Game Particulars: Indiana (3-2) vs. Cornell (4-2)
Indiana and Cornell square off Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall following each team's participation in elite early season basketball tournaments. Indiana returns to the hardwood following its recent trip to the Maui Invitational, where it topped Chaminade Wednesday to claim seventh-place in the event. Cornell, meanwhile, lost its NIT Preseason Tip-Off opener to St. John's before bouncing back with consolation wins against Loyola (Md.), Loyola (Chi.) and Eastern Michigan in the event. This marks the first time the two teams have faced off.
IU is coached by Tom Crean, who is in his first year as Indiana's head coach and 10th year overall. Crean owns a 193-98 career mark and led Marquette to the NCAA Tournament five times. Cornell, meanwhile, is coached by Steve Donahue, who is in his 9th year at the Ivy League school and owns a 100-125 career mark. That includes a 22-6 record last season when Cornell went a perfect 14-0 in Ivy League play to win its first conference crown in 20 years and earn an invite to the NCAA tourney.
The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network with Mark Nealy (play-by-play) and John Laskowski (color commentary) calling the match-up.
Indiana 2008-09 Schedule
Cornell 2008-09 Schedule
PG- Daniel Moore (5-11, 167, Fr.) – 4.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.0 apg, 50% FG shooting
SG- Devan Dumes (6-2, 188, Jr.) – 12.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 25.8% 3 pt. shooting
WG – Verdell Jones (6-5, 176, Fr.) – 9.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 11.1% 3 pt. shooting
SF – Nick Williams (6-4, 211, Fr.) – 86.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 45.7% FG shooting
C – Tom Pritchard (6-9, 242, Fr.) – 14.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 59.6% FG shooting
PG- Chris Wroblewski (6-0, 180, Fr.) – 6.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 35.3% FG shooting
SG – Geoff Reeves (6-4, 180, Jr.) – 15.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 50% (20-40) 3 pt. shooting
WF – Ryan Wittman (6-6, 215, Jr.) – 19.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.3 apg, 33.3% (14-42) 3 pt. shooting
PF – Alex Tyler (6-7, 235, Jr.) – 7.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.8 apg, 44.2% FG shooting
C- Jeff Foote (7-0, 245, Sr.) – 14.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 4.0 bpg
Indiana 2008-09 Final Statistics
Cornell 2008-09 Statistics
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
A special opportunity for the son of a former IU great – The 2008 Ivy League champions have been without reigning conference Player of the Year Louis Dale and two-time All-League pick Adam Gore due to injuries, but Ryan Wittman has picked up the slack. A unanimous All-Ivy League pick a year ago in his own right, Wittman is averaging a team-high 19.8 points entering the contest and needs just 21 points against IU to become the 22nd Cornell player join the 1,000-point club for his career. The son of former IU great Randy Wittman, Ryan has scored in double figures in all six games this season, including 25 against both South Dakota and St. John's. Wittman is actually one of two Cornell players with special family ties to the IU program. Legendary IU coach Branch McCracken is the great uncle to Gore, who is a native of Monrovia. A knee injury will keep Gore from playing on the court named after his relative. Gore was third-team All-State selection as a senior at Monrovia H.S., where he scored 1,671 career points.
How will Tom Pritchard match-up against Cornell's 7-footer Jeff Foote? - One of the most pleasant surprises of the early portion of IU's schedule has been the rapid improvement of Tom Pritchard, who leads the team in scoring (14.4), rebounding (7.6), blocks (0.8) and field goal percentage (59.6). He's scored in double figures in all but one game dating back to the exhibition contests, and has clearly been the team's most reliable offensive weapon. Pritchard will get a test against Foote, a 7'0", 245-pounder who has blocked 24 shots in Cornell's first six games. While that might seem like a tall order for Pritchard, he went up against three talented big men in Maui. Pritchard had 14 points and six rebounds against Notre Dame's Luke Harangody, before being limited to seven points and three rebounds in 17 minutes against St. Joe's Ahmad Nivins. Pritchard bounced back against Chaminade's Mohamed Tangara (a transfer from Arizona) with 19 points and nine rebounds. With those tough match-ups under his belt, expect to see Pritchard go right at Foote when he gets the ball in the post.
Will Indiana continue to rotate its defenses, or will it stick to man-to-man against Cornell? - While man-to-man defense has long been a staple of Tom Crean's teams, he's utilized some zone this season due to the team's lack of size. As IU prepares for Cornell, though, don't be surprised if man-to-man is the defense of choice throughout. Cornell ranked fourth in the nation in 3-point shooting a year ago and are currently making 38.5 percent of their shots from behind the 20'9" arc this season. Ryan Wittman led the team a year ago with a 42. percent success rate from deep, and this season Geoff Reeves is also converting 50 percent (20-of-40) of his 3-point attempts. The absence of Dale and Gore have taken away two other reliable 3-point shooters, but Wittman and Reeves figure to combine for anywhere from 12-15 attempts from deep Sunday afternoon.
"Without question, I think it is a special game for Ryan and his family. Randy has been great to our staff and I am sure Ryan will have plenty of support in the stands. I'm sure Cornell is going to come in here like every other team has and believes they want to come in here and come away with a win. We have to be at our best, both physically and mentally, to prevent that." – Tom Crean
"We are in a stretch of games where we are playing six of eight away from home in a 19-day span. This schedule, with the exception of the TCU game, was something we inherited and I am sure was put together with a veteran team in mind. That being said, we will look at each challenge and try to get better for it. Cornell is an NCAA Tournament team that has a veteran group that has grown together. They are a very efficient team who understands where each other is supposed to be." – Crean
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