Big Ten play opens for the Buckeyes on Friday when they travel to Bloomington to take on the Hoosiers of Indiana. IU lost its Big Ten opener against Penn State on Monday, a game also played in Bloomington, and hopefully the Buckeyes will hand the Crimson & Cream loss #2 when the two teams meet for their New Year’s Eve showdown. Indiana’s rich basketball history is well-known, as are the struggles the program has faced of late. Let’s take a look at this year’s squad for the Hoosiers…
|Conference:||Big Ten Conference|
|Head Coach:||Tom Crean|
The Hoosiers entered this season coming off a dismal 10-21 2009-10 campaign that saw the team miss both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT. The team entered the current season with high hopes of turning things around, as head coach Tom Crean started to establish his system and turn over some of the negative aspects of the program hanging on from Kelvin Sampson’s abbreviated time at the helm. The 10-21 record was actually an improvement over the prior season’s 6-25 mark, so Crean is at least making progress.
Indiana enters Friday’s game with a 9-5 record, which includes the aforementioned loss to Penn State. Commentators would say this was a bad loss for the Hoosiers, given that it was the Big Ten opener and it was played on Indiana’s home court. That is true, but what is more important is that it came on the heels of two consecutive losses in the previous two games, the first against Northern Iowa and the second against Colorado. After starting the season 6-0, Indiana missed a beat against Boston College and it has been up-and-down ever since. If the Hoosiers have any hopes of finishing above .500, they’ll need to reverse course quickly and begin winning some of these “should win” games, as the Big Ten season is sure to bring many “should lose” games given the talent in the conference this year.
Christian Watford, a 6’8/230 sophomore forward leads the way for Indiana in scoring with an average of just over 17 points per game. 6’5 guard Verdell Jones III chips in between 12-13 points each game. Overall the team does shoot a good percentage from the field, but they are not a high-powered offense by any means. Both Watford and Jones III are return players from last year’s squad that fell to Ohio State 79-54 in Columbus and 69-52 in Bloomington.
There is a fair amount of certainty that the program will soon return to its winning ways, even if this isn’t the year. The current team starts one junior (Jones III), three sophomores, and one freshman. Crean formerly was an assistant at Michigan State under Tom Izzo and recruited many of the players that took the Spartans to their national championship in 2000. Crean led Marquette to the Final Four in 2003 with a team that featured Dwyane Wade, and should be able to start bringing in recruits of a similar nature as he progresses at Indiana. That is, unless Thad continues to win out in luring away the top players from Indiana.
The Buckeyes’ game against Indiana will tip-off at 6:00pm and will be televised on ESPN2.
|Verdell Jones III||13||25.8||12.5||2.7||3.4||1.4||0.1||3.8||0.472||0.636||0.318|