Key Losses: F Pat Ewing (4.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg), G Bracey Wright (18.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.7 apg)
Postseason:NIT: Lost to Vanderbilt 67–60 in the first round
Melbourne, Australia/Institute of Sport
Atlanta, GA/Georgia Perimeter College
Birmingham, AL/Transfer from Auburn
Madison, WI/Transfer from Auburn
Muiderberg, Netherlands/Redshirt 2004-05
Evansville, IN/Redshirt 2004-05
Indiana needs to produce two starters from its unusually seasoned quintet of newcomers. Only Shaw arrives via high school. Killingsworth and Monroe are eligible after transferring from Auburn. Calloway joins IU from the junior-college ranks, but he played for New Mexico State as a freshman. Allen is an Australian import who should contribute immediately.
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After his team missed the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season, many thought Mike Davis wouldn't survive the offseason. No one's seat is hotter, and if that isn't enough, his leading scorer turned pro early and he has been given an ultimatum -- make a tourney run or you're done.
So why is Davis smiling?
"I really believe that we can make a run at (the Big Ten and national championships)," Davis says. "It's all about us jelling and getting some confidence early. To me the sky is the limit."
The foundation of Indiana's offense will be located on the interior. Reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year D.J. White returns as the top inside scorer, leading rebounder and leading shot-blocker. But this year, White will not be the only Hoosier policing the paint.
All 265 pounds of Auburn transfer Marco Killingsworth will partner with White to give Davis the type of inside power he's never enjoyed in Bloomington. Killingsworth's mass and strength will add another dimension to Indiana's post offense and defense.
"We'll definitely want to play inside-out," says Davis, noting the Hoosiers will have two big men, White and Killingsworth, who shoot better than 50 percent from the field.
After two seasons of starting wings and guards as power forwards out of necessity, Indiana will have the luxury of sending out a full complement of big men this year. That's due to the presence of senior Sean Kline and freshman Ben Allen.
Kline, now a full year removed from major knee surgery, is expected to see his productivity and minutes return. Allen is considered one of Australia's best young talents and will factor heavily into the frontcourt equation.
Two years ago, the loss of Bracey Wright would have been a death sentence for the Hoosier offense. Wright, who led Indiana in scoring the past three years, left school early to cast his lot in the NBA. While Davis would still rather have the sharpshooter in Bloomington, the coach was not caught unprepared.
"It's good for (Wright) and it's good for us," Davis says. "We have a lot of guards. Scoring is the least of our worries. Now we don't have to play our guys 35 minutes a game. We can keep guys fresh, and we won't be forced to play a guy who's struggling."
Indiana's newfound strength up front will allow Robert Vaden to assume the wing role where he excelled as a prep. Vaden played power forward as a freshman but struggled playing out of position. Now, Davis expects a more confident Vaden will flourish in the open court.
Indiana needs improved shooting from Marshall Strickland, who will replace Wright at the 2-guard. Strickland primarily served as the Hoosiers' point guard the past three seasons, but he now will be able to slide over to his more natural position. The Hoosiers want Strickland to focus on catching and shooting the basketball and getting out in transition. His ball-handling duties will go to a pair of newcomers, Lewis Monroe and Earl Calloway. And Davis believes they'll get the job done. He tabs Calloway as perhaps the Big Ten's "fastest guard at pushing the ball up the floor," and loves Monroe's on-the-ball defense and ball-handling.
The Hoosiers should have some solid depth in the backcourt as well. A.J. Ratliff and Joey Shaw should push Strickland, while junior Roderick Wilmont has the size, strength and speed to spell Vaden on the wing.
Davis possesses dreams of grandeur for Indiana this season. He held similar hopes a year ago only to wake up in the midst of an NIT nightmare. A vastly upgraded frontline and easier early season schedule should allow the coach to rest.
"We have the right amount of games where we have some really tough games and we have some games mixed in where we can build some confidence," Davis says. "You still need to play hard and play with passion, but I'm excited."
And with good reason. The Hoosiers should be in the hunt for their first Big Ten title since 2001-02.