What to Expect: Fort Wayne

  • 11/22/2016 6:21 am in

Indiana will go on the road for the first time this season as the Hoosiers take on Fort Wayne tonight at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The host Mastodons are 2-2 this season and are coming off of a 94-81 win over UMass Lowell.

The game will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Shon Morris on the call:

Indiana’s game tonight against Fort Wayne will go on the ledger as a road game, but it may feel like a home game for the Hoosiers. Indiana will meet Fort Wayne, the preseason pick to win the Summit League, in the sold out Memorial Coliseum, which seats 13,000. Most of them will be donning Cream and Crimson.

As part of a three-game series that included a game in Bloomington last season and another one in 2018-19, the Hoosiers agreed last fall to make the trip to Fort Wayne. Traveling to the state’s second largest city is a good opportunity for the program to play in front of fans who rarely get to see the team play in person. It also serves as an opportunity for James Blackmon Jr., who grew up in Fort Wayne, to play in his hometown.

But now the Hoosiers, who are ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll, must deliver in a critical non-conference game. Indiana only has five games before Big Ten play that will register on the NCAA tournament resume and this is one of them. And regardless of what the game looks like on paper, winning away from home is rarely easy.

MEET THE MASTODONS

The strength of the Mastodons resides in the backcourt with the duo of senior Mo Evans (pictured) and junior Bryson Scott. Evans, a former teammate of Collin Hartman at Cathedral, is coming off of a 33-point game against UMass Lowell and was a preseason second team All-Summit League pick.

The 6-foot-1 Evans is making 57.1 percent of his 3s so far this season after knocking down 42.2 percent as a junior. Evans played in just 16 games last season due to an academic issue that sidelined him for the spring semester.

Scott, a former 247Composite top 100 recruit, played his first two seasons at Purdue before transferring to Fort Wayne. Scott is a pest defensively, but struggles to score with efficiency. In four games, he’s averaging 12.5 points, but is shooting just 38.5 percent from the field.

Kason Harrell, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, came off the bench in the team’s first three games, but started against UMass Lowell. Harrell is fourth on the team in scoring at 11 points per game and is hitting 57.1 percent of his 3s. Senior D’Angelo Stewart, a junior college transfer, made 42.5 percent of his 3s last season but has struggled so far in his senior campaign. In four games, the 6-foot-5 wing is just 5-of-20 from the field.

In the frontcourt, sophomore John Konchar was a preseason All-Summit League first team selection. The Chicago native made 61.6 percent of his 2s and 43.1 percent of his 3s in a terrific freshman campaign. In Summit League games last season, Konchar had the highest effective field goal percentage of any player and was in the top six in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Konchar is excellent at drawing fouls and getting to the line, where he’s making better than 72 percent for his career. Through four games, Konchar is averaging 12.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Brent Calhoun, a 6-foot-9, 260 pound senior, gives the Mastodons legitimate size in the paint. Calhoun is shooting just 41 percent this season, but is an excellent defensive rebounder. Xzavier Taylor, a 6-foot-9 junior, sat out last season after transferring from Bradley. He serves as Calhoun’s backup and is shooting 53 percent from the field.

Racine Talla, a 6-foot-9, 195 junior, is another rotation member, but is inefficient and isn’t a threat to score.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE MATCHUP

Fort Wayne is 2-2 this season, with wins over UMass Lowell and Kenyon College, a Division III program. Their two losses came by nine at Arkansas and by 18 at Illinois State.

Division I programs are shooting 42 percent on 3s against the Mastodons this season, which isn’t a recipe for success against Indiana. Fort Wayne was one of the top ten 3-pointing shooting teams in the country last season, but were in the bottom 20 at defending the 3-point line.

For Indiana, the turnovers are the number one thing to watch. The Hoosiers got away with 26 of them on Saturday night against Liberty, but still won easily against an opponent that was clearly outmatched. As Tom Crean said postgame, the Hoosiers look a little too rushed right now and it’s leading to mistakes. The turnover situation should improve as Indiana gets more games under its belt, but slowing down a bit is the first step in remedying the issue.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The Vegas line opened with Indiana as a 12-point favorite, Ken Pomeroy likes the Hoosiers by 10 (82 percent chance of victory) and Sagarin likes Indiana by 13 when adjusted for home court.

While this game won’t be the true road environment that Indiana will experience in the Big Ten, it should be a competitive one in an unfamiliar venue. Fort Wayne has legitimate talent with Evans, Scott and Konchar and will be amped up for the opportunity to face a top five team.

