What to Expect: Grand Canyon

  • 12/12/2014 10:44 am in

Following its first game away from Assembly Hall this season — a 94-74 loss to Louisville at Madison Square Garden — Indiana returns home on Saturday night for a meeting with Grand Canyon University.

It’s the first ever meeting between the two schools and it will be broadcast at 5 p.m. ET on BTN with Steve Physioc and Jon Crispin on the call:

Guarantee games have become a staple in college basketball, but so far such matchups have not been particularly kind to Big Ten teams this year. A guarantee game, for those unfamiliar with the term, is one program paying another to come play in its gym without a return game. Seven of Indiana’s first nine contests have been guarantee games and the Hoosiers dropped one of them to Eastern Washington back on Nov. 24. After Grand Canyon, the Hoosiers have just one more guarantee game on the schedule (Dec. 22 vs. the University of New Orleans.)

But as we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks, many of these games are no sure thing despite the fact that their main purpose is to schedule a win. Purdue lost at home to North Florida. Michigan lost at home to the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Eastern Michigan. And most recently, Nebraska fell at home to Incarnate Word.

Ultimately, each of these teams will have the chance to play in the NCAA tournament if business is taken care of inside of Big Ten play. But as Indiana enters its game with Grand Canyon, it’s a game the Hoosiers must avoid any letdown in with tough contests with Butler and Georgetown still looming before conference play tips on New Year’s Eve.


Grand Canyon is in just its second season as a member of Division I. Since 2006, the school has undergone a dramatic transformation which has included hundreds of millions of dollars of spending on campus upgrades, dorm additions and a new basketball arena. The campus continues to expand and it appears to be a university on the rise. The program won’t be eligible for postseason play until the 2017-2018 season, but hired former Phoenix Suns guard Dan Majerle last year to lead the transition to Division I.

Majerle played at Central Michigan during the same time that Tom Crean was a student at the university, which helped facilitate Saturday’s game. As for the team he’ll bring to Bloomington, the Antelopes have played just one team in the KenPom top 100 and that was Kentucky (85-45 loss). Most recently, Grand Canyon lost at home to Idaho State, 67-51.

Grand Canyon has three guys averaging in double figures: Senior guard Royce Woolridge, senior guard Jerome Garrison and junior guard Ryan Majerle, Dan’s nephew. Woolridge came to Grand Canyon via Washington State and Majerle had previous stops at Toledo and Grand Valley State.

Woolridge is the team’s leading scorer (12.3 ppg), but has been terribly inefficient. He’s using 30.3 percent of Grand Canyon’s possessions while on the floor, but has an offensive rating of just 85.3 and an effective field goal percentage of 42.5. Garrison is making more than 38 percent of his 3s and has a free throw rate of over 50 percent, which suggests he’s the most crucial matchup coming in. Majerle has struggled from distance (29.7 percent), but is hitting 90 percent from the line and takes care of the ball well (11.8 TO%).

Those three players are combining to score more than half of Grand Canyon’s points, but there is some size up front to contend with, even if it’s not particularly proficient. Freshman Kerwin Smith, who is 6-foot-9, has been the team’s starting center in recent weeks and is a decent shot blocker, but not much of a scorer. There’s also 6-foot-9 senior Daniel Alexander, who previously played at Texas A&M, who averages 6.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game.

Two other names to know on the roster are 6-foot-4 Joshua Braun, who makes close to 35 percent of his 3s and averages 6.3 points and 6-foot-8 freshman Matt Jackson, who gets the “nearly invisible” tag from KenPom but does contribute 3.1 rebounds per game.



There’s plenty to like from the IU side of things from this graphic.

First, Grand Canyon is worse on the defensive glass than Indiana, so second-chance points should be available if the Hoosiers miss some shots that usually fall. Second, Grand Canyon doesn’t shoot it well nor does it go to the offensive glass very well either. And finally, Grand Canyon turns it over at a much higher rate than the Hoosiers.


The Pomeroy prediction is Indiana by 18 with a 95 percent chance of victory and Sagarin likes the Hoosiers by 17. This is a game that Indiana should win and do so handily, but as we’ve seen in recent weeks with upsets in guarantee games, nothing is a guarantee.

