What to Expect: Liberty

  • 11/19/2016 7:23 am in

Indiana returns to action on Saturday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall as the Hoosiers host Liberty. The Flames are 1-1 and are coming off a 64-59 loss at home to VCU.

The game will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on BTN Plus with Griffin Weinberg and Max Bielfeldt on the call:

Indiana’s 2016-17 schedule includes eight guaranteed games and of those contests, Liberty might be the best opponent. The Flames were picked to finish second in the Big South in the league’s preseason poll.

For the Hoosiers, it will be an opportunity to go against a unique style of play as Liberty coach Ritchie McKay, the former associate head coach at Virginia, uses many of the same tactics as Tony Bennett. The Flames will play Virginia’s pack line defense along with one of the most deliberate paces the Hoosiers will see this season.

With a road game looming on Tuesday in Fort Wayne, this contest is the first of two in four days that should yield much more insight into the Hoosiers than the win over UMass Lowell.


Liberty returns just about every notable contributor from last season’s team that finished with a winning record in conference play (10-8), which earned McKay the league’s coach of the year award.

The exception? 6-foot-10 big man Evan Maxwell who transferred to Kansas, which was a significant blow to the frontline for the Flames.

Without him, the Flames are starting no player that is taller than 6-foot-5, which is going to present a significant challenge against many teams. They’ll try to overcome that by not taking any chances on the offensive boards, slowing the pace and attempting to grind out games.

Through two games, just one Liberty player, senior John Dawson (pictured) is averaging in double figures in scoring. The 6-foot-2 guard, who played the 2013-14 season at Marquette before transferring, was the team’s leading scorer last season at 13.4 points per game. Dawson made close to 37 percent of his 3s last year and is 3-of-4 from deep this season.

The point guard duties are being split so far between sophomore Lovell Cabbill, the starter, and freshman Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz. Cabbill was solid last season, averaging 9.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 30.7 minutes per game. Pachecho-Oritz, a native of Puerto Rico, has done a solid job of getting to the line (eight free throw attempts) through the first two games.

Caleb Homesley, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, is the team’s second leading scorer through two games (9.5 ppg). The left-hander made close to 37 percent of his 3s last season. Ryan Kemrite, a 6-foot-4 junior, made close to 38 percent of his 3s last season and is averaging seven points in two games.

A.C. Reid, a 6-foot-5 junior, came off the bench to average 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds last season. Look for Ray Chen, a 6-foot-1 senior from Taiwan who transferred from D2 Belmont Abbey, to also log some backcourt minutes along with freshman Myo Baxter-Bell, who is averaging 4.5 points in 20 minutes per game.


In the lead-in to Tuesday’s game against UMass Lowell, we wrote about the desire to push the pace by the River Hawks. The game finished at 75 possessions and Indiana scored 100 points.

Saturday will be just the opposite as Liberty, which was 344th of 351 teams last year in adjusted tempo per Ken Pomeroy, will be looking to limit possessions. The Flames don’t crash the boards, nor do they get to the line very well, but they’re going to make Indiana guard late into the shot clock and avoid breakdowns. Their average offensive possession length last season of 19.7 was the ninth longest in the country.

The problem Liberty is likely to have in this game, however, is their lack of size and athleticism in matching up with the Hoosiers. The pack line defense can be tough to play against, but the Flames are legitimately undersized and Indiana has plenty of it with Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby, De’Ron Davis and Juwan Morgan.

Stylistically, this should actually be a game that is beneficial for Indiana because it will force them to execute more in the half court as opposed to just running over an opponent in transition.


Vegas didn’t set a line on the game, but Pomeroy likes the Hoosiers by 22 and Sagarin favors Indiana by 23.5.

After a somewhat sloppy offensive and less than stellar defensive performance on Wednesday against UMass Lowell, this game provides Indiana the opportunity to get one final tune-up before going on the road Tuesday. The Hoosiers will be forced to grind out possessions more often than what is usually the case in a guarantee game. That should ultimately be a good learning experience for a team that hasn’t even scratched the surface of its potential.

