Indiana struggles early, rolls past Grace in second half

  • 11/04/2009 10:56 pm in

After leading by just six at halftime, Indiana used a strong second half to win its exhibition debut 96-73 over NAIA opponent Grace College Wednesday night at Assembly Hall.

Six Indiana players scored in double figures, led by 19 points from Christian Watford and 14 from Jordan Hulls.

A couple of thoughts from Indiana’s exhibition opener:

  • Watford was very effective after he settled down. He looked a bit anxious early, which is to be expected for a freshman, but his athleticism around the basket made an instant impact. He got to the line nine times and connected on all of his attempts. Impressive debut.
  • The basketball IQ of Hulls will make him a fan favorite in Bloomington. He has a knack for setting up teammates and when left open, he was able to knock down some shots. And he didn’t register a turnover.
  • Verdell Jones picked up where he left off at the end of last season. Jones is still lanky, but he’s added some weight and is stronger in his upper body. He was a bit sloppy with the ball at times, but he turned in solid effort with 10 points and eight assists.
  • Jeremiah Rivers could be the defensive presence that Indiana desperately needs to win in the Big Ten. The Georgetown transfer was solid on both ends of the floor, but was especially effective with his on the ball defense.
  • Tom Pritchard had a couple of crafty moves around the bucket, but he still needs to do a better job at finishing point-blank opportunities. The good news for Pritchard is that Watford, Derek Elston and Bobby Capobianco should all help take pressure off of him in the post.
  • Elston and Capobianco both hit the glass hard. Elston had a nice reverse lay-up and is the more athletic option of the two. Capobianco brought intensity, but struggled with picking up unnecessary fouls.
  • Maurice Creek had an unspectacular debut, totaling just five points and five turnovers. Creek should bounce back with a stronger game Monday and will be an impact guy.
  • All in all, about what most of us expected from an exhibition debut with six new faces, right? Tom Crean probably won’t be thrilled with several easy baskets the Hoosiers allowed down low and in transition, but that’s what the pre-season is for. Indiana will return to action on Monday against St. Joseph’s at Assembly Hall. That game will also be broadcast on

    Pick to Click winner: Christian Watford (Phillip, StuHoo, favreDollarfootlong, ariufan, hoosier07, JerryCT, hoosierwhodey, CrimsonLaw1L, NMHoosier, Martin34, Kelin Blab)

    + Box score

    + Tom Crean postgame audio (The Hoosier Scoop)

    Filed to:

    • billy bob

      What a relief for Indiana University fans: BASKETBALL SEASON IS HERE!!! THANK GOD!

    • salt and pepper

      I do not think Creek will have a major impact on the team this year. especially with Dumes healthy.

    • 47250HoosierFan

      just wanted to say thank you for your coverage of Indiana University sports! I'm looking forward to seeing the progression of Hulls, i have a feeling he is going to be one of the best ever to wear the Cream and Crimson!

    • bishop92iu

      Solid recap, Alex. I only saw the second half, and I thought Watford was very impressive – always active and great instincts. Hulls was excellent on the offensive end – efficient scoring the ball and a couple of nice passes – if he can be effective defensively, he may get quite a bit of pt.

      As for the live streaming from our money thirsty friends at the BTN, I thought it was absolutely awful. I'll wait for the delayed broadcast on Friday's game and use the $2.99 to get 3 blackjack tacos at the bell instead. We're an hour past the end of the broadcast and I'm still waiting for the archive to be available despite the following message from “If you purchased a game that recently ended, the archive will be available soon.” Clearly they have a rather liberal view of what “soon” means. Sorry for the negativity, but compared to the quality I get on ESPN360, this is a joke.

