Notre Dame-Indiana: Basketball Preview

Weis GipperCorrespondent INovember 24, 2008

Game 3: No. 8 Notre Dame (2-0) vs. Indiana (2-0)
Date: Monday, Nov. 24
Time: 5:30 EST

It has taken several years and thousands of miles, but Notre Dame and Indiana will resume their intrastate rivalry today in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational in Hawaii.

Coming off a lackluster performance against a young Loyola Marymount squad last Friday night, the Fighting Irish look to come out strong and play a fast-paced high scoring game against the young Hoosiers.

If Notre Dame wants to stay undefeated and extend their winning streak to two over the Hoosiers, the Irish will have to create some clean, open looks for senior guard Kyle McAlarney.

McAlarney was held scoreless for only the second time in his Irish career as he was 0-for-7 from the floor against the Lions.

The Irish, once again, were led by preseason All-American Luke Harangody. He finished the night with another double-double of 27 points and 17 rebounds. Tory Jackson also gave Notre Dame some added scoring punch with 16 points and seven boards.

Ryan Ayers had nine points, while Luke Zeller finished with six.

One area of concern that Notre Dame concentrated on after landing in Maui was their free throw shooting. Against LMU, the Irish shot 59.4 percent from the charity stripe (13-of-22) that kept the host Lions in the contest up until the end.

ND will have to be more successful or the Hoosiers could spring an early season upset under first-year head coach Tom Crean.

Crean and his staff will put one of the least experienced teams in NCAA Division I history on the floor against the Irish.

Senior Kyle Taber (28 points) and sophomore walk-on Brett Finkelmeier (2 points) are all that return from last year’s 25-8 squad which advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Indiana will take the floor with seven new scholarship players, an outfielder from the baseball team and three additional walk-ons to start the season with Taber and Finkelmeier during the first semester.

So far the Hoosiers have beaten Northwestern St. (La.) 83-65 and eked out a win over IUPUI, 60-57.

A trouble area the Irish will like to exploit against the Hoosiers will be the inside muscle of Harangody and Zach Hillesland.

Indiana so far has been out rebounded by their opponents and prone to many mistakes. The Hoosiers are averaging 18.5 turnovers this young season.

Look for the Irish to dictate and push the tempo early and pound the ball inside to Harangody. McAlarney should get some points, while Jackson will penetrate and dish to the open man.

Keep a watchful eye out for Luke Zeller to have a big night against his home-state team. This is also the type of game where Zach Hillesland could do some damage.

I expect this to be a close battle for a while, but the Irish just have too much experience and star power for the young Hoosiers to handle. A 20-something point win is not out of the question.

Indiana Hoosiers

Head Coach: Tom Crean (career 190-96); first year at Indiana

Last Season: 25-8 overall, 14-4 in the Big Ten; lost in the 1st RD of NCAA tournament

Finding enthusiasm won't be a problem for the Hoosiers this season. Crean is a font of bubbly excitement at all times, and the new Hoosiers are hyped to start the season and begin carving a legacy at Indiana.

This is a team that has quickly grown exceptionally close, mainly because all the new faces make for a group that finds itself in the same boat. There aren't separate groups of friends on the team, because there hasn't been time for such relationships to develop.

--On the court, Indiana will be blessed with plenty of depth, as Crean looks to fit as many pieces into the puzzle as possible. IU will feature a lot of versatility, especially on the wings, and Indiana hopes to play tight, harassing defense that creates a lot of turnovers.

--Indiana also figures to be a quality three-point shooting team, and the Hoosiers should play at a higher tempo than most other Big Ten teams.

--Crean figures to make substitutions early and often; keeping a fresh set of legs on the court at all times will be one of his goals. He knows his team has a lot of obstacles to overcome this year, but he will push his ballclub to squeeze every ounce of talent out of itself.


The biggest problem with having eight freshmen on the roster is that there are, well, eight freshmen on the roster. Inconsistency figures to be a nightly issue for the Hoosiers.

The newcomers are talented, but even Crean doesn't know how they will react to big-time college basketball, especially when they go on the road in the Big Ten.

Finding a leader among the kids will be a challenge as well. Junior Jeremiah Rivers is the most likely candidate to emerge in that role, but the transfer from Georgetown isn't eligible to play this season and can only help in practice.

--A lack of size will be the Hoosiers' biggest concern on the court. Indiana features just three players 6-8 or taller, and one of those athletes, 7-0 Tijan Jobe, is a project with a capital "P."

Indiana hopes Taber can make a bigger impact than he did last season, when he averaged 2.5 rebounds in 11.2 minutes a game. Taber wasn't asked to produce much in the way of stats last season.

His main role was to do the little things and not make mistakes on defense. This year, Taber won't be asked to do anything he can't do, but Crean does hope he gets more production out of his only senior.

--Pritchard has plenty of potential, but he's not the most athletic player on the roster and is still developing as a scorer. Indiana will count on Story, a 6-5, 220-plus pound swingman, to help the big men from the power forward position.

--Indiana also must establish a go-to guy and hope the team's chemistry continues to stay strong once players start to get into game situations. The Hoosiers can't afford any jealousies or friction between the players this year.

Projected Starters

F Tom Pritchard 16.0 ppg, 10 rpg
F Kyle Taber 4.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg
G Verdell Jones III 10.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg
G Nick Williams 8.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg
G Devan Dumes 15.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg

Notre Dame
F Zach Hillesland 8.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg
F Luke Harangody 28.5 ppg, 15.5 rpg
G Ryan Ayers 8.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg
G Tory Jackson 11.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
G Kyle McAlarney 5.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg


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