Indiana vs. Minnesota Gameday

Coach Tom Crean's team looks to bring a halt to its eight-game losing streak when it hosts Minnesota Sunday at Noon. Indiana has had eight days to prepare for the Gophers, who come into Sunday's match-up on a two-game losing streak of their own after winning 16 of their first 17…

Game Particulars: Indiana (5-12/0-5) at Minnesota (16-3/4-3)
A pair of desperate teams will square off Sunday when the Hoosiers face the Gophers. Indiana is trying to avoid a ninth straight loss overall and an 0-6 Big Ten start, two things that an IU basketball team hasn't suffered through since the 1943-44 season. Minnesota is trying to recover from back-to-back losses to Northwestern and Purdue, a pair of setbacks that dropped the Gophers from the nation's top 25 and from the upper echelon of teams in the Big Ten standings.

IU is coached by Tom Crean, who is in his first year as Indiana's head coach and 10th year overall. Crean owns a 195-108 career mark and led Marquette to the NCAA Tournament five times. Minnesota, meanwhile, is coached by Tubby Smith, who is in his second year with the Golden Gophers and 18th year overall. Smith owns a 36-17 mark at Minnesota and a 423-162 mark overall. Smith's winning percentage of 72.3 percent ranks 12th among active Division I coaches.

The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network with Craig Coshun (play-by-play) and Trent Tucker (color commentary) calling the match-up.

Indiana 2008-09 Schedule

Minnesota 2008-09 Schedule

PROBABLE STARTERS
Indiana (5-12/0-5)
PG- Verdell Jones (6-5, 176, Fr.) – 8.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 41.1% FG shooting
SG – Devan Dumes (6-2, 195, Jr.) – 12.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.5 apg, 32.7% 3 pt. shooting
WG - Nick Williams (6-4, 211, Fr.) – 9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 44.5% FG shooting
PF- Kyle Taber (6-8, 220, Sr.) – 4.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 45.9% FG shooting
C – Tom Pritchard (6-9, 242, Fr.) – 12.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 52% FG shooting

Minnesota (16-3/4-3 Big Ten)
PG- Al Nolen (6-1, 180, So.) – 8.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.1 apg, 2.2 spg, 34% 3 pt. shooting
SG – Lawrence Westbrook (6-0, 195, Jr.) 13.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 39% 3 pt. shooting
SF – Damian Johnson (6-7, 195, Jr.) – 9.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.1 spg, 53% FG shooting
PF – Ralph Sampson III (6-11, 220, Fr.) – 6.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 50.5% FG shooting
C – Colton Iverson (6-10, 235, Fr.) – 6.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 60.8% FG shooting

Indiana 2008-09 Statistics

Minnesota 2008-09 Statistics

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
How will the Hoosiers match-up with Al Nolen on both ends of the floor? –Lawrence Westbrook and Damian Johnson might be the Gophers' two top scorers, but the player who makes Coach Tubby Smith's team go is Nolen. Offensively he'll attack off the dribble and get into the lane, draw defenders, and then create easy scoring opportunities for big men Johnson, Sampson and Iverson. On defense Nolen will hound whoever is the bringing the ball up court. He's averaging more than two steals per game, and he is capable of turning an opponent over in the backcourt or anticipating a pass and coming away with a turnover with his quick hands. With that in mind, don't be surprised to see a variety of IU players bringing the ball up the floor so that Nolen isn't always on the ball and thus a threat to force a turnover. When Minnesota has the ball, expect IU to give Nolen room to shoot and instead try to take away the dribble penetration. In Nolen is consistently breaking down IU's defense, the Hoosiers will be in for a long afternoon.

Who shoots more 3-pointers? - Don't let Minnesota's recent 9-of-9 effort from behind the 3-point arc against Penn State fool you – Indiana will be more than happy to see the Gophers hoist 20-plus 3-pointers. Admittedly they can't be of the uncontested variety that Illinois had a couple of weeks ago, but they'd be content to see Minnesota's fortunes rely on its success from behind the 3-point arc. As for the Hoosiers, they want to be selective with their 3-point attempts. Other than Matt Roth all season and Devan Dumes as of late, no one else on the roster has been a consistent shot-maker from deep. Nick Williams has proven to be very good with the mid-range jumper, but he struggles when he's behind the arc. The same goes for Verdell Jones, who does more for the offense when he's penetrating and getting to the free-throw line or scoring with his mid-range game as well. Both figure to develop into good 3-point shooters during their IU careers, but they're not there right now.

Which team looks like the aggressor? - Minnesota will throw a variety of defensive looks at Indiana, alternating between fullcourt pressure and halfcourt traps. If the Hoosiers aren't careful, that can lead to turnovers and fastbreak chances for the Gophers. What Indiana needs to do is be able to cope with Minnesota's different defensive looks and then be aggressive at attacking the basket once it's able to break that pressure. While Indiana will often run time off the clock as it runs its halfcourt offense, when the opportunity is there to get an easy basket, Indiana can't be afraid to attack. On top of that, the Hoosiers need to play with energy and passion. It figures to be a good sized crowd Sunday, and a good start would get the crowd into the game and give Crean's team an emotional boost.

QUOTABLES
"They can attack the rim. What they have is guys that can attack it and shoot 3s. That's a scary thing." – IU Coach Tom Crean

"The one thing this team can't afford to do is surprise itself with a shot where guys are out of position. If we can't rebound the basketball we really don't have any chance to compete." – Crean

"We're going to do everything we can to not let Hoffarber shoot. He can make some crazy ones." – Kyle Taber

"Blake (Hoffarber, who is 1-of-17 on 3s in his last five games) is a marked man, and people are going to guard him pretty closely. He has to learn to be able to take the ball to the basket." – Minnesota Coach Tubby Smith

"We have to play harder than them. We can't match-up with their size, you can't get any bigger before the game. You have to play harder for longer periods of time than them. If you do that, you can make up for your lack of size." – Kyle Taber

"I think part of (IU's troubles defending the 3-point line) is an adjustment understanding this is college basketball, and we don't miss too much…in high school you could back off, ‘go ahead and shoot it' and they'll probably miss it." – IU junior Jeremiah Rivers

"We try to play a style that emphasizes pressure and running and the use of not just athleticism, but a lot of ingredients that you have to have to force the action. I always talk to our players about there are many ways you can contribute to our team, not just be on the team, but maybe be a part of our best pressing team, our best rebounding team, our best halfcourt offensive team. we look for opportunities for guys to be involved." Tubby Smith

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