Indiana undersized center plays really big in Hoosiers’ victory

Arkansas State's Deven Simms shoots between Indiana's Freddie McSwain Jr. (21) and Justin Smith during the first half of a game Wednesday in Bloomington. (By The Associated Press)
Indiana guard Josh Newkirk (2) fouls Eastern Michigan guard Paul Jackson (3) during a game in Bloomington Friday. (By The Associated Press)
Indiana forwards Collin Hartman (30) and Juwan Morgan (13) defend against Eastern Michigan forward James Thompson IV (2) during a game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington Friday. (By The Associated Press)
Indiana forward Juwan Morgan (13) fouls Eastern Michigan forward Elijah Minnie (5) during a game in Bloomington Friday. (By The Associated Press)

It happened to Indiana University sophomore center De’Ron Davis again on Friday.

The young post player was limited in his time that he could contribute to the Hoosiers’ success due to foul trouble, which wasn’t a first for Davis, and it certainly won’t be the last time either. So it will be imperative for Indiana to be able to find some depth to play behind Davis, just to be safe, as this season carries on.

Indiana took a big step in that direction over the past three days.

Hoosier senior center Freddie McSwain Jr. played his second straight effective game and played a key role in the Hoosiers pulling away from Eastern Michigan Friday for an 87-67 win in front of 12,000-plus fans at Assembly Hall.

It isn’t easy for McSwain to contribute like he has of late. At this level of basketball, the 6-foot-6 athlete is terribly undersized in comparison to his competitors, yet somehow he finds a way to help his team.

McSwain scored a career-best 10 points against the Eagles to go with nine rebounds in 23 minutes, which is more than double his average this season.

“I just keep my body on my opponent,” McSwain Jr. said in a postgame press conference of his rebounding strategy. “I try to use my quickness around them, boxing them out, and trying to beat them to the ball.”

With Davis on the bench, McSwain carried the Hoosiers for a large part (12 minutes) of the second half. During that period, Indiana (4-2) crushed the Eagles (4-1) on the glass by a 21-10 margin and stretched a five-point halftime margin to 20 by the end of the night.

“Freddie really rebounded the ball for us tonight,” first-year Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “He had to play extended minutes, which was good to see.”

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This level of play is beginning to be a trend for McSwain Jr.

In Wednesday’s win over Arkansas State, McSwain Jr. scored just six points in the Hoosier victory, but he grabbed a career-best 10 rebounds.

In his first season with the program last year, he averaged just 2.5 boards per game, but this season he is now pulling down over six per night.

“He continues to really go after balls,” Miller said, which is his best attribute. He did a really nice job.”


It wasn’t just McSwain Jr. that excelled with his effort Friday, fifth-year senior forward Zach McRoberts got his first extensive time on the floor this season and he made the most of his eight minutes, which was four times as much as he had played in the Hoosiers’ initial five games combined.

The Carmel High School graduate brought energy and effort to the floor, as Indiana pulled away from Eastern Michigan in the second half.

“What a great teammate,” Miller said of McRoberts. “He probably should be in there a lot more right now.”

Miller lamented recently the fact that he “can’t play 12 guys,” which is why McRoberts hasn’t seen a lot of action. But the fact that he scored four points and grabbed three rebounds, while passing for one assist in very little time Friday, probably will alter that moving forward.

“(McRoberts) showed what he can bring to the table,” Miller said, “which is an awesome attitude and unbelievable work ethic. What he does in practice is what he did in the game. He impacted our team in a positive way.”

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