Indiana vs. Northwestern State Gameday

Now the games matter as Indiana (0-0) opens the 2008-09 regular season and the Tom Crean era when it hosts Northwestern State (0-0) at 7 p.m. at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers will be looking for their 11th consecutive season-opening victory when they take on their Southland Conference foe…

Game Particulars: Indiana (0-0) vs. Northwestern State (0-0)
A year ago, the Hoosiers opened the season ranked in the top 10 and loaded with promise. This season, a new coach and roster embarks on a season filled with uncertainty. Indiana (0-0) gets its season underway tonight against Northwestern State (0-0) at 7 p.m. at Assembly Hall. Indiana enters the game off two lopsided exhibition wins, topping Anderson 103-71 and Bemidji State 72-54. The Hoosiers will be trying to win their season opener for the 11th straight season.

IU is coached by Tom Crean, who is in his first year as Indiana's head coach and 10th year overall. Crean owns a 190-96 career mark and led Marquette to the NCAA Tournament five times. Northwestern State, meanwhile, is coached by Mike McConathy, who in his 11th year at the Southland Conference school and 27th year overall. McConathy owns a 497-294 career mark and a 145-135 mark at Northwestern State.

The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network with Craig Shermom (play-by-play) and John Laskowski (color commentary) calling the match-up.

Indiana 2008-09 Schedule

Northwestern State 2008-09 Schedule

PROBABLE STARTERS
Indiana (0-0) * stats are in IU's two exhibition games
PG- Verdell Jones (6-5, 176, Fr.) – 13.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.5 apg*
SG- Devan Dumes (6-2, 188, Jr.) – 15.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.5 apg*
SG – Matt Roth (6-3, 186, Fr.) – 4.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.5 apg*
WG – Nick Williams (6-4, 211, Fr.) 11.0 ppg, 6.0 rpp., 1.5 apg*
F – Tom Pritchard (6-9, 242, Fr.) – 16.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg*

Northwestern State (0-0) * stats are from 2007-08 season
PG- Michael McConathy (5-9, 155, Jr.) – 4.7 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 3.4 apg, 30% FG shooting
SG – Damon Jones (6-4, 195, Jr.) – 6.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 38.5% 3 pt. shooting (42-109)
WF – Deividas Patravicius (6-6, 220, Sr.) – 3.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 34.4% 3 pt. shooting (11-32)
PF – William Mosley (6-7, 210, Fr.) – In High School
C- Kalem Porterie (6-6, 250, Sr.) 1.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 5.4 mpg

Indiana 2007-08 Final Statistics

Northwestern State 2007-08 Statistics

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Which team will be more nervous out of the gates? – One would generally think that a team from the Southland Conference would be intimidated coming into Assembly Hall, but this is a completely new IU team that will be playing in an Assembly Hall that doesn't figure to be sold out. The Hoosiers have played a couple of scrimmages and two exhibition games in front of the home crowd, but the butterflies figure to be fluttering now that the games matter. Northwestern State, meanwhile, has some experience playing at tough venues. In the last two years Coach Mike McConathy's team has opened the season at Louisville and Stanford, and last year's team also played at Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Arkansas. While McConathy's team does include seven newcomers (including six freshmen), four of the five starters were on the roster a year ago so they enter with a great deal more experience than their Indiana foes.

Will Tom Crean make any changes to his starting lineup? - The Hoosiers' starting five has been the same in each of the two exhibition games, with forward Tom Pritchard being joined by four guards in Verdell Jones, Devan Dumes, Matt Roth and Nick Williams. While that group performed very well in IU's 103-71 exhibition win over Anderson, Crean wasn't pleased with the energy level out of his starting backcourt against Northwestern State and wound up turning to Daniel Moore, Malik Story and Brett Finkelmeier for some energy. Crean has talked about the need for "competition" in everything this team does, so don't be surprised to see a new face in the starting line-up to create some competition for starting assignments going forward. The most likely possibility would probably be Story, since Northwestern State figures to start three players who stand 6'6" or taller.

How deep will both teams go on their bench? - In Indiana's case, it appears Crean is going to utilize a 10-man plus rotation this season. The Hoosiers didn't pull away from Bemidji State until the final 10 minutes of the second half on Tuesday, and Crean had already gone 11 deep at that point. Even newly added guard Kipp Schutz played some meaningful minutes in the contest, entering with seven minutes remaining in the first half and playing six minutes overall. As for Northwestern State, fans can expect to see their full complement of players. The Demons generally substitute in waves for the first 30 minutes of the game, inserting an entire new five in an effort to keep players fresh for the closing minutes of the first half and for the game's final 10 minutes. During last year's 15-18 campaign, Northwestern State had 12 players average 10 minutes/game or more, and no one averaged more than 27.7.

How much more – if any – will Kyle Taber be able to play tonight? - Crean couldn't have hoped for more from Kyle Taber in his return to action Tuesday, as the senior made both of his shots and had nine rebounds in 15 minutes of action against Bemidji State. Taber was put on a 15-minute limit by the medical staff for the game as he continues to come back from off-season knee surgery, and the expectation is that IU will gradually extend his limits before finally fully clearing him in the coming weeks. Taber figures to come off the bench until he is fully cleared, but he could see some additional minutes tonight. His contributions will continue to be huge due to not only his experience but his much-needed size on the frontcourt.

QUOTABLES
"I wasn't necessarily frustrated (about not playing last year). I felt through workouts in the summer and last spring and this fall, I feel I'm a better player than last year. Also, I feel like last year there was a talent level that was hard to break into the lineup. This year coach wants guys who will go hard and work to make the team better. That's the difference." – IU sophomore guard Brett Finkelmeier

"Whether we're favored or not, we want to win. We're going out and playing the game we're here to play…the preparation is the same. We want to win." – IU senior Kyle Taber

"They're very athletic, they've been to the conference final four out of five years, a couple of years ago they beat Iowa (in the NCAA Tournament)…they're very athletic. Mike McConaghy does an excellent job…they lost some scoring and a lot of rebounding but they return a lot of athleticism and a lot of very good shooting ability. They can get to the rim, they're not going to be in the shot clock very much, they play very fast." – IU Coach Tom Crean

"The biggest thing in this game, if our players' hands aren't ready they'll rise right up and shoot it. It's not it's seven passes or a lay-up. They're going to get the shot up. That's how they play and that's how they've been successful." – Crean

DID YOU KNOW…
Tom Crean has some familiarity with Northwestern State as his 2006-07 Marquette team topped the Demons 83-67 in Milwaukee. Dominic James had 19 points and six assists in the win, which moved the then-No. 8 Golden Eagles to 8-0 on the season…thanks to their wave substitution pattern, Northwestern State's points can come from everywhere. A year ago the Demons had 12 different players score double figure points in at least one game, more than any other team in Division I. By contrast, IU had eight players score double figures in a game last year (Eric Gordon, D.J. White, Lance Stemler, Jordan Crawford, Armon Bassett, Mike White, DeAndre Thomas, Jamarcus Ellis)…Northwestern State Coach Mike McConathy has two sons – Mike and Logan – playing on the team this year. McConathy is the only coach in Division I to have two sons playing for him, but he's one of a handful of coaches who are coaching their sons. Among those doing that are former IU coach Mike Davis at UAB (Mike Jr.), Pepperdine's Vance Walberg (Jason) and Hawaii's Coach Bob Nash (Bobby)…Northwestern State was picked to finish second in the East Division of the Southland Conference this season behind Stephen F. Austin.

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