On paper, we should win this game with ease. IPFW (who really should be called the Hoosiermakers) comes in from the Summit League, whose overwhelming favorite we have already handled with relative ease this season. this is a dangerous club though. they are the lone Division I team from the state of Indiana that has never made the NCAA Tournament, but that streak could easily end in the next few years.
The Mastodons are pursuing a strategy of getting mid-level kids from Indiana that are fundamentally sound and can shoot well. Unlike in football, you can never go wrong with an in-state recruiting strategy focusing on Indiana. There are plenty of solid basketball players in this state for Purdue, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Butler (the top schools right now) to get the best talent and the rest to do very well on their own. IPFW is already at 2-0 in their conference and 7-3 overall with eight Indiana kids on the roster. Three of these players are North Central Conference guys, with another coming from last year's 1A state champion.
2009-10 Record: 16-15, 9-9 Summit League
Postseason Result: None
2009-10 Record: 7-3, 2-0 Summit League
Blog Representation: None
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 3-0
Time & TV: 6:30pm on Big Ten Network
When I look at the above numbers I see incredible balance for a low-major team. Their losses aren't bad (Xavier in overtime, Cinncinati, and Valparaiso) and all of them have come on the road. Ben Botts, their leading scorer, was a high school teammate of Ryan Kerrigan when both combined to earn state runner-up honors to the Greg Oden and Mike Conley Lawrence North teams. Antwaun Boyd played against Botts and Kerrigan for some pretty good Anderson teams back then. John Peckenpaugh was another member of those Muncie Central teams with Tommy Freeman, the 3-point sharpshooter that plays for Ohio and shot down Georgetown in last year's NCAA's. They are also coached by a rising young coach in Dane Fife, who played on Indiana's last good team and married a girl from my home town.
IPFW loves to shoot the three pointer. Nearly 40% of their field goal attepts come from long range, and they hit them at a near 40% clip. Botts, Zach Plackemeier, and Frank Gaines take most of those attempts. Their guards are not as athletic as ours, but they might be better shooters. They are definitely more of a jump shooting threat than Lewis Jackson or Kelsey Barlow. Gaines' brother, Brandon, recently became eligible and scored 12 in the loss to Valpo. This will be his second game of the season.
We should have another size mismatch, giving us more time to expirament with Sandi Marcius and Travis Carroll. IPFW ranks 294th nationally in rebounding among Division I teams. There is absolutely no excuse to get outrebounded tonight. Gaines leads the team in rebounds at seven per game, but the rest fo the numbers are very low.
The IPFW offense relies on balance and sharing the basketball. Theya verage 15 assists per game and they don't turn it over much. If they are shooting the ball well it could cause some problems for us. Fortunately, they have no one that can match up with JaJuan Johnson inside. I think we'll see some moments like the ISU game where Marcius and Carroll get their chances, but JJ should be able to do what he wants, when he wants.
Of course, there are still going to be cries for a third scorer, but I expect to see more of a third scorer by committee approach through the rest of the season. We need to kee going with whomever has the hot hand that night. It will keep teams guessing at any rate. With this being our final tune up game before Big Ten play it is the last chance to work on things before the games matter more. Fotunately, we couldn't ask for a better start to conference play than what we have.