UIndy men’s basketball opens season with exhibition game against Purdue

By Abby Adragna

The Greyhound men’s basketball team fell to Purdue University 89-64 on Nov. 1 in a season-opening exhibition game at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.

The ‘Hounds stayed close early, tying the score 5-5 and 13-13 in the first several minutes. However, the team struggled with turnovers and missed eight of 14 free throws to trail Purdue 30-46 at the half.

Senior DeAndre Brock led the ‘Hounds in scoring, with 15 points, while junior Tyke Cockerham was close behind with 12. Senior Myron Jackson had three steals and a team-high eight rebounds, while senior Braxton Mills also added eight rebounds.

According to senior Reed Ludlow, the team did not feel intimidated by Division I Purdue University.Ludlow said the men were comfortable heading to West Lafayette because they felt they had an advantage with four seniors and six juniors on the roster.

The ‘Hounds can boast of experience this season with the return of 10 letterwinners, including four starters from the 2006-2007 season.

“One of the biggest things about sports, especially basketball, is when you have leaders on your team who are juniors and seniors,” Ludlow said. “They’ve been there before. You know what you can expect from them, and they raise their level of playing when it really counts.”

According to interim head coach Royce Waltman, playing a team like Purdue was a way for him to see if the team’s experience would translate into the maturity needed to deal with tough situations in games.

Waltman returns as head coach of the team after leading the ‘Hounds from 1992-97. Mills is confident that Waltman will have a positive impact on the players.

“I think he’s really going to help us out,” Mills said. “He’s got a lot of experience [and] a lot of knowledge about the game.”

Because the team is predominantly juniors and seniors, Waltman said he believes the ‘Hounds have a chance to win the GLVC tournament.

Mills said the men are hoping to go far in the postseason.

“We want to really contend for a conference championship and make it into the NCAA tournament and try to make a run in that,” he said.

The ‘Hounds were ranked sixth of seven in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division in the league’s 2007-2008 Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll. According to both Ludlow and Mills, the team is ready to prove the ranking wrong.

“It’s just motivation,” Ludlow said. “I mean, the preseason polls don’t mean too much, but I think it’s good when people kind of look over you and don’t see you as much of a force. We know we’re not the sixth-best team on our side of the conference, and we’ll be up there when it really matters at the end of the season.”

According to Ludlow, although the team consists of virtually the same players as last season, the ‘Hounds have a different attitude.

“This year’s a lot different than the years in the past,” Ludlow said. “Everyone is a lot more optimistic about the season. In the past, we were unsure about ourselves or about how we matched up with the teams we played. This year, everyone is positive—not really overconfident, but we feel really well-prepared.”

The ‘Hounds took on Wright State University on Nov. 5 for the second of two exhibition games. Results were not available as of The Reflector press time.

The team will tip off its official season schedule at home Nov. 15 against Brescia University.