The Minute After: North Dakota State

Thoughts on a 87-61 win over the Bison:

I. It is early, and grand, bold proclamations about anything at this juncture are’t wise. Still, I’m willing to go out on a limb with this: These Hoosiers are playmakers. Go on down the line: Cody Zeller, Yogi Ferrell, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls, Will Sheehey, Remy Abell, Jeremy Hollowell — these cats can ball. Tougher opponents will come and the freshmen are sure to take more lumps, but is there any player in these eight that can’t get theirs in multiple ways?

This is what makes this offense so potent: options all over the place in every which way, and they just keep coming, one after another. It is a fast break of fury for 40 minutes. And if they’re not getting points before the defense sets itself in the halfcourt, they’re creating an advantage, making the extra pass — or maybe too many extra passes, as some argued they fell into for a stretch in the second half tonight — and getting open looks at the hoop or behind the 3-point line.

Four in double figures tonight, and it won’t be the last time.

II. Shoutout to Remy Abell. Just about died at his delayed fist pump after completing his solo 8-0 run in the second half — two straight threes, and a bucket at the cup to boot. Abell hasn’t missed a shot all season and finished the evening with 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting. Tom Crean thinks his best days lay ahead. Abell is also proving himself to be a capable point guard backup to Ferrell at the 1, which means Hulls continues to have the chance to play off the ball and get those shots in rhythm beyond the arc.

III. As if the first section of this TMA didn’t spell it out already, the offense continues to create tidal waves. The Hoosiers scored nearly 1.3 points per possession, had a turnover rate of just 14.9% and got to the line in droves (22-of-30, 57.1 free throw rate). Sure they could have shot better from the line and there were a couple wide open looks that seemed to just rim out. But these are minor quibbles in a world of imperfection.

Zeller scored 22 points with ease and he’s looking like a 7-foot point guard at times; Hollowell chipped in 14 and I keep sorta thinking he’s Watford; Hulls was hot early and finished the game with 11 points. The Hoosiers also had a strong night on the glass: They snagged 80% of available defensive rebounds and 37.1% of available offensive ones.

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Live Discussion: Indiana vs. North Dakota State

Film Session: The Yogi Effect

Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell racked up seven assists in his Hoosier debut — a blowout victory over the Bryant Bulldogs.

Here’s a deeper look at three such assists in the latest edition of Film Session:

I.

Off a Ben Francis missed three, Ferrell corrals the rebound. Cody Zeller, who got a hand up on Francis in the corner, is off to the races:

Ferrell takes but one dribble … :

Before he throw a long pass to Zeller:

He catches in stride:

And puts it in for two points:

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What to Expect: North Dakota State

After a dominating 97-54 victory against Bryant in its season opener, No. 1 Indiana will host North Dakota State of the Summit League at 7 p.m. Monday night at Assembly Hall. The game is part of the Progressive Legends Classic. The Bison won their season opener and Valley City State, 93-47, on Friday.

The game will not be televised, but will be available to watch on BTN.com for a fee. As always, the IU Radio Network will broadcast the game. 

The Hoosiers faced little resistance against Bryant on Friday night, but North Dakota State will provide a stiffer early-season test. The Bison return their top five scorers from last year’s 17-14 club, and they were picked to finish second in the Summit League by the league’s coaches, SIDs and media. They played in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) postseason tournament last season.

North Dakota State’s regular rotation last season consisted of six sophomores and two freshmen, so their youth held them down in some areas. The Bison struggled with turnovers at times, and they finished near the bottom of the league in rebounding. Those are weaknesses that could play into Indiana’s hands considering its size and athleticism.

The Bison have much more interior depth than Bryant, which could potentially create a problem for the Hoosiers. North Dakota State has five players on its roster that are 6-foot-7 or taller, including the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Marshall Bjorklund. Bjorklund averaged 11.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season.

Indiana will be without Hanner Mosquera-Perea (suspension), Peter Jurkin (suspension) and Derek Elston (knee injury), so it will be important for Cody Zeller to stay out of foul trouble.

The Bison are led by junior guard Taylor Braun, who had 19 points and eight rebounds in the season opener. At 6-foot-7, Braun is capable of playing inside and on the perimeter, and he’s also a strong rebounder. He averaged 15.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest a year ago, including seven games in which he scored 20 or more points. Braun poured in a season-high 30 points on an efficient 9-of-11 shooting against IUPUI.

Braun doesn’t attempt a ton of 3-pointers — he averaged only 2.6 per contest last season — but he is capable of making them (he shot 45 percent last year).

What it comes down to

The Hoosiers will face their first real test with limited interior depth on Monday night. Zeller, Christian Watford and Jeremy Hollowell will have to stay out of foul trouble.

