It’s a quick turnaround for one of the nation’s youngest teams as No. 23 Indiana hosts Stony Brook tonight in the 2K Sports Classic benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project in Assembly Hall.
The game will be broadcast live at 5 p.m. ET on BTN with Steve Physioc and Shon Morris on the call as well as the IU radio network.
Stony Brook wasn’t a game fans circled on their calendars when the 2013-2014 schedule was released in August, but the Seawolves, who won the America East regular season championship last season, are the best non-conference opponent that will travel to Assembly Hall.
After being bounced in the second round of the NIT at Iowa, Stony Brook has its sights set higher this season. A first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament tops the list of goals for the New York-based program and tonight’s game is one you can bet its players circled when it was announced over the summer.
Victor Oladipo started this evening. Will Sheehey came off the bench. And whether Crean continues to swap these two in and out of the starting lineup may not matter. Because they’re shaping up to have an impact no matter when they enter the game. Oladipo set the tone early, scoring with ease in transition — which carried over into the second half — and finished with 16 points (7-of-9), six boards and two steals. He played with poise and energy and swagger.
Sheehey didn’t play in the second half because of flu-like symptoms. But he scored 13 points (5-of-6) off the bench in the first — making some nice, controlled shots in the lane to go along with a trey. Not bad. Not bad at all.
These two also got some run together in the first half, which might prove to be an electric combo on both ends as the season progresses.
Another slow start for the freshman, as he scored just one field goal in the first half — a bucket at the 1:21 mark. But one wonders if Tom Crean made a point for his Hoosiers to start feeding Zeller at the break, because the team looked for him down low from the onset of the second half. Zeller started converting and even stole a ball and went the length of the court for a dunk early in the second frame.
He finished with 16 points (5-of-6, 6-of-8 from the line), 10 boards, three steals and two blocks. Strong line.
He also got punched in the crotch (!) in the first half by Stony Brook’s Danny Carter, who was ejected for his transgression. (And, if you remember, he also got intentionally fouled in the University of Indianapolis game.) While it may not be a low blow, Zeller may continue to get some abuse down on the block as he assimilates to the college game.
Notes and quotes from Tom Crean’s Thursday press conference previewing Indiana’s season opener against Stony Brook on Friday at Assembly Hall. Watch the press conference here. (Photo: Crean talks about Maurice Creek’s season ending injury on October 12.)
— Wants to challenge the team by playing a team like Stony Brook to open the season. This is a team that has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. (Picked to finish in the top three of their conference by most publications and a top 150 team according to KenPom.com.)
— Stony Brook is deep and returns their all-around best player. Believes the America East is an outstanding league with very good coaches.
— From his time in Big East gained a lot of respect for programs like Stony Brook. IU played Boston University a few years ago (also in the America East) and on any given night teams from this league can win.
— “We’re going to be tested as much as we have in our time here in openers and as much as any that I’ve been a part of as a head coach.”
— “They play hard and everything that I can see they’re not a team that’s going to ever back away from anything.”
— “Really, really good 3-point shooting team. Just solid all the way around.”
— “It’ll be fun to have the opener here. It’ll be fun to have a great crowd. But they’ll be nothing fun about that game when it comes to playing and coaching. It will be an absolute battle.”
— Stony Brook has Wisconsin tendencies in that they have a style and pace they want to play. They are good at their style of play. Spread the floor, set a lot of ball screens, good movement, run their break.