BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The North Dakota State men’s basketball team faces the biggest test in program history on Monday night.
No. 1-ranked Indiana will host the Bison at 6 p.m. CST Monday (no TV – go to www.inforum.com for a live blog before and during the game). The Hoosiers have The Sporting News’ Preseason Player of the Year in Cody Zeller, a 7-foot center with a post game and the ability to run the court. It’s a terrifying blend for a Bison team that – like most teams – just doesn’t have that kind of talent and size in the middle. I covered Zeller and how the Bison are preparing for him in Monday’s Forum.
The Hoosiers return their top five scorers from a 27-win team last season. Yet when I watched Friday night’s Indiana 97-54 victory against Bryant (R.I.) on my DVR, the one player that stood out most to me was a true freshman playing in his first college game.
Point guard Kevin Ferrell – better known as Yogi Ferrell – was a McDonald’s All-American a year ago in high school at Park Tudor in Indianapolis, where he led the school to back-to-back Indiana high school championships. In his senior season, he averaged 18.5 points and 6.6 assists per game.
Ferrell’s court vision stood out in Friday’s win against Bryant, which is a weak Division I opponent, but nevertheless this was Ferrell’s first game with the Hoosiers.
He had 10 points and seven assists in 24 minutes. Solid statistics to be sure, but not the kind that jump off the computer screen at you. He made some impressive passes and showed great awareness. How poised will he be when the Hoosiers face a true test? That remains to be seen. But the talent is there. No doubt about that.
The Bison have some length. And it will be important that they disrupt Ferrell’s passing lanes. The Hoosiers have a talented center and plenty of shooters, so the key to slowing them down might be to contain the catalyst in Ferrell.
A few other notes:
- While Zeller gets the attention, 6-foot-9 forward Christian Watford is no slouch for Indiana. He had 15 points, but more importantly for Indiana, grabbed 15 rebounds against Bryant.
- The top five scorers for Indiana from last season – all back with the team – are: Zeller (15.6 ppg), Watford (12.5), Jordan Hulls (11.6), Victor Oladipo (10.8) and Will Sheehey (8.6). Sheehey moved to the bench against Bryant to make room for Ferrell.
- In addition to the five top scorers returning, also back is forward Derek Elston. He started four games last season. However, Elston is out with injury and will not play Monday night.
- Two Indiana freshmen – forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea and center Peter Jurkin – are suspended for the team’s first nine games. Read more about it here.
More Bison coverage
- The Forum’s Jeff Kolpack writes about the big stage that is Indiana basketball.
- The Forum’s Kevin Schnepf writes about the impact a winning Hoosiers team has on Bloomington, Ind.