Offensively, Indiana will likely have to make a good percentage of its outside shots. According to associate head coach Steve McClain, North Dakota State regularly packs to middle to force opponents from getting to the basket.

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Noah Vonleh joins Indiana’s 2013 recruiting class

Just over 24 hours after arriving in Bloomington for his official visit, 2013 New Hampton Prep (NH) forward Noah Vonleh decided he’d seen enough to make a decision.

So Vonleh, who made his first official visit with his mother, committed to the Hoosiers on Saturday night. His high school coach, Pete Hutchins, confirmed the news to Inside the Hall late Saturday night in a text message.

He’s the sixth verbal commitment in the 2013 class for the Hoosiers and the No. 8 prospect nationally according to ESPN.com.

Vonleh had also been considering Connecticut, Georgetown, North Carolina, Ohio State and Syracuse after deciding to reclassify on Sept. 24.

The 6-foot-8 forward attended IU’s season opening win over Bryant on Friday night and drew chants of “We want Noah,” from a soldout Assembly Hall crowd.

The five-star forward told ESPN.com that the intensity of IU’s pursuit was a major factor in his decision.

“From day one, Indiana has been recruiting me the hardest,” Vonleh told Adam Finkelstein of ESPN.com. “They were just letting me know how they could develop me into the player I want to be at the next level. Their academics are good, they’re the No. 1 team in the country, and they’ve got another great class coming in next year.

“They said next year I could come in and be one of the main guys,” he added. “They’re going to lose Christian Watford, and probably [Cody] Zeller, so they want me to come in and be a big piece right away.”

Vonleh joins Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, Luke Fischer, Collin Hartman and Devin Davis in IU’s 2013 class.

Inside the Hall will have more on this developing story.

Related:

· Vonleh’s coach talks about decision to reclassify
· Video: Noah Vonleh adidas Nations highlights
· Vonleh leads USA Red 2014 to adidas Nations championship
· Vonleh’s coach: “He’s a kid that doesn’t have any kinks in his armor”

Notebook: Point guards Hulls, Ferrell start together in season opener

The expectation became reality on Friday night when point guards Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls started together in No. 1 Indiana’s season opening win against Bryant. Much has been made throughout the offseason about whether Ferrell and Hulls — both small guards — can play well enough defensively to play on the court together.

The two guards passed their first test on Friday.

While it wasn’t perfect by any stretch, Ferrell and Hulls held their own on the defensive end in the Hoosiers’ 97-54 win. There were a few breakdowns on the perimeter — especially early — but the guards seemed to improve as the game went on.

“We just gotta play tough on the defensive end,” Hulls said. “I’m gonna have to guard bigger guys, and a lot of different players, honestly. Tonight I thought we did a pretty good job.”

Offensively, Ferrell had 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds in his collegiate debut, and Hulls added nine points and five assists. Ferrell regularly got into the lane, drew Bryant defenders, and kicked to wide open shooters near the 3-point arc, including Hulls.

But the duo’s offensive production wasn’t much of a surprise. If Ferrell and Hulls want to continue starting and playing alongside each other, they will have to continue to defend at a high level.

“I thought they did a very good job defensively together because, ultimately, that’s what the measuring stick will be as we go forward,” Crean said. “Yogi is ahead of his years defensively. That’s been a joy. And Jordan is a smart, savvy senior who’s continued to become more athletic, stronger, all those type of things.

“When those guys can lead the way defensively, then we have a chance to have a really good backcourt with those two. I think they’re going to be good offensively on the year. Some nights will be better than others. But the defensive part is gonna be crucial.”

Watford, Zeller post double-doubles

Senior forward Christian Watford had 15 points and a career-high 15 rebounds against Bryant, and Cody Zeller added a team-high 18 points and 10 boards. Both players were very aggressive on the glass throughout the game, something that will be a point of emphasis early this season with a thin front line.

Freshmen Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin will miss the first nine games due to suspension, and senior Derek Elston is still recovering from knee surgery.

“There’s no question we’re shorthanded on the front line. There’s no way around it,” Crean said. “We’re trying to mix and match and do a lot of different things. The players responded really well to that tonight.”

Watford, in particular, was impressive, especially considering he hasn’t always been a strong rebounder. He got stronger in the offseason, and he was more aggressive than usual. All but one of Watford’s rebounds came on the defensive end.

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HD Video: Tom Crean on contract extension, Bryant win

Indiana coach Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 97-54 win over Bryant on Friday night at Assembly Hall and discussed a variety of topics including his contract extension that will keep him in Bloomington through 2020, the play of freshman Yogi Ferrell and much more.

Watch and listen to the press conference in the embedded media player below: