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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, September 30, 2018 1:00 am

IU fans gather to open practice

Men's, women's teams take part

Ben Portnoy | For The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – With the lights dimmed and the crowd at fever pitch, the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall public address announcer rolled out the 2018 Indiana men's basketball team Saturday afternoon.

“It never gets old,” coach Archie Miller said to the gathered fans as the lights flipped on. “Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, with all these people in here, it gets everybody. Gets the blood going.”

As part of IU's annual Hoosier Hysteria kickoff, fans caught their first glimpse of the Hoosiers in the short scrimmage.

Though team doesn't begin practice until Monday, the scrimmage did offer a minor look at what this squad can be.

St. Mary's (California) transfer Evan Fitzner opened the scoring with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. A shooting specialist for the Gaels, Fitzner figures to be a hot hand off the bench for Miller's squad.

Backup sophomore point guard Al Durham was also impressive. Moments after dishing a flick-pass to redshirt freshman Race Thompson for an alley-oop, Durham drained a contested 3 from the right wing.

Hyped five-star freshman Romeo Langford was quiet in the engagement, totaling just one basket on a teardrop bucket.

Beyond the scrimmage, the event serves as more of a recruiting and public relations spectacle than an actual on-court development. The day included autograph sessions with fans, a dunk contest and 3-point challenge.

In the 3-point shootout, senior Juwan Morgan and Brenna Wise of the IU women's team took down the pairs of Fitzner and Grace Withrow and freshman Damezi Anderson and Jaelynn Penn in the final round. Morgan and Wise made 20 combined shots in the 1-minute segment.

As for the dunk contest, Langford won the title with a spinning tip-dunk off the backboard in the final frame.

Sophomore Justin Smith just about brought the house down as he had three near misses in attempts to dunk from the foul line.

Also, the Indiana women's team raised an NIT championship banner in honor of last year's title. It was the first time a banner had been hoisted for the program since the 1980 Big Ten championship.

The men's team opens the season at home Nov. 6 against Chicago State. The next, the women's team opens with Milwaukee at home.