(Photo Credit: Kayla Hands / USI Photographer)
After a behind-closed-doors shadow scrimmage against Loyola-Chicago, Indiana’s first broadcasted game of the year is a preseason exhibition game against the University of Southern Indiana. Let’s be honest, normally no one is particularly enthused about preseason games. It is simply a last-ditch opportunity to hit the court and knock off some rust before game results become meaningful.
So, what will this game actually mean for the team? The staff may not see anything that they haven’t seen already. But for the fans, they will get to see everything for the first time. How will this year’s Hoosiers compete against other colors? Can Romeo Langford light up the court like he did during his time at New Albany? What role players will emerge?
For the team, the goal is to build routine. It is all about building confidence. It is a chance for the coaching staff to iron out a few schemes and an opportunity for bench players to see more time on the floor.
But, nonetheless, it’s our first sweet taste of college basketball of the season. It’s not the main course. It’s not even an appetizer. It’s just the free bread and room temperature butter you get for sitting at the table. But it’s something, and for many fans this game represents the end of a waiting period, accumulated through a very long off-season. Thus, for those who can’t quite shake their appetite, let’s take a look at the Hoosiers first matchup.
Meet the Screaming Eagles
- Marcellous Washington – 6’1” / 155 lbs / Guard – In terms of production, Washington was the biggest loss for USI. He scored 11.5 points per game and was the backcourt partner for Alex Stein. Along with Stein and Dickson, he was the only player to start 31 of 31 games. He shot just a hair below 40% behind the arc.
- DayJar Dickson – 6’9” / 215 lbs / Forward – He added solid paint minutes for USI last season and he pulled the second highest number of rebounds on the team. 62.2% of his field goals went in last season, making him one of the most efficient players on the team.
- Julius Rajala – 6’9” / 226 lbs / Forward – Rajala averaged 9.0 points per game in the 28 contests that he appeared in. Julius led the team in blocks.
- Davis Carter – 7’1” / 232 lbs / Center
- Taylor Breck – 6’7” / 200 lbs / Forward
- Alex Stein – 6’3” / 190 lbs / Guard / Senior – Native of Evansville, IN (Reitz) – Alex Stein is the main go-to scorer for the Screaming Eagles. He averaged 17.5 ppg with a 47.4% FG%. He started all 31 games for USI and averaged nearly 35 minutes per game.
- Nate Hansen – 6’4” / 200 lbs / Guard-Forward / Senior – Native of Evansville, IN (Reitz) – Hansen will be wrapping his collegiate career with USI. He was the second leading scorer for the team last year and averaged over 30 minutes per game in the 28 games that he played.
- Mateo Rivera – 6’2” / 190 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Native of Indianapolis (North Central)
- Jacob Norman – 6’5” / 210 lbs / Forward / Senior – Native of Evansville, IN (Reitz) – Another native of Indiana, Norman played in 30 games and provided rotational minutes in the forward position.
- Humaad Khan – 5’9” / 150 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Native of Evansville, IN (Day School)
- Emmanuel Little – 6’6” / 215 lbs / Forward / Sophomore – Native of Indianapolis (North Central)
- Kobe Caldwell – 6’5” / 200 lbs / Guard and Forward / Junior – Transferred from Utah
- Kourtlandt Martin – 6’0” / 170 lbs / Guard / Junior – Native of Evansville (Central) that played for Carl Sandburg (NJCAA Division II)
- Braden Fitzjerrells – 5’7” / 165 lbs / Guard / Junior
- Glen Rouch – 6’6” / 200 lbs / Guard-Forward / Freshman – Native of Boonville, Indiana
- Josh Price – 6’8” / 250 lbs / Forward / Sophomore – Native of Indianapolis
- Chance Coyle – 6’4” / 190 lbs / Guard-Forward / Freshman – Native of Bloomington, IN (Bloomington South HS) that previously played at Vincennes
- Hugues Mbumba – 6’7” / 220 lbs / Forward-Center / Junior – Native of Lubumbashi, Congo
- Langdon Briles – 6’4” / 193 lbs / Forward / Freshman
- Khalil McDaniel – 6’1” / 165 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Native of Pekin, IN (Eastern) and previously played at Saint Joseph’s College
- David Simmons – 6’3” / 195 lbs / Guard / Senior – Previously played at Middle Tennessee State
- Tyler Dancy – 6’7” / 173 lbs / Forward / Freshman
Expectations for the Screaming Eagles
The Screaming Eagles are projected to finish 4th in the Great Lakes Valley Conference this season. Last year, they were 20-11 (11-7 in conference) and qualified for the conference postseason tournament for the 8th consecutive year. The Screaming Eagles dropped only one game on their home court last season, which was against Great Lakes Valley Conference champions Bellarmine University.