Coming off a loss to Louisville that was closer than the final 20-point margin suggests, it’ll be interesting to see if Indiana comes out focused and puts the game away early. With no game separating Grand Canyon and Butler next Saturday, this is a good opportunity for the Hoosiers to get back on track and get some more experience for some of its younger players heading into a tough final stretch before league play begins.

All tempo-free stats via KenPom.com.

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  • Gregory Spera

    All jokes about us playing a National Park aside, the Hoosiers just need to work on whatever defensive faults the coaches have isolated from the Louisville game. Butler is looking like another loss right now, unless we figure out some way to shore up BOTH the perimeter and interior defense.

  • IU4Life

    Looking to take my son down for first game. Can anyone tell me what row it is that has some seats with a blocked view from the railing? Thanks

  • Gregory Spera

    From when I attended the Lamar and SMU games, by far the worst seats I saw are the ones on the west side behind that big TV camera platform. Talk about obstructed view. How do they sell those?

  • VAHoosier

    Pretty surprised to look at our numbers and discover our OR% ranks us at 60. That’s not bad. But we MUST get our defensive rebounding squared away. It is atrocious. Hanner and Troy need to get it going on the defensive glass.

  • hullsfor3

    I was in Section B Row 33 Seats 107 and 108. A couple seats to my left and I would’ve been right in front of a railing the whole game. Hope this helps!

  • David Macer

    Bout fell out of my chair from your first sentence about the park, but you are so correct. IU needs to work on its defensive deficiencies. I would add that when Troy and Stan enter the game, they play under control. I know that CTC wants them to push to ball up, but lets do it right !!

  • David Macer

    Any Row 1 seat in the balcony. Can’t see thru the rail !!!! You can add seats in the 42nd or 43rd row in the corners. Now that they have the big scoreboard in the middle, you can see the score. Used to be you could see the scoreboard !!

  • Now does grand canyon have a cable car in lieu of a team bus?

  • Rushman

    I think a good game will consist of having little to no turnovers by Troy and Stan (including idiotic shots). Also, I think if we can shore up our perimeter defense it will go a long way in helping with our post defense and defensive rebounding. So many times I have seen our interior guys help out on the dribble drive and then be totally out of position for both items. These will be the two things I am hoping to see the most.

  • CreamandCrimson

    A quick point (not to make the loss excusable because it wasn’t, just to put it in context when thinking about our resume in March): Eastern Washington has a higher KenPom ranking than Eastern Michigan, NJIT, North Florida and Incarnate Word and, at last check, the Eagles were nearly in the top 100.

    That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing how we respond to the Louisville game. Obviously, the defense and rebounding will be the key issues to watch (as will be the case all season). Beyond that, I would like to see how Troy and Stan bounce back from their struggles on Tuesday night. I’m also looking forward to seeing the continued structuring of our frontcourt (can Hanner replicate his strong start against Louisville, how does Emmitt Holt look after a fairly invisible showing, Hartman bouncing back after an off-night, does April play much, did Max earn a few more minutes?). First and foremost, I hope the Hoosiers play smart and focused basketball, have a nice start and win impressively against Thunder Dan and the Antelopes.

  • Sports illustrated had both iu and eastern washington tied for the 26th best team in the country. I don’t tthink it’s as bad of a loss as many of us initially thought.

  • HoosierFan08

    You got the idiotic shot part right, thats for sure. When I watch Troy go coast to coast I can’t think anything but here comes another wasted possession. The kid’s athletic ability is unreal but when you combine that with aa completely undisciplined approach to the game, you don’t get very good results

  • Max

    Everyone on ITH should become big EWU fans for this season. If they win their conference, it could help us out on the margins come Selection Sunday!

