With one season left at Indiana, senior guard Marshall Strickland is faced with excitement and trepidation. On one hand he will be playing on the most talented team he has been on in his four years as a Hoosier, but on the other hand it will be his last season in Bloomington.
"The team is real excited for this weekend," said Strickland. "We worked hard for this all summer and throughout the preseason. We're ready to go and seeing other teams playing on TV really makes it feel like its basketball season.
"But I'm not excited to start my senior season at all. The faster I start the faster it will be over. I'm enjoying my time here. Everyday I come in and practice hard because I know it's going to go quickly. It's here now and it's going to be over soon."
Strickland will start for a third straight season, but will do so at a new position - as a shooting guard. After spending two-plus seasons as a point guard, Strickland will turn those duties over to a pair of transfers, senior Lewis Monroe and junior Earl Calloway. The switch should give Strickland the chance to be more of a point producer than he's been during his first three seasons in Bloomington.
"I'm ready," said Strickland of the move. "I feel like I can be one of the top shooters in the country. There is nobody in the nation that can shoot better than I can. That's the mindset I step on the court with. But I can do other things. I can go off the dribble, I've played the point for three years here and I think I can offer a lot of things offensively."
Indiana will open the regular season this weekend, facing Nicholls State on Fri., Nov. 18 and Florida A&M on Mon., Nov. 21. While the No. 22/23 Hoosiers are expected to handle each of those foes easily, they will be working on different adjustments.
"We will try to improve in these first few games," said Strickland. "We're going to set goals before we come out here. We want to improve and work on little things so when we go against teams like Duke or Kentucky, we'll have everything built up and we'll be in the right mindset.
"It's important for us to play well just for us. It's not really about a statement. Some good teams already have and other teams will lose early games. But we're focused and we're going to make sure that doesn't happen to us."
The opening game Friday will also mark the beginning of the Marco Killingsworth era at Indiana, something Strickland is excited to see.
"I hope they're ready for Marco because he's hungry and he's ready to go," said Strickland. "With the guys playing around him capable of playing well, I think he's going to look really good out there. I just hope he doesn't get too excited and foul out, but when he's in there he's going to be tough to guard."
The Hoosiers are making sure to not overlook any opponents early in the season. Even after going 10-6 in the Big Ten play and finishing tied for fourth in the conference, Indiana failed to make the NCAA tournament for the second season in a row – something that will not be acceptable this time around for these Hoosiers.
"The non-conference season is real important," said Strickland. "A lot of teams made it into the tournament last season based on almost completely on what they did in non-conference games. We feel like we can win every game and we're not going to wait until the Big Ten season rolls around to win big games. We're going to try to win them early."
Strickland's Mixed Feelings
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