by Michael Hadley
There are plenty of things to learn from exhibition games, especially about team cohesiveness. But there are five things that IUPUI will be keen to pay attention to in tonight's first exhibition game against Indiana University East.
IU East is a pretty good team, especially as Indiana teams are concerned. They are quietly a perennial Top-25 member in NAIA D-2, their 0-1 record (a 1-point loss to Indiana Tech) shouldn't say anything about their still. Last year, IUE played IUPUI well for the first 12-15 minutes before the depth of the Jaguar bench took over, but to say those of us in support of the Jaguars weren't a bit nervous for a while would be a lie.
So, what does IUPUI need to do tonight? What needs to be seen from the coaches? Here are the three Student On Sports Keys To The Game.
1. Win. Yes, I know, but come on. Arizona lost their closed-door scrimmage and their fan base freaked out, and with a group as fragile as IUPUI's, they've got to win or face seriously negative consequences. Especially with the students.
2. Protect The Basketball. Last year IUPUI was 28th in the nation in turnovers per game (11.1), and they certainly need to get off to the same kind of ball protection this year. Alex Young and Stephen Thomas need to be much better than their 3.4 and 3.2 turnovers per game, respectively. The two will have the ball more than anyone else and must ensure they don't just give it away.
3. Incorporate The Freshman/New Guys. The team needs more than the "Big Three" (Young, Thomas, and Christian Siakam) to be contributors. For IUPUI to have real success, they'll need at least one other major role player (7-8 points per game) to eat up 15 or so minutes per game. Ian Chiles, Jordan Shanklin, Lyonell Gaines and Donovan Gibbs are all possibilities, but only time will tell which of them will end up being the go-to for the coaching staff.
Probable Starting V: Stephen Thomas, Jordan Shanklin, Lyonell Gaines, Alex Young, Christian Siakam.
Probable Key Bench III: Greg Rice, Marcellus Barksdale, Ian Chiles.