Local Sports News: November 30, 2023

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Mackenize Holmes brings #17 Indiana University Women’s Basketball to her home state of Maine
The #17 Indiana Hoosiers remain on the road at 7pm this evening streaming on ESPN+ when they take on the Maine Black Bears at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland Maine. For Graduate Student Mackenize Holmes this is no ordinary road game. Holmes will get to play in her home state for the first time since High School and play 11 Miles from her hometown of Gorham and there will be a lot of #54 jerseys in the stands supporting their hometown player who has made Indiana Women’s Basketball popular in Maine. “There are a lot of people who get to see Indiana Women’s Basketball for the first time in person” Holmes said after the win against Princeton Last Saturday. “They know all the players and follow them, and they are very excited to see us” Holmes Added.  Holmes is the first player from the state of Maine to play for the Hoosiers and just the third player from the New England Region since 2006 joining Shanice Billington of Hartford Connecticut who played from 2006-07 and Kelly McManmon of Lee Massachusetts who played in 2007.

The Cross Insurance Arena seats 6,206 and it is a place that Mackenzie knows very well leading her Gorham Rams to two state championships and state runner up finish and regional semifinal appearance in her four-year high school career and was the 2019 Maine Gatorade player of the year. “It’s an arena that means a lot to me, I won two state championships and played all my state tournament games there, so I am excited to come home and play there” Holmes Said.  When this game was announced back in August it was Mackenzie that broke the news on social media that she was coming home and the Hoosiers were coming with her and her dad Lenny went to work on getting a block of tickets for all the friends and family who wanted to be there in person to see Mackenize make her return home. “We are so excited for Mackenize to play this game and we are happy that we are able to do this for her” Indiana Head Coach Teri Moren said after the Princeton Game last Saturday. “She will be so giddy when she gets out on the court, we will probably have to give something to settle her down” Moren said.   The University of Maine is located In Orono which is 138 miles and 2 Hours Northeast of Portland. So, this technically is a neutral site game but it will be a very emotional return and when Mackenzie is introduced it will be the biggest ovation for anybody and a full circle moment for a young woman who has made all of Maine proud and is proud to represent the state of Maine.

Holmes has left her mark on Indiana as she has become one of the best post players in the nation and the second all-time leading scorer at IU with 2,004 career points joining Tyra Buss as the only players in IU Women’s Basketball history to go over 2,000 points after she achieve the feat against Princeton last Saturday in Fort Myers, Florida. Buss played at IU from 2014-18 and scored 2,364 points and Holmes needs 361 points to pass her to become the school’s all-time scoring leader. Holmes averages 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. The Hoosiers are 5-1 after wins over Tennessee and Princeton in the Fort Myers Tip off Women’s Tournament in Florida. Sara Scalia led the Hoosiers with 28 points in the Princeton game and leads the team in scoring at 18.7 points per game. Yarden Garzon celebrated her 20th birthday on Thanksgiving with a career high 23 points against Tennessee. Scalia and Garzon were named to the Tournament’s Island Division All-Tournament team for their performances.

Maine is 4-3 on the season after going 1-2 at the Vibrant Thanksgiving Classic in Iowa over the weekend. The Black Bears are led by Anne Simon who averages 15.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Adrianna Smith who was named the America East Player of the Week on Monday averages 12 points and 11 rebounds per game. The Black Bears have a 15-player roster that is represented with 7 players that are from six different countries and 8 players who represent six different states. There are 3 players from Maine and two from Spain on the roster along with a player from Denmark, Finland, Canada, Israel, Luxembourg, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Virginia. Amy Vachon is in her 8th season at Maine with a 134-71 record with two NCAA Tournament Appearances in 2018 and 2019 and Postseason WNIT Appearance in 2022. The Augusta Maine native played for the Black Bears from 1996-2000.  This will be the third all-time meeting between the two programs. Indiana has won both meetings 67-58 on December 12, 2003, in Bloomington and 67-59 on December 10, 2004, in Orono Maine. 

