St. Joseph's College Pumas
2008-09 record: 15-13 (8-11 in conference)
Location: Renssalaer, Ind.
Conference: Great Lakes Valley Conference (NCAA Division II)
Coach: Richard Davis (third season, 49-37)
TV: 7 p.m., bigtennetwork.com streaming video ($2.99; replayed on Big Ten Network at 1 p.m. Tuesday)
For the second time in five seasons, St. Joseph's College, from northwest Indiana, will play an exhibition game against Indiana in Bloomington. IU won 93-65 in 2005-06, Mike Davis's last year as IU coach. On Saturday, St. Joe's lost 86-62 to IUPUI. Last season, in coach Richard Davis's third season, SJC finished with barely a winning record overall and barely a losing record in conference. Like IU's first exhibition opponent, SJC draws heavily from Indiana. Eleven of the 19 members of the Puma roster are from Indiana, and another five are from Illinois, Michigan, or Kentucky.
St. Joseph's most famous alum, athletic or otherwise, probably is Gil Hodges, an accomplished first baseman for the Dodgers who was the manager of the New York Mets' 1969 world champions. Also, for many years SJC hosted the Chicago Bears' training camp, and portions of the legendary film "Brian's Song" were filmed there.
Last season, three Pumas averaged in double figures in scoring, and two of those players return. Austin Peebles, a 6-3 senior guard, led SJC with 11.7 points per game and shot 36 percent from behind the arc. Also returning is Phillip Collins, a sophomore from Pike High School in Indianapolis. As a freshman, the 6-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game and shot 44 percent from behind the arc. Collins led the Pumas in scoring during their conference season. Other returning starters include Andrew Helmer, a 6-4 senior from Highland, Indiana who appears to be a forward, despite his height; and Michael Horton, a 5-10 guard who led SJC with 3.6 assists per game and had a 1.7 to 1 assist/turnover ratio. The Pumas, as might be expected for a Division II team, are not terribly tall. Of the returning players who averaged 10 or more minutes per game, the tallest is Marcus Jones, a 6-6 forward from Ben Davis in Indianapolis.
In short, St. Joseph's was a decent team in Division II last year and does not return a significant amount of experience or height. Hopefully the Hoosiers can avoid the fate of Syracuse, Michigan State, and others in these exhibition games in recent years. A loss would be more damaging to the psyche of this team than to more experienced teams.