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Tuesday, April 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

COLUMN: Indiana men’s basketball absolutely blasted Marian. Does that mean anything?


Indiana men’s basketball defeated Marian University 78-42 in an exhibition matchup Saturday.  

The victory moved the Hoosiers to 28-0 in exhibition games against non-Division I opponents, a statistic which hopefully helps you understand how little can be concluded from this contest. Reactions to exhibition games usually age about as well as the building names on Indiana’s campus, so let’s exercise some restraint.  

Nevertheless, if for some reason you decided to draw conclusions after watching this game, here are some of the things you might say.  

The Hoosiers can still win without senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis 

Jackson-Davis joined sophomore guard Tamar Bates on the sideline as both sat out for precautionary reasons. If there’s any game Indiana fans would want Jackson-Davis to miss, this would be the one. 

We already know Jackson-Davis is fantastic when he’s healthy. Watching him bully Crossroads League forwards for 36 minutes would have been entertaining for some viewers, but it would have told us virtually nothing except that — surprise — Jackson-Davis is taller and stronger than the vast majority of Crossroads League forwards.  

Even without its preseason All-American, Indiana was completely dominant. There were some ugly turnovers and instances of apparent miscommunication, but growing pains are nothing unexpected. Baskets still came easily for the Hoosiers, while scoring against them looked as easy and fun as a phone call with a distant family member.  

Indiana is going to be great at 3-point shots  

The Hoosiers shot 8-19 from beyond the arc, three of which came from graduate student forward Race Thompson in a rare display of long-range accuracy.  

Will Thompson consistently attempt 3-point shots throughout the regular season? Perhaps, but probably not. There might not be a more cliché overreaction to an exhibition game than thinking the defensive stalwart is now also a lights-out shooter.  

Still, Indiana head coach Mike Woodson provided appeared optimistic about Thompson’s prospects as a shooter.  

“He’s a basketball player now,” Woodson said. “It’s kinda nice.”  

Truer words, coach Woodson. Truer words. 

Indiana already has its future roster  

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the afternoon was sophomore forward Logan Duncomb’s 11 points and 11 rebounds coming off the bench. Duncomb barely played last year, but he already looks confident contesting shots and attacking the glass.  

Meanwhile, all four of Indiana’s scholarship freshmen — forwards Malik Reneau and Kaleb Banks and guards CJ Gunn and Jalen Hood-Schifino — saw action Saturday, combining for 31 points, 18 rebounds and 7 assists.  

It’s difficult to overstate how excited college basketball fans get for promising freshmen. After Hood-Schifino drained a 3-point shot with 1:30 left in the first half, I saw an Indiana fan to my right audibly sigh and rest his forehead against his interlocked hands as if he were having a religious experience.   

While I don’t think Indiana fans should bank on any of Indiana’s 18-year-old players to help them find God anytime soon, there is reason to be optimistic about the future.  

Hardly any of it means anything 

During a timeout midway through the first half with Indiana leading 19-5, I took note of my surroundings.  

The oddly sparse afternoon crowd. The blatant height disparities between the two teams’ players. The trap remix of Smash Mouth’s 1999 hit “All Star” pouring from the speakers.  

In that moment, I felt the full weight of the ridiculousness unfolding on the court. What cruel, bizarre sport allows a 2,500-student private school to play a Big Ten team for a $30,000 paycheck?  

There’s barely anything you can take from this matchup beyond a handful of cool highlights and, if you were lucky enough to be sitting in section H, a free pizza voucher at Bucceto’s Smiling Teeth. I don’t know if exhibition free pizza tastes as good as regular season free pizza, but section H has to feel good about such a demonstrative victory nevertheless.   

I suppose Indiana men’s basketball probably feels pretty good, too.  

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