Game Particulars: Indiana (0-0) vs. Howard (0-0)
A near sell-out crowd is expected at Assembly Hall as Indiana opens the 2009-10 season Friday night at 8 p.m. against Howard. Indiana will be looking for its 12th consecutive season-opening win and its 25th straight home opening win when it takes on its Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference foe. While Indiana is looking to get off to a good start to put last year's 6-25 season in the rearview mirror, Howard is hoping to show signs that it's made significance progress as well after going 8-23 and 6-10 in league play. If Howard is going to do that it's going to need to do it on the road. Thirteen of Howard's first 14 games are on the road, including the first five games on the schedule.
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. Howard, meanwhile, is coached by Gil Jackson, who in his fifth year at the school after spending 16 years as an assistant coach at Penn Jackson is 30-93 with the MEAC school.
The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network with Mark Neely (play-by-play) and John Laskowski (color commentary) calling the match-up.
Indiana 2009-10 Schedule
Howard 2009-10 Schedule
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
G – Kyle Riley (6-3, 180, Jr.) – 9.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.1 apg in 2008-09
G – Curtis White (6-4, 195, Sr.) – 6.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.1 apg in 2008-09
G – Calvin Thompson (6-3, 170, So.) – 6.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg in 2008-09
SF – Mike Phillips (6-7, 185, Fr.) – High School
C- Paul Kirkpatrick (6-9, 220, Sr.) 7.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 0.9 bpg in 2008-09
Indiana 2008-09 Final Statistics
Howard 2008-09 Statistics
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
How much offense can Indiana generate from its defense? – There was a lot for Tom Crean to like about Monday's 28-point exhibition win over St. Joseph's (Ind.) College, but one thing he said he wasn't as good as it needs to be is awareness on the defensive end. Indiana did do a good job of forcing St. Joseph's into tough, contested shots, but it forced a relatively modest 14 turnovers. Those turnovers were turned into only 16 points off turnovers, and Crean would like to see that number rise. While playing an up-tempo style requires a team to look to attack immediately off defensive rebounds as well as makes, the best opportunities to attack in transition generally come from turning an opponent over. Crean wants to see his team do a better job of reading the passing lanes and having active hands in the match-up with Howard. The Bison turned the ball over nearly 17 times/game last season, so they should provide Indiana with plenty of chances to be better in this area Friday night.
How do Howard's two Indianapolis products perform? - Any time an Indiana high school player gets a chance to play at Assembly Hall it's a big deal, and Howard will have two native Hoosiers in guards Kyle Riley and Curtis White, both of whom played at Indianapolis Pike. Riley is the team's leading returning scorer at 9.4 points per game and led last year's Howard team in 3-pointers (41), assists (73) and steals (29). White, who is almost exclusively a 3-point shooter, is back after averaging 5.9 points per game last season. Riley is probably the biggest concern because of his ability to push the pace with the basketball, but Indiana's defenders will need to be aware of White's presence when he spots up behind the 3-point arc. Both figure to have plenty of family and friends in attendance who'd like to see the Indianapolis duo have a happy homecoming.
Could Derek Elston, Christian Watford and the rest of the IU frontline be in for a big game on the glass? - Crean said "getting into bodies" has been a point of emphasis this week as Indiana looks to improve its rebounding effort from Monday's exhibition win over St. Joseph's. The Hoosiers were a +7 on the glass (46-39), but they did give up 21 rebounds to their Division II foe. If history is any indication, Howard should be a good team to get better against on the glass. A year ago the Bison were a -6.3 in rebounding margin, ranking Coach Gil Jackson's team 317th out of 330 Division I teams. Indiana was far from one of the nation's best in rebounding last season (ranking 196th at -0.5), but the arrival of players like Watford and Elston give the Hoosiers some athleticism up front that should be difficult for Howard to contend with Friday night. Both averaged 7.5 rebounds/game in the two exhibition contests and both could be in for similar numbers tonight.
"We expect a lot out of (Howard). Kyle Riley didn't play the first game, they have a couple of Indianapolis kids, two from Pike, in particular, we expect a lot from them. They'll be excited to play. Kyle Riley is extremely fast with the basketball and attacks very well, can make threes. They get up and down the court pretty well. They want to take you off the dribble. They ran a good version of the Flex offense, and we're really basing everything off of last year…we think they're athletic, we think they can cause a lot of havoc with the way they drive the ball." – IU Coach Tom Crean
"We're looking to build on Monday night. What we really have to do is shore our defense up. Our defensive activity wasn't very good, especially in the first half. We have to become more aware defensively. When you compound it with having to get into bodies on blocking out, that's really where our focus has been." – Crean
"You take every game as the most important game of the year. And you get that across by being sure that we understand their strengths, that we understand where we think we can attack them, we understand their personnel and try to get that across the players as best we can." – Crean
"We have bodies and we have numbers, but we don't necessarily have depth yet. The depth comes from consistency. We've played two exhibition games so I don't know if we'll know the answer to (how many players will be part of the rotation) until the next couple of weeks. As far as bodies and people that can come out there and impact the game, we have some of those guys. But they have to do it on a continual basis, a consistent basis." – Crean
"They're very guard oriented, and they have a big man that we have to stop. He's powerful down low. They can shoot it. So we have to get out to the 3-point shooters." – Verdell Jones
"I like more games because practice, boy, it's no joke. Practices are way harder than games. So the more games, the better." – Verdell Jones
"(Crean) tells us every time, play to fatigue, play until you can't play anymore. Then we'll get you out and get you back in. We're going to play hard until we can't play anymore." Verdell Jones
"They're a very athletic team, a real good team. We'll try to go in there and take some of their strengths away from them. They're good one-on-one players. They're really athletic. We'll try to take some of that from them and make them play our game." – Christian Watford
DID YOU KNOW?
Howard is a school of approximately 7,000 students from the Washington D.C. area that is probably best known to Indiana sports fans as the program the IU men's soccer program beat 1-0 for the 1988 NCAA championship.
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