BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Five NCAA National Championships. 60 NCAA Tournament victories. 1,640 overall wins.
“The Indiana Hoosiers are an unbelievable great, great storied program,” Lipscomb University head coach Scott Sanderson said. “When I look at Indiana, I think of Kentucky, North Carolina, and other programs that have been mainstays in college basketball for decades.”
Sanderson’s Bisons (4-6, 1-1 A-Sun) will face the Hoosiers (5-6, 0-0 Big Ten) Sunday at 5 p.m. at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network. The Lipscomb Sports Network will carry a free audio stream at www.LipscombSports.com/sportsnetwork/.
This year’s Hoosiers are in a deep rebuilding mode following a string of recruiting violations by former head coach Kelvin Sampson.
Indiana lost 98.8 percent of its scoring and 96.9 percent from last year’s squad that went 25-8. Only senior Kyle Taber and sophomore walk-on Brett Finkelmeier returned.
First year head coach Tom Crean has started the rebuilding process for Indiana and has received Sanderson’s praise for his coaching.
“I think Coach Crean does a great job of getting the most out of his player’s abilities,” Sanderson said. “He works those guys. He is constantly coaching them whether they are up or down. He’s passionate about wanting to do well regardless of the odds against him this year and so far he has done well.”
Sunday marks the one-year anniversary since the Bisons defeated Marshall 72-62 for the program’s most high-profile victory.
But the Bisons are still seeking their first marquee victory over a major program and Indiana is prime territory for that win.
Sanderson and his staff are actively recruiting players from the basketball-frenzy state.
“We’ve had some success the last few years recruiting Indiana kids,” Sanderson said. “They fit in here academically, athletically, socially, and religiously. They generally fit into our school really well.”
Lipscomb sophomore center Adnan Hodzic and sophomore forward Michael Teller both hail from Indiana. Hodzic played at North Central High in Indianapolis where he was teammates with former Hoosier Eric Gordon and current Hoosier Steven Gambles. Teller played at McCutcheon High School in Lafayette.
Hodzic returns to his home state as the leading scorer (14.0) and rebounder (7.8) for Lipscomb. He has also set a string of career highs this month.
Monday against Elon he scored a career high 25 points. Hodzic has set or tied career highs for rebounds in a game three times in December.
He will matchup against freshman Tom Pritchard, the Cleveland Plain Dealer Ohio Player of the Year last year.
Pritchard, a 6-foot-9 forward, is averaging 16.4 points and 10.1 rebounds in Assembly Hall. He posted his fourth double-double of the season Monday with 12 points and 14 rebounds against Northeastern.
“He’s a very good low post player,” Sanderson said. “He’s a big and strong lefty and he knows how to play with his back to the basket.”
On the perimeter the Bisons need to shut down junior guard Devan Dumas. He leads Indiana averaging 13.2 points per game and has made 10 three-pointers in the last four games.
“Devan shoots the ball from the perimeter and he is extremely athletic,” Sanderson said.
Sunday’s game will be the final non-conference game for Lipscomb before returning home on Jan. 3 to face Florida Gulf Coast.
Sanderson sees two main goals for his squad against Indiana.
“We need to make some shots,” Sanderson said. “We haven’t shot the ball particularly well all year.”
The Bisons are shooting 28.3 percent from the three-point line. Last year Lipscomb nailed 34.5 percent from behind the arc.
“We’ve also got to get the mentality where we sit down and guard people,” Sanderson said. “In the ten years that I’ve been here, our trademark has been our ability to guard people in the half court. We’ve got to find the sense of urgency to defend some people.
“We’ve kind of fallen into a trend where if we get behind or if the game is in the balance, we will compete at a very high level. But if neither of those two things is occurring, we have a tendency to go through the motions. There has to be a sense of urgency about defending the whole game. When we do that, we will start getting the results that we expect to get.”