Opponent: Northwood University (Midland, MI)
Date / Time: Thursday, November 6th - 7pm Eastern
Location: The Assembly Hall, Bloomington, IN
TV: BTN Plus
When Indiana takes the court tomorrow evening, it will be a chance to move past the chaotic events of last weekend when a vehicle driven by freshman forward Emmitt Holt struck sophomore forward Devin Davis which put him into a Bloomington hospital in serious condition due to a head injury sustained after being found unconscious at the scene. Very little details have emerged on Devin's condition, but it can be assumed at this point that he will not see the court this season as he appears to have a long road of recovery ahead. His absence leaves even more question marks down low for an Indiana team that was already extremely weak in that area. In addition, Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson apparently failed drug tests over the summer and have also been suspended four games. While this exhibition may not offer much in terms of competition, it will be the first chance for many Hoosier fans to see this team play someone other than themselves - and that is something every Indiana fan has been waiting for since March. Unfortunately - the roster is going to be severely limited with no Robinson, Davis, Holt, or Williams in addition to injuries to Jeremiah April and Max Hoetzel.
Getting to know Northwood
The Northwood Timberwolves finished last season at 18-13 and played both Miami of Ohio and Illinois pretty tough in last year's exhibitions. One common opponent last season was Hillsdale which Indiana beat by 40 in an exhibition. The Timberwolves knocked off Hillsdale by 5 points in December.
Northwood lost their leading scorer (18.5 ppg) and overall best player in Wes Wilcox to graduation. Darvin Ham (12.4 ppg) also graduated after last season. All other major contributors return and will be bolstered by some strong incoming transfers as well. The star this year could be Will Bowles (6'7"), who averaged 12.6 ppg a year ago and was second in their conference with 8.2 rebounds per game. Bowles is one of the tallest players on the team and will almost certainly lead them in field goal percentage and rebounds again this season. Battling him for best player on the team will be incoming transfer Maurice Jones (5'7"), who was a star at USC before being ruled academically ineligible before the 2012-13 season. He decided to transfer to Northwood and will provide this team with a talent rarely seen at a small school like this. Jones led USC in points, assists, and three pointers made during his sophomore season and led the PAC 12 in minutes played. He was named the MVP of the USC team that year - so you can see why the Timberwolves are so excited to have him.
In addition to these players, the Timberwolves also return some other very solid players with another year of experience. Sophomore guard Dylan Langkabel (6'4") averaged 14 ppg last season and started 30 of the 31 games. He is a spot up shooter, but also has become more versatile this offseason according to Coach Jeff Rekeweg. In addition, the Timberwolves leading three point shooter (40.6%) is Khalid King (6'2") and he started in 16 games a year ago averaging 9.5 ppg. Junior forward Tony Johnson (6'3") is the smartest player on the team according to Coach Rekeweg and he started 12 games a season ago averaging 4.3 ppg. The Timberwolves will also likely get some contributions from another transfer in Jermaine Myers (6'1") who comes to Northwood from Fordham University. Finally, the only player with real height on this team is the 6'9" junior Casey Boyle who played in only 23 games a year ago averaging 2.4 ppg.
What to Watch For
Indiana is going to be severely limited in the number of bodies able to play in this contest. We know there will be no Devin Davis, Emmitt Holt, Troy Williams, or Stanford Robinson in this one. In addition, Jeremiah April has been injured all summer and is not likely to play and we have learned that Max Hoetzel is unlikely to play due to a minor injury suffered in practice. That leaves Indiana with seven scholarship players and half of the likely normal starting lineup. It will very interesting to watch the reception Indiana receives once introduced as Hoosier Nation appears very fed up right now with the direction of the program.
Indiana will likely go very small with a lineup of Kevin Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr, Robert Johnson, Nick Zeisloft, and Hanner Mosquera - Perea. That will leave one player on the court taller than 6'4" which will be interesting to watch. The Timberwolves have some talent as seen above and the Hoosiers are not going to have a height advantage over them by any stretch of the imagination. It is going to take a great game by Ferrell and Blackmon Jr to win this game - and I don't think that is a foregone conclusion at this point.
The key of this game will be the Yogi Ferrell versus Maurice Jones matchup. Jones is an incredible talent and has proven that on a high major level in the PAC 12. Yogi will need to have a great defensive night to try and neutralize what Jones can bring. It has been two years since Jones stepped on a court and he is going to come out firing. Look for Yogi to drive to the basket early as well to see if he can draw some early fouls on Jones to get him off the court.
The other matchup to watch will be Hanner Perea versus Will Bowles. Bowles is a proven competitor and is a great rebounder on any level of college basketball. Will Hanner will be able to stay out of foul trouble and compete with the talented forward? If Hanner has to leave the court - the Hoosiers are going to turn to Tim Priller in this one and I am sure that is not what Indiana fans expected to see this season. With no slashing ability with Williams and Robinson out - Hanner will need to be a threat inside. Otherwise, the Timberwolves have enough talent to lock down the three point line and make it very difficult for Indiana to score.
I have no idea what to expect at this point from Indiana. They are going to have half a team available and only three players with any college experience (one of which is the limited Collin Hartman). It is not going to surprise me on any level if Indiana comes out and loses this game which would set Hoosier Nation ablaze. Yogi Ferrell and Blackmon are going to have to play like All Americans to carry this team over its first four games.
I think Hoosier Nation will find a way to rally around those playing tomorrow night though and will this team to a victory. It will be close though - much closer than many think. I'll go 65-60 as my final score with Indiana coming out on top. Here is too yet another season on the brink in Bloomington...