  • Oregoniu

    What I hope IU players and CTC take-a-way from the U of L game is how hard it is to beat a team that puts at least 60%+ of their energy into playing defense. Right now I would guesstimate about 70% of IU’s energy is expanded in seeing how fast they can move their offense. Someone in an earlier post asked the question what is the Hoosier ‘identity’ CTC is trying to instill. CTC has always said he wanted to bring the other team to ‘fatigue’ and for IU to be able to play through that ‘fatigue’, therefore justification for CTC’s ‘hockey line’ approach to substitution and warp speed, transition offense (which is usually predicated on the ability to rebound, and a deep bench). It didn’t work last night because U of L brought fatigue to IU through defensive effort ( I believe fatigue was why IU was missing the 3 ball in 2nd half). So all of that running, quick and careless offensive effort was more than negated by U of L’s defensive pace of the game. Therefore IMHO this team would play both better defense and offense if CTC limited the transition baskets (which are hard to come by if you don’t rebound) slow the pace of the game down a bit, take care of the ball and balance offenseand defensive effort.. It is apparent to me that if CTC continues to force pace without rebounders, ballhandlers, shooters and bench (all on the same team) IU will see many more years of average results. College is not the NBA and IU’s goal can’t be just to develop players for the NBA which seems to be CTC’s goal.

  • enickman

    The Donkey rides in the canyon are cool too!

  • OhioHoosier

    If you have the time, I would look up their arena on google. Pretty cool looking place from the inside and outside.

  • Oregoniu

    However, my dilemma is that I enjoyed the fast paced IU vs U of L game more than the much more controlled, and balanced effort on display during the Duke vs Wisconsin game the other night.

  • PBzeer

    Good defense starts on the perimeter. Until it improves, if it ever does, we’ll get killed on the inside.

  • PBzeer

    Squandering 12 point leads in both halfs, it’s hard not to see this as a bad loss, no matter who it was. Just because it may not hurt us in March, doesn’t make it an less inexcusable, and that matters as well..

  • Hoosier Hall

    It was definitely a disappointing loss and a game that we were in control of. Looking at it from an RPI perspective though, I don’t think it will be as bad as people think. They have Cal and Washington left on their non-conference schedule and if they can beat 1 or both of those teams and dominate their conference (which is the expectation) then that loss will not hurt us much.

  • I don’t feel we should have lost, and I’m not making excuses. I’m just pointing out that the opponent may not of been as bad as many think just because they aren’t a household name. They are 8-1 with a win at iu and a sole loss to a ranked smu…@smu. That has to be as good of resume as any out there at this juncture.


    IMHO this would also be as good a time as any to try some different mixtures of any two of following on the court at the same time: EH, HMP & JA. I know that Crean isn’t big on playing any of those two at the same time, but with as much trouble as we are having with just about everything when it comes to the interior parts of our game many of us, myself included, think it is something that has to be given a serious look. If it is foul trouble that he fears, if and when it happens, he can always convert back to the lineup he has used up till now, but he needs to really give this a chance to work and not make it a one time 3 to 5 minute look. This “should” be a game that foul trouble from one or two of those three shouldn’t hurt us as much and would also give us an idea of how well it would work if we utilize that kind of lineup and then foul trouble presents itself. As to who I would sit, I would sit TW and tell him that it’s because he has been throwing up wild running shots over his far shoulder, turning the ball over, but that the biggest thing is that we have to have more than the one or two rebounds, that he is getting, out of the 4 spot. Besides seeing how this would work it could also serve the dual purpose of driving the point home to TW that he has to make some permanent changes in how he is using his minutes or that most of those minutes will be going to someone else that will do those things.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    and here’s yet another VOTW comparison (allow me to apologize ahead of time), but VO kind of had the same problems his first two seasons that TW’s having. great athleticism, uncanny knack for getting to the rim, but not enough touch to finish. it used to drive me nuts! but by his 3rd year, he amazingly started converting those shots (and of course developed a jump shot out of nowhere!). if TW shares that type of work ethic and confidence, we could potentially (heavy emphasis on potentially) see a vast improvement by the end of this season.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i know we’re undersized, but when i see them over and over not even trying to block out, it sure seems to me like the problem could be reduced just by focusing on fundamentals. we’re still gonna get out rebounded often, but dang, seems like we could close the gap just by remembering to get a body on someone

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    A former 3 point bomber as the color analyst? We should definitely get some love there. Looking forward to see what he brings to the broadcast.

