Season On The Sidelines Finally Over

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.- So what was a year on the sidelines like for Marco Killingsworth and Lewis Monroe?

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.- So what was a year on the sidelines like for Marco Killingsworth and Lewis Monroe?

If you're trying to find a word to sum it up, Noah Webster might even come up empty.

When asked, all Killingsworth can do is shake his head. As for his Auburn-turned-Indiana teammate Monroe, he sighs at the thought of his season on the sidelines, one that brought both to the brink of madness.

"That's the great thing – it's winding down now, and I finally get to go out there and play," says Monroe. "I'm waiting for that first horn to sound."

Monroe and Killingsworth won't have to wait long, with Indiana's exhibition opener now just nine days away. Indiana hosts St. Joseph's Nov. 4 at 8 p.m., while the regular season tips off Nov. 18 against Nicholls State.

Both Killingsworth and Monroe figure to be in the Hoosiers' starting lineup when teams are introduced for those contests, and their anticipated contributions are a big reason why the Hoosiers find themselves in just about every preseason national poll.

After all, Killingsworth did earn second-team All-SEC honors as a junior at Auburn after averaging 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds, while Monroe was a two-year starter at point guard and was considered one of the SEC's best on the defensive end.

Both are some 19 months removed from their last college basketball game, a stretch that proved a bit torturous for both.

"I was frustrated – so frustrated," said Killingsworth.

The one game that stands out in Killingsworth's mind was Indiana's Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup with No. 1 North Carolina, which was just back from a championship run at the Maui Invitational. Adding to the drama was the return of Bloomington native and North Carolina All-American Sean May, a player that Killingsworth likely would have tussled with had he been eligible to play in the contest.

"The North Carolina game – I wanted to play in that game so bad," said Killingsworth. "I would have done anything to get in that game.

"That North Carolina game was ridiculous. How the fans were acting, Sean May is from here, they came in with a swagger - their body language was like they knew they were going to win, and I didn't like that."

All Killingsworth and Monroe could do, though, was lean on the scorer's table before the contest while teams were going to through warm-ups…and then retreat to the bench, unable to play any role in a contest eventually won by the Tar Heels, 70-63.

"Every game, we'd sit down and watch, see the other team come out, and then it was out of our hands," said Killingsworth.

That feeling of helplessness is now gone, as both figure to be on the floor a whole lot more than they are off of it this season.

Killingsworth will team with D.J. White to give Indiana one of the nation's best frontcourt tandems, while Monroe gives IU Coach Mike Davis a backcourt player that can play either spot and is capable of being a shutdown defender as well.

"I have always taken pride in my defense," said Monroe, a graduate of Madison (Wisc.) East High School. "I like shutting guys down. Guys that are scoring 20 points a game, I want to shut them down to 10."

Monroe will get his chance to do that this season, and the 6-8, 265-pound Killingsworth will get his opportunity to be a wrecking ball on the Hoosiers' frontline.

It's been a wait that has been maddening for both, but in the end, it's been worth it.

"I'm in a great situation where I can showcase my talents," said Killingsworth. "I can't wait to get the season underway and finally get back out there on the floor."

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