Just moments after Indiana’s win over Troy on Saturday night, Princeton center Richmond Aririguzoh was already top of mind for IU head coach Archie Miller.
“Wednesday night I think we’ll get tested a lot differently, especially inside,” Miller said in his opening remarks at the Troy post-game press conference.
With a couple more days to reflect on the Tigers, Aririguzoh continued to be front and center on Miller’s list of primary concerns as the Hoosiers prepare to play Princeton on Wednesday night.
“It starts with a true low post player, Miller said on his Monday night radio show.
“Senior, 6-foot-9, 250 pounds. 17 (points) and 7 (rebounds) on the season. He’s averaging almost four offensive rebounds per game. He’s a true low post pivot guy that’s going to catch it down low and work.”
After facing a healthy diet of smaller teams to start the season, Miller’s concerns stem from getting his young team to appreciate the nuances of guarding the post.
“We haven’t seen one of those this year in terms of constantly getting somebody the ball that’s good, Miller added. “So we’re going to have to deal with the low post game for the first time. That’s going to challenge our bigs, that’s going to challenge our defense in general.”
Princeton has been known nationally for decades for their motion offense, replete with an onslaught of backcuts.
While the system the Tigers run today under Indiana native head coach Mitch Henderson is different, many of the concepts remain.
“Princeton always runs good stuff and they have great spacing,” Miller said. “They’re not as traditional based with all the backcutting that we’re accustomed to but they do have the same concepts, they move guys around and they have good three point shooters.”
Hailing from Vincennes, Ind. and an alum of Culver Academies, Henderson returns a lot of scoring punch from last year’s squad.
“They have three guys averaging double digits a game with a fourth who is injured,” Miller said. “If they get him back on Wednesday they’ll have four returners who are all double figure scorers.”
In addition to Aririguzoh, guard Jaelin Llewellyn averages 17.3 points per game, while forward Drew Friberg averages 13.3.
Miller sees the Princeton contest as one that could ultimately boost the Hoosiers’ NCAA Tournament resume.
“When you think Princeton you think Ivy League contender,” Miller said. “At the end of the day this is a huge game for our team that matters a lot as we get down the line because I think Princeton will be right there in the hunt for the Ivy championship.”
To get to a championship level, the Tigers will have to overcome an 0-3 start that has seen them lose to Dequesne, San Francisco and Lafayette.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Princeton (0-3) at Indiana (4-0)
- Tip time: 7 p.m. ET
- Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: Big Ten Network
- Series: Tied 2-2
- Point Spread: Indiana is around an 18 point favorite in Vegas; KenPom has No. 34 Indiana by 18 over No. 218 Princeton.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
DEPTH IN FRONT COURT ALLOWING MORE UPTEMPO OFFENSE
Miller came to IU with a reputation for running a downhill, transition offense, but that approach hasn’t been a big part of the Hoosier attack during his first two seasons in Bloomington.
While one might customarily think of quick guards serving as the foundation of a good uptempo offense, Miller sees it differently. He spoke on his radio show about why this team has been able to get out and and run more.
“We’re built differently. We have a lot bigger team than we’ve had,” Miller said. “We finally in my time here have a team with true size that has depth at the size. You can’t really run the floor and play the way that we would love to play with tempo until you have a stable of big guys that can put pressure on the rim. It doesn’t matter how fast your guards are. Your break is only as good as your bigs.
“You can keep a fresh body and keep the pedal down a little bit more. I think our running game is much better. We have a true big in the game at all times that’s a center, a five man. We’re able to play Justin now more on the perimeter which is running wider and we’re able to get a faster pace.
“Our pace is much better than it’s been in the past, and our depth is better.”
According to KenPom, Indiana’s average possession length is 1.7 seconds shorter thus far this season than the average of Miller’s first two seasons at IU.
THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE STARTING BACKCOURT?
Coming into the season the expected starting guards were Rob Phinisee and Devonte Green, with backcourt mate Al Durham also getting the call in three guard sets.
Instead, IU hasn’t had its full complement of four scholarship guards all available for a game yet.
Green missed the first three games with a hamstring injury while Phinisee played in a more limited capacity while recovering from an abdominal injury.
On Saturday night, Green returned, and Phinisee was out with strep throat.
Miller indicated that Green continues to progress towards 100 percent.
“He was back at it today (Monday), and as we approach into Wednesday obviously he’s closer to getting his feet under him,” Miller said.
The Hoosier head coach mentioned on Saturday night that Phinisee was doing better. It would be a surprise at this point if the sophomore point guard was not back and ready to go against Princeton.
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