With just this game and a tune-up against Mississippi Valley State to go before North Carolina comes to Bloomington, Indiana needs to continue making progress on both ends. The Hoosiers are nowhere near their ceiling, but finding success in games like Tuesday’s will go a long way in getting them there come March.

(Photo credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)

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  • N71

    There’s a little concern with this being a “road game” but surely the following for the Hoosiers is stronger in Ft. Wayne than it is for IPFW. Nothing against IPFW but IU has been around for 100 years and we probably have a ton of grads and fans in the area there. I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t like a Nebraska/Northwestern football game in Evanston where the entire place is red. I think the only reason this game could be close is because IPFW is good, their backcourt in particular.

  • SCHoosier

    Only sloppy play and a repeat of the last game turn over disaster can keep the Hoosiers out of the win column tonight.

  • Stromboli

    I lived in Fort Wayne briefly, and had some connection to IPFW. It’s a great school and campus, somewhat unknown in the rest of the state. Much more than just a small satellite campus.

    Fort Wayne has as many MSU fans as IU fans, but I’m sure there will be many IU fans in attendance. If for no other reason than that having a top five team there is a big deal. Obviously JBJ being the hometown kid is pretty cool too.

    I think we win, but there is a threat of this being a trap game. Sounds like IPFW has some real players and could get hot from 3.

    Who gets hot tonight for IU? Would love to see CuJo flash some scoring again.

  • Ted Adams

    IU has been around for 156 years! But when talking about the basketball program you’re right, closer to one hundred at 115 years.

  • TomJameson

    I think that’s what Alex said above … that it (for IU) would feel like a home game … and most of the 13,000 would be wearing Cream and Crimson. I think with a big crowd, and a lot of cheering for IU, it could very easily feel like a home game.

  • IUowns

    JBJ has been on fire from 3-point land this seson. If the shots aren’t going though, I would love to see him drive and kick out a lot more instead of keep going for 3’s. Also, we must start using Bryant and DD a lot more. Start playing inside out or let the big guys take over. I really hope we get a comfortable win and it isn’t close by halftime. Go Hoosiers!

  • TomJameson

    Broken record time … LOL

    1. Focus the entire game on both ends.
    2. Take care of the ball and quit rushing things. CTC said they were rushing things but that’s not quite the same as playing fast.
    3. Seems like quite a few turnovers were the travelling kind. Probably a result of the rushing things comment, but, well … stop it.

    This should be a good tune-up game seeing as it’s a pretty talented team in their own right. They will be really dialed in to beat the #3 team in the nation. What a feather in their cap that would be. Guarantee they will be focused.

  • TomJameson

    I think a real breakout game for OG, but really, you could pick almost any IU player for a breakout game.

    There’s the possibility that their perimeter defense will be such a focus for them, that TB and DD have great games too.

  • Bill Graham

    Good to see the Hoosiers coming to my hometown. As long as we take care of the ball we should be fine.

  • Bill Graham

    Hey Scruggs IU averages 7,000 more fans per game than Xavier.
    Hey Wilkes IU is 2,017 miles closer to your family than UCLA.
    Hey Williams IU is ranked 7 spots higher than Louisville. And Louisville is in Kentucky….enough said.
    Hey Preston IU beat Kansas…enough said.

    What is it going to take to land a top 10 kid again? Apparently winning the conference title last year and being ranked in the top 3 without a single senior isnt good enough….we have the tradition, the facilities, the fanbase, the NBA track record, the campus, the coach. Not sure what else these recruits can ask for….

  • I think some of these kids are just looking for what they perceive is the best place to play for the year they’ll be in college. Don’t have to go to class at Kentucky. Get hooked up at Louisville. Fun in the sun at UCLA. Don’t know anything bad about Xavier, maybe that one’s just an outlier.

    Seriously, who knows with 17-18 year old kids? There are tons of voices whispering in their ears about what’s going to set them up best for the pros, and I don’t think tradition, facilities, fanbase, or any of that matters. The NBA track record matters, but is IU’s record here better than a Kentucky’s or Duke’s?

  • vicbert caladipo

    Best thing about not having BTN plus and having to wait until Monday to watch the game is now I get back to back days of HOOSIER HOOPS. WOOOOO!!! If I could work during game 5 of the world series living in Chicago without hearing the score, not hearing the IU score was a piece of cake. But that meant missing all of your smiling faces for 3 days!

  • vicbert caladipo

    They said at the beginning of the year the refs were going to focus more on traveling violations. The many fouls and turnovers are at least 50% responsible for the changing in reffing. My thought is later in the year it will mellow out. This is where having CTC will be an asset later. Many times he is talking to refs and then relaying back to players. They will learn and hopefully later on the refs will remember CTC being civil instead of going berserk like calacheater and selfie

  • sd chuck

    Would like to see TB have a big game, he needs to play with authority and finish strong, quit looking for the refs to bail him out, (I feel the same as him but i’m not in front of the refs, and he is getting hacked), we need him next week big time! carry on TB we love you!

