“It’s a lot of fun to finally be able to be on the court with my teammates, feeling good, being healthy,” Indiana redshirt sophomore forward Race Thompson said on Friday.
Finally being the operative word.
From a first year in Bloomington where he volunteered to redshirt to a second year where a concussion forced the issue, we’ve barely gotten to know Race Thompson despite the fact that he has spent the better part of two and a half years at IU.
Perhaps that is why when the Minnesota native enters the game, he seems to want to immediately make his presence felt.
His head coach has certainly noticed.
“I think Race Thompson has been a real big lift for our team here early in the year. He’s added real, real value of not only blue collar work but winning tough plays, and that’s big, when you’re bringing guys in that are being able to bring that to the table,” IU head coach Archie Miller said on Friday.
The value that Thompson is bringing IU right now isn’t as much in the scoring department as it is toughness, grit and effort.
That’s something the 6-foot-8 Thompson takes pride in.
“It’s not all about scoring, not all about the highlights and stuff. You’ve got to do the little things to help the team win the game,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s contributions have earned him more minutes in each game this season, and upon a deeper examination it becomes clear that despite the intangible accolades, he is also something of a stat sheet stuffer.
On a per 40 minute basis, Thompson is averaging 16.2 points, 16.2 rebounds, 3.4 blocks and 1.7 steals per contest. He is shooting 62.5 percent from the field and 90 percent from the foul line, and Thompson has yet to commit a turnover this year.
If his minutes continue to grow, perhaps folks will come to appreciate Thompson’s production on the floor.
For now, he is happy to be known as a tough guy that plays hard.
“I’m not afraid of contact. I’ve never been afraid of contact, Thompson said.
“I group up playing football, my dad played football so it’s kind of in my blood. Just physical mindset. I like it, I don’t mind doing it. Some people don’t like it, and it can change the way the game goes, so I just try to mix it up a little bit.”
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Troy (0-2) at Indiana (3-0)
- Tip time: 8 p.m. EST
- Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: Big Ten Network
- Series: First meeting
- Point Spread: Indiana is around a 23 point favorite in Vegas; KenPom has Indiana by 23.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
- Indiana can move to 4-0 for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
- Located in Troy, Alabama the Trojans are part of the Sun Belt Conference.
- Troy is ranked No. 292 according to KenPom. They have lost a pair of close home games to UAB and Chattanooga to open the season.
TROY NOT THE CURE FOR WHAT AILS HOOSIERS
Indiana is currently No. 315 in the country according to KenPom when it comes to defending three-point shots.
There will be no Trojan Horse surprise attack on Saturday night. Troy will arrive looking to exploit IU’s early season weakness with their own strength.
“A big challenge on Saturday night here with Troy,” Miller said. “They’re a terrific three-point shooting team. Shoot it from five positions. I think they’re maybe eighth nationally right now in where their points are generated from, which is the line, and we’re not doing a very good job at all in defending the line, and that can become a very tricky thing, regardless of who you play.”
Miller believes that several variables are conspiring to leave the Hoosiers vulnerable from long range.
“It’s a result of a lot of different things,” Miller said. “You know, you give up three-point shots in a lot of different areas, it’s not just the other team is making them. We’re not good enough in terms of our transition defense in terms of getting back. When it does cross the floor right now and we’re in the half court, our ability to get the ball under control and initial actions and whatnot that are coming at us, our spacing and where we’re at positioning wise is off. When you give up threes you’re usually late on a lot of things.”
GREEN REMAINS OUT
On the offensive end IU is averaging more than 90 points a game despite missing the player widely expected to lead the team in scoring this year.
Miller indicated that senior co-captain Devonte Green’s hamstring injury is improving, but the guard will not be available on Saturday night.
“Well, Devonte is doing better. He was able to practice portions of practice yesterday. I wouldn’t say he’s unlimited in everything that he’s doing, but he’s the best he’s been since the beginning of October,” Miller said.
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