College basketball is back but for the Hoosiers it’s no time to celebrate. Despite a 98-65 victory over Western Illinois on Tuesday, one of the first statements made by Archie Miller after the game was “[We’re] not a very good defensive team right now.” It’s clear the team is singularly focused on finding ways to improve and eager to demonstrate that last season’s struggles were an aberration.
Yet, the next Hoosier opponent will pose a unique set of challenges for an Indiana team that was still a work in progress. On Saturday, November 9, IU will face-off against Portland State, a team known for their high-intensity press defense and that is led by two of the best players in the Big Sky.
Here is everything you need to know about Saturday’s matchup.
How to Watch:
|Indiana Hoosiers vs. Portland State Vikings
|Saturday, November 9, 2019 / 2 PM ET
|Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall – Bloomington, Indiana
|Find the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek
|BTN Plus (Subscription Required)
|IU Radio Network
|IU -20.5, Over/Under 148.5
Getting to Know the Vikings
Last season, Portland State finished 16-16 overall and tied for fourth place in the Big Sky conference. This was the Vikings best finish since the 2011-2012 season. In the preseason Big Sky poll, Portland State is projected to finish in 6th place out of 11 teams. PSU kicked off the 2019-2020 season with a 94-69 victory over Division III Puget Sound.
The Vikings are coached by Barret Peery. Through his first two seasons, his overall record with Portland State is 36-30 (54.5%). This is Peery’s first head coaching job in Division I. He previously spent six seasons as a head coach in the NCJAA (for Southern Idaho and Indian Hills CC). He also served as an assistant coach for Jim Boylen at Utah and Herb Sendak at Arizona State and Santa Clara. Peery is known for implementing a high-pressure defense at Portland State, nicknamed the “Peery Press.” The press was in full effect in the team’s season opener, as PSU forced Puget Sound into a staggering 31 turnovers.
Portland State’s roster is a mix of fresh faces and returning team leaders. The Vikings have seven new players, including three graduate transfers. Valparaiso transfer Markus Golder and Santa Clara transfer Matt Hauser are known for their shooting skills and playmaking abilities. Similarly, junior college transfers Chris Whitaker and Kimani Binder each averaged 19.5 points and 22.3 points respectively last season. These additions should bring depth to the roster and bolster the Vikings’ offensive attack.
However, the heart and soul of Portland State rests with two returning players. The Vikings will once again be headlined by dynamic junior guard Holland “Boo Boo” Woods and shot-blocker Sal Nuhu.
Woods is a Big Sky Preseason All-Conference team selection. He averaged 15.0 points, 5.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game last season. Woods is the key to the Vikings on both ends of the floor. From scoring to distributing to being the instigator of the press defense, the team will be heavily reliant on Woods to set the tempo and provide a spark for the rest of the squad.
Nuhu is a 6’8, 215 pound senior center that anchors the paint for the Vikings. Last year, he averaged 9.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, and a Big Sky conference leading 2.0 blocks per game. To start the 2019-2020 campaign, Nuhu continued his dominance. In the 25 point victory over Puget Sound, he posted 12.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and an impressive 6.0 blocks.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Indiana and Portland State in basketball. The Vikings are 0-3 all-time against Big Ten teams, most recently falling to Ohio State in 2004.
Projected Starting Lineups
|G: #11 Holland Woods
|G: #1 Al Durham
|G: #10 Matt Hauser
|G: #2 Aarman Franklin
|G: #30 Chris Whitaker
|F: #3 Justin Smith
|F: #22 Alonzo Walker
|F: #4 Trayce Jackson-Davis
|C: #0 Sal Nuhu
|C: #50 Joey Brunk
What To Watch For
1. How Will IU Handle The Press?
Portland State is known for their full-court pressure “Peery Press” offense. The Vikings forced an average of 14.9 turnovers per game last season and, in 2017-2018, averaged 18.1 turnovers per game while also having the best turnover margin in the nation (+5.4). Will the Hoosiers be able to execute offensively or will they be rushed into sloppy positions due to the press? Can IU limit their turnovers? Will they be able to take advantage of the press and score easy baskets in transition?
2. Post Play
With Brunk, Jackson-Davis, and Hunter, Indiana will have multiple options under the rim against a generally smaller team. However, there is one obstacle: Sal Nuhu. The Portland State center averages 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. This will be a good, early test to see how the Hoosier frontline does against a quality opposing center. Can Indiana’s bigs impose their will in the paint?
Last season, IU at times struggled shooting the ball and lacked consistency from beyond the arc. Overall, the Hoosiers shot 45.7% from the field (which was 89th in the nation) and 31.2% from three (317th in the nation). These numbers will need to improve if IU hopes to be more competitive this year. In the first game of the season, these percentages were markedly better: 58.5% from the field and 45.5% from three. It will be important to see if they can build off of this performance and maintain consistency in shooting over the next few games.
Photo Credit: Portland State Athletics