    • I paid for the game…I've been waiting for it for a year now….anyway….I really really liked Jordan Hulls the kids basketball IQ is awesome. He moves without the ball great. The most impresive player of the night considering. Watford did struggle early….he missed some bunnies….but this kid could explode with a little confidence. Creek was quiet and has been everytime I've seen him play. I don't look for it to stay like that. I think with Creek running on all cylinders Indiana could be a force. Pritchard needs to make his easy shots…come on man this is D 1 ball. I have faith in the guy but free throws and easy shots have to be made for us to win against tuffer opponents. Verdell is picking up where he left off. I didn'tknow what to think about him last year but he is a solid gaurd. Eltson showed some signs of potential….but not when he tried to do things out of his game at this level. Bobby C. was quiet…didn't expect that. I'm sure he will get in the groove and that could get interesting. Rivers showed some signs of greatness. All in all…..nice to seem the team get together and finish

    • sacajacabuncar

      Rivers, Watford and Jones should start every game. Pritchard still blows point blank shots. Hulls will be great and him and Dumes coming off the bench will provide a spark. Actually I'd like to see Hulls start along with Jones, Rivers and Watford, I just don't know who would sub for the guards as that would only leave Dumes and Roth to come in. Hulls and Rivers would provide tough defense but I'm not keen on having essentially 3 point guards on the floor at the same time. Elston will only get better and he did alright tonight. Roth needs to consistently hit 3s and I'm not confident he will. Creek probably just needs to settle down a little bit and he'll improve. Jobe, well, he was Jobe tonight. Capo has a nice touch and will be a solid role player. Watford should contend for freshmen of the year in the Big 10. We need to get back on D after a made shot. We'll improve over last season, but it's going to be a long season. Hopefully we'll kill St. Joe on Monday and get ready for Howard next week.

    • IUlineman

      i bought it as well and it was real bad Will not do it again

    • JerryCT

      I agree with your recap completely. My observations different from the recap are that:

      1. All freshmen plus Jones need serious work on team defense especially Creek and less so Elston
      2. Rivers was solid and can be better, but will face some really tough players in the B10
      3. I liked the assists last night
      4. Our offense looked poorly developed in the 1/2 court for more than 1/2 the game
      5. Roth proved capable of contending w Creek for rotation minutes
      6. WE MISS DUMES on both ends of the floor

    • CreamandCrimson

      I didn't get to see the game. I settled for Fish and Leary (love Todd Leary!). So, it's kind of hard to make any observations.
      1. Anyone that was surprised by the play of Jordan Hulls did not see him play in high school. He is a winner and his vision on the court is the best on the team. I expect very good things from him for four years.
      2. Christian Watford's athleticism around the rim is going to be a great asset. He is a piece IU hasn't had in a long time.
      3. It sounded like IU was playing a lot faster. This is not going to be a great defensive team but if the tempo is going to be where Tom Crean wants it, IU has to get back after made baskets.
      4. Tom Pritchard and the rest of the frontcourt absolutely cannot blow easy layups against good competition. IU doesn't much room for error and layups can't be missed.
      5. Good to see the improved free throw shooting.
      Great to have basketball back!

    • Sallad

      I have a feeling Crean is going to be getting on people (Elston and Pritchard, specifically) this week about not using the backboard. Didn't he have a tweet this summer saying that that's one of his biggest pet peeves?

      If at any point this season Crean feels like he's losing the crowd, all he needs to do is put Tijan in. We love that guy. His two (TWO!) rebounds would make my personal highlight reel.

    • JerryCT

      Loved the TC comments. He stressed “D” and mentioned “quality” shots. To put “D” in perspective ;

      1. IU was the ONLY B10 team to be outsocred by opponents last year. Even Iowa outscored its opponents
      2. Our running offense starts with “D” and getting TO's or rebounds

      This is single most important thing for the team and each player to improve on…………and why Dumes must play big minutes even at the expense of VJ, Hulls, Creek or Roth.

    • Hardwood83

      I'm with you on the free-throws, Watford is my new favorite for that reason alone since NOTHING aggravates me more then poor FT shooting, it is absolutely inexcusable for any D1 Scholarship player not to hit at bare minimum 60%+ free throws.

