Bloomington – Devan Dumes is growing a little bit tired of seeing Verdell Jones.
The same can be said about Nick Williams and Matt Roth and even Jeremiah Rivers. It's not that Hoosier junior is having any issues with any of his current IU teammates, but instead it's because he's ready to get a chance to play against someone else.
"We've been getting tired of playing against each other," said Dumes. "Me and Verdell talk about it a lot. We've been doing it since the summer, so it's going to be fun to play against someone else and see how we're going to turn out."
Dumes will get that chance Friday night when IU hosts Anderson University at 7 p.m. in its exhibition opener. A, Division III school, Anderson returns four starters from a team that went 15-12 a year ago.
Dumes is actually familiar with a handful of the Anderson players dating back to his prep days at Indianapolis' Decatur Central H.S. Dumes played against the Ravens' returning scorer Mike Russell (15.3 ppg, 2.2 apg in '08) when he was at Indianapolis Pike H.S., Anderson juniors Josh Bellamy (1.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg) and Rodney Holliday (5.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg) are also Indianapolis products that Dumes has crossed paths with in the past.
As the season draws near, practices have become to get even more intense as the coaching staff tries to figure out who's going to start and which players are going to be a part of the playing rotation. Senior Kyle Taber won't be available Friday night as he continues to rehab his knee, but everyone else is trying make their own personal case for playing time beginning Friday.
"The intensity, it's turned up a lot," said Dumes. "A lot of guys have been going extremely hard, a lot of people get called out. If you're not up to the part and ready for the challenge, coach is going to go by you."
While IU Coach Tom Crean doesn't figure to reveal his starting five until Friday evening, it's a safe bet that Dumes will be among those who will get the nod. The junior clearly has the most Division I experience dating back to his days at Eastern Michigan, and he's been a player that many of the younger players are looking to for guidance in what figures to be an up-and-down basketball season.
"He's the leader of our team, not just because he's the oldest but because he brings something to practice," said freshman Nick Williams, another player who start Friday. "He gives it his all and brings it every day."
Those practices have been spirited and intense both on the part of the players as well as the coaching staff, which is in a race against time trying to both instill philosophies and install plays before the start of the season. Crean admitted that the staff has been throwing a lot at the team in recent weeks, and Dumes has heard that the games themselves might actually be a bit of a reprieve.
"From listening to the players that played for Coach Crean, they say the games feel they are more easy than the practices because of how hard we go," Dumes said.
That might be the case, but nothing figures to be easy about any of the IU games in the schedule this season, including the exhibition contests. That's particularly true for a game against a program like Anderson, which has a roster made entirely of players from the state of Indiana.
"These kids all grow up following Indiana basketball," Crean said. "Anderson is a very, very proud program, great tradition. For a lot of them…this will be one of their only opportunities to play in Assembly Hall. We'll never underestimate that."
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