Illini Basketball

The Littlest Indiana

Exhibition number two should be more interesting.

Last week, the Illini men prepared for an awful Saint Francis team. They’ll play a better Saint Francis in December.

Friday night, Illinois hosts an Indiana team. They’ll face a better Indiana team in February, in Indiana. Friday’s Indiana team is not from Indiana. It’s from Alabama.

Specifically, it’s from that part of Pennsylvania that political operatives refer to as “Alabama in the middle.” So is California, another ineptly named school from the Alabama part of Pennsylvania.

The Indians of Indiana are no longer Indians. Not content to simply retire an irksome logo, they embraced the Nonexistent Bird path favored by Lowell’s RiverHawks and Miami’s RedHawks. (But not that Miami.)

They are now Crimson Hawks.

Indiana begins a fifteenth season with its winningest leader, Coach Lombardi (but not that Coach Lombardi). His team features four D-I transfers, led by 6-8 forward Tommy Demogerontas, an Orland Park native whose collegiate career began in 2015 at Moraine Valley Community College. Demogerontas originally transferred to Northern Illinois before moving to IUP, and suffered season-ending injuries at both stops.

photo by Peter Fortunado

He averages 17 and 9 per game, and takes almost half of his shots from outside the arc.

Dave Morris’s previous stop was Tennessee State. Not a powerhouse you say, but they beat Illinois in Champaign during that season you’ve been trying to forget, with that coach whose name escapes you. (So did the RedHawks. Those RedHawks.)

IUP plays in a conference of little Division II Pennsylvanian schools. But this team will be much better than the laughable Joliet squad that embarrassed itself here on Saturday.

Dave Morris is the Crimson Hawks point guard. He also makes half of his shots. (Teri Enciso)

The Crimson Hawks advanced to the DII Championship game twice since Joe Lombardi took over. They’re a perennial PSAC powerhouse, last winning the conference in 2020. You shouldn’t expect them to win against Curbelo & Co., but they won’t puke on their shoes either.

Tip time is 7pm on FRIDAY at the SFC.