Basketball Season Preview

The Indiana Hoosiers are entering their new season after the worst season in Indiana basketball in the last 30 years. Indiana was 14-15 in 2003, the first time the team had finished under .500 since before Bob Knight was the coach of Indiana. The team only lost two senior members, however a new core of 5 freshmen join the team in 2004 and are expected to make an immediate impact.

2003-2004 Record- 14-15, (7-9)- Missed Post Season Tournaments

Coaches Mike Davis, Head Coach, 4th season Kerry Rupp, Assistant Coach, 1st season Donnie Marsh, Assistant Coach, 1st season Thad Fitzpatrick, Assistant Coach, 2nd season

Seniors Mike Roberts, 6'9", F Mark Johnson, 6'2", G Donald Perry, 6'2", G Ryan Tapak, 6'2", G

Juniors Bracey Wright, 6'3", G Marshall Strickland, 6'2", G Sean Kline, 6'8", F

Sophomores Patrick Ewing Jr, 6'8", F Roderick Wilmont, 6'4", G Errek Suhr, 5'8", G

Freshmen James Hardy, 6'7", F DJ White, 6'9" F Lucas Steijn, 6'10", C AJ Ratliff, 6'2", G Robert Vaden, 6'5", G Adam Ahlfeld, 6'0", G Kyle Taber, 6'7", F

Transfers (Must sit out year) Marco Killingsworth (Sr), 6'8", F Lewis Monroe (Sr), 6'5", G

Players Lost AJ Moye, 6'3", F/G (Graduated) George Leach, 6'1" C (Graduated) Jason Stewart, 6'8" F (Graduated) Jessan Gray-Ashley, 6'10" (Transferred)

The key word that will describe the 2004-2005 Indiana Hoosiers is youth. The Hoosiers will be relying on a pair of freshmen to start most of their games, and the freshmen that don't start will be called upon to play key minutes. There will be no seniors starting for the Hoosiers, and only Ryan Tapak and Mike Roberts figure to see much playing time. A team with that much youth on its hands is bound to make mistakes, however the Hoosiers have been working hard in the offseason to make up for their mistakes.

Indiana hit the weight room this summer, and the results are a team that is bigger and stronger. The Hoosier guards have put on over ten pounds apiece in an attempt to bulk up and muscle the competition. The hard work is meant to pay off for a simple goal, get back to the NCAA tournament and bring Indiana back to respectability.

Mike Davis got the Hoosiers started in the right direction by bringing in one of the nations top recruiting classes. Bracey Wright and Marshall Strickland each had a chance in the offseason to improve their games. Wright played with the US Jr basketball team, while Strickland was a member of the Big Ten's foreign traveling team. The extra time against top opponents will help the two starters for the Hoosiers in 2004. Indiana will have to find a way to spread the offense around and not rely as much on Wright to be successful in the 2004 season.

Indiana faces another tough challenge this year in having one of the toughest schedules in the NCAA. During a 6 game stretch, Indiana will play North Carolina, at UCONN, Notre Dame, Kentucky, at Missouri, and Charlotte all in a row. Throw in a few cupcakes, and the Hoosiers will face a very tough preconference schedule. The Big Ten outlook is a little better, as Indiana will only have to play Michigan State, Iowa, and Illinois once this year, with the Michigan State game being in Bloomington. The young team will have a pair of cupcake games against Indiana State and Western Illinois to prepare for a tough UNC team that will feature the homecoming of Sean May to Bloomington.

There is little question about whether this years Indiana team will be better than last years. The team has more talent than it did at any time last year, but the Hoosiers are still lacking depth in the post. Sean Kline and DJ White are expected to start for Indiana with Patrick Ewing Jr being the first one off the bench, but after that, Indiana has limited options down low. It could go with undersized freshman center Lucas Steijn, but he is very small for the Big Ten, and could easily be pushed around. Mike Roberts will be expected to provide quality minutes to give the big men a breather here and there, but the forwards will still be a weakness in the IU system. Sean Kline is just 8 months removed from major knee surgery, and he is not yet 100%. IU will have to stay healthy in the paint to have a shot at going back to the NCAA's this year.

The strength of the team is in the guards. Bracey Wright and Marshall Strickland return for their third year as members of the Hoosiers. They will have something to prove to the Bloomington faithful, as they try to erase the debacle of 2003. Strickland will have to control the offense better from the point, and get everyone involved with the offense for the team to be able to score consistently. If Indiana gets lazy, it could easily slip back into last years bad habits. Head coach Mike Davis has promised to have a shorter leash with his guards, and will not be afraid to put in walk-ons Mark Johnson and Ryan Tapak if his starters are struggling. Tapak and Johnson give the Hoosiers a great work ethic and the hustle that can help spark a rally, they will be key weapons off the bench.

The team is lacking in the senior leadership department however, and in a very odd turn of events, the coaches have named a freshman the team captain. Robert Vaden was chosen to be the captain of the Hoosiers for 2004, as he has showed great leadership skills in the early practices. Mike Roberts and Ryan Tapak will also be important leaders and teachers from the sidelines this year. The Hoosiers must find their voice early and develop into a style that will work for them.

In the end, the fate of the 2004 season could come down to the play of kids who have never seen a minute of NCAA action. The freshmen at Indiana will determine much of the play of the Hoosiers, and will be one of the main keys to their success in 2004. If the freshmen get their game going early and are able to assimilate into the Indiana system early in the year, then Indiana could be very successful, however if they struggle, it could be another long winter in Bloomington, Indiana.

The Hoosiers tip off their season November 23rd against Indiana State at 6pm. Top Stories