Indiana vs. Grace College Gameday

After two and a half weeks of practice, Indiana gets its 2009-10 exhibition season underway Wednesday at 7 p.m. when it hosts Grace (Ind.) College at 7 p.m. Tom Crean's new-look team will have seven new faces from last year's squad that went 6-25 …

Game Particulars: Indiana (0-0) vs. Grace (Ind.) College (0-0)
There are plenty of new faces and a new level of anticipation as Indiana gets its 2009-10 exhibition season underway against Grace (Ind.) College at 7 p.m. at Assembly Hall. The six members of Indiana's top-10 recruiting class will get their first chance to put their skills on display at the college level in a non-practice setting, and it will also mark the debut of Georgetown transfer Jeremiah Rivers now that he's eligible to play after sitting out the 2008-09 campaign. Grace College, meanwhile, is coming off back-to-back appearances in the NAIA Tournament's Elite Eight and went 22-11 a year ago.

IU is coached by Tom Crean, who is in his second year as Indiana's head coach and 11th year overall. Crean owns a 196-121 career mark and led Marquette to the NCAA Tournament five times. Grace College, meanwhile, is coached by Jim Kessler, who in his 33rd year at the school. Kessler has compiled a 592-466 career mark and guided the program to the 1992 NAIA national championship.

The game will be televised by BTN.com with Dave Leno (play-by-play) and Errek Suhr (color commentary) calling the match-up.

Indiana 2009-10 Schedule

Grace College 2009-10 Schedule

POSSIBLE STARTERS
Indiana (0-0)
PG- Jeremiah Rivers (6-5, 214, Jr.) – Redshirted in 2008-09
SG- Verdell Jones (6-5, 183, So.) – 11.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.5 apg in 2008-09
WG – Maurice Creek (6-5, 200, Fr.) – High School
SF – Christian Watford (6-9, 220, Fr.) – High School
PF – Tom Pritchard (6-9, 248, So.) – 9.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 0.8 bpg in 2008-09

Grace College (0-0)
PG- Kyle Plumlee (6-0, Sr.) – 6.1 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.6 spg, 29.7% 3 pt. shooting in 2008-09
SG – David Henry (5-11, Jr.) – 8.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.0 apg, 37.5% 3 pt. shooting in 2008-09
SG – Elliott Smith (6-0, Fr.) – High School
PF – David Swanson (6-6, Fr.) – 13.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 55.6% FG shooting in 2008-09
C- Duke Johnson (6-11, So.) 6.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 0.5 bpg in 2008-09

Indiana 2008-09 Final Statistics

Grace College 2008-09 Statistics

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
How well does Indiana do pushing the pace and limiting the turnovers – No one is ready to offer up any predictions about how many games Indiana will win this season or which of the freshmen are going to play significant roles this winter. But one thing that is a certainty is that the Hoosiers will play at a much faster pace than they did a year ago. The additions of Jeremiah Rivers and Jordan Hulls give Tom Crean two more ball handlers who can attack in transition, and the Hoosier coach is committed to playing up-tempo on both makes and misses. While a significant improvement on last year's Big Ten-worst 60.1 points/game is a given, Crean also wants to see some significant progress in IU's ability to limit its turnovers compared to a year ago. Indiana ranked 323rd out of 330 Division I teams with 17.5 turnovers/game, and Indiana wants to make significant progress in that area. Grace College might not have the sort of athletes that other teams will have that can create turnovers, but many of IU's miscues a year ago were of the unforced variety. Expect Crean to be keeping a close eye on how well his team avoids those kind of mistakes Wednesday night.

Will Jeremiah Rivers show the sort of progress offensively that many are expecting? - When Jeremiah Rivers decided to transfer from Georgetown, everyone around the IU program knew they were getting a tremendous defensive player with great leadership abilities. But IU will be counting on him for more than that – they'll be looking to him to provide some offensive production as well. Rivers doesn't figure to rival Maurice Creek or Devan Dumes or Matt Roth when it comes to 3-point proficiency, but he can attack the rim in transition and off the dribble in the halfcourt, where he'll have a significant size advantage over just about every point guard he goes up against. That will be especially true against Grace College, a team that will likely start three guards that are all 6'0" or shorter. They'll be hard pressed to match up with Rivers when he opts to attack.

Which freshmen will show signs they're going to be an important part of the rotation? - While Bawa Muniru is still playing a little bit of catch-up due to his late arrival, Indiana's other five freshmen all have a chance to prove early on that they are capable of being a valuable part of IU's playing rotation this season. Wednesday night will give them their first chance in front of 10,000-plus to show they're ready for that responsibility. While the rankings would suggest that Maurice Creek and Christian Watford are the two most likely to make a big contribution from day one, a case could be made for any of them that they could prove to be major impact players in their debut seasons. Which ones will get that chance? It will be the freshmen that don't play like freshmen, and fans will get a chance to see who that might be Wednesday night.

Has Tijan Jobe really progressed to the point that he could be a part of Indiana's rotation? - During the last week, Crean has applauded the progress of senior seven-footer Tijan Jobe, even going as far as to suggest that he's competing for a spot in Indiana's playing rotation. Some might find that stunning since Jobe didn't crack the frontline rotation a year ago, despite a lack of any significant frontcourt depth on IU's 2008-09 roster. But Jobe's five-point, nine-rebound effort in Saturday's Haunted Hall of Hoops scrimmage showed that Crean wasn't simply telling a tall tale. Jobe will now have a chance to show off his progress in a game atmosphere.

QUOTABLES
"I told the team today when you look around at the other exhibition games there are some things that really stand out. Even though the teams we're going to compete against are winning, sometimes there's high turnovers, low free throws made, there's low 3s made. We want to come out and be much better taking care of the basketball, get to the free-throw line. I don't know how we're going to shoot from the 3, but I know we're not going to hunt 3s." – IU Coach Tom Crean

"With all the new guys (the fans) are going to expect a lot more from us, and we're willing to bring that to them. We have the best fans in the nation. They stuck with us last year and now we have to deliver for them this year." – Tom Pritchard

"We know (Grace) is a pretty good team. Last year they had 20-plus wins which is always a big accomplishment. We know they're a very good ball club, very disciplined, and we are going to have to come out and play physical and an aggressive game ourselves." – Matt Roth

"We're going out to win, going out to find different units. Like I told them today, there will be a starting lineup, it's by no stretch of the imagination where it could be. If you think you've won something you're wrong, if you think you're out of it, then maybe you're right because then you're not competing at a high enough level. But I still see real competition for not only starting, but being in that playing group." – Crean

"I think I'm still patient (compared to last year). I'm demanding on the freshmen – I think they can take it. I think there are expectations there. I think I'm extremely impatient when we make the same mistakes or common mistakes twice." – Crean

"I think (all the freshmen) are picking things up. It's a great feeling…to know you've got guys who've been well coached by their high school and summer programs. But, we're still going through that summer pick-up ball mentality, where your footwork wasn't great, or your getting the dribble out in front wasn't great or guarding the dribble wasn't great. We still have a lot have a lot of fundamental things that we're not scratching the surface on. But that's what practice is for."

"We finally get to stop beating up on ourselves. That's something we've been doing. A lot of guys have been hurt, beat up and it's finally time we get to do that against someone else." – Pritchard


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