Editor’s Note: Matt Dollinger is a senior at Indiana University and is the former men’s basketball beat writer for the Indiana Daily Student. Please welcome him as our newest contributor on Inside the Hall. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like so many of you, walking into Assembly Hall brings back old memories for me.
I hear the familiar blast of the pep band and start humming the fight song. I smell the popcorn and begin to reminisce about games past. And then, I look down at my student ticket and remember, with much sadness, that I will have to climb roughly 27 flights of stairs to ascend the mountain that is section FF, row 7.
Nevertheless, sans Sherpa, I climbed, and witnessed IU’s 83-60 season-opening victory over Howard.
This season, I’m going to provide a little weekly analysis of the Hoosiers’ play (think Bill Walton, with more exclamation marks and less Grateful Dead references). Hopefully, my Hoosier hindsight can stir up some healthy discussion.
So to start, here are five things I took away from Friday’s game:
1. I Like The New Guys
And so does Tom Crean. IU’s seven new players combined to score 55 of the Hoosiers’ 83 points and showed a lot of promise. Curiosity does have me wonder though how Christian Watford, Maurice Creek and Jordan Hulls negotiated jersey number switches with their older teammates. Did Crean make the players shoot for it? And if so, how did Matt Roth lose?
2. Watford Is The Truth
What a treat Watford is going to be for Hoosier fans. A post presence with size, skill and athleticism does not come around every day. The 6-foot-9 frosh displayed a nice touch in the paint and showed he and Tom Pritchard could form into a nice 1-2 punch down low. With 14 points and 11 rebounds in his debut, Watford proved he is going to be more D.J. White than D.J. Mbenga.
In front of a near capacity crowd Friday night at Assembly Hall, a trio of Indiana freshmen each turned in a debut to remember.
Leading just 20-18 with 7:03 remaining in the first half, Maurice Creek and Derek Elston sparked a 9-0 run that put Indiana in the drivers seat on their way to a 83-60 win over Howard.
Creek led all scorers with 17 points and Elston and Christian Watford added 14 each for the Hoosiers, who shot nearly 56 percent from the field and had 20 assists.
“We really, really shared the basketball,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “Anytime you have 20 assists, that’s a real benchmark that your offense is really moving and it’s crisp.”
Sixteen different players saw the floor for Indiana and no one amassed more than 26 minutes. With a brand of basketball that is expected to be far more up-tempo than a season ago, Crean is focusing on getting maximum effort from each Hoosier at all times.
“I want them to understand it’s the quality of the minutes, not the quantity,” Crean said.
Creek’s 17 came on 7 of 11 shooting from the field. Watford (4 of 6) and Elston (6 of 7) were equally efficient.
“I just thought they played together,” Howard coach Gil Jackson said. “They looked to get easy shots. You didn’t see anybody playing selfishly.”
Free throw differential: Indiana shot just 13 free throws in the game and Howard shot 18 of 30.
Double-double: Watford had 11 rebounds to go along with his 14 points.
Rivers debut: Jeremiah Rivers finished with six points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal in 26 minutes. “I think what’s going on right now is that it’s extremely hard for our team to keep up with him. I’d rather have them try to speed up than to slow him down,” Crean said of Rivers.
Bison struggle from outside: Howard connected on just four of 22 three-point attempts.
Pick to Click: Watford.
Up next: USC-Upstate, November 16, 8:30 ET, Assembly Hall
Indiana head coach Tom Crean, Tom Pritchard, Christian Watford and Maurice Creek met with the media following Indiana’s season-opening 83-60 win at Assembly Hall over Howard. Listen to their comments in the embedded media players below:
Postgame video, courtesy of IU Athletics on YouTube
Moments ago we just learned that Bawa is completely eligible. If you see his smile as wide as it has ever been you will know why.
So yes: the NCAA has decreed Bawa’s lingering high school coursework is in shipshape, and he’ll be able to participate in game action now. Anyone else interested to see how his game fits in with Crean’s more up-tempo style of play this season?
+ Indiana coach Tom Crean appeared on Kravitz and Eddie on 1070 the Fan on Tuesday afternoon and talked about Wednesday’s exhibition against Grace, Bob Knight’s decision to not attend his Hall of Fame induction and Mike Krzyzewski’s comments a couple of weeks ago to ESPN.com. You can listen to the complete podcast here.
+ Crean also met with the media today and Chris Korman of the Herald-Times/Hoosier Scoop has the audio here.
+ Dave Telep of Scout.composted an update on five-star wing Jelan Kendrick and the Marietta (GA) product says he’ll likely wait until the spring to sign a Letter of Intent. Kendrick visited Indiana this past weekend and attended Saturday’s Haunted Hall of Hoops. (Subscription required to view link.)
+ Jerry Meyer of Rivals.com has a note on Will Sheehey in his “Weekly Whispers” column. Sheehey will visit Indiana this weekend and recently added an offer from Michigan. (Subscription required to view link.)