  • HoosierFan08

    Touche…I can certainly see the comparison and I hope this comes to fruition, but you can’t just be ok with undisciplined basketball right now because of the possibility that he eventually puts it together. I’m not throwing TW out with the bathwater by any means, but when your TO’s and very bad shot attempts equal your point total, that adds up to very inefficient numbers to say the least. I too have hopes that he’ll put it together, but until then pass the ball every once in awhile.

  • HoosierFan08

    Not to put a damper on the party, but when you play teams like walla walla university and eastern oregon, you better be 8-1. So far the only two quality teams they have played are us and SMU whom they lost to. They may very well be a quality team but they have zero good wins so far next to us. I hope SI is right about them being the 26th best team in the country but we’ll have to wait and see if thats true. No matter how you slice it, we shouldn’t have lost…

  • HoosierFan08

    Agreed about TW. He is the most inefficient player on our team. His only saving grace is his ability to get to the rim and throw down the dynamic dunks. Those opportunities will rapidly decrease in Big 10 play, he has to be more efficient and more than one dimensional. Either his court vision is awful or he’s a selfish ball player and I don’t think he’s a selfish player. Either way his decision making is less than desirable. I think its interesting that the two players who had discipline problems off the court seem to have them on the court as well (Stan and Troy). I couldn’t help but hope that their lack of discipline on the court last year could be chalked up to being Freshman, but I’m not so confident in that assessment now. I hope when its all said and done by the end of the year that I’m wrong, but we’ll see

  • INUnivHoosier

    That’s a very underrated Walla Walla team…

  • INUnivHoosier

    End of his second year, he started looking pretty good, really.

  • Very familiar with that “view”. I was behind the TV platform for the IU/UK game when I was a student.

  • Oregoniu

    I love the ‘Red’ blend wines from Walla Walla!!

  • HoosierHuckleberry

    Go back and listen to the comments TC made starting at 9:05 in the Louisville-Grand Canyon presser while circuitously attempting to answer the question of why he didn’t play Emmitt and Hanner at the same time. He is stuck in the belief that ALL of the players need to learn/master “better techniques” of blocking out. Goes on to talk about Yogi being the most skilled at blocking out yadda, yadda, yadda. Taking into consideration the way most refs handle activity in the paint, the most fundamentally sound positioning and rebounding “techniques” won’t matter if an opponent puts a big, wide body near/under the basket, because he’s going to dominate almost any smaller man. When all is said and done, Vegas books would probably put our chances of seeing TC play 2 bigs anytime soon at somewhere between None and Zero.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I was surprised at that also. From what I’ve seen, we have several guys that are good at following their shot (Blackmon, Hartman, etc..). They have to get better at positioning and boxing out to keep other teams 2nd chances to a minimum. Pittsburgh actually had a field day on the offensive boards against us. They just couldn’t hit the side of a barn when going for a putback.

  • Maybe you haven’t come to terms that we are a walla walla university team now.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Troy is not the most inefficient player on the team. You are exaggerating on the mistakes he does make. I will outline his current production for you. (rankings based on players who average 10 minutes or more per game):

    4.7 RPG (2nd)
    11.9 PPG (3rd)
    1.3 SPG (1st)
    57.9 FG% (3rd)
    74 FT% (3rd)

    In 170 minutes of action, Troy has 13 turnovers which isn’t great considering he only averages 1.6 APG but Stan has 11 turnovers in only 76 minutes of action… Troy is not even close to the least efficient player on the team.

  • Oregoniu

    But he is not an average player, he should dominate in all of your listed stats, and he doesn’t.

  • Hoosier Hall

    He’s not going to dominate the scoring column but I could see him ending up as the leading rebounder. He just needs to cool it a little, especially in transition. He’s still a positive on this team, not a negative.

  • Oregoniu

    Troy has the ability, he just seems not to have a high bb IQ, or desire to be a team player. He passed more tonight, which was good, but most were not well placed passes. When and if he ‘gets it’ he could be special, no doubt.