Indiana University Baseball announces 2024 season schedule
Fresh off a 43-win season and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, head coach Jeff Mercer and the Hoosiers have unveiled their 2024 baseball schedule with play set to begin on Friday, February 16th in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The 56-game regular season, spanning the course of four months, features six non-conference weekends, eight Big Ten series and 13 midweek matchups. This will be the final season in which the Big Ten features just 13 teams before Washington, UCLA, Oregon and USC join the conference for the 2025 campaign. “We believe our non-conference schedule is built to prepare us for the rigors of conference and hopefully postseason play,” Mercer said. “We value the importance of creating a challenging schedule with both our road and home opponents. We will be able to learn and grow through those challenges to become the best version of our team.” 

IU begins its season on the weekend of February 16th with contests against Coastal Carolina, Duke and George Mason in Myrtle Beach. The Hoosiers’ first three weekends will also take the team to Waco, Texas for a three-game set with Baylor and to Frisco, Texas for the previously announced Frisco Classic against Alabama, Dallas Baptist and Arizona. Troy, Belmont and Butler will all play weekend series with the Hoosiers in the month of March before jumping back into Big Ten play in April. IU’s assigned Big Ten opponents this season include home sets with Illinois, Penn State, Rutgers and Michigan. The Hoosiers will head to Maryland, Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska as part of the conference schedule.

Contests at Vanderbilt, Louisville and Indiana State highlight a collection of 13 midweek matchups for the Hoosiers. After a year off, IU will return to Victory Field in Indianapolis to play Ball State on April 23rd. The Big Ten Tournament will once again be hosted in Omaha with the league’s top-eight teams earning bids to Charles Schwab Field. IU has made the past 10 contested Big Ten Tournaments, the longest active streak of any school in the conference. The NCAA Baseball Tournament will begin on the first weekend of June at select regional sites with the 2024 Men’s College World Series set for June 14-24 in Omaha. Single game and season ticket information will be available soon.

2024 Schedule Breakdown:
Overall, Home Games: 30, Away Games: 20, Neutral Games: 6 Big Ten– Home Opponents: Illinois, Penn State, Rutgers, Michigan-Away Opponents: Maryland, Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska Notes
Season Opener: Indiana at Duke (Feb. 16, 2023); Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Home Opener: Indiana vs. Miami (Ohio) (Feb. 20, 2023); Bloomington, Ind.
Big Ten Opener: Indiana vs. Illinois (March 22, 2023); Bloomington, Ind. Opponents
2023 NCAA Tournament Teams: – Arizona, Dallas Baptist, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Ball State, Maryland, Indiana State, Duke, Coastal Carolina, Troy, George Mason 2023 Super Regional Teams: – Alabama, Duke, Indiana State

Indiana University Men’s Basketball announces 2024 field for the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas
The Battle 4 Atlantis announced the Indiana men’s basketball program will compete in the 2024 field during Thanksgiving week, the 13th year of elite collegiate tournament play. Indiana will be joined by Arizona, Creighton, Davidson, Gonzaga, Louisville, Oklahoma, and West Virginia in the three-day event played at the Imperial Arena, a grand ballroom transformed into a truly unique basketball venue. Games are televised on ESPN networks throughout the tournament. All games will be played between Nov. 27-29. Tickets, room reservations, and further information about the Battle 4 Atlantis can be found here in early 2024. The complete schedule for the event will be announced at a later date.

