Bloomington, Ind. – Indiana faces its final exhibition test tonight when it hosts Indianapolis at 8 p.m. at Assembly Hall.
Of course, "test" might be a strong word for the contest against a Greyhounds squad that went just 4-23 a year ago. Last year's season was a huge drop-off for an Indianapolis program that had been to the NCAA tourney the previous three seasons under Coach Todd Sturgeon. Indianapolis is also coming off a 94-63 loss to Wright State in its first exhibition contest of the year, and Indiana squad whipped the Greyhounds 96-49 in a preseason game a year ago.
But tonight's match-up is the Hoosiers' final tune-up before getting its regular season underway Monday night in Indianapolis against Lafayette in the first-round of the Preseason NIT.
Indianapolis returns three of its top four scorers from a year ago, including 6-6 junior forward Justin Barnard. Barnard averaged 15.6 points and 6.1 rebounds as a sophomore while shooting 41.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc. Barnard is a Shelbyville, Ind., native who, along with his twin brother and current Indianapolis teammate Jordan, led Waldron H.S. to a state championship in 2004.
Fellow frontliner Braxton Mills is also back for Sturgeon's squad after averaging 10.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks as a freshman. The 6-6, 200-pound Mills came off the bench in the exhibition loss to Wright State, but scored 12 points and 6-of-7 shooting and added four rebounds.
Other contributors on the frontline include 6-5, 185-pound sophomore Tristan Rogers, 6-5, 220-pound James Thompkins and 6-8, 235-pound center Reed Ludlow. A Bloomington North graduate, Ludlow is the only center on the Greyhounds' roster and he'll likely draw the assignment of slowing down D.J. White on the interior. A junior, Ludlow averaged 3.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 13.8 minutes as a sophomore.
Rogers is a Kokomo, Ind., native who transferred to Indianapolis from Morehead State, where he averaged 1.9 points and 1.6 rebounds a year ago. Thompkins, meanwhile, is a former Ben Davis H.S. standout who spent the last two season's at Lakeland (Ill.) Community College before returning to his hometown to play with the Greyhounds. He came off the bench to lead Indianapolis with 18 points and six rebounds in the loss to Wright State.
The Greyhound backcourt will be led by 5-11 senior Scott Strahm and 6-1 sophomore Tyke Cockerham. Like Rogers, Cockerham transferred to Indianapolis from Morehead State in the off-season. He's an Indianapolis Cathedral H.S. graduate who averaged 6.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a freshman. His debut season featured a couple of big performances last March, including a 21-point, five-rebound, three-assist effort in a loss to Central Michigan and also a 20-point outing against Tennessee State.
Strahm is back for his senior season after averaging 8.1 points and 3.4 assists a year ago. Strahm also attempted a team-high 136 3-pointers a year ago, knocking down 31.6 percent of his attempts.
Strahm will get plenty of perimeter help this year from another junior college transfer, DeAndre Brock. A Warren Central H.S. graduate, Brock spent the last two seasons at Spoon River Community College, where he averaged 23.3 points and 5.6 rebounds as a sophomore. He also knocked down 70 3-pointers in Spoon River's 28 games.
While the Greyhounds have plenty of new faces from a year ago – five transfers and four freshmen in all – IU and Coach Kelvin Sampson are also trying to settle on a rotation while working in some newcomers on the floor.
Off-season additions Armon Bassett, Lance Stemler and Mike White all appear to be in the Hoosiers' playing rotation at this point, and that trio combined to scored 34 points and pull down 15 rebounds in Sunday's exhibition opener against North Dakota. They're working in with veterans such as D.J. White, Earl Calloway, Rod Wilmont and A.J. Ratliff to give Sampson a team he's looking forward to seeing develop.
"I'm excited about Armon's development," Sampson said. "A.J. Ratliff, taking the next step for him…seeing Ben Allen develop. I'm excited about our team and our program."
Hoosiers Face Final Exhibition Test
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