  • I was wondering if there was a change in rules around traveling. I caught 5 travels in the game on Saturday, and both I and the players were confused about why they were called. Toss in a couple of questionable charges, and that’s about 7 turnovers right there accounted for.

  • John D Murphy

    I’ll take two years of OG and four years of JM over one-and-dones anytime. Anyway, after the new NBA CBA the D-League salaries are going to be high enough that the One-and-Dones aren’t going to be going to college anymore. The landscape will change. These last two recruiting classes have been full of high character guys, who can play, want to work, and hold themselves and their teammates accountable. In this respect TC is on a roll. The current rendition of the culture seems much more sustainable than a few years ago. Besides, who knows OG, TB, or JBJ might want to come back.

  • I have way too many “helpful” digital assistants to possibly miss the score. Google Now alone will pop up the score in my news feed whether I like it or not. Hence why I paid for BTN+. 🙂

  • I would so love it if the kids who don’t want to go to college no longer have to do so. Let them go straight to the pros without impediment. They don’t even contribute much to the college game in many instances because they never get a chance to develop. And the idea of some kid playing college sports who doesn’t care one whit about getting a degree galls me to no end–it’s such a pretense. “Student-athlete” should mean something.

  • pcantidote

    I’ve seen this story before so I’m a little nervous. I remember road games at what were supposedly semi-friendly environments against decent teams turn into losses. At Butler before they were Butler, and at ISU come to mind. We need to dominate them in the paint and on the boards.

  • Hoosier Brews62

    Is the game being televised on BTN or BTN Plus?

  • BL4IU

    Great showcase for IU; especially with JBJ playing. Hope we rip it and really impress some young players that will no doubt be in attendance.

  • BTN

  • Hoosier Brews62

    Thanks Alex!

  • vicbert caladipo

    I remember working when we played Duke in the final 4. Never want to go thru with that again….if you see a guy humming very loudly to himself it’s probably me not wanting to know the score

  • vicbert caladipo

    I love listening to MAX. He kept an on going turnover count. Was shocked when they had like 17 with 8 minutes to go in the first half. My favorite comment was one he said he took enough grief about his calves. Would love to see him with a fulltime gig covering IU

  • Fifer39

    Definitely agree with the last point. There’s a risk this just turns into a 3pt shoot out (which we’ll win) but I really want to see us pounding it inside. We’ve barely seen that at all yet not even over a vertically challenged Liberty and it needs to develop – actually should only make the outside threat more potent.

  • Fifer39

    I think at one point there was about 8 free throws in a row. I think if I was a ref I’d just be swallowing my whistle on some of those dubious travel calls. There’s no doubt they’re looking for any excuse to blow up at the moment. And we’ve seen it before, come conference play, they let everything go and we seem to end up getting pounded on no-calls.

  • pcantidote

    The worst is when people don’t have an appreciation for you not wanting to know ANYTHING about what is happening and they will drop subtle comments that you read into 100 different ways.

  • Fifer39

    Tried to not find out the score of a soccer match once. Turned out it was a 0-0 tie which I kind of guessed when my wife said, ‘Don’t worry, I can’t spoil it for you by telling you the score cos there wasn’t any’. Lol!

  • vicbert caladipo

    Sick sense of humor!! I know a few of those : )

  • I was returning home from Vegas in ’92 while IU was playing UK. I avoided all forms of news throughout, which was much easier back then, of course. Then as I was walking through the Indianapolis airport, I glanced into a bar and before I could look away saw the last few seconds of the game. It wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if we’d won.

  • bleeding crimson

    I think we only have one Plus game left. You can always go to the schedule above and it tells you what channel for each game.

  • SilentBob

    As a kid who grew up in the Terre Haute area going to a lot of those games… yea it’ll be all red, but they’ll still cheer when Fort Wayne scores too lol.

  • Bryant blows up tonight. He’s due. So is Green.

  • TomJameson

    Don’t think there was a rule change on traveling, but there is an emphasis on making the calls. Like vicbert said, it’ll ease up later in the season.

  • 3rdIndCav

    196 years. IU was founded in 1820

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    This game is brutal!!!!

  • weitrhino

    Damn that was ugly

  • Cehood40

    Yeah he broke right on next to Crean for 2/3 of the game.

  • Austin Alexander

    I just want to reflect…wtf.