at least one more point than they do.

  • Kyl470

    I respect your opinion, but I disagree. I think Morgan and OG can defend any opponents power forward and Bryant and Davis can defend their center. The problem is that Bryant is too foul prone and Davis is our only real backup at center. I think on most nights we are going to see a minutes split of 25-28 min for Bryant and 12-15 for Davis.

  • I hear you. Hopefully by the time the unnamed opponent roles around TB will be less foul-prone and DD will have more stamina/experience and thus be able to handle more minutes. I agree that OG and JM can defend in the post, I’m just a little nervous about unnamed team’s overall height.

  • Ole Man

    Duke was missing three stars out with injury. I wouldn’t expect to see the same Duke team in January.

  • weitrhino

    There will be plenty of opportunity to post about our guys so now that the UMASS Lowell game has ended I really want to compliment that team. They played hard. They played well. They’re well coached. I really admired their effort and competitive spirit and they should be proud of the game they played.