    • HoosierSmitty

      Random Thoughts:
      1. I felt like Pritchard had more quickness than last year but hit your bunnies!
      2. VJ III 2.0 looked solid at times…a much more confident player. I still love his length and reach.
      3. Rivers looked for offense more in the 2nd half after playing a “distibutor role” in the first half. He showed he could take it to the hoop and finish.
      4. Hulls is the perfect PG because he can distribute and also knock down the jumper at will, so he can't be left open. I was super impressed with Hulls and some of the heady plays he made.
      5. Creek was unimpressive, but someone had to be out of all those guys. I thought he'd throw down on that fast break…guess not.
      6. Watford is the real deal. He reminds a little of Jared Jeffries in terms of his body and athleticism.
      7. I liked that Roth didn't just bomb threes….he had some other nice plays. I just want to see him hit every 3 he shoots. Is that too much to ask?
      8. Tijan still seems clueless, but he tries so hard.
      9. Elston was more athletic than I expected and ran the floor well. When he starts nailing that 15 footer, he'll be a huge addition to this team.
      10. Bobby C can be a nice bruiser and banger but he has to stay out of foul trouble while doing it. He seems like the kind of guy who's going to be happy with a few offensive put backs per game while doing the little things a big man should do – like box out which we lacked last season.

    • hoosierodi

      Verdell: Everyone is right, he is picking up where he left off, but that also means TURNOVERS. 5 turnovers by him last night. He looked good other than the off passes.

      Hulls: Fantastic. Really impressive. I feel in a few years or maybe even this year he will be our go to guy on a game winning possession. Just a flat out winner and can shoot with consistency, not to mention he had 0 turnovers. Also had some really nice passes.

      Watford: Very, very, very impressive as well. If he can just finish more he will be up there with 20 a game. He just has a knack for scoring. Glad he knocked down all his free throws, and he sure can rebound, especially on the offensive end.

      Pritchard: Looked pretty good, still very crafty around the basket which i really like. Has a good feel for the game. Still seemed to struggle a little with his freethrows, but deffinataly better. He just needs to make his point blank shots!

      Elston: Looks very athletic. I think he will be our best defender this year and years to come maybe behind Jerimiah. He has good quickness and plays good help side D which is not always noticed.

      Bobby: I think he could be pretty good with some confidence. Everyone saw that he can score from beyond the arc at Hoosier Hysteria. He just needs to gain enough confidence to shoot in games, he had a couple of open looks, I just dont think he caught the ball ready to shoot.

      Roth: Those of you saying he will most likely be the next transfer, I would disagree. There is always room on a team for someone that can stretch the D like him. I liked what i saw too. I believe he only attempted three 3's and he looked to be more involved in the offense other than lurking around the outside. I know it wasnt great competition, but he played fine as far as I could tell on defense. Also he handles the ball well, and doesnt turn it over as often.

      Rivers: Didn't think he played great in the first half. He looked like he was going through the motions, of course this is an exhibition game. I think as the season starts and fans get into more players will go off that and will dive on the floors and hustle. He did however have an impressive 2nd half with his defense mainly. He seems to have really quick hands and can maybe pick pocket. All in all pretty solid by rivers.

      Creek: Not super impressed. He seemed a little excited and kind of forced things. He looks to me like a guy that can score a lot in a hurry. Pretty quick release on his shot. He too had 5 TO's which comes with freshman except for Hulls. I think he fell a little behind the team when he hadn't become elligible by the NCAA.

      Jobe: The one thing Jobe can do to earn 2-5 minutes a game is work on his timing. He will jump 3 seconds before the ball even slides off the rim. A lot of fun to watch though. I just hope during the season he gets a couple minutes a game makes a good play and really gets the crowd pumped!

      Moore: He needs to get 5 minutes a game for sure just for energy. He is really quick and can hang with and really annoy some good guards in Big Ten play. I just think he could go in for a short amount of time each game to take a charge or get a quick steal and annoy the other teams PG.

    • IndyHoosier

      Love these guys. Watford will be productive early on. Hes solid. Just needs to keep getting better and get stronger. Hulls will be great I agree. Pumped to see what Muniru can add with his presence inside. I know hes a project but he could still be a backup center perhaps.

      Love Rivers' attitude. He sounds pretty with it. You can tell there is going to be some accountability in the locker room and on the floor with this group of guys.

      Cant wait to see the growing pains and the progress and the result. Work hard HOOSIERS!!!