(Photo credit: Liberty Athletics/Mitchell Bryant)

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  • IUowns

    No injuries please?

  • Fifer39

    Sounds like the style of this opponent will give an opportunity to play more through the paint. More touches for TB and probably more of TB and DD on the floor together. Should be a useful match up. Sounds like Liberty were competitive with VCU last time out.

  • pcantidote

    I’ll really be watching to see this team make strides defending dribble penetration. That is really the one area that stands out as an area of concern. Otherwise this team has all of the pieces.

    Separately did anyone watch the refs hand Purdue a win they didn’t deserve last night? That was the worst 10 minutes of officiating that I have seen in years.

  • marcusgresham

    If the Fighting Falwells want to hold the ball until deep in the shot clock I hope IU takes this as an opportunity to work on ball pressure—this team should have the defensive firepower to often take the ball away before Liberty gets a chance to shoot if effort and execution are there.

  • TomJameson

    I hope to see….
    1. IU being able to force their tempo on the game. Maybe a pressure defense to turn over Liberty and shorten their possessions that way?
    2. Having a real focus on going through the paint. With TB and DD playing together, and both good at taking what is given (scoring or kicking it back out), it should be a good scoring game.
    3. The entire team needs to focus and exert better effort on offense and defense. It just seems to me that these “cupcake” games enables the team to play a little loose because they don’t have to have that high intensity to win, and win easily. Game intensity is something that needs to be practiced as well, regardless of the competition level.
    4. Take better care of the ball. Limit those turnovers, please.
    5. Should be taking a lot of free throws. Would be nice to have a good percentage made. Is it unrealistic to ask for 75-80%.

    That’s all, just 5 little things. 🙂

  • TomJameson

    I agree 100%. Think this would be a perfect opportunity to work on a press of some kind. I like seeing Josh putting pressure on the ball coming up, but really want to see that expand a bit.

  • Fifer39

    I was looking at the box score earlier to see how Jeremy Hollowell done – 15 pts in 39 minutes. Foul count certainly looks quite lopsided.

  • That was exactly my thought while reading this. AND if they both get into foul trouble, it won’t matter all that much, so there are few risks with playing them both at the same time – less need for either TB or DD, if they both pick up a bunch of fouls, due to the opponents’ lack of size. Seems like a great opportunity to work on the post plays, footwork, basic fundamentals, etc. And the slower pace will force them to buckle down and focus on defense. Hopefully something good comes out of it, and not just another blow-out that can give a false sense of confidence.

  • didn’t watch but noticed they were mostly losing and had something like a 20 point run to finish the game. Would have watched had I known Hollowell was playing.

    On a similar note, did anybody catch Victor and Yogi going at each other last night? The veteran certainly got the better of the rookie. I wish I could have heard what they said to each other after the game.

  • Ok, you got me. I llol’d. (literally laughed out loud)

    That said, I agree that this should give the defense a lot of opportunities to focus and work on any of their weaknesses, i.e. fighting through screens, communicating, ball penetration, etc. I actually hope the Fighting Falwells hit some shots, to make it interesting and force IU to play honestly and not slack off. But here’s to a blowout anyway…

  • sarge

    If this is a team that likes to take their time, more full court defensive pressure should force them out of their comfort zone. Maybe extend their possessions too long to get easy looks in the half court sets. We have enough length and athleticism to make it interesting. We should really play a focused inside-out approach when we have the ball and try to get some easy cuts at the rim. I like the idea of this opponent, although I would think with that small of a roster you would prefer to run as opposed to limiting possessions. At least I know I would!

  • sarge

    I like this?

  • Absolutely. I personally prefer the fast-paced game we have. But we aren’t always going to have that option, especially if the other team takes good care of the ball and slows down the game. We need to develop other facets of the game, in my opinion, for just such occasions. I’d rather work on it now, than against Wisconsin, for example. I forget who said it many weeks ago, probably Alex on the podcast, that these games give the team a chance to work on specific things, each one bringing something specific. That made a lot of sense and put me more at ease about these cupcake games. If they can get something out of them, in terms of team and skills development (and not just an easy win), then good for them. While I’d be watching the game regardless, it adds extra interest for me, too.

