BLOOMINGTON – In basketball, at least, length matters.
Take Indiana, for example.
The Hoosiers feature a team of tall, fast, athletic players not afraid to challenge shots.
In Friday night's season opener, Chicago State was more than ready to test them. The result -- 13 blocks (one off the school record) in a 100-72 victory.
Jeremy Hollowell led with four blocks. Freshmen Noah Vonleh and Devin Davis each had three.
The Hoosiers' youth -- two freshmen started, four played extensively -- showed. They had 19 turnovers against eight assists. They sometimes drove into trouble and passed to invisible teammates.
The 6-10 Vonleh had 11 points and 14 rebounds. The 6-7 Davis had 10 points and nine rebounds along with his blocks. Fellow freshman Troy Williams had 13 points.
The 6-8 Hollowell, a versatile sophomore, had a career-high 16 points, four rebounds and those four blocks (also a career high).
Senior Will Sheehey just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore Yogi Ferrell had 11 points and six rebounds.
The Hoosiers made a school-record 45 free throws in 55 attempts. That came as the result of 36 Chicago State fouls, which came as the result of new rules that limit how much defenders can touch offensive players. Basically, one light touch is allowed. Anything else is a foul.
"We just wanted to use our length and athleticism," Vonleh said. "Keep our hands up. Don't put your hands on the guy, and shoot free throws."
Added Davis: "We wanted to take advantage of the touch fouls they were going to be calling."
"It's a big deal for us to get to the line, especially now with the rules the way they are," coach Tom Crean said.
Chicago State arrived with a full-pressure game and big underdog status. The Hoosiers handled the pressure and never came close to losing.
"Indiana is a very athletic team," Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy said. "They have a good transition game and they really push the ball. They changed a lot of our shots because of their length.
"Indiana is going to be in the hunt for the Big Ten title because of their ability to get better every game. Their transition game is going to cause a lot of teams problems."
IU attacked Chicago State's pressure and the result was Cougar fouls – they had 13 in the first 15 minutes -- and Hoosiers free throw attempts. Eighteen of Indiana's 47 first-half points came from the line.
Vonleh was an early rebounding machine. He had 10 in less than 15 minutes. Hollowell showed more energy and better shooting. He had a team-high 10 points by halftime. At that point, IU had a 19-point lead.
Chicago State never challenged in the second half. That doesn't mean Crean was satisfied.
"We have a five-page laundry list of things we have to get better at," he said.