Hoosiers set to make return to NCAA tournament against Wichita State

  • 03/20/2015 8:59 am in

OMAHA, Neb. — Indiana’s wait is just about over.

After a one-year absence from the NCAA tournament, the Hoosiers will make their debut in the 2015 edition of the “Big Dance” this afternoon as they face Wichita State at 2:45 p.m. ET in the CenturyLink Center.

It’s a moment that Indiana’s veterans been waiting for since their exit in the Sweet Sixteen in 2013. For Indiana’s newcomers over the past two seasons, it’s one they have been waiting for their entire lives.

“When I came to college, I assumed I would be in the NCAA tournament at some point,” junior Nick Zeisloft said. “And now it’s finally here. I’m excited and it doesn’t really matter the venue, even though this is one of the greatest ones out here. I’ve played here before and it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

The glory of playing in the NCAA tournament is something many of the Hoosiers dreamt of growing up. Only juniors Yogi Ferrell and Hanner Mosquera-Perea have experienced it in their careers.

Throughout the week, they have told their teammates of what that experience is like. For some, it’s exactly what they came to Bloomington for.

“This is what we came to Indiana for,” sophomore Troy Williams said. “These bigger stage games.”

The luster of playing in the NCAA tournament hasn’t faded for Indiana’s opponents, either.

Wichita State today will be playing its ninth NCAA tournament game in the past four seasons. Its upperclassmen have experienced a final four trip in 2013 and the heartbreak of an early exit as a No. 1 seed just last season. And that has led them to not taking today’s game for granted — despite the Shockers having a 63-5 record since the start of the 2013-2014 campaign.

“For me it’s just something to look forward to each and every year,” Wichita State junior Ron Baker said. “Each year has been pretty successful, obviously making it and then winning at least a game, so like Fred (Van Vleet) said, we’re just focused. We’re enjoying it.

“This is the highlight of television, everyone is watching. It’s all over the media. This is a big-time thing, and we’re very thankful to be here.”

Once the ball is tipped, both Indiana coach Tom Crean and Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall agreed experience and youth will get tossed out the window. “It’s just another basketball game,” Marshall said.

It’s a game, however, that presents plenty of challenges to each team.

The Shockers said they need to defend the three particularly well and that they need to be prepared for a “game of runs.” The Hoosiers said their keys are to play “desperate,” get back in transition defense and be tough on the boards.

But as much as both teams’ veterans have emphasized it as just another basketball game, both understand the significance, as well. Baker said it will be about “playing your best basketball,” and whoever does that will win. “It’s just as simple as that,” he said.

For the Hoosiers, though, today’s game will be a culmination of a long wait. A return to what they have worked toward all season.

“This is really what we’ve been working for since the summer,” Mosquera-Perea said. “All the things we have been doing, it’s for this right here. We have wanted to be here for so long and now we’re here.”

Filed to:

  • Kyl470

    Keep it simple. Play defense like you did in the Big 10 tournament and knock down your 3’s.

  • Beard

    Pressure the ball on defense and MOVE on offense. Set picks for teammates and find an open spot, especially when a guard has the ball!

  • Hoosier Hall

    Come on!! Is it game time yet?? I’m ready to explode waiting for 2:45pm!!!! Yogi needs to dominate this game completely. Score, distribute, defend and prove you are one of the best guards in the nation. Troy has to be on and everyone else fill their role. Let’s beat the Shockers and the Jayhawks so that the media doesn’t get their “dream matchup”. The question of ‘who is the best team in Kansas’ will be irrelevant when we take them both down!

  • I’m happy for nick that he will finally get his shot at the tournament he’s dreamed of. Hopefully the pressure will help him light it up and not crack him.

  • calbert40

    I’m really excited to see just how good VanVleet is defensively. I know people rave about him, but I don’t think he’s had to guard anyone quite like Yogi this year. I think he will have to have help, and if Yogi can get to the lane, and make them help off of their defenders, I think it will be a fun game.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    I think if Troy returns to the really high level he played at earlier in the year and not make dumb passes to no one, he has the chance to dominate since WSU has no 7 footers to clog the lane. I really hope IU plays loose because nerves can really affect an outside shooting team. I also hope Hanner comes out on fire like he did against Louisville and can dominate playing a team with players no taller than he is. Go Hoosiers!

  • PBzeer

    We’ve shown that we’re capable of winning. The question is, will we? Will we play to our potential, or fritter it away?

  • inLinE6

    I’m taking off from work to watch this game in the afternoon. Take it as our last game of the season. Anything more than this will be a nice bonus.

