FORT WAYNE – For Hoosier basketball fans, it all starts today.
This is their chance to watch their team for the first time. The Indiana faithful will pile into Assembly Hall – if the crowd holds true to form, more than 17,000 will be there – to watch IU showcase its new look.
The crowd that surrounds Branch McCracken Court wont be silent. It wasnt when Tom Creans team won six games in 2008-09, and it wont be today, when the 2013-14 squad takes the court for the first time.
For the six freshmen players who will be experiencing it, this is a marquee moment.
Youre recruiting people that have big dreams, that have huge goals, that want to get places, Crean said during his State of Hoosier Nation address at the IU Auditorium on Wednesday. And those dreams are really important.
As for Crean and his staff, they have no idea whats to come – or even what the starting lineup will be in the first exhibition game Oct. 26.
After all the hard work in the offseason – individual workouts, official practices, 5 a.m. conditioning drills and hours of extra shots in Cook Hall – this is where all of that first comes to fruition.
I cant say that theres one particular individual that hasnt been in there doing extra work, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Kenny Johnson said at the teams media day. I think theyre all really pushing themselves. Now, its getting close to that time to see what we do under the lights.
Its hard to predict what this team, which has more athleticism but far less experience than the 2012-13 squad, will be capable of. There are no certainties, but no limitations, either. IU has six newcomers in freshmen Troy Williams, Stan Robinson, Luke Fischer, Devin Davis, Collin Hartman and the headliner, Noah Vonleh.
The Hoosiers also brought in Evan Gordon, the younger brother of Eric Gordon, as a graduate transfer from Arizona State.
So many new pieces. So much versatility.
So many questions.
People say the best form of studying is actually teaching it to someone else, said senior forward Will Sheehey, the lone four-year scholarship player on the roster. I think Ive learned a lot more about basketball and a lot of other things just by making sure those guys are doing the right thing.
But how much have they learned? Are they ready for their moment, the new faces and the old ones alike?
This isnt a game. It cant compare to the nerves that will come with that for the Hoosiers. But it will generate that kind of buzz, that scintillating atmosphere that sends the decibel levels in Assembly Hall to a near-painful howl.
Robinson, a 6-foot-3 guard who guaranteed he would win the dunk contest, had a grin on his face as he thought about what he and his team would bring to the crowd today.
Just stay tuned.
Notes: Goodluck Okonoboh, Indianas top target in the class of 2014 and a five-star prospect, committed to UNLV on Thursday. He chose the Runnin Rebels over Ohio State and the Hoosiers. Former Indiana and Purdue target Trevon Bluiett, a 2014 prospect who was committed to UCLA, opened his recruitment Thursday. IU and Purdue could be in line for official visits from the 6-foot-5 Park Tudor forward.