The offseason is over. Basketball season is finally here.
After 22 practices, Indiana will get the opportunity to see where it stands in an exhibition game against the University of Southern Indiana at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Assembly Hall.
"We're anxious to play," said Indiana coach Tom Crean. "We're anxious to see where we stand."
Added sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell: "I'm tired of beating up on these dudes, I'm telling you."
When the Hoosiers take the floor on Saturday night, they will look very different from the team that won an outright Big Ten title last season.
Gone are Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford. But Indiana brings in a six-man freshman class -- headlined by forward Noah Vonleh -- that will see its first game action against USI.
The learning curve will be steep, especially for guys like Luke Fischer and Troy Williams who have just recently returned to practice after suffering injuries. Fischer, who had a torn labrum, has only participated in three practices, and Williams, who injured his right hand, just got his cast off this week. Williams' hand is still heavily padded.
Freshman guard Stanford Robinson, who injured his knee during Hoosier Hysteria on Oct. 4, is still out and won't play in Saturday night's game.
Rule change dominates discussion
College basketball officials announced some rule changes earlier this month that prohibit hand checks, among other things. Defenders are allowed to touch a ball handler once, but must immediately remove the hand or a foul will be called.
The rule change dominated discussion when Crean and the IU players addressed the media on Friday evening.
"Everybody's really in for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride here for awhile until we learn how things are going to be officiated," Crean said. "We try to make sure we have referees in [practice] 75, 80 percent of the time."
Crean told a story of a scrimmage between two high-major teams recently in which both teams were in the bonus with 17 minutes remaining in each half.
"Could be a sign of things to come," Crean said. Our goal is to be in the bonus at the 12-minute mark. Our teams have always been good when we get in the bonus at the 12-minute mark.
"I get a kick out of people who say, 'We're gonna play seven or eight guys.' Good luck with that. I hope we play them."
For the first month-plus of the season, the college basketball game will likely look very different. Crean said everyone -- including the fans -- will have to be patient with it because it's happening to every team.
"It's a lot different," Ferrell said. "They're pretty much going to call anything now. Teams will get into the bonus earlier in games."
Crean was asked Friday if he knows what the starting lineup will looking like on Saturday night.
"I messed around with it. But I don't know," Crean said. "That doesn't matter right now. I thought I had some ideas, but I'll go back at the film and try to get a feel."