Analysis: A strong first performance

Indiana did a lot of good things Friday night against Mississippi Valley State in a 51-point victory. Here are some of the things that stood out to me.

Repeat after me: It was only Mississippi Valley State. It was only Mississippi Valley State. It was only Mississippi Valley State.

The same Mississippi Valley State team that is ranked No. 346 out of 351 Division I teams nationally.

And while that may true, it’s not like Indiana hasn’t faced its share of cupcakes at Assembly Hall in the last 20 years, many of which rivaled Mississippi Valley State in terms of ability.

But few times has an Indiana basketball team completely dismantled an opponent like it did Friday night in the season opener.

It was almost as if this group was saying it was tired of talking about all of the off the court adversity it has faced in recent weeks and finally ready to concentrate on what these guys came to Indiana for: to play basketball.

Dissect IU’s 116-65 victory Friday night any way you want but IU fans had to have come away impressed.

Here are some of the things I liked:

1. They hustled

They dove for loose balls, they ran hard up and down the court, they looked for each other and were unselfish, the list just goes on and on. And the crowd at Assembly Hall appreciated it, too. For one night all of the off-the-court struggles evaporated and these guys could focus on playing basketball. And playing it the right way. Diving, hustling and exhibiting all of the character points that IU basketball fans have come to love.

2. They played hard from start to finish

A lot of times when you’re beating a team as bad as IU was Friday night, teams will lose focus and let its foot off the gas. That wasn’t the case Friday. IU was full throttle the entire way. The final five and a half minutes was played with Jeremiah April, Tim Priller, Nate Ritchie, Ryan Burton and Max Hoetzel on the floor, with Hoetzel playing an unfamiliar point guard position. But that group still scored 16 points and allowed IU to put a big number on the board. And the combined statistics for those five games for the game: 11-of-18 from the field, 8-for-10 from the foul line, 21 rebounds, five assists, five turnovers and two steals. They combined to score 31 points.

3. Everyone scored

Eleven players got in the game for Indiana on Friday and all 11 scored. That includes freshman center Jeremiah April, who didn’t play in Canada and hadn’t played in the first two exhibition games. In fact, he was only cleared to play earlier in the day Friday. April had two points and two rebounds in 7 minutes of action. His lone bucket was a base line jumper where he showed a nice touch. Ryan Burton scored six points on 3-of-3 shooting and had five rebounds in 13 minutes. Tim Priller scored on a tip in. Nate Ritchie got a pair of free throws. As the season goes on these guys may not see a lot of playing time but in a blow out Friday night they all made the most of their opportunities.

Repeat after me: It was only Mississippi Valley State. It was only Mississippi Valley State. It was only Mississippi Valley State.

But it was a beginning.


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