Indiana vs. Northwestern State Gameday

Indiana looks to snap a three-game losing streak with a win over Northwestern State on Saturday. The Hoosiers trounced the Demons in last year's season-opener, but they return to Assembly Hall a much improved team this year. Indiana is looking to build some momentum heading into a difficult three-game stretch starting Tuesday night.

Indiana looks to snap a three-game losing streak with a win over Northwestern State on Saturday. The Hoosiers trounced the Demons in last year's season-opener, but they return to Assembly Hall a much improved team this year. Indiana is looking to build some momentum heading into a difficult three-game stretch starting Tuesday night.

Game Particulars: Indiana (2-2) vs. George Mason (2-2)

Indiana coach Tom Crean needs two wins to reach the 200-win plateau in his 10-plus-season career and has a 198-124 record. He came to Indiana from Marquette where he was 190-96 (66.4) in nine seasons and made five NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 2003 Final Four. Northwestern State is led by Mike McConathy, who has an overall record of 157-156 as he is in his 11th year as Demons head coach. Northwestern State has been his only stop as a head coach and was highlighted by a 26-8 record during the 2005-06 season and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

The game will tip at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and is being televised by the Big Ten Network.

Indiana 2009-10 Schedule

Northwestern State 2009-10 Schedule

PROBABLE STARTERS Indiana (2-1)
PG- Jeremiah Rivers (6-5, 214, Jr.) – 8.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 61.5% FT shooting
SG- Verdell Jones (6-5, 183, So.) – 13.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 spg, 54.5% FT shooting
WG – Maurice Creek (6-5, 200, Fr.) – 16.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 48% 3-pt shooting
SF – Christian Watford (6-9, 220, Fr.) – 11.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.0 spg, 38.3% FG shooting
PF – Tom Pritchard (6-9, 248, So.) – 5.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 64.7% FG shooting

Boston U. (3-0)
G- Michael McConathy (5-9, 160, Sr.) – 6.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 2.67 apg, 50.0% 3-pt
G- Damon Jones (6-4, 195, Sr.) – 13.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, 42.1% FG shooting
G – Dominic Knight (6-3, 212, Jr.) – 11.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.67 apg, 66.7% FG shooting
F – Charles Clark (6-5, 215, So.) – 4.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 33.3% FG shooting
F – William Mosely (6-, 220, So.) – 4.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 55.6% FG shooting

Indiana 2009-10 Statistics

Northwestern State 2009-10 Statistics

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Which team will be more comfortable with the pace of the game? – So far this season the Hoosiers have been committed to getting out in transition and pushing the pace. In Northwestern State they will have a willing accomplice for that task. Demon head coach Mike McConathy endured a weak roster last year, but feels this year's team is much better prepared for his system, both athletically and mentally. Northwestern State will look to exploit Indiana's deficiencies in transition defense and get shots up before the shot clock becomes a factor. Indiana, meanwhile, comes into this game much more apprehensive about their up-tempo game. After being forced to employ a plodding approach last year to slow down games, Coach Tom Crean has sought to unleash his players this year. However, Indiana has found mixed results with the new approach as players have struggled to fully adjust. Turnovers are down from a year ago, but still remain an issue. Point guard Jeremiah Rivers, the man most in charge of setting the pace for the Hoosiers, leads the team in miscues with 3.8 per game. Crean has recently questioned whether his team can endure a high-pace game right now, but look for him to continue to push the strategy against a team they match up well with in Northwestern State. A key to thriving in transition will be a better conversion rate on their easy looks, which correlates directly with our next question…

Can the Hoosiers impose their will physically in this match-up? -- It's a sign of the times in which the Hoosiers live that this question even has to be asked. A Big Ten program taking on a team from the Southland conference shouldn't have to worry about being pushed around, but the Hoosiers have yet to prove that they can impose their will on a regular basis. Unhappy with his team's meekness in Puerto Rico, Crean has ordered his assistants and managers to ratchet up the brutality with their hitting pads in practice. After watching his team blow lay-up after lay-up early this season, Crean is putting the emphasis on finishing in traffic after contact. Bigger, more physical teams pushed the Hoosiers around in San Juan and Crean wants to reverse that trend starting Saturday.

Will Christian Watford regain early season form? -- Young players, especially first-year players getting their first taste of Division I college competition, are going to experience ups and downs. After starting the season on a very high note with back-to-back double double performances, Watford received a rude awakening in Puerto Rico. A very athletic Ole Miss team rejected his shots and pushed him out of the paint. The result was a 2-10 shooting performance and just five caroms for the Hoosiers' leading rebounder. During three games in the tournament Watford was just 8-31 and struggled to control the glass. His confidence visibly took a shot against Ole Miss and never seemed to recover in San Juan. Saturday's game represents a great opportunity for Watford to bounce back with a big double-double.

QUOTABLES

"I know you haven't seen a lot of our practices, but one thing I can promise you we spend a lot of time on is rebounding and another thing we spend a lot of time on is layups and making them with contact. Obviously I'm not doing a good enough job there because I either don't have strong enough guys hitting them or strong enough pads. And that's going to change because we are not buying in to how important that glass is." -- Crean

"We have a lot of determinations to make, like "How do we really want to play?" I am trying to play too many guys right now, but we are trying to get out and run. Are we going to all-out get after it and press more and shrink the bench? It is all about these guys really understanding the foundation we are building." -- Crean

"We made some mistakes and we have some guys who do not sellout, defensively, the way that they have to. Our communication is still not as good as it needs to be." -- Crean

NOTABLES

Hoosier Maurice Creek leads all conference freshmen with 16.2 points per game. Hoosier Christian Watford leads all conference freshmen in rebounding with 7.8 per game…Tom Crean begin his IU coaching career with a 83-65 win over Northwestern State last year and a victory Saturday would give him 199 career wins overall…The Demons leading scorer comes off the bench. New York city native Devon Barker is averaging over 15 points per game…Hoosier Verdell Jones leads the team in assist-to-turnover ratio at nearly 2:1 (15:8)…the Hoosiers next game is Tuesday night in the Big Ten-ACC challenge where they will take on the Maryland Terrapins.

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