As an Indianapolis native, Yogi Ferrell gets the Indiana-Purdue rivalry. He gets that it’s a basketball mad state, and that two programs in the same state and the same conference that are about to have their 200th meeting are bound to have some animosity.
But he didn’t completely understand it until Jan. 30, when the Indiana freshman got on the floor of Mackey Arena for the first time and got to hear the Purdue faithful rain their wrath upon him.
“I realized how much Purdue hates us,” Ferrell said with a laugh. “I never really saw it. I heard about it, but to actually witness it and to hear things that they said, they really do hate us. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing, it just adds to it. It just shows how great this rivalry has been.”
For that reason, the Hoosiers can’t possibly look at Saturday’s 2 p.m. game at Assembly Hall as simply a rematch with a team they beat by 37 points two-and-a-half weeks ago. It’s still IU-Purdue.
“Since it’s Purdue, we’re going to come out ready,” Indiana sophomore center Cody Zeller said. “The reason why we won by so much last time is because we came out with a lot of energy and toughness and that’s the same thing that we’re gonna have to do tomorrow to have the same result.”
That of course, means remembering that Purdue still has a lot of dangerous components. The most notable among them, at least from the Hoosiers standpoint, is freshman center A.J. Hammons.
Hammons was an IU recruit and a Carmel High School sophomore once upon a time before transferring to the prestigious Oak Hill Academy as a junior. He came to Purdue, trimmed up, and became a Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate, averaging 111.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. That scoring average went up significantly in the teams’ first meeting when Hammons scored 30 of Purdue’s 60 points.
Though the result of the game was just fine, IU coach Tom Crean doesn’t want to see those numbers again.
“(We have to) make it harder for him to catch it,” Crean said. “I think that’s gonna be key. Making it harder for him to get it where he wants it and continue to make him work on the defensive end of the floor, and then make sure we’re blocking them out. For a tall guy, he’s very quick. He’s got quick moves, he’s got quick feet, and you’ve gotta get into his body on the blockouts and if you don’t, he can get around you in a hurry.”
The Boilermakers have made a small lineup change to make it a slightly different matchup for the Hoosiers. Redshirt freshman Donnie Hale has started the last two games at power forward and the Hoosiers have moved guard Raphael Davis, who was serving as the small forward, on to the bench to create a bigger lineup.
“He’s an inside-outside player,” Crean said. “Raphael Davis, we could see a lot of different lineups. We’re really trying to prepare for the personnel as much as anything else. They’ve done some different things with those lineups. We’ll see. As far as Hale, he gets to the basket well, he rebounds, he runs the floor in transition. He’s been running the floor really well in transition. They all have. Travis Carroll, (Sandy Marcius), when those guys are in, they’re getting up and down the court. The thing that’s impressive about them is their big guys are really rebounding the ball. They’re averaging 13 offensive rebounds, I think it is, a game. But when you start looking at the numbers they’re getting, they rebound it well. We’ve gotta be excellent up there.”