USI brings back 6 players, including 3 starters from last season’s squad. The team will surely be motivated to perform well in Bloomington, as USI has many local Indiana products. In fact, the entire team is from either Indiana (including a whopping 5 Evansville natives), Illinois, or Kentucky. USI Freshman Chance Coyle is a Bloomington South graduate.
What to Watch For
When facing a Division II opponent, it’s always difficult to predict how a game will go. In particular, USI lost a great deal of production from last year’s team so it is tricky to forecast what this year’s strengths and weaknesses will be. Yet, with that being said, there are a few statistics that could help shine light on what aspects of the game the Hoosiers will focus on. Throughout the course of the year, Southern Indiana’s opponents shot 43.3% from the field but only 31.9% from three. The Screaming Eagles also averaged a +10 rebounding margin against opponents. Look for IU to get a lot of shots in the paint and try to establish an early rebounding edge.
As with all exhibition games, gaining valuable lessons for Indiana may be a bit of a tough test. As long as there are no injuries, regardless of the result, check this game off as a success.
- Can the atmosphere of Assembly Hall be electric for an exhibition game? If Hoosier Hysteria is any indication, the allure of having a top-five player and top shooting guard prospect from the 2018 class should be more than enough to pack the bowl. Students will be returning from Halloween festivities and an open practice invitation on Tuesday. Recently announced new seating policy, General Admission student tickets can be upgraded if students arrive early enough to Assembly Hall.
- 40 minutes of defense. We are now in year two under Archie Miller. With confirmation from Archie during last night’s radio show, Indiana held a previous year final four team to only 48 points, albeit Loyola Chicago had some roster turnover and the contest was a closed-door scrimmage. Against a less talented team, fans hope that the Hoosiers can continue to keep the foot on the defensive pedal for the entire game. Players, as well as assistant coaches, are now more experienced in Archie’s system.
- Limiting the turnovers. In the two exhibition games last season against Marian and University of Indianapolis, the Hoosiers had 10 and 8 turnovers respectively. In fact, over the course of the entire season, the Hoosiers averaged 12.5 turnovers per game with a (+1.0 turnover margin relative to opponents). Just a year before, Indiana averaged 15.2 turnovers per game relative to an average of 11.1 turnovers per game for opponents. (-4.1 turnover margin). Limiting the turnover percentage will a performance indicator for the point-guard role and indirectly the maturity of the team to simplify their play.
- Finding the true depth of the front court players. Indiana has 11 players that are 6’6” or taller. (Yes, 11.) Besides freshman Romeo Langford who resides in that group, the rest of the wings and bigs on the team are going to be competing for minutes in Archie’s rotation. Outside the perceived core players like Juwan Morgan and Justin Smith, we have seen Race Thompson and Jake Forrester seriously impressive with their motor and bounce at Hoosier Hysteria. Evan Fitzner was on fire behind the arc and even sophomore Clifton Moore showed that he improved during the offseason. Right now the most uncertainty lies with freshmen Damezi Anderson and Jerome Hunter and whether or not they can crack significant playing time in their first year as Hoosiers.
- Dunk session! See the above. Between this contest and the one following against Chicago State, expect lots of highlight reel material.
How to Watch
|Date||Thursday, November 1st|
|Time||7:00 PM EST|