2024 Battle 4 Atlantis Field- Arizona, Creighton, Davidson, Gonzaga, Indiana, Louisville, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Two Indiana Football Players named to the All-Big-Ten Offensive Team
Seven Indiana Hoosier Football players were named to all Big Ten Team. The Defense and Special Teams were announced on Tuesday. The All-Big Ten team on offense that was announced on Wednesday included Hoosier center Zach Carpenter and wide receiver Donaven McCulley as part of the honorable mention honorees. In his second season at wide receiver, McCulley started 11 of 12 games on the outside and caught a team-best 48 passes for 644 yards. His six touchdown grabs were the most on the team and five came over the last five weeks of the season. He caught 60% of his targets during the season with his 10 contested catches ranked No. 3 among Big Ten wideouts in 2023. His 48 grabs were tied for No. 10 in the Big Ten, his six touchdown catches ranked tied for No. 6 in the conference and a 13.4 yards per catch average ranked tied for No. 14 on the B1G charts. His six touchdowns led the team in 2023 and are the most by a wide receiver since Ty Fryfogle caught seven in 2020. His 48 catches are the most since Whop Philyor hauled in 70 during the 2019 season. 

Carpenter made 27 appearances with 25 starts over three seasons at Indiana, which included all 12 games at center in 2023. His 2023 season included 445 pass blocking snaps and just 10 total pressures allowed. His pressure percentage of 2.3% was the third lowest in the Big Ten. His efforts on the line helped Indiana trim 12 sacks off its season total from the 2022 (26), as the unit allowed just 14 sacks in 2023.

Kobee Minor made 29 tackles on the season and was credited with four pass breakups in 615 total snaps played on the season. Of the 615 snaps, 339 of those came in pass coverage. Among FBS cornerbacks with 300 coverage snaps played, Minor led the Big Ten and was No. 7 nationally with just 18 receptions allowed (339 coverage snaps).  He was among a group of 33 cornerbacks nationally to play 300-plus snaps and allow one-or-fewer receiving touchdowns on the season. His 38 coverage targets were the fewest in the Big Ten among cornerbacks with at least 300 snaps.

Andre Carter was among the most disruptive defensive linemen in the Big Ten and finished his one season on campus with 49 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. Per Pro Football Focus, Carter ranked No. 8 in the Big Ten in total pressures (sacks, hits and hurries) at 32 and his 697 total snaps played were No. 4 among Big Ten defensive linemen. In 12 games played, Carter had at least 1.0 tackles for loss in seven games and posted four games with multiple tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The Detroit, Michigan, native began the season with 2.0 tackles for loss in each of the first two games. That total was the best start to a season since 2004 when Kyle Killion posted 5.5 tackles for loss in games versus Central Michigan and Oregon.

Even with teams kicking short or electing for out of the end zone, Jaylin Lucas was still the highest-rated kickoff return man in the FBS among specialists 25-or-more returns on the season. His 572 kickoff return yards led the Big Ten, was No. 5 among Power 5 returners and sat ranked No. 14 in the FBS. His 100-yard kickoff return against Purdue tied for the longest play in IU history and was one of 10 returns of 100 yards in the FBS during the 2023 season, the only 100-yard effort in the Big Ten.

With his kickoff return touchdown at Purdue, Lucas is tied for the lead among active FBS returners with three career kickoff return touchdowns, which ties Marcus Thigpen (2005-08) for the IU career record. His career kickoff return yardage total of 1,163 ranks No. 10 all-time at Indiana, as well as No. 22 among active NCAA returners and second among non-upperclassmen. In 2023, Lucas finished with 1,108 all-purpose yards, the most in a season since Stevie Scott III (1,223) in 2018. His total included 572 kickoff return yards, 275 rushing yards, 247 receiving yards and 14 punt return yards. He accounted for five total touchdowns – 1 return, 2 rushing and 2 receiving – and led the team with 101 offensive touches during the season. Lucas was the 2022 Big Ten Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year, the first Hoosier to win the award and first freshman to capture the honor since its inception in 2015. He was the first Hoosier to earn all-conference accolades as a return specialist last season.