    And I definitely agree on the full court pressure. They should have done that more in past years. Considering their depth (especially in guards) and what seems like overall excellent conditioning, a full court defensive assault should be a major part of their game. It frustrated me to no end watching them allow teams like purdon’t to take their time and set up their offense, while we were undersized and should have been pressuring the ball from the get go, to prevent them setting up their half court sets. I really really really hope they work on that tonight.

  • pdhoosier

    Am i to understand and accept that this game will not be televised any place at any time? Unless obviously i pay extra for plus….?

  • Bruce Clark

    Couple things I believe we will see. One is more time together and more sets for TB and DD. Two is playing small ball and utilizing a 3 guard set, maybe even seeing JM running the point. Two totally different looks.

    Love this team and the 3 recruits we have coming in.

  • Bruce Clark

    Would add seeing more low ball screens, with JM and OG coming off the wings.

  • I think that’s correct. Probably they’ll rebroadcast it on BTN in the next few days as they’ve been doing with the other BTN+-only games.

  • Missing Moye

    Replayed Monday at 2pm eastern on BTN.

  • I agree, particularly about tightening things up. I get the idea of experimenting with lineups, but at some point there needs to just be consistent concentration on playing sound fundamentally.

    What I want to see most is defensive concentration. Entire possessions strung one after another where the team is communicating and playing lock-down team defense. Yes, this team can score and make up for poor defensive possessions, but as we all know that will only get them so far against the best teams. Learn it as a habit and it doesn’t matter who we play.

  • Awesome, thanks! Now I don’t have to worry so much about being at my mother-in-law’s for dinner right smack dab in the middle of game time. And yes, I fed the beast and paid for a month of BTN+, so I’m part of the problem.

  • I’m with you. I think the more TB and DD play together, the farther we’ll go. There will be times this season when we’ll be very happy to see those to battling together inside.

  • Piker

    Yes hopefully more than the token ball pressure…try to force them into traps and take the ball. Would be nice to see.

  • IU_Nation

    Would like to see OG have an offensive explosion tonight. I think he’s due for about 25-30 tonight!

  • pdhoosier

    Thanks Moye! I couldn’t find it when i checked the first time but i trust ya. Now it’s like having a double header

  • ForeverIU

    The Liberty Flames will be flaming out tonight. Let’s put the real fear of God in them. LOL.

  • The Liberty anti-Flamers?

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

  • TomJameson

    You know Mark, every game so far, has been replayed on BTN thanks to the Student-U organization. It isn’t live, but it’s better than feeding the beast! 🙂

  • Yeah, I know. I paid prior to one of the exhibition games and before the replay was announced. So, might as well use it.

  • Creek0512

    It’s a bunch of greedy bullshit, if I pay for BTN with my cable I shouldn’t have to pay again to watch IU. The college ADs and Presidents are determined to kill interest in college sports through their blind greed.

  • IUowns

    IU up 30+ at half. I want Gelon, Priller, McRoberts, Priller, and Taylor to play 12 + minutes in Second half. McSwain and Deron should play some if our second half starters need rest.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Hello IUowns. I can’t get the game here,,,how physical is the game?

  • I’ll jump in here and say the only thing stopping us from scoring is us. Turnovers are the story. Defense was stellar until about three minutes to go when McFly came in. They went from 9 to 19 points. Take away our turnovers and tight up the defense, it’s a 50 point lead or something.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Agreed Creek! Great point and you stated that perfectly. I can’t get the game here and I am not going to pay for it. Take care.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Bummer of an IU fball game today vs Mich.

  • Yeah. Baby steps, though. Improvement on defense, offense a step back. I’m thinking next year should be strong.

  • Is there a new rule or something around traveling? Saw more calls this game than I can remember.

  • TomJameson

    I don’t blame you, I did the same thing last year. LOL