The Indiana Hoosiers played their final tune-up game before the 2008-09 season officially tips off on Friday, November 15 against Northwestern State on the Big Ten Network.
Earlier tonight, reserve guard Malik Story sparked the Hoosiers off the bench with 15 points en route to a 72-54 victory over Division II Bemidji State. Malik Story was one of the three players in double figures, along with freshmen Nick Williams and Tom Pritchard, both of whom scored 12 points. Follow the link to view the box score from tonight’s game between Indiana and Bemidji State played at Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Thanks to the Big Ten Network I was able to catch some of the 2nd half of tonight’s game online. The much maligned network has fallen into my extreme good graces so far this year. First, when I found out that the Big Ten Network was being carried on Verizon in Dallas; and second, when I learned that even when games are not on TV, they can be streamed live.
Leary made a couple of interesting points during the part of the game I was able to see. Vincennes transfer Devan Dumes and freshman Verdell Jones did not play a great deal in the 2nd half. According to Leary, both were making too many mistakes in the first half and Tom Crean was using the bench to send a message that they needed to bring more focus to the floor. Leary was also impressed with the rebounding of Nick Williams and Tom Pritchard, who grabbed and 9 and 7 boards a piece, respectively.
Obviously there is not a whole lot that can be ascertained this early in the season with such a young team in a game against competition that is not comparable to what the Hoosiers will face once the regular season starts; but, from what I saw there was one very noticeable positive and one very noticeable negative:
- Positive: Ball movement. I liked the ball movement on display during the period I watched. There was some interior passing that led to layups for Tom Pritchard and Kyle Taber, and Malik Story had one drive-and-dish in particular that was very nice. The Hoosiers only had 10 assists against 13 turnovers for the game, but I thought the pacing and movement on offense was solid for this early in the year.
- Negative: Shooting. At home, you always expect to shoot well. But the Hoosiers struggled from the field tonight, shooting just over 41%. More ominously, we only made 56.3% of our free throws. With such a young team, the home court advantage of being comfortable with your own gym probably has not had time to set in yet, so I’ll give the Hoosiers a pass on this one. Hopefully as the season goes along we will be able to make shots at home. Wins will be hard to come by this year and with our undersized lineup it will probably be hard for us to win games that we do not shoot well.
The main feeling I took from the 2nd half of tonight’s game against Bemidji State was just excitement that another season of Indiana basketball is right around the corner, and optimism at the energy and style of play under new coach Tom Crean. I have never tempered my expectations so much heading into a season, but as Mike Davis was famous for saying, “help is on the way.”
The other big Indiana basketball news from today is that November 12th marks the beginning of the early signing period for college basketball recruiting. Tom Crean has received verbal commitments for next season that have many people ranking Indiana’s incoming recruiting class for 2009 among the best in the country. All of the recruits who have verbally committed are expected to sign on the dotted line tomorrow (or today I guess, since it’s now past midnight.)
But that’s for next year. First, we have to get through this season. The games start counting for real on Friday and despite the tempered expectations of Hoosier fans everywhere, I know that I cannot wait for the first step of the Tom Crean era to begin.
[tags]indiana hoosiers, tom crean, college basketball[/tags]