Bloomington, Ind. - Assembly Hall
9:00 p.m., ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale and Doris Burke)
"They're extremely talented, and yes they are young, but that's not as important as it used to be in college basketball. … In Bracey Wright and Marshall Strickland they have experienced guards. … If you're going to be inexperienced, it's better to be inexperienced up front than in the backcourt." -- Roy Williams
"I think we have to play a game like the Detroit Pistons played against the Lakers in the championship. Unfortunately, we don't have Ben Wallace or Chauncey Billups. These guys are really good. They are the best team I have seen in a long time. They push the ball down the court as quick as I have seen before. We have never faced a team that has the leading scorer, rebounder and assist guy in a conference returning. You have those three guys and all are going to the NBA. There is no weakness on their basketball team." -- Mike Davis
"We can't afford an up-and-down game with these guys. The last five minutes, those other teams that North Carolina has played wore out. ... We have to play our perfect game. We haven't played well the last three games. That's a scary feeling to know that you are playing the best team in the country and haven't played well your last three games. I don't know if tempo is what we are looking for, but we need to find something to grow and get better from this game. We just have to come out and play like crazy and make sure that whatever we have been doing the last three games does not come out in this game." -- Mike Davis
"I watched them play a few times so far. I watched the USC game. They look like the number one team in the country right now. Inside and outside, one through six, they probably have the best players in the country. We just have to come out ready to play." -- Bracey Wright
Last Season: There were some bright spots, but the Hoosiers lost nine of their last 12 games. A 14-15 record in 2003-04 meant no postseason -- which was a difficult reality for the Bloomington faithful to face. The team shot poorly (39.7% FG) and lacked the necessary point guard leadership on the floor.
Youth Movement: With three key seniors graduating from last year's disappointing season, head coach Mike Davis was in desperate need for an infusion of talent. Enter the freshman class, one of the top sets of recruits in the nation. Power forward D.J. White was the most heralded, a post player who can face the basket and run the floor. Robert Vaden is a big, athletic guard who can shoot from long range and play lockdown defense, while A.J. Ratliff is the heir apparent at point guard. White and Vaden began the season in the starting lineup.
This Season To Date: As can often be the case when relying heavily on youth, the Hoosiers are off to a shaky start. Their record of 2-0 doesn't tell the story of two narrow home wins against Indiana State and Western Illinois. The poor shooting continues (39.4% FG, 29.7% 3pt) and they've been outplayed on the boards.
Starpower: Bracey Wright is the team's top returning scorer, and he leads the team again this year, but his numbers (12.0 ppg) are down and he's only averaged 10 shots per game. While deferring to his teammates might be a good idea at times, he's the team's top outside shooter and Vaden is the only other player in the lineup who appears to be a consistent perimeter threat. The Hoosiers will need bigger numbers from him if they plan on beating North Carolina, as well as their Big Ten opponents.
Rebounding: IU's top rebounder through two games is point guard Marshall Strickland (7.0 rpg) -- that says a lot about the team's rebounding struggles to date. The team is -3.5 in rebounding against it's first two low major opponents and has been fortunate to get solid board numbers out of Pat Ewing (6.0 rpg), since his frontcourt mate, White, hasn't hit the glass hard thus far (1.5 rpg).
Background Location: Bloomington, Ind. Enrollment: 38,903 Conference: Big Ten Nickname: Hoosiers Colors: Cream & Crimson Head Coach: Mike Davis Record at IU: 83-53
Projected Starters: Marshall Strickland (6-2, G, Jr.) – 11.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, 7.0 rpg Bracey Wright (6-3, G, Jr.) – 12.0 ppg Robert Vaden (6-5, G, Fr.) - 11.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 apg Pat Ewing (6-8, F, So.) - 9.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg D.J. White (6-9, F, Fr.) – 9.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg Key Reserves: Roderick Wilmont (6-4, G, So.) – 3.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg Sean Kline (6-8, F, Jr.) – 3.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg A.J. Ratliff (6-2, G, Fr.) – 2.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg Errek Suhr (5-8, G, So.) – 0.0 ppg, 3.0 apg
Wright ... Strickland
Vaden ... White
Ewing ... Davis
(Photos courtesy IU Athletics)