Indiana was in for more of a challenge in last night's contest with the University of Indianapolis. The Greyhounds are perennially one of the best Division II teams around and it showed versus the Hoosiers. They jumped to a 17-6 lead early and had Indiana on the ropes with constant pressure up and down the court. Indiana is typically the team getting up and down the court at the speed of light, and had a hard time adjusting to being on the other end of the spectrum. The Greyhounds held a 9-0 fast break edge early on - and then the highly touted Indiana guards came to the rescue.
Indiana trailed 28-20 at the 7:37 mark and then proceeded to go on a 22 point run to end the half which was driven mainly by the shooting of James Blackmon Jr, Kevin Yogi Ferrell, and . Indiana took its first lead of the game at the 3:53 mark (29-28) on a one handed dunk by Blackmon Jr in which he also posturized a Greyhound player. Further fuel was added to the fire when Greyhound star Brennan Mcelroy threw Nick Zeisloft to the ground after Zeisloft had fouled him on a layup attempt. Mcelroy was called for a technical foul and that seemed to be the additional spark Indiana needed in this one. Zeisloft canned the two free throw attempts and then Blackmon, Johnson, and Ferrell followed with a trio of three pointers to give the Hoosiers a 42-28 lead at the half. The Hoosiers can strike quickly with their three point prowess, and that is so different from a year ago.
The Hoosiers opened up the second half a little flat again and the Greyhounds got the lead down to 7 points, but a timely three by Collin Hartman at the 11:47 mark got Indiana going again. The Hoosiers would go on to win this one 76-63, and move to 2-0 or 6-1 in the exhibition season depending on whether you count the Canadian trip or not. Yogi Ferrell led the team in scoring with 19 points and was closely followed by Robert Johnson with 15. Johnson also had the highest rebound total with 10 which is impressive for a 6'4" guard and troublesome for the Hoosiers as a team. James Blackmon had an off night shooting the ball at 5-15, but ended with 14 points and had some big shots in the first half when the Hoosiers were in dire straits. Hanner Perea got in early foul trouble, but ended with a decent night of 14 points and 8 rebounds. Finally, the X-Factor to this game might have been Collin Hartman, who has seemingly recovered from an ACL tear in March as quickly as I have ever seen someone recover. He contributed 8 points on 3-3 shooting and hit his shots in key moments when Indiana needed life.
Indiana has now completed its two game exhibition season (really 7 games if you count Canada this summer) - so what do we know now? For one, we know Indiana is going to be able to shoot the basketball from long range this year. That has to have Hoosier Nation excited as Indiana fans have always loved shooters. Most fan bases get riled up for spectacular dunks - and don't get me wrong - Indiana's does too - but there is just a special buzz in the Hall when a three pointer goes through the net. The Hoosiers were built on shooters and it remains a favorite part of the game today for fans.
We also know Indiana is going to have problems on the boards against higher level competition. They gave up 22 offensive rebounds against Indianapolis and were out rebounded in total 41-35. If you do the math there - Indianapolis had more offensive rebounds than defensive which is not good news if you are a Hoosier fan. It is going to be very important for the guards & wings - guys like James Blackmon, Robert Johnson, and Troy Williams to hit the boards hard all season long. Johnson showed he was capable as he recorded 10 rebounds against UIndy. With Hanner Perea's propensity to get in foul trouble, the Hoosiers have to find a way to minimize the rebound differential, and can't give up the offensive rebounds they did tonight versus Indianapolis if this is going to be a successful season.
The Hoosiers will open up the regular season Friday evening against Mississippi Valley State. Everything that has occurred in these exhibition games is wiped out and we'll start with a clean slate. Tom Crean said it best in the post game presser: "It's only going to get harder. Fortunately we have some time to get better and I think we will." Stayed tuned to BTPowerhouse for all of your Indiana hoops coverage as we follow what will be a very interesting season in Bloomington.