It’s rainy outside. Inside, it’s about to begin.

Jamarcus Ellis walked through the south gate at Assembly Hall at about 5:30. He was greeted by ticket takers and other game-day workers on their way to getting into place for the first regular season Indiana basketball game of the year.

Ellis, a 6-5 junior college transfer, wore matching gray Indiana sweatpants and sweatshirt. He is one of six new players expected play major minutes this year. Ellis will probably start at the three.

Many long-time observers agree that this is one of the most talented teams to take the floor for Indiana in a long time. Expectations have to be tempered, though, by the youth of this squad. It’s hard to believe we’ll learn anything about it in its first three games — all home against inferior opponents — and its first real test probably won’t come until the days after Thanksgiving at the Chicago Challenge. And even those games might be winnable based on talent alone.

But ultimately, the question that needs to be answered is this: when someone pushes this team, really pushes, will it push back? And will it push back harder?

The on-the-floor product clearly has fans excited about what might be. There have been several standing ovations during the two exhibition games.

But all of this takes place against a cloudy backdrop. Rob Senderoff, who played an important role in recruiting many of the new players and in coaching the post players, won’t be on the sideline tonight. He was forced to resign in the fallout from the revelation that Kelvin Sampson and his staff were involved in more impermissible calls to recruits. Many fans have turned on Sampson over those indiscretions.

Many fans also won’t be able to watch the game tonight from the comfort of their living rooms. The Big Ten Network has yet to receive wide distribution on cable systems in Bloomington or Indianapolis, meaning fans can choose to switch to satellite TV or go without basketball.

Meanwhile, the athletic department is in the midst of $50 million worth of facilities upgrades, a part of which — the basketball practice facility that is very important to Sampson — has apparently stalled.

Athletic director Rick Greenspan also faces a decision about the future of interim head football coach Bill Lynch, whose team is 6-5 going into the Bucket game with Purdue. It likely needs another win to Play 13, and even then it seems that Lynch’s future is in doubt.

But in less than a half hour, all that will matter to Indiana fans is this: Eric Gordon will play in a game that matters at Assembly Hall. And a new season, one so full of promise, will begin.