For the first time in 20 seasons, Hoosier fans get to root on the No. 1
ranked team tonight against an opponent at Assembly Hall. The Herculean task of
taking on the nation's top-rated team goes to Indiana Wesleyan, an NAIA program. The Wildcats will serve as Indiana's only exhibition opponent before the true season
opener for Indiana on November 9th at home versus Bryant. Tip-off tonight is at
7 p.m. ET.
Fans not able to attend the game will only be able to watch it live on
BTN.com, the premium "All-Access"
channel of the Big Ten Network.
Click here for the
link to that live video stream and keep in mind there will be a fee. A
rebroadcast of the game will be shown on the Big Ten Network channel but not
till 3:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, November 6th.
Located in Marion, the Wildcats have their own tradition on the court.
Indiana Wesleyan (IWU) has now won four consecutive Mid-Central Conference (MCC)
titles and open up the year ranked No. 4 in the NAIA Division II preseason poll.
If you are someone who grows up in Indiana and follows basketball you
understand the nostalgia that is involved with Assembly Hall and the history
that they have," said Indiana Wesleyan head coach Greg Tonagel. "For us it is an
exciting opportunity, a great recruiting opportunity, and a great marketing tool
for our school as a whole. We want to get a lot of our alumni involved and
people who have watched our program from afar can come in and join us for this
The Wildcats know a little about trying to live up to the top ranking, having
achieved that honor last season after a 9-0 start. It was the school's first
ever No. 1 ranking in NAIA Division II. IWU struggled, however, after the lofty
ranking, going 4-9 over one stretch before recovering late to win seven of the
final eight regular season games and earn a share of the MCC title with Grace
(Ind.) College. The school finished with a 21-12 record and a No. 16 ranking in
the final NAIA poll.
Tonagel is heading into his eighth year as head coach of IWU. His name may be
familiar to Hoosier fans as he played for Homer Drew at Valparaiso and before
that led La Porte to the IHSAA state finals in 1997, the final year of single class
basketball in Indiana.
With the bulk of his team returning including his top three scorers, Tonagel
shouldn't be surprised by the No. 4 preseason ranking. In fact the Wildcats have
already shown how tough they should be this season as on Tuesday night they
opened the season at home with an impressive, 91-74 victory over No. 14-ranked
Saint Xavier (Ill.). Jordan Weidner, Aaron Martin and Patrick
Hopkins combined to score 75 of the the Wildcat points led by the 6-foot-2
Weidner's 28-point night. Martin was scorching from the outside, knocking down
7-for-9 from beyond the arc in his 28-point effort. The Wildcats shot 63.6
percent from the floor in the victory, quickly overcoming a four-point halftime
A year ago Weidner and Hopkins tied for team high scoring with a 14.8 ppg
average. Hopkins, a Kokomo native who checks in at 6-foot-7, 230-pounds, led the
team in rebounding with 8.7 boards per game. Martin was the team's top outside
threat last year and at 6-foot-5 brings nice size to the guard spot. The other
guard to watch is 6-foot-3 George Jones IV. The South Bend Clay product
averaged 10.6 points last year and started all 33 games.
In Tuesday's opener, Tonagel went really small at the beginning, starting
5-foot-11 sophomore D.J. Bettinger and 6-foot-5 Whitko alum Zac
Vandewater. There is a bit of size to turn to on the bench in 6-foot-7,
245-pound Parker Stouffer. He averaged 7.5 ppg last season and had five
points and four boards off the bench in the opener. 6-foot-9 sophomore Tyler
Greathouse did not play on Tuesday. He was a regular off the bench last
season and the Columbus North product turned down MAC and Missouri Valley offers
to play for IWU. He's not only player on this roster to turn down NCAA Division
Indiana associate head coach Steve McClain has scouting duties for tonight's
game and previewed the Wildcats yesterday.
"They scored 91 points last night, averaged 75 points last year, so they're a
team that plays uptempo, run a lot of motion, a lot back cutting, ball
screening," said McClain. "They have four returning starters from last year yet
one of those guys didn't start last night."
As mentioned this will be Indiana's only exhibition game. For the second
straight year the team has opted for a "secret scrimmage" against another
Division I school. The year that reportedly was or will be Wisconsin-Green Bay,
coached by former Tom Crean staff member Brian Wardle.
McClain believes Indiana chose wisely with tonight's opponent.
"What you want out of an exhibition team is a team that has a purpose, and
this team has a purpose, no question about it," said McClain.
Expected IWU starters and key reserves with 2011-12 stats: