Indiana’s non-conference warpath continues with a contest against the North Alabama Lions, who are just in their second season of Division 1 basketball. The Hoosiers (2-0) had a bit of a rough time against their last opponent Portland State, but fortunately November is the month to establish your foundations as a team and tune-up game after game.
Here’s how you can watch Indiana’s matchup against North Alabama (yes, the game will be televised for the first time this season) and a quick scouting report.
How to Watch
|Who||Indiana Hoosiers vs. North Alabama Lions|
|When||Tuesday, November 12, 2019 / 7 PM ET|
|Where||Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall – Bloomington, Indiana|
|Tickets||Find the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek|
|Listen||IU Radio Network|
|Spread||IU -22.5, Over/Under 141|
Getting to Know the Lions
As one of the most recent additions to Division I, the North Alabama Lions have been in Division II since the founding of their university until their acceptance to join Division I in all sports except for football. Last season, the Lions played their first season in Division I in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Lions finished with a 10-22 overall record, but finished sixth in the ASUN with a conference record of 9-7.
They are led by second year head coach Tony Pujol, who currently has a 10-22 career record at North Alabama. North Alabama returns three starters and have a total of six newcomers to their program for the 2019-2020 season. As it stands, they are currently ranked 287 in Kenpom with their 0-1 record that includes an opening season loss at South Carolina.
This isn’t the first time the two teams have met. Indiana and North Alabama played in an exhibition at Assembly Hall, kicking off the 2007 season. The Hoosiers took that game 121-76.
Two names to watch for include junior guard C.J. Brim who is a 5-foot-9 point guard that plays as your prototypical speedy true point. Despite being undersized, Brim led his team in scoring against the Gamecocks.
Jamari Blackmon is a sophomore from Alabama that plays in the backcourt with Brim. Although he had an off night against South Carolina (he shot 2 of 12 on the floor and 1 of 9 from behind the arc), coach Pujol has a lot of faith in his returning starter, who was the highest scorer from the 2018-2019 Lions roster.
Like Indiana, North Alabama strives to be a foul-drawing team. While they put South Carolina on the line 36 times, they also shot 33 free throws. The Lions are going to attack right into the center of Indiana’s interior and it will be a good test for the Hoosiers to see how their frontcourt wall can hold up.
Also stylistically, the Lions have the green light to take the open three. On offense, they will likely have 2-3 players outside of the arc waiting for the dish off of dribble penetration. If they are able to connect better than their 2 of 21 performance in Columbia, the Hoosiers are going to have a tough day. Gap closures are going to be critical.
Projected Starting Lineups
|G: #11 C.J. Brim||G: #1 Al Durham|
|G: #3 Jamari Blackmon||G: #2 Armaan Franklin|
|F: #14 Payton Youngblood||F: #3 Justin Smith|
|F: #21 Emanuel Littles||F: #4 Trayce Jackson-Davis|
|F: #5 Mervin James||C: #50 Joey Brunk|
What To Watch For
1. Can Indiana build from the Portland State game and bounce back?
Coach Miller would be the first to tell you that he was not happy with the performance of the team against Portland State. Between the early start time and the aggressive full-court press, there are a number of reasons we can attribute to the sluggish performance (considering Portland State is one of the worst Kenpom-rated teams).
That being said, what’s important is the learning experience given all of the newcomers on this team. People often forget that Indiana’s getting significant minutes from five players who have seen zero to minimal minutes on Branch McCracken court.
Three areas that the Hoosiers will have game film to use for improvement include Indiana’s dribble penetration defense, offensive sets specifically in the transition, and offensive rebounding.
2. Finishing better at the rim
The interior has been a focal point for the Hoosiers both offensively and defensively; however, that isn’t to say there is no areas of improvement. In fact, quite frankly, the opposite is true.
To single out just one area that stands out after two games, we should discuss Indiana’s ability to finish at the rim. When you combine the Indiana’s front-court of Trayce Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk, and De’Ron Davis, they are collectively shooting 16 of 28 (57%). Considering this trio primarily plays right in front of the rim, these numbers have to get more efficient if Indiana hopes to dance in March.
3. Extending the rebound margin
Rebounding comes with size, and that’s exactly what the Hoosiers have this season. Archie Miller has made that a point in his press conferences that this particular Indiana squad has to be “a great rebounding team” in order to be successful.
So far, the Hoosiers are living up to that expectation. In just two games, Indiana is averaging 44 rebounds per game to their opponent’s 26. They currently have an 18 rebound margin against their opponent per game. Now that Race Thompson and Jerome Hunter have shown their ability to play efficient minutes, expect this margin to extend the trend.
4. Will Al Durham be Indiana’s shooting solution
Without being a broken record, the Hoosiers still are struggling to find the “go-to” guy while Devonte Green is out. In terms of the offense, Indiana has shown their ability to score in the paint and take advantage of their pure athleticism over opposing teams; however, at some point in the near future, Indiana will need to find a player with a consistent shooting stroke.
Al Durham impressed with his 100% accuracy from the floor during Indiana’s first game, going for a perfect seven of seven on the floor including three of three from behind the arc. Against Portland State, he still shot well but did not have as much success from behind the arc. Durham finished that game with seven of 11 and shot just 25% from distance.
Indiana needs shooters and they are hoping that Green can be that main guy once he returns back from his injury and he returns back to his natural shooting guard role. In the meantime, Durham has been a refreshing replacement in that capacity.
5. How well will Indiana defend the dribble penetration and three-point shooting
As mentioned, the Lions like to drive into the paint. If looks are available they will take a shot near the rim, but they also have the full green light from head coach Tony Pujol to take the open three. Indiana has been beat by the three point shot in the past against much worse teams, and this can be a similar scenario if the Hoosiers are not careful.
Indiana has to wall up in the paint with their front court and make sure the guards do not sag too deep into the packline if one of the North Alabama players gets hot.
Featured Photo: roarlions.com / Will Corey