That's what I get for not finding the time to preview IU's final exhibition game against Division II Ferris State. Ferris State was only 16-13 last year, but Justin Keenan is the Division II preseason player of the year, and the Bulldogs gave IU a scare. Ferris State took the lead with 4:46 remaining in the first half and did not relinquish it until Victor Oladipo tied the game with a four-point play with ten seconds remaining. Ferris State's attempted buzzer-beater went in, but was not on time. After that, the D-II Bulldogs, who lost Keenan to fouls late in the second half, had given their all, apparently. IU scored the first 12 points of regulation (making for an 18-0 run that began with a minute remaining in the second half.
So, what do we make of this? As Syracuse and Michigan State can attest, these Division II teams can sneak up on even elite teams in the preseason, let alone a rebuilding team like IU. The Hoosiers had a truly horrific shooting night. I didn't see the game, so I have no real sense of whether Ferris was causing IU problems or whether it was simply one of those nights. It's a bit traumatizing for the IU fan base, which can't shrug off a near-miss as easily as a program in the current condition of MSU or Syracuse. All told, I would rather see a 40-point win.
On the other hand, despite doing everything wrong all night, despite trailing by 9 points with 2:32 remaining, the Hoosiers didn't quit and finally rose to the occasion. Maurice Creek hit a three pointer. Victor Oladipo stole the ball and then, after turning it back over, blocked a shot. Oladipo, a freshman in a stressful situation, hit five free throws in the final minute, not to mention a three pointer while being fouled. It's unfortunate that a game against an overmatched opponent came down to the wire, but hopefully the late-game experience will be helpful against a higher quality opponent later in the season.
Things get started for real against Florida-Gulf Coast on Friday night. More on that later.