Indiana-Bryant Preview: 3 Key Things To Watch For

On Friday at 8:00 ET, the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers open the 2012-13 season by hosting the Bryant Bulldogs on the Big Ten Network.

As always, Jerod, Ryan, Zach, and Andy will be here with another episode of The Assembly Call after the game.

IU-Bryant Gameday Info

IU-Bryant Preview

Bryant: Three Things to Watch

1. Alex Francis

The 6-foot-6 junior paced the Bryant attack last season with 17.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He scored in double figures in 29 of 30 games last year and had one of the highest usage rates of any player in the nation.

However, a gaudy turnover rate led to a very low overall efficiency rating. Still, Francis was very adept at drawing fouls, and I would expect Victory Oladipo* to draw the assignment defensively.

[Editor’s note: I couldn’t bring myself to edit “Victory” back to “Victor,” so this is staying exactly as Andy initially wrote it. The most appropriate typo ever.]

2. Defending Cody Zeller

Bryant ranked 339th in adjusted defensive efficiency last season, which doesn’t bode well against an explosive IU offense.

Perhaps more concerning for the Bulldogs is the fact that they have just three players over 6-foot-6 and no one over 6-foot-8. Only two of those three players have college experience, and neither logged over 20 minutes per game or scored over five points per contest a year ago.

Consequently, you can expect a heavy dose of Zeller, who has been tabbed as the preseason Player of the Year by numerous media outlets.

3. Frankie Dobbs

The Bulldogs’ senior point guard played a staggering 94.6 percent of Bryant’s minutes last season, a rate that ranked fifth nationally. He made the most of his time on the floor with 13.3 points and 4.6 assists per game, but like many of his teammates, Dobbs struggled to consistently make perimeter shots.

That said, I will be interested to see how effective IU’s guards are at keeping Dobbs from penetrating, an issue that plagued the Hoosiers defensively last season.

Indiana: Three Things to Watch

1. The Frontcourt Rotation

In the wake of Derek Elston’s knee surgery and the recent suspensions of Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin, the Hoosiers are getting a little thin up front.

Tom Crean mentioned that walk-on Jeff Howard would be Zeller’s primary backup, but I expect IU to go small at times as well. That might mean seeing Will Sheehey at the four during some stretches, and it also represents a huge opportunity for freshman Jeremy Hollowell. I’m particularly interested in seeing if Hollowell, a 6-foot-8 player with a versatile skillset, will seize this chance at early playing time.

Based on the aforementioned lack of height for Bryant, the Bulldogs won’t be able to exploit IU’s lack of proven depth behind Zeller, but we should be able to gain some insight into how Crean will deal with the rotation over the first nine games.

2. Yogi Ferrell

IU fans have been anxiously awaiting Ferrell’s arrival since the day he committed. His speed and pass-first attitude give the Hoosiers a dimension that simply hasn’t been there in recent years.

While seeing how effective he can be at pushing the ball up the floor is one facet of his game I want to see, I’m just as interested to see how much time he and Jordan Hulls are on the floor at the same time. Ferrell’s ability to penetrate and create shots for others should only be good news for an effective spot-up shooter like Hulls, but the team needs to be able to show it can compete defensively while playing two six-foot tall guards.

3. Defense

Given Bryant’s ugly offensive efficiency numbers last year, this isn’t a huge litmus test for the IU defense, but if this team is going to hang another banner, they have to show improvement on that end of the floor.

As always, Tom Crean will be looking for a high number of deflections, and the individual matchups against guys like Francis and Dobbs will provide opportunities to set the tone defensively.

Final Thought

Bryant won just two games last season, and as that low win total would suggest, they posted poor efficiency numbers on both ends of the floor. Throw in poor three-point defense and the fact that they don’t have anyone that can slow down Cody Zeller, and this one could get ugly in a hurry.

This game has all the makings of a huge mismatch, which should allow Tom Crean to get a number of guys involved, including Maurice Creek, who will be playing in his first regular season home game in nearly two years. Ironically, Creek suffered his first knee injury against Bryant on December 28, 2009, a game that IU won 90-42.

**********

Listen to Andy Friday on The Assembly Call. Follow him on Twitter at @AndyBottoms.



About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms

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