Game MVP - Devan Dumes. The most experienced player on IU's roster played like it Saturday night, scoring 21 points in 25 minutes to lead the Hoosiers' to a season-opening win. He made 6-of-10 shots from the floor, including four of IU's five 3-pointers on the evening.
Dumes was particularly good early, and at a time when the young squad needed him. After Northwestern State hit five of its first six shots to jump to a 12-5 lead in the game's first four minutes, Dumes answered with back to back 3-pointers that cut the margin to one. Dumes also set the tone on the defensive end, drawing a charge on Aramie Brooks in between his two early 3-pointers. Afterward IU Coach Tom Crean said taking more charges was a point of emphasis in practice this week, and Dumes' was the first of four charges that the Hoosiers took in the season opener.
Biggest Surprise… For the third straight game, Indiana hasn't relied on the 3-point shot as much as most might have expected. While Dumes hit a couple of timely 3-pointers early on, the Hoosiers haven't lived and died by the 3 like most thought they would this season. Only 16 of IU's 56 field goal attempts were from behind the arc, which follows the pattern set up in the exhibition outings (11 of 59 field goal attempts were 3-pointers against Anderson; 16 of 58 were 3-pointers against Bemidji State). Indiana has managed to do it scoring points in transition (IU has averaged 21 fastbreak points in the three games) and by getting the ball to Tom Pritchard in the paint. Pritchard is averaging 10.3 field goal attempts per game (including the two exhibition games), which ranks just behind Dumes and Verdell Jones III for the team lead (11.3 attempts/game each).
What I Found Most Impressive… Despite being out-rebounded by 12 and turning the ball over 23 times Indiana still came away with an 18-point win. Victories figure to be difficult to come by this season, and there are probably very few who forecasted any 18-point wins for Indiana during Tom Crean's first season. Any sort of lopsided win figured to be predicated on Indiana being sharp in just about every facet of the game, but IU was able to overcome those shortcomings and beat its Southern Conference foe convincingly. Indiana was aided by some extremely suspect shot selection on the part of Northwestern State, but it also did its part by forcing the Demons into 30 turnovers. The Hoosiers also totaled 15 steals – the most by any IU team since Feb. 11, 2001 – which led to 19 points off turnovers and contributed to 24 fastbreak points.
What I Found Most Concerning… Indiana was out-rebounded 52-41, including a 27-14 deficit on the offensive glass. Most expected rebounding to be an issue for this year's Hoosier squad, but Northwestern State isn't necessarily the kind of team that should dominate them on the glass. The Demons were a -0.2 in rebounding margin a year ago and they lost their top four rebounders. But they dominated IU in the category from the outset, out-boarding IU 10-4 in the game's first seven minutes, including four offensive rebounds. Crean admitted afterward that rebounding is an area that his team will need to improve. Considering the size disadvantage that it will be facing against just about every foe this season, Crean talked about the importance of getting into bodies and thighs when his team boxes out. IU can't afford to try to out-jump its foes for rebounds.
Turning Point: In the closing minutes of the first half, a couple of lay-ups finally gave IU a comfortable lead. After a missed free throw on the other end, Verdell Jones beat Kalem Porterie off the dribble for a layup to give IU a 36-29 lead. Northwestern State turned it over on the other end, and then Daniel Moore went 3/4 the length of the court, split a couple of defenders and scored on a lay-up while getting fouled to extend the lead to nine. Moore missed the free-throw, but those baskets gave IU its biggest lead of the half and Northwestern State would get no closer the rest of the way.
Quotable: "Coach Crean, I think, was a great selection to be here because he's a guy that does things the way they're supposed to be done…he wants people to execute and come work hard and be student-athletes. That's pretty impressive" – Northwestern State Coach Mike McConathy
"We did some very good things – we moved the ball well, we got the ball reversed which was key, we got the ball inside, we got it inside-out a little bit, we defended at a pretty good level. But obviously we have to get a lot better in the rebounding department and taking care of the basketball." – IU Coach Tom Crean
"(playing hard) That's what we expect, and that's what they expect out of one another. The great thing here is the fans appreciate that so much. We had four drawn charges in the first half. I think we had drawn two in the two exhibition games and none Tuesday night. That was a point of emphasis the last couple of days, so they're listening. There were nine different opportunities Tuesday night where we could have drawn charges and didn't do it." – Crean
"We didn't have limit (on the number of minutes Taber could play), but we certainly didn't want him to play incredibly long stretches." – Crean
"Coach Crean told all the guards that if the jumper isn't falling, try to get to the free-throw line as much as possible (IU was 28-of-41 from the free-throw line)." – Verdell Jones
NW STATE: Upon Further Review
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