(Photo Credit: Dolphin Media)

The non-conference season has been a long and winding road. IU has taken on a wide range of foes from blue bloods to cupcakes and everyone in between. The young players have found their footing and Archie Miller has continued to put his stamp on the program. Now, the Hoosiers have one final non-conference test against Jacksonville on Saturday before entering the gauntlet that is the Big Ten.

IU faces off against Jacksonville to cap off another impressive week where the Hoosiers secured victories over Butler and Central Arkansas. Like the matchup against Central Arkansas, IU hopes Saturday’s game can be a simple tune-up and provide an opportunity for bench contributors (like Anderson, Forrester, and Moore) to receive extended minutes. This will likely be the final calm of the season as the conference grind is merely weeks away.

As for their opponent, Jacksonville is on a Midwest swing. First, they will take on Notre Dame Thursday night before traveling to Bloomington for Saturday’s matchup. The Dolphins are 4-0 to start December and travel to the state of Indiana playing their best ball of the year.

Here’s everything you need to know about this weekend’s contest:

Meet the Dolphins

Departing Players

  • Devin Harris – 6’4” / 200 lbs / Guard / Red Shirt Senior – Tampa, FL. – Harris was a major contributor last year. He did a little bit of everything, averaging 12.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.7 steals per game.
  • Cody Helgeland – 6’8” / 185 lbs / Forward / Red Shirt Senior – Toccoa, GA. – Another important player last season, he played nearly 30 minutes per game and scored 8 points per game.
  • Antwon Clayton – 6’6” / 200 lbs / Forward / Senior – Eustis, FA. – Averaged 5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
  • Damien Sears – 6’7” / 230 lbs / Forward / Red Shirt Freshman – Haughton, LA. – Sears averaged about 16 minutes per game off the bench last year, adding 4.1 points and 3.6 rebounds a game. Transferred to Western Oklahoma State (JUCO).
  • Radwan Bakkali – 6’10” / 250 lbs / Center-Forward / Junior – London, England. – Played 10.9 minutes per game in the post. Transferred to University of Indianapolis.

Projected Starters

  • Jace Hogan – 6’6” / 235 lbs / Forward / Red Shirt Senior – Melbourne, FL. – Hogan is one of Jacksonville’s most important players. He is averaging 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Those numbers are actually down quite a bit from last season, where he averaged 17.1 points and 6.6 rebounds. This largely because he is playing about five minutes less this season as the team is trying to spread around the minutes. Nonetheless, he is a key to the Dolphin offense and is very efficient, shooting 50.8% from the field. Transfer from the US Naval Academy.
  • Jalyn Hinton – 6’5” / 195 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Boston, MA. – The lengthy guard scores a little over 9 points per game but also provides additional assistance in the post, pulling down 6.5 rebounds a game and blocking 2.9 shots per game.
  • Tanner Rubio – 6’0” / 185 lbs / Guard / Junior – Maitland, FL. – Rubio played about 25 minutes per game last season but started this season on the bench (currently averaging 16.7 minutes per game). However, at the start of December, Rubio replaced Notae in the starting lineup. He is only averaging a little over 4 points per game but is a three-point threat. While only shooting 33.3% from three this season, he is only two years removed from shooting 48.9% as a freshman.
  • Aamahne Santos – 5’10” / 165 lbs / Guard / Red Shirt Junior – Dorchester, MA. – Averaging 5.7 points per game. Transfer from Cloud County Community College (Kansas).
  • Tyreese Davis – 6’6” / 200 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Kansas City, MO. – Averaging 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds.

The Rotation

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  • JD Notae – 6’2” / 185 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Covington, GA. – Jacksonville’s leading scorer (yes, that’s right, their best scorer comes off the bench), averaging 15 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. He was originally in the starting lineup but was moved to the bench at the beginning of December. He struggles with turnovers (3.3 per game) and his three-point shooting percentage is substantially down so far this season (31.3% compared to 40.5% last year). Consistency has been an issue. Nonetheless, the talented sophomore can still fill up the bucket. He dropped 40 points earlier this season against Florida Memorial.
  • DeAnthony McCallum – 6’4” / 180 lbs / Guard / Junior – Cincinnati, OH. – MacCallum is averaging 7.4 points per game. He is one of their high-volume three-point shooters, currently shooting 34.2% from deep. Transfer from Independence Community College.
  • David Bell – 6’9” / 220 lbs / Center / Junior – Cleveland, OH. – Bell is averaging 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He transferred from Ohio State, where he was only averaging about 6 minutes per game. His production has been increasing over recent games as he returns to fitness and become more comfortable with his new teammates.
  • Bryce Workman – 6’7” / 240 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Tampa, FL.
  • Corey Romich – 6’4” / 205 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Groton, MA.
  • Derrick Flowers – 6’3” / 200 lbs / Guard-Forward / Sophomore – Frisco, TX.
  • Quinton Forrest – 6’4” / 220 lbs / Guard / Red Shirt Junior – Windermere, FL.
  • KJ Fitzgerald – 5’11” / 190 lbs / Guard / Freshman – West Palm Beach, FL.

