Indiana goes up against Jacksonville before start of Big Ten play
By Andy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent December 27, 2012 10:30PM
BLOOMINGTON, IN - DECEMBER 21: Tom Crean the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers gives instructions to his team during the game against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Assembly Hall on December 21, 2012 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Updated: January 29, 2013 6:39AM
BLOOMINGTON — Indiana assistant coach Steve McClain, for one, is happy that the fifth-ranked Hoosiers have one more nonconference game before Big Ten play begins.
IU (11-1) will host Jacksonville tonight before heading to Iowa for a New Year’s Eve conference opener.
“I like the fact that we come back from the (Christmas) break and still have a non-conference game to get us back in our rhythm,” McClain said in a press release from IU on Thursday. “The last two years, we have come back and opened up right with Big Ten games.
“The closer you get to conference play, the veteran guys know what is coming. For the younger guys, I think it’s good to have a non-conference game, especially after a break.”
The Dolphins (5-7) feature a mix of youth and experience, with two true freshmen in the starting lineup in guard Jarvis Haywood and forward Kordario Fleming. Haywood is Jacksonville’s top scorer, averaging 11.2 ppg.
“They like to play inside-outside, create matchup problems,” McClain said. “They are a team that plays with a great purpose, and (head coach) Cliff (Warren) has done a good job of building them back up.”
The Dolphins were just 8-22 last season after posting consecutive 20-win seasons before that under Warren, in his eighth season as coach. Jacksonville averages just 67.6 ppg while shooting 42 percent from the field.
The Hoosiers, on the other hand, are the top scoring team in the nation at 89.1 ppg and are second in field goal percentage at 52.1. And the Hoosiers could get big numbers out of their frontcourt, as the Dolphins have just one player over 6-6 in little-used 6-9 freshman Tyler Alderman. The Fishers native is averaging 2.8 points and 2 rebounds while playing 11.3 minutes per game this season.
“We have to come right back out and play Indiana basketball from the start,” sophomore Remy Abell said. “There has to be no letup whatsoever. It’s important for us to keep our composure, trust in our teammates, and everything should be fine.”