Hoosiers looking for Sycamores’ best shot

Indiana State won’t be intimidated inside Assembly Hall on Friday night.

Archie Miller knows it.

Entering his official debut as Indiana’s men’s basketball coach, Miller has spent parts of this week reminding his players that the Sycamores are no pushovers. Friday’s 7 p.m. regular-season opener won’t be Indiana State’s first Big Ten matchup this fall.

It won’t even be its second.

The Sycamores enter Bloomington having already matched up with Illinois and Purdue during the preseason. They reportedly beat the Illini by a point during a closed scrimmage and lost at Purdue, where they trailed by merely three points at halftime, during a disaster relief exhibition.

So Miller expects to get Indiana State’s best shot.

“That’s the thing that, with our players, has to resonate with them,” Miller said. “The’re not coming in here afraid of us. They’re not coming in oohing and aahing. They’re prepared to come into Bloomington. They’re prepared to come into play and compete to win, just like they did in all their other games. I think our players’ antennas have to be up.”

Upon the eve of a new season, Miller says he’s like most coaches this time of year.

He wishes he had a longer preseason.

The Hoosiers are still tinkering with different lineups and rotations. Miller wants to see a more patient offense, and after spending the bulk of IU’s preseason preparation focused on the principles of his pack-line defense, the coach wants to see tighter play on that end of the floor.

“I think (Indiana State) is gonna be a good team for us to play here early in the year,” Miller said.

Particularly because the Sycamores, picked to finish eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference, have good guard play, not to mention a roster full of in-state players who will be pumped for the opportunity to play in Bloomington.

Brenton Scott, a senior from Fort Wayne, is the Sycamores’ primary offensive threat. An MVC Preseason First Team honoree, Scott finished second in the league last year with 15.9 points per game and helped spear a December upset of No. 15 Butler with 25 points, including the final free throw to seal the victory.

Scott is a high-volume shooter and Indiana State is hopeful that sophomore Jordan Barnes, a conference all-freshman team honoree, can complement his scoring this season.

Barnes reportedly scored 26 points and dished 10 assists in last month’s scrimmage win against Illinois, then followed up with a team-high 15 points at Purdue.

“I think that each of them on a given night, regardless of who they play against, can get you in a lot of different ways,” Miller said. “Scott and Barnes are great shooters. They’re great off the dribble in transition and I think they’re very, very aggressive. If you look at their film and some of the things they’ve done in exhibitions, clearly those two guys can get going. That’s an important piece to being able to stop them or slow them down a little bit.”

The Hoosiers expect to have everyone available Friday, including senior forward Collin Hartman and freshman guard Al Durham.

Miller said both Hartman (ankle) and Durham (hamstring) have been full-go in practice this week and will no longer have any minute restrictions during games.

By Thursday afternoon, Miller was winding down the preseason to prepare for Friday’s season tip-off. It’ll be a busy weekend for the Hoosiers, who will also host Howard on Sunday at 8 p.m.

It’s not an ideal turnaround, but it serves a purpose.

Miller wants to physically challenge his group from a conditioning standpoint, and playing twice in three days should allow Indiana to find its legs.

“This is gonna be a non-conference schedule that’s gonna go really fast,” Miller said. “… Two games in three days isn’t bad. Sometimes you’re in a tournament setting where you play three in three days. That’s when you really got to focus on yourself and be good at what you do and improve from the first game to the second one with things you weren’t good at. But it’s good to get playing.”

3 comments

  1. I love how we’re starting out with a bang with Indiana State. What a way to break in re-modeled Assembly Hall with a competitive team and a team in our beloved state.

    I’m going to assume next year will be a step down as this was a last minute void to fill but I like the change.

  2. CM, has in his contract a payment based on the ranked levels of the teams played. I don’t see IU going back to the weak schedule.
    The fans pay too much for tickets and contributions to the Varsity Club to see a bunch of low ranked teams come to Assembly Hall.

  3. I hope not. Usually an opener is a for sure thing for the most part. No reason to play teams rated 300 or below regardless.

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