Expectations for the Dolphins

The Dolphins are coming off of a 15-18 season, culminating in a third-place finish in the ASUN. After reaching the semi-finals of the ASUN tournament, Jacksonville hopes to continue to build the program and develop some terrific young talent this season. With improving conference depth, Jacksonville is predicted to be somewhere in the middle of the ASUN pack and, in the coaches poll, placed fifth in the preseason rankings.

Last season, the Dolphins saw the emergence of Jace Hogan and JD Notae as team leaders. Hogan had an impressive season, averaging 17.1 points per game while shooting 51.6% from the floor. Hogan also elevated his level of play during the most important games. He dropped 39 points in the quarterfinals of the ASUN tournament, propelling Jacksonville to the semi-finals where they would eventually fall to Lipscomb.

Similarly, Notae made a splash as a freshman, quickly becoming one of the best guards in the conference. He averaged 15.4 points per game and netted 49 steals. Despite missing the final five games of the year, his 432 points were good enough to finish 11th in the ASUN in scoring and were the second-highest total posted by a freshman in Jacksonville history. He was named the ASUN Freshman of the Year. This season, Notae originally began the year in the starting lineup and has recently made the transition to coming off the bench. Despite his change of roles, he has continued to be extremely productive. In fact, even with his bench role, he is still the team’s highest scorer and plays the most minutes (27.7 per game).

Jacksonville currently sits at 7-5. They struggled early losing their first four games but have rebounded nicely winning seven out of their last eight. Prior to their matchup against the Hoosiers, Jacksonville will first take on Notre Dame Thursday night.

Injury Watch

Rob Phinisee is in concussion protocol after a head collision during Wednesday’s game. The severity of his injury is currently unknown, but coach Archie Miller indicated that the team may be without him “for a while.”

Race Thompson is still out with a concussion. He recently began weightlifting and has done some cardio workouts. All signs indicate that he is progressing.

There is still no timetable for a return for Jerome Hunter, who is still recovering from surgery to treat a leg injury.

Jacksonville does not have any significant injuries to note.

What to Watch for:

  1. Romeo Rebounds – Romeo Langford is routinely commended for his scoring prowess; but, his rebounding skills often fly under the radar. Langford is IU’s second leading rebounder. Against Butler, his rebounding was one of the major keys to the Hoosier victory. In that game, he led the team with seven rebounds – – five of which were defensive rebounds. At nearly every crucial juncture of the game, it was Langford that came up with the ball. It’s as if he is always at the right spot at the right time. Langford is often lauded for his instinctual play but it is games like Saturday’s that reinforce the fact that his innate feel for the game applies to more than just scoring.
  2. Dolphin Splashes – Jacksonville has struggled mightily shooting the three this season. Currently, the squad is only shooting about 31.1% from beyond the arc. Notae, Santos, and MacCallum are their primary three-point shooters. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, each have struggled to find a rhythm so far this season, as they are only shooting 31.3%, 21.7%, and 34.2% respectively. It is almost as if all of Jacksonville’s three-point specialists all hit a slump at the exact same time. It is not that they are poor shooters but rather they are just shooting poorly. For example, Notae may be only shooting 31.3% from deep today, but last season he shot 40.5%. At some point, Jacksonville is going to make some threes. When that happens, they are going to be much more balanced offensively and more difficult to guard. Facing a team like IU, Jacksonville will need to make shots just to hang around. If they continue their current trend of poor three-point shooting, it’s going to be a long night for the Dolphins.
  3. Ball Protection – Turnovers routinely plague each team, as both average 15 per game. Heading into the conference season, both teams will want to lower this number and better take care of the ball. Particularly for Jacksonville, limiting turnovers is an imperative if they are going to be at all competitive with the Hoosiers.
  4. Game Fatigue – When nearing the holidays, there is always a possibility that the multitude of practices and high-intensity games can catch up to the younger players. Games snuggled between a stressful finals week and a brief holiday hiatus in particular are known to be signature trap game stumbling blocks. It will be interesting to see how both teams respond and if they can remain focused. This is even more true for Jacksonville who will play IU just two days after taking on Notre Dame. Likely their two biggest games of the year, Jacksonville will have to enter difficult road environments in their attempt to build off of their current winning streak. Can the Dolphins rise to the occasion? Will they be able to sustain high levels of energy against their two most difficult opponents of the year?
  5. Full Throttle – Jacksonville seems to have found a winning formula of late… But, let’s be honest, this is a game IU should win handily. For the coaching staff, this is precisely the type of game where it is just as important to focus on how they win as if they win. It is important to see the Hoosiers take command of the game and play to their style. Similarly, it is crucial that IU refuse to let up and play a full 40 minutes. Miller will be looking for them to keep their foot on the gas pedal and dominate the action. If they can jump ahead early, it will also provide an opportunity for some bench players, like Damezi Anderson and Clifton Moore, to see extended minutes.

How to Watch

DateSaturday, December 22nd
Time6:00 PM EST
RadioHoosiersTV Audio

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