What to watch for in Indiana’s exhibition opener

  • 11/01/2016 9:49 am in

Basketball returns to Assembly Hall on Tuesday night as Indiana will host Hope College for the first of two exhibition games this preseason. 

The game will be broadcast live on BTN Plus ($) at 7 p.m. ET and replayed on BTN on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET. In lieu of our traditional “what to expect” series which focuses heavily on the opponent, here’s a look at what to watch for as the Hoosiers take the floor against the Flying Dutchmen:

· Transition defense and ball movement: On his radio show on Monday night, Tom Crean was asked what he’ll be looking for in Tuesday’s exhibition on both sides of the ball.

Defensively, Crean said he’ll be looking at transition and offensively, he mentioned ball movement. Given the fact that Indiana begins the season with No. 3 Kansas in Hawaii, the Hoosiers don’t have much time to get up to speed.

“The worst thing I could do is sit there and say ‘Well, it will all get better and we can play through that,'” Crean said Monday. “No, we have to get it handled. We have to get it understood that if you don’t talk as much on defense, you are hurting us. If you don’t get back on defense in transition the way it needs to be done, that’s a detriment to us. If that ball doesn’t move a quick as it needs to, that’s hurting us.”

· Rotation, different lineups: Do starting lineups in an exhibition really matter? Probably not.

However, the lineup that begins the game on the floor should lend some insight into how Crean currently views his team based on how they’ve performed in practice over the last month.

Will the Hoosiers go big with two guards and Juwan Morgan, OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant up front?

Or will a three-guard set consisting of Josh Newkirk, Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. along with two bigs be the preferred mix of players to start?

Furthermore, who will be the first guys off the bench? How much of a role will freshman guards Devonte Green and Curtis Jones have? Will walk-on Zach McRoberts play with Collin Hartman out with an injury? And will De’Ron Davis be able to make an impact even with the time he’s missed in the preseason?

“It’s going to take some time for this team to learn the responsibilities that most of them have never had and the level they have to have them at,” Crean said. “But it is a great group and I’m excited every day being out there with them. Some days are harder than others for them and me, but the bottom line is that we are in it together and I love watching them grow.”

· Health of Indiana’s players returning from injuries: Indiana is expected to be without Hartman for an extended period and Freddie McSwain is unlikely to play as he is still working his way back after minor knee surgery, but the rest of the roster should be available.

However, this will be the first live game action for Blackmon Jr., Johnson and Morgan, who are all coming off of surgeries. All three looked solid in Friday’s Haunted Hall of Hoops scrimmage, but Tuesday will be another eye test to get a gauge of their progress.

“That’s probably where we are No.1 in the country is guys coming back from major surgery and playing in their first game,” Crean joked on Monday. “I think we would have Kentucky, Duke and Kansas on that number.”

Joking aside, given the importance of all three players to Indiana’s success this season, all three will need to continue sharpening things up as the season opener looms in 10 days.

Filed to:

  • ForeverIU

    If DD is healthy (which it seems he is), I think at most 6-8 games into the season we will have a fantastic 2-guard line-up with JM, OG, TB, DD all putting in heavy minutes in a 3-man frontcourt line-up.

  • IUBizmark

    That would surprise me. I haven’t seen DD play, but I would think Morgan offers everything DD does, without the unfamiliarity.

  • ForeverIU

    It’s hard to imagine that CTC would renege on a de facto promise to give DD minutes early, since we recruited him so hard. I don’t know what might have changed due to his late arrival and surgery/injury, but if he is at the level at which we recruited him, it’s difficult for me not to see him in the line-up early (maybe not a starter per se, sort of like Emmitt Holt or OG last year). Nothing against Juwan, of course. I love Juwan, but I think with a 2-guard line-up we can easily accommodate DD, especially with Collin out indefinitely. In fact, we can easily accommodate him even with frequent switching to a 3-guard line-up.

  • Ms hoosier

    Is Fisher gonna broadcast the game on the IU radio network?

  • Hoosier Hall

    Emmitt Holt… Wish we still had that guy. He was tough, especially on defense.

  • IUBizmark

    I agree he’ll play, just not heavy minutes in the preseason. Last year OG and Juwan were averaging <5 minutes a game if I remember correctly.

  • ForeverIU

    Yes, but there are also the politics or recruiting. OG and Juwan, although fantastic players now, were not as highly touted coming in as DD was (With at least one exception: me. I said OG would be one of the IU greats!). This gave CTC wiggle room in terms of how to ease them into the line-up. I think he will ease DD into the line-up gradually, but he will end up with at least 15 mins a game by the beginning of the regular season. With Collin out, we actually need DD; it’s not just a luxury.

  • John D Murphy

    BTN is replaying the game on the 2nd for anyone who hasn’t checked and isn’t buying BTN+. My DVR is already set (season record didn’t pick it up?).

  • IdahoHoosier

    I agree that DD will be playing bigger minutes (provided he gets/stays healthy), but I imagine it will be more due to need than politics. DD has the size and skill needed to back up TB where we did not have a similar substitute last season. I completely get what you’re saying about recruiting politics, but I really hope CTC would do what is best for the team and his players (not just giving a guy minutes because they were “promised”).
    Either way it is probably a moot point because we will need DD, and by all accounts he has the skill to play so he will play no matter what. I believe the coaches know what they are doing so if the guy is ready to play, he’ll play.

  • ForeverIU

    I don’t mean “politics” in a bad sense. We are political beings. Putting a team together has a lot to do with talent, but it is more than just that. You are also managing people, egos, parents, guardians, high school coaches, future recruits, other coaches, fans, etc. etc. We didn’t “promise” him minutes for nothing. He is a big time recruit, and we need him. So I think we basically agree here.

  • VAHoosier

    Thanks for the head’s up!

  • Well, if I’d checked here first, I could have saved the $10. 🙂 Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to watch it live and then record it for breaking down later.

  • I think if our biggest problem by the time UNC rolls around is that JM and DD are fighting for a starting role, we’ll be in pretty good shape. 🙂

  • HardRockHoosier

    I am of the opinion that both JM and OG are so much better than EH was ever going to be. they are longer, more athletic… Me, I’m ready to forget Emmitt, why wish for something that can never be.. We’re way better now…

  • HardRockHoosier

    Wrong.. Morgan doesn’t have nearly the size that DD brings. DD is a very large man.. almost as big as TB.

  • HardRockHoosier

    Yes, thanks for the heads up.. I’ll be recording that for sure.

  • marcusgresham

    I think they’re totally different players. Davis is pretty much going to be an in-the-paint rim protector/post guy. Morgan will be all over the place.
    Think of them as football players. Davis is the defensive lineman; Morgan is the outside linebacker. He’ll rush the passer too, but he’s also going to be out in coverage and chasing down sweeps.