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Indiana basketball vs. Bellarmine: Game preview, three things to watch

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The Knights of Bellarmine are here for Indiana's final tune-up before actual basketball starts.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

I can write this game preview completely off the cuff because I know tons about Bellarmine University ... like loads of knowledge about this school that I'm definitely not transcribing straight from a Wikipedia article.

Established in 1950, this school's motto reads: In the Love of Truth which is so hauntingly beautiful that I need a minute.

...

man

that's just ...

Bravo. ONTO THE PREVIEW

BELLARMINE'S LARGE ADULT PLAYERS

Bellarmine is the 4th-ranked team in Division II at the moment and they're one of the most recently accomplished programs in the country. It's probably not a coincidence that they're massive. They're starting frontcourt is composed of two guys measuring in at 6-10 and a "small" forward who is 6-9. Hell, their 2-guard is 6-5. Their top two bench players in terms of minutes measure at 6-7 and 6-8! That's ridiculous. That's legitimate Division I size up and down their roster and should provide an excellent test for an Indiana team that is leaning on a lot of inexperienced players for their own frontcourt depth.

Max Bielfeldt and Thomas Bryant each started against Ottawa, with the latter not being surprising but the former being what I would categorize as a "mild surprise." Like when you go to a chain restaurant on a Monday night at, like, 7 PM and they tell you it's going to be a 45 minute wait. You're mildly surprised because in central Indiana, these salt of the earth folks likely ate dinner at 5 PM so you figured you were safe to enjoy some bargain bin ribs in a reasonable time frame and affordable price.

Anyway, I would anticipate they would both start again. Coach Crean has talked about his lack of commitment to a given starting lineup and would probably focus on matchups over regularity, and since last game's lineup gives him 6-10, 6-8, 6-7 in the frontcourt, that would seem to be the winning ticket against the much larger Bellarmine. I would expect to see a variety of lineups on the court as the Hoosiers should use this as an opportunity to give as many combinations of players as possible to play against this size.

There will likely be a handful of games this year that Thomas Bryant gets into foul trouble and Indiana has to play small in his absence, so using this game as a live fire exercise for that eventuality makes sense. If you don't think we aren't gonna white knuckle the last few minutes of at least one critical conference game with Troy Williams at the 5 well then you haven't been watching a great deal of Indiana basketball recently.

STUFF TO WATCH FOR:

  • Please, every god in the known and unknown universes, do not any player get hurt. This was number 1 for the last exhibition preview and it's number one for this exhibition preview because I cannot state this enough. Especially after Yogi Ferrell scared the bejeezus out of all of us when he hurdled over the bench and into a metal railing chasing after a loose ball. Hey man, great effort, but knock it off. That's how you lose exhibition games: when your star point guard cannonballs into the stands and breaks his leg. Iowa did not actually lose to Augustana, because real losses show up in the standings. No one on Iowa's roster got hurt, ergo they won their exhibition game, trust me.
  • More minutes for OG Anunoby? The hyper-athletic freshman wing picked up fouls early and often, limiting himself to only eight minutes of court time in the first exhibition. It'd be nice to get an extended run out of him in this game, as he seems to be a budding threat to score from all points on the floor, and could represent the heir-apparent to the throne of raw-athletes-turned-NBA-draft-picks that started with Victor Oladipo and looks to be continued by Troy Williams.
  • Turnovers. Indiana made great strides in cleaning up the turnover issues that plagued them two seasons ago, but the exhibition against Ottawa looked like a throwback to the old days. Granted, 13 of the team's 19 turnovers came in the incredibly sloppy first half, and Indiana's up-and-down style is going to lead to some mistakes in exchange for the increased possessions that come with a faster pace. But it'd be cool to see single-digit turnovers out of a team full of capable ball-handlers.