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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Zeller to face first true post player

 IU v. North Dakota State

Today against Sam Houston State, for the first time this season, sophomore forward Cody Zeller will have to pick on someone his own size.

In IU’s first two games this season, wins against Bryant and North Dakota State, the 7-foot Zeller has yet to face an opponent within three inches of his height. The Bearkats, though, boast Michael Holyfield — a 6-foot-11-inch, 255 pound sophomore center who figures to be Zeller’s primary opposition in the post.

“He poses challenges with his girth and his strength,” Assistant Coach Kenny Johnson said. “He runs the floor a lot better than you may think he would. I know he made strides last season when they had some injuries. We’ve been watching him on film, and he’s a great screener, he contests shots and he did a great job of rebounding the other night.”

Through two games, Holyfield is averaging only 5.5 points a game, seventh on the team, but he leads the Bearkats with nine boards per contest.

Like IU’s first two opponents, SHSU relies heavily on perimeter shooting, though Johnson said Holyfield’s presence and a more up-tempo offense pose a different challenge for the Hoosiers.

“This team is a tad bit faster paced overall, and the perimeter is going to be surrounded with shooters,” Johnson said. “They are going to have shooters at all four spots, no matter who is in the game opposite (Holyfield). With us being probably a tad more spread out and him having more space to operate, he can pose a little bit more of a threat.”

Perhaps the most dangerous shooter for SHSU is guard Darius Gatson, who leads the team with 14.5 points a game and 60 percent shooting from 3-point range while also commanding the offense at point guard.

“Darius Gatson really pops out on film when you watch him,” John said. “You can tell a floor general when you see one, and he makes that team go.”

He’s far from the only threat IU must watch for from three, though. SHSU averages 25 three-point attempts a game, with five players each averaging at least two.

“I think they have a team with maybe five or six guys that I consider to be shooters,” Johnson said. “A lot of times on film when you are preparing for a scout, you can identify one or two guys that you can key in and say, ‘We want to make sure we run this guy off the three point line,’ but they have a team full of guys that are capable of knocking down shots.”

Today’s matchup, the first ever between the two teams, is IU’s third game in a seven-day span to open the season. The rapid succession of games could pose a challenge to the freshmen, junior forward Will Sheehey said.

“They’ve just got to take care of their bodies and, most importantly, take care of their minds,” Sheehey said. “If you play well, you keep the mindset, and if you play bad, you forget about it and move on to the next play.”

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