Here's my running commentary from tonight's IU basketball season opener vs. Bryant.
- Pregame I -- I'm only 27, so my memory is limited, but the anticipation for this season is unlike any I can recall. We are playing Bryant -- BRYANT!!! -- and the buzz before tipoff is electric. Bryant has to feel like a pig heading to the slaughterhouse. I don't feel bad for them one iota, because that was us in most of our Big Ten road games not too long ago. I can't wait to watch these Hoosiers play. Last year was genuinely a fun group of players to watch, and with the same nucleus this season, I'm looking forward to much of the same. Here we go!
- Pregame II -- The announcement from Athletic Director Fred Glass regarding an extension for Tom Crean was pretty unique. You don't see extensions presented that way too often. At first, I thought it was a little cheesy, but you know what, I love the fact that it allowed Hoosier Nation to show its appreciation for Crean. After going through some incredibly difficult times, Crean has worked his tail off to get IU back to relevance -- and he's done more than that. None of us will ever know how much work he and the rest of the staff have put in -- practice, recruiting, summer development -- but I think it's safe to say Crean deserves the extension and the standing ovation.
- 13:34, 1st Timeout (IU 7, Bryant 5) -- Our defense has been stout. The rebounding has not. Bryant has gotten a handful of second-chance opportunities already. Offensively, we look a little too excited -- dribbling off our foot, traveling, botching fast breaks, etc. It's not just us fans who are excited; the players are too. It's going to be different this year playing as the hunted and not the hunter. We're not used to playing with big expectations.
- 11:18, 2nd Timeout (Bryant 15, IU 14) -- Just like the exhibition, Mo Creek got a huge round of applause when he checked in at the 13:40 mark. Much like Crean's ovation, this one is very well-deserved, too. Will came in and gave us instant energy. Remy ran the point as Jordy and Yogi caught a breather. The defense is active, but the Hoosiers have lost Bryant's shooters a couple times and payed for it.
- 7:55, 3rd Timeout (IU 25, Bryant 16) -- It's only one game (and one exhibition) but there hasn't been anyone who can stay in front of Yogi. Heis as advertised and gives us an element we haven't had. He drove for a bucket, got an assist on a Remy 3-pointer and dished to Zeller for a two-handed flush. Now the negatives: Jordy got lost on defense, gave up a wide open 3-point shot, which was missed, and threw a horrendous alley-oop to Victor. Sorry, Jordy. Hate to pick on you, but it wasn't a good stretch. Other than that, we outscored Bryant 11-1 over the last 3:23.
- 3:52 4th Timeout (IU 36, Bryant 21) -- Yogi being Yogi -- taking it to the rack and dropping it off to a cutting Will, who threw down a one-handed tomahawk. Will is fantastic without the ball. When the ball is driven at his man, he cuts to the hoop every time. Can't be guarded. Cody, always a phenomenal runner of the floor, has been sprinting down and immediately posting up right in front of the basket. He's gotten the ball twice in a row, spinning and laying it in once. It's a great way to steal a few baskets each game.
- Halftime (IU 48, Bryant 28) -- Hoosiers show a full-court press after a made free throw and get a quick turnover. Nice, nice dunk by Bryant's Alex Francis. Will picked up three fouls in roughly 30 seconds, getting Bryant into the bonus. There were spells last year where we didn't get Cody the ball. That hasn't been the case at all in this one.
- First Half Thoughts -- Bryant was up 15-14 with 11:18 left in the first half. For the rest of the first half, IU cranked it up to another level, holding Bryant to 14 points and scoring 34 themselves over the last 11 minutes. While only shooting 3 of 10 from beyond the arc, IU is 12 for 17 on 2-pointers. We hold a 24-6 edge on the glass, but we've given up eight offensive rebounds and committed nine turnovers, both of which are too many against a foe as inferior as Bryant. Defensively, we've held them to 31 percent shooting (10 for 32). We're 15 of 19 from the charity stripe while Bryant is just 5 of 9. Watford is doing his thing on the glass, pulling down seven boards. Yogi has 10 points on five shots, adding five assists to one turnover. Cody has 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with five rebounds.
Note: The second-half report will be posted after the game.