Basketball season is finally here, (so please play this song during the entire duration of your stay on this page). Candy-striped pants are once again acceptable fashion in the city of Bloomington and everyone goes back to ignoring the football team’s existence.
Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller are off to greener pastures in the NBA, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford are playing overseas for teams no one will actually hear of, and Indiana has been left with an enormous void of scoring to fill. The team is ranked number 24 in the preseason compared to holding the top spot a year ago, but with fewer expectations comes less heartache, right?
Since Fred Glass and Tom Crean insist on not scheduling any relevant opponents before conference play, I have a strong suspicion that most Hoosier fans know little information on the nine schools being paraded into Assembly Hall this November and December. So let me introduce my new segment…
Know the opposing school:
Name: Chicago State
Total enrollment: 7,131
NCAA Tournament appearances: None.
Famous Alumni: Dennis DeYoung, John Panozzo, Chuck Panozzo, John Curulewski; four of the founding members of the band Styx. That’s about it.
Anything else of note: The basketball team, along with the volleyball team, is serving a post-season ban for failure to meet the NCAA’s APR standards. On a more positive note, the school joined the WAC this season.
There you go, impress your friends or coworkers with these “fun” facts.
This Chicago State team features eight seniors and four juniors, compared to Indiana’s four seniors and no players with junior eligibility (Austin Etherington and Jonny Marlin are both redshirt sophomores). What does this mean for Friday’s contest? It means the media is grasping at straws to make any sort of relevant story to preview this game. The Cougars do return five of their top six scorers from a season ago, but one can’t possibly expect a team that lost in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (this is actually a thing) to win in Assembly Hall.
Quinton Pippen, Matt Ross, Jamere Dismukes, and Nate Duhon are all capable of scoring in bunches, as all four averaged at least nine points per game a season ago. Duhon and Dismukes make up the backcourt for the Cougars, and actually, outsize the Hoosier starting backcourt of Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell and Evan Gordon. Pippen can also play as a guard, standing at 6’4″, so expect to see Jeremy Hollowell in the backcourt at some point and heavy doses of freshman Stanford Robinson. With that said, Chicago State will be more of a nuisance in the first 20 minutes on Friday, rather than an actual threat.
Indiana can only beat themselves in this game. The Hoosiers need to correct the slow start that allowed Hillsdale to hang around for the first 15 minutes in the preseason finale. However, even if the men in candy-striped pants do start sluggish, their athleticism and incredible length should be enough to silence any early Chicago State-run.
The slow starts could potentially become a greater issue down the road if IU does not find more ways to score the basketball. Yogi Ferrell has shown in the preseason that the offseason work to his outside shot may hold some substance, but the sophomore needs to be consistent throughout the season for Indiana to have a truly successful outside game.
Much to the chagrin of Hoosier Nation, Will Sheehey may lead the team in field goal attempts this season, which apparently is a bad thing. I couldn’t tell you why. Number zero has managed to shoot over 49 percent from the floor in his career with one hand while fighting off every sorority girl in Bloomington off with the other.
Indiana would truly benefit from finding someone on the roster to fill a Matt Roth-type role; plays six minutes or so and do nothing but shoot threes. Jonny Marlin or Collin Hartman could fill this role, hell, try Joe Fagan if he can knock down shots from beyond the arc consistently. This weak schedule allows for Tom Crean and staff to experiment with lineups before heading to New York in a few weeks to face quality competition.
Chicago State has played against Big Ten opponents three separate times in the past three seasons. The Cougars are 0-3 and have lost by an average of over 44 points in those games. Friday’s game will be no different. IU is favored by 23 points and they will cover easily. Hoosiers win 81-51.