With a punting average of 45.8 yards per punt, Evans set the Indiana single season record by one yard per punt, blasting past Drew Hagan’s mark of 44.8 in 1999. Of his 57 punts, 22 traveled over 50 yards, with a long punt of 70 yards. His punting average ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten and No. 15 nationally. A three-year anchor on special teams, he owns 201 punts in his career and is just the fifth Hoosier to reach the 200-punt mark in a career. With a career 43.9 yards per punt average, Evans ranks No. 1 on Indiana’s career charts, more than a full yard ahead of Alan Sutkowski (42.5 ypp; 1995-97). Evans is the first Indiana punter to earn All-B1G honors since Hagan was a first-team honoree during the 1999 season.

Indiana University Field Hockey player Ines Garcia Prado named to the NFHCA West Region Second Team
Indiana freshman midfielder Inés Garcia Prado was recognized with 2023 NFHCA Division I All-Region honors on Wednesday morning. Garcia Prado was named to the NFHCA’s West Region Second Team after an outstanding freshman campaign with the Hoosiers. She was one of 16 student-athletes to be named to the team. The NFHCA distinction is the first of Garcia Prado’s career. She also earned national recognition as a Second Team All-Big Ten member this season. In her first collegiate season, she recorded three goals and five assists. She also took 26 shots on the year, with 17 of them being on goal. Prior to her freshman season, Garcia Prado played for Spain’s U-18 National Team and competed in the 2023 EuroHockey U18 Championships in Krefeld, Germany. Spain took third in the competition.

Indiana Pacers to host the Boston Celtics in the NBA In-Season Tournament Quarterfinals
The Indiana Pacers will welcome one of the best teams in the NBA to Gainbridge Fieldhouse next week as Group Play wrapped up in the NBA In-Season Tournament. The Boston Celtics (14-4 overall, 3-1 in Group Play) earned the No. 3 seed, while the Pacers (9-7 overall, 4-0 in Group Play) earned the No. 2 seed. They’ll play in the Quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4. The game is set to air on TNT and Bally Sports Indiana. The winner will move on to the Semifinals in Las Vegas; the losing team is out of the tournament. The Pacers went 4-0 in East Group A to clinch a spot in the Knockout Round. They missed out on the tournament’s top seed because the Milwaukee Bucks, also 4-0 in Group Play, had a better point differential in tournament games.

Boston beat Indiana earlier this season in a non-tournament matchup. The Pacers will look for revenge on the national stage after the humbling 155-104 road loss. They have a pair of non-tournament away games against the Miami Heat (Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m.) before hosting Boston in the Quarterfinals. The Celtics emerged as the winner in the crowded East Group C—Orlando and Brooklyn also finished 3-1 in Group Play after a blowout win against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night. The effort pushed Boston past the other 3-1 teams thanks to the point differential tiebreaker. Orlando and Brooklyn both missed out on the Knockout Round because the New York Knicks, who finished 3-1 in East Group B, had a better point differential to earn the wild card entry. The No. 4 seed Knicks will play No. 1 Milwaukee in the Quarterfinals.

While the Eastern Conference came down to point differential, the Western Conference was considerably simpler. The Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings won their groups outright with 4-0 records, while the New Orleans Pelicans won West Group B with a 3-1 record. The wild card slot came down to Phoenix and Minnesota, both 3-1, with the Suns getting the edge based on point differential. The In-Season Tournament Semifinals are in Las Vegas on Dec. 7, with the Championship Game scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 9. The winner takes home the inaugural NBA Cup.

Here’s a look at the Quarterfinals schedule: Mon., Dec. 4: No. 3 Boston Celtics at No. 2 Indiana Pacers (7:30 p.m., TNT/Bally Sports Indiana) Mon., Dec. 4: No. 3 New Orleans Pelicans at No. 2 Sacramento Kings (10 p.m., TNT) Tue., Dec. 5: No. 4 New York Knicks at No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks (7:30 p.m., TNT) Tue., Dec. 5: No. 4 Phoenix Suns at No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers (10 p.m., TNT)

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