Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Is Indiana Basketball Ready For Franklin?

Remember when IU used to schedule basketball exhibitions against Marathon Oil, Athletes in Action and the former Soviet Union?

That can’t happen anymore because of NCAA rules. I once knew the reason for the change, but the answer has disappeared along with my knowledge of Latin and algebra.

Anyway, now teams have exhibitions against Division II and III schools, which explains why Indiana will play Division III-program Franklin College on Nov. 3. The game will be shown on Bigtennetwork.com, which should not be confused with the Big Ten Network.

IU and Franklin used to play on a semi-regular basis in the first half of the 20th Century. Specially, they met seven times between 1916 and 1935. The Hoosiers won every time. They haven’t played since.

Since joining the NCAA in 1992, Franklin has appeared in five national tournaments, reaching the Division III Sweet 16 in 1999. Before that it was a NAIA power.

The Grizzlies are coached by Kerry Prather, who is starting his 28th season. They are known for their good shooting and led the nation in field goal percentage during the 1999-2000 and 2008-2009 seasons. They also led the nation in three-point percentage (1997-98 and 1999-2000) and free throw percentage (2000-2001).

Yes, that’s a lot of leading.

“I think the more you can involve institutions from the area during the exhibition season, the stronger it makes both programs,” IU coach Tom Crean said in a statement. “We appreciate the efforts of Coach Prather and assistant coach Adam Martin, and are excited to have them on the schedule.”

Franklin struggled to an 8-17 record last season. However, it’s expected to challenge for a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference title this year.

“We are very appreciative of Coach Crean’s generous invitation, and I applaud the fact that he has gone out of his way since coming to Indiana to engage the local small colleges to this extent,” Prather said in a university release. “He is a class act building a solid program, and I am confident he is the right man to return IU basketball to a level of perennial national success.”

As for his own players Prather said they see the game at Assembly Hall as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Most of these kids grew up dreaming of playing in Assembly Hall,” Prather said. “They are extremely excited to live that dream for one night.”

Excitement likely won’t produce victory for Franklin, but that’s not the point. It’s about building toward a big season, both for the Grizzlies and for Indiana.

The Hoosiers, by the way, are poised for a dramatic turnaround.


  1. Also, take note...Kerry Prather knows basketball. He is from Loogootee, Indiana and played under the legendary Jack Butcher. This guy knows basketball.

  2. Let me correct myself. Kerry actually was a student manager under Jack Butcher at Loogootee. I recall him working so hard that he'd help put players through the drills, help during the summer, etc.

  3. My recollection of the ban on playing non-academic institutions is that schools were playing AAU teams that included players they were recruiting. I think some unusually high appearance fees were involved.

    BTW, Franklin has an IU connection. Sam Alford played there in the early 60's. I know this because my mom's sorority sister dated him for a while.

  4. This game is almost as exciting as when I play my 10yr old daughter after school today.

    She is the top 10 yr old girl on our block in scoring, rebounds, and assists (if you count when she drops the ball and the dog gets it). There are no other kids on our block (sort of a resort area on the ocean in Texas).

    As I am well over a foot taller than her after the game Hoosier Hoopla can report that I lead the nation in blocked shots ( near 50%) margin of victory and every other statistic. The same will be true of IU after Franklin, just as our football stats look great against the cupcakes. Pretty soon however that Kool-aid will run out.

  5. Another IU connection......Coach Prather is an IU grad w/ a masters degree.

  6. Let's don't get all fraught with indignation at having to play Franklin, shall we? Indiana hoops isn't as far from bush-league as most people would like to think. UI has sunk fathoms from its heyday and cannot, at this point, pretend to be offended by having to play a cupcake. Fact is, Indiana has itself been just that the past couple of years.