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IU prepares for another in-state exhibition matchup



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IU guard Jordan Hulls shoots over Grace guard Taylor Long during an exhibition game Wednesday at Assembly Hall. James Brosher Buy Photos



Last Wednesday, IU defeated Grace College 96-73. The game pitted an NAIA school against an NCAA team currently in the conference with the most nationally ranked teams.

In their second preseason game, the Hoosiers will take on St. Joseph’s (Ind.) at 7 p.m. today at Assembly Hall. The Pumas are a NCAA Division-II school that finished 15-13 last year.

While both opponents seem weak on paper, Wednesday’s match against the Lancers showed that IU has to take every game seriously. The first half was a back-and-forth match until IU rebounded in the second to outscore them 54-37.

Junior guard Jeremiah Rivers, who played in his first IU game last week, said the team is adjusting to competing against someone besides themselves.

“It wasn’t strange playing with each other,” he said. “It was different playing against a new team.”

Like IU, St. Joseph’s has to adjust to a new lineup this season. Having lost two seniors, the team will rely on senior guard Austin Peebles and sophomore guard Phillip Collins. Peebles, the team’s leading scorer last year, averaged 11.7 points per game in 2008-09. Collins was the third leading scorer for the Pumas with 10.3 points per game.

The exhibition schedule might seem full of guaranteed wins, but Crean said the team still has to learn the difference between practices and games.

“We don’t have game experience yet,” he said. “That’s why games like (today’s) are invaluable as you get ready to start the season.”

IU will begin its regular season against Howard on Nov. 13, only four days after its last preseason game.  

Because of the team’s youth – only five of the 16 are juniors or seniors – sophomore forward Tom Pritchard said the team still doesn’t know which lineups work best.

“That’s just something Coach has got to work on – getting different rotations, different guys in, to see who compliments who,” he said.

Crean also said the team still doesn’t have a main leader, another problem for the young group.

“We don’t have that natural pull-everybody-through-it type of leadership yet,” Crean said.

The Hoosiers will get a boost tonight with another addition to the team. Freshman center Bawa Muniru was cleared by the NCAA on Thursday and will play tonight, Crean said. It will be another experiment for a team that will have a lot of searching to do this season.
  
“Eventually, we’ll have a group of guys that understand what it takes on a daily basis,” Crean said.

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