Louisville, Ky. (WDRB) – Indiana has handled its first two opponents with relative ease. They blew out Mississippi Valley State 116-65 and beat Texas Southern 83-64. Now things get a little more serious as the Hoosiers will host SMU Thursday night at 8:00 pm at the Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
The Hoosiers will be much closer to a full squad when they welcome the Mustangs. Sophomores Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson and Freshman Emmitt Holt will all be in uniform for the first time this season after serving suspensions for the two exhibition games and the first two regular season match-ups.
Head Coach Tom Crean is unsure how much they'll be used.
"Right now, I haven't made any decisions on that and it's really not as relevant as who finished the game for us. It may or may not change and that's not being evasive, it's just not on the top of the list. We'll have a playing group, more or less, today when we scrimmage and see how that goes but really it's about who's going to finish the game. That's the most relevant thing tomorrow night - inside of the game."
"Time will continue to tell but they've worked extremely hard and I have no doubt that, inside of that time, they've worked to get better,” Crean continued. “They just don't get the game experience of that. Anytime you bring somebody back in your team, they have to get with the team. It's not like the team comes back and gets around them. They have to fit in to what we're trying to do. That doesn't happen easily, but it has to happen. So we've got to work through that and see how all that goes and blend them in."
Indiana's unique lineup thus far has included three and four guards, with essentially three lead guards leading the way. Freshman James Blackman, Jr. is averaging 22 points per game in the two wins with fellow Frosh Robert Johnson at 18 and Junior Yogi Ferrell at 17.5.
“For us, we're starting to formulize an offensive identity and I think when we look at our backcourt right now, what we envision is starting to come into place and we're basically playing with three point guards,” said the sixth-year head coach. “The point guard for us is always somebody who can do numerous things - score, shoot, pass it, drive it, facilitate, defend, whatever it is. I think right now with the way the ball is moving, with the way James is moving the ball, the way Robert is moving the ball, the way Yogi and certainly Nick, but he doesn't have the ball in his hands quite as much in a sense of facilitating. But the ball is moving well and then you add guys like Max, who's continuing to get better there, Troy and Stan in to the equation now, ball movement should be a strength for us. It has to be.”
SMU is ranked 22nd nationally but is coming off a 16-point loss at number 13 Gonzaga Tuesday. They are missing 6'9” Senior starter Markus Kennedy, who is ineligible for the first semester.
Crean has never worked directly with Mustangs' coach Larry Brown, but he has the utmost respect for the Hall of Famer.
"When it comes to Coach Brown, I was thinking about this - I can't think of anybody I have learned more from or that has been better with me that I didn't work for. I've got some friends I've learned a lot from and some that aren't friends that I learned a lot from, but Coach Brown is in the Hall of Fame as a coach and, I don't think there's any question that he could be in the Hall of Fame with a second bust as a contributor to the game. He has been so good to so many coaches and he's spawned that with other coaches. Guys like John Calipari are very, very good with other coaches and always trying to make guys better and you see that in what they do with clinics, and the way they open practices and things of that nature. Coach Brown has been one of those guys who's been at the height of his profession for so long, but he's always been an open book in helping coaches learn, grow and improve. One of the great things about his success is how willing he is to continue to learn and improve. One thing I learned early on with him, he can take what he sees from you and he can help you make it even better. It's going to be an incredible challenge and, at the same time, a great honor for all of us to coach against him and his staff tomorrow."
Crean also mentioned that Forward Devin Davis, injured when hit by a car on campus, has been released from the hospital and will now continue to rehabilitate as an outpatient in Indianapolis.
This is the third of eight straight games at home to start the season for the Hoosiers. Next up is Lamar Saturday at 8:00 pm.
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