ALBANY, NY – Sunday night won’t be the first time Indiana’s Trey Galloway and Miami’s Nijel Pack have trod on the same floor.
For their freshman and sophomore years of high school, the two Indiana natives played on the same AAU team, Indiana Elite. Although they don’t talk much until the game starts, the familiarity will be there.
“After the game we can talk a bit,” Galloway said on Saturday. “But right now we’re kind of focused on being ready to go… we grew up together so that’s a lot of memories. I had a lot of fun playing with him because he is a very good player. He can pass the ball. Mark the ball. Just really ready.
Whether it’s spending time together on the road and in hotel rooms or now competing as frenemies on one of the biggest stages, they both have their work cut out for them.
The Galloway Hoosiers will be tasked with stopping Miami’s top guard play in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
Pack is shooting 43.8% from beyond the arc in his last 17 games and is averaging 13.4 points and 2.4 assists per game this season. Galloway remembers his quickness as the toughest part of his former teammate’s guard.
“Just his speed. The way he can shoot – his release is very quick. He is really laid back. It’s hard to get the ball back from him,” Galloway said.
At his height, 6ft, Pack needs to use his quickness and cross the lane to his advantage. He had a game-high 21 points and hit three triples against Drake.
“Nijel is a great player. Their backcourt is really, really good,” Trayce Jackson-Davis said Saturday. “Just watching him grow through high school and blossom into the player he is now…the way he shoots the ball and then passes, his ability to attack the rim is huge.”
Indiana has struggled with faster guards this season. Boo Buie, Tyson Walker and Jahmir Young are some examples of the Big Ten game. With the absence of Xavier Johnson, Jalen Hood-Shifino and Galloway can sometimes surrender and falter in transition defense. The transition offense is where the Hurricanes thrive.
As a team this season, Miami is shooting 42.6% on 3 transitions and averaging an outstanding 1,211 points per possession during the break. Keeping Miami in the half court and out of their transition offense will be key for Indiana if they want to make their first Sweet Sixteen in seven years. Galloway and Hood-Schifino will need to stay connected and in constant communication.
Opposite Pack in Miami’s backcourt is ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong. At 6-foot-4 and 184 pounds, the New Jersey native has a long, wiry frame. Wong can score at all three levels and there’s no doubt the Hurricanes offense is going through him. Wong is averaging 15.8 points per game, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists and shooting 37.5 percent from deep.
Jordan Miller is another talented winger Indiana needs to contain. Miller’s skills are likely to translate well to the next level as he can shoot well and has athleticism. At 6-foot-7 and 195 pounds, he gives Jim Larranaga a body he can put in any position and defend with skill.
Miller scored just seven points against Drake in the first round. It was the first time he had scored in single digits since November 23.
“They’re perimeter-focused, they have a perimeter game that’s at the pinnacle of college basketball,” Mike Woodson said Saturday. “I know Wong struggled yesterday. He was kind of their go-to guy. Pack has been solid all season. I thought he wore them yesterday against Drake, after watching him.
Miami’s offense was in a bad mood in its 63-56 win over Drake. The Hurricanes shot just 30.4% from the field, but with the power of the Canes offense, that’s unlikely to be repeated two games in a row.
Slowing play and taking care of the ball will be some of the keys for Indiana if the Hoosiers are to stop Miami’s powerful offense. According to Kenpom, the Hurricanes have the 12th most effective offense in the country. Hoosiers perimeter players in Hood-Schifino and Galloway will need to focus on their defensive assignments if they want to move to Kansas City.
(Photo credit: Miami Athletics)
Filed at: NCAA Tournament 2023, Miami Hurricanes (FL)