Bloomington, Ind. – Lance Stemler and Armon Bassett have played just two exhibition games as Indiana Hoosiers, but they continue to prove their value to head coach Kelvin Sampson.
Less than one week after both made impressive debuts against North Dakota, Bassett and Stemler each played more than 20 minutes in Indiana's 83-46 win over Division-II University of Indianapolis, and each proved to be a be factor in the win.
Stemler, a junior college transfer from Southwest Illinois CC, is making a name for himself as Kelvin Sampson's first big off the bench, adding momentum after scoring in double figures in both of Indiana exhibition games.
"When you are rotating guys, and you are playing a lot of different lineups, you are just trying to figure things out," said Sampson. "I'm not going to be experimenting Monday. I'm going to play guys that are going to help us win.
"Lance has a high basketball IQ. He really understands. When Lance is in the game our stuff really flows. It would be nice if I could bring Lance off the bench."
Stemler came of the bench to score 16 points in 23 minutes, along adding two offensive rebounds while shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range.
His performance against Indianapolis comes less than a week after he helped Indiana to a 95-50 win over North Dakota. Stemler came off the bench to score 12 points and grab six rebounds - five of which were offensive - in 22 minutes of action in the opener.
"One of the things you noticed tonight is that Lance probably fits into the starting line up a little better," said Sampson. "When Ben (Allen) and D.J. (White) are on the floor at the same time, they guard the same position. One of them was guarding a 6'4" guy and those are hard match ups."
A 6-8 junior, Stemler was a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) first team All-America a year ago after averaging 22.4 points per game to go along with eight rebounds and 1.8 steals.
Bassett didn't have a good shooting, missing all four of his field goal attempts – including three missed three-pointers. However, the freshman from Terre Haute, Ind., came through with 10 assists to just two turnovers.
"I thought once we started running and pushing the pace, and just getting the ball out and going, that is when Armon is at his best," said Sampson. "Armon is a playmaker, he can pass. He didn't shoot the ball well tonight, but he had 10 assists and two turnovers. That's kind of what he does best."
In his first exhibition game Bassett had a much better night from the floor, scoring 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting with 4-of-5 shooting from the three-point line. After showing some inconsistency in the first two warm-up games, Sampson expects Bassett to pull it together before Indiana's first game Monday night against Lafayette in the preseason NIT.
"Armon may not be as good defensively as Rod (Wilmont) or A.J. (Ratliff). Armon has more things he can do to help us on offense. He can pass, he can push it up the court, and he's a good shooter. Somewhere between the other night and tonight, he's capable of being a 40 percent point shooter."
Friday's contest was a final opportunity to see which players mesh best with each other in a game atmosphere. Bassett and Stemler are two newcomers who will be big parts of the rotation – whether it's as starters or off the bench – once the regular season begins Monday.
"You try to figure out who can play well together," Sampson said. "That is what you get out of exhibition games. I thought I got a lot out of the exhibition games, and I think our team did, too. You are not looking at exhibition games as a big picture, because if you do, what are you looking for? You are looking for little scenarios within the big picture. I saw enough good things that I hope we have two really good days of preparation and get ready to play Lafayette on Monday."
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