#15 Indiana faces Eastern Illinois in season opener


In the 2015 season and home opener, the Indiana Hoosiers play hosts to the Eastern Illinois Panthers at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana.

WHO: #15 Indiana Hoosiers (0-0) vs. Eastern Illinois Panthers (0-0)
WHEN: Tonight, 7 pm ET / 6 pm CT
WHERE: Assembly Hall (Bloomington, IN)

TV: BTN Plus
RADIO: Don Fischer on IU Radio Network Affiliate WIBC

Indiana Hoosiers
Approximately seven long months ago, the Hoosiers played its final game of the 2014-15 season in Omaha, Nebraska. After being beaten in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Wichita State 81-76, Indiana preseason got off to a rocky start when Devin Davis and Hanner Perea were dismissed from the program. the preseason got more bumpy when highly talented Emmitt Holt was dismissed from the team as well. Three other players left also via transfer.

Tom Crean is finished talking about it. He wants his team to play.

“We moved on from that a long time ago and we’re just trying to get better,” he said to the media about the offseason. “They’re resilient guys.”

More from Indiana University

Indiana is going to need a lot more than resilience to satisfy Hoosier nation. Its put up or shut up this time around for Coach Crean and his team. Indiana has only won five NCAA tournament games since 2007. Maybe this is the season that changes the mind of all the doubters. The good news is Crean improved the team by adding size and depth to a team that was lacking a year ago. The addition of Max Bielfeldt, a Michigan graduate transfer, gives IU more experience and leadership in the front line. Something that has been missing since Cody Zeller left for the NBA.

While the Hoosiers led the Big Ten is scoring during the 2014-15 season, they also gave up a league high 71.7 points per game. Indiana was an entertaining team to watch last season on offense. However, they must improve on both ends of the floor. Indiana ended up 10th in the Big Ten last season when it comes to turnover margin (-0.82 a game) and eighth in the assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.2).

Coach Crean made a point to say that he wasn’t exactly firmly set on a starting lineup yet. He sent out the same starting five in both exhibition match-ups. I don’t expect any changes (FerrellBlackmonWilliamsBielfeldtBryant), because of Eastern Illinois’s size. With the depth on this team, I expect Crean to substitute frequently and early (although at times last season some of his substitutions were questionable).

Eastern Illinois Panthers
The Panthers of Eastern Illinois finished 18-15 last season, the most wins by the program since the 2009-10 season. EIU reached the second round in the CollegeInsider.com tournament, which was their first postseason appearance since 2001.

Senior Trae Anderson led the Panthers last season in points (13.2). Sophomore Cornell Johnson finished third on the team in points (9.1 ppg) and led the team in assists (4.7 per game). EIU also has their leading rebounder from last season back for this season, Chris Olivier. Olivier led the team with 5.3 rebounds per game and finished second in points (13.0).

The first and last time Indiana and Eastern Illinois squared off was in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 1992. The Hoosiers beat the Panthers 94-55.

Next: Pacers face T'Wolves without Stuckey or Turner

Tonight’s game is a good chance to see Tom Crean and the up-tempo offense of the Hoosiers against Eastern Illinois, tipoff set for 7 pm ET.