  • TomJameson

    I agrree Calbert. If the officials let them beat up Yogi we might be a little in trouble, but if the game is called decently we should be good.

  • Shaggy_C

    “This is what we came to Indiana for…These bigger stage games.”

    Hopefully that means the lack of urgency is gone for good! All I want to see is a solid 40 minutes; even if IU loses, I will not be upset about it as long as these guys put in a full game of effort and play to their potential. At their best, the Hoosiers were a top 25 time this year. That may not be good enough to knock off #11 in the country, but I’d rather see those frantic, high-scoring Hoosiers than the lethargic 50+ ranked group that wrapped up B1G play.

  • Hoosier89

    The officials always let people beat up Yogi. It’s really just a matter of to what degree they’ll let them.

  • Shaggy_C

    If we get the same refs that were calling the VCU/OSU slugfest yesterday we may be in some trouble. However, judging by the non-calls I was seeing in some of the other games, Troy should be able to consistently pick up the ball at the 3-point line and run in for a dunk without getting called for a travel.

  • INUnivHoosier

    That guy seems to thrive in big stage moments.

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    I’m looking for exactly the opposite. When yogi tries to dominate, the other IU players tend to stand around and IU is worse off, particularly as the shot clock winds down. I just prefer a team approach where the point guard facilitates team play, not trying to dominate individually. And I think IU plays some of its best offense when yogi is stationed weak side and an outlet.

  • Ms hoosier

    I’m ready for some bball. I hope the IU fans that could go to the game are really loud these Hoosiers need to hear it!!! Go Hoosiers!!!!!

  • JH Horne

    You said a mouthful, kyl. The analysts and fans can break the game down by any number of factors, but the real key is making shots, especially 3’s. We get hot from 3, we can beat anybody. We’re cold from 3, we can’t beat anybody. Simple.

  • SilentBob

    Yogi needs to sign up for classes at the Dunham and Russell Academy of Flopping lol. No I hate flopping but this is the only set back to being an extremely beefy basketball player, your body just naturally absorbs contact better and officials are less prone to call it. It happens at the next level too. Everyone always gets on players like Lebron James and Dwayne Wade for flopping but I would too if I were them. If the officials called the game right they’d probably being going to the line on 50% of their drives

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    I’m also watching this matchup. I think WSU may NOT help out against yogi, but instead stay home to see if yogi forces passes (after leaving his feet) or shots. As I watch IU play, yogi just isn’t that comfortable finishing once he gets into the lane, at least against the typical size of a Big 10 front court. Of course, WSU doesn’t have that much size, so maybe yogi can finish. We shall see. It will be fun to watch.

  • Lance76

    I would like to see a well played game, consistent calls between teams (especially block/charge) and show boat to the minimum. Just put the ball in the basket and defend. Interesting how all the prognosticators had there brackets disrupted yesterday. My team is on the floor.

  • Penny Stryzek

    Keep the turn-overs to a minimum. No errant passes. No easy buckets for WSU.
    GO IU!!

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Why is Banner in now? Why is Zeislaft defending Baker? Why . . . .

  • Guyton25

    JBJ ruined us in the last 10 minutes once again…. he’s got a lot of growing up to do.

  • IU1972

    Just watched the game. We lost. WSU was more closely guarded in their pre-game layup drill.

  • Shaggy_C

    Kind of hard to blame a single player; JBJ made a key 3 in that stretch to bring it back to a manageable score, too. Post defense was our undoing, once again. You can rely on “run and gun” only so long, but at some point in every game it’s going to come down to the battle in the paint. IU did one of two things under the basket – they gave up the easy bucket, or they fouled, with nothing really in between. Hard to stay competitive when you give them the double bonus for a full 1/4 of the game!

  • eville87

    Well we returned the gift. Great call on the zone. We gave up layups all day long in our awesome zone. We could have once again really used some kind of true low post player. Driving home I heard a good song on the radio it went like sweet home alabama where the skies are so blue. Just another year as an indiana fan. So based on results. Butler and Georgia state and uab are better programs than indiana currently.

  • SilentBob

    Those refs were AWFUL. Not saying it cost us the game, because we still had chances and failed to capitalize, but it changed the game and was a huge disadvantage. Apparently Je’Ney Jackson was at the game and yelled at the refs that they were terrible as they walked of the court. Lol

  • Guyton25

    I know it’s not fair to blame one player. He had 14 and 5 boards and he’s a freshman but thats why he shouldn’t be the go-to guy in crunch time. Didn’t mean to sound so harsh, just a bit heart broken.