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The Journal Gazette

Friday, November 10, 2017 6:10 pm

Pregame: Indiana vs. Indiana State

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON — Almost incomprehensibly, the day is finally here. Yes, after months of workouts and transfers and corruption scandal and anticipation, college basketball begins tonight. Indiana opens the 2017-18 season when Indiana State visits Assembly Hall.

Here's what to watch for:

The Miller era begins: One of the hallmarks of an Archie Miller-coached team is preparedness. After a preseason in which the Hoosiers focused on their own growth, it will be interesting to see how ready they are for Indiana State, a program they haven't faced since 2006.

This is IU's first game since March 2008 coached by somebody not named Tom Crean. Also gone are Thomas Bryant, James Blackmon Jr. and OG Anunoby. This is Miller's first chance to show how his tireless preparation for an opponent can aid his Bryant-less, Anunoby-less, Blackmon-less squad.

If there's one certainty tonight, it's that Miller is ready for this game and the start of his cream-and-crimson odyssey.

Real games: The Hoosiers breezed to a 2-0 exhibition record, but many pundits expect them to struggle this season. It's incredibly difficult to gauge much from the exhibition slate. Miller still has the task of figuring out minutes for his rotation, though some separation occurred this preseason, but key players will be on the floor longer as the Hoosiers get a better idea of where they stand entering this transition phase. Who will step up? Who wilts on the big stage? The roster will be under more of a microscope in the regular season.

He's got Hart, man: Miller said he did not expect Collin Hartman to be on any sort of a minutes restriction. The senior forward, coming back from knee surgery, is set for his first regular-season action since March 6, 2016.

"A bunch of new guys this year, new chemistry," Hartman said. "Trying to mix myself in and just make the team better. I've been through a lot of basketball in my life here at IU, so I know what it takes to win. I know what winning looks like, so when I get the confidence up in my physical abilities again and get in the flow of the game and everything, then I can translate the vocal leadership to that."

If a tree falls: The Sycamores were down last season, but coach Greg Lansing is 120-108 in his tenure at Indiana State. And how many times in history have the Sycamores defeated Indiana? Five.

There's enough evidence for Miller to form the opinion that this is a very tricky game to begin the season.

"We are getting our guys mentally ready to play what I think's a very, very good team," Miller said. "An in-state team. I think we're going to deal with a group that's very, very hungry to beat us. It's getting our heads right."