Indiana's Tim Priller working hard to be more than fan favorite in Bloomington
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Some time shortly after 8:30 Friday night, the name Tim Priller began trending on Twitter, going as high as fifth nationally.
"No one told me that," he said after Friday's season-opening win. "That's pretty cool, I guess."
The 6-foot-9 freshman forward is as popular on social media as he is inside of Assembly Hall, where his every move is greeted by huge cheers and even the occasional chanting of his name. It's hard even for Priller to ignore.
"(I hear it) a little bit," he said. "And, honestly, I don't know why. I just go in there and try to do my role and help us win."
Priller's final line may have been unspectacular, but he was effective in his own way. He scored on a left-handed tip-in shortly after entering the game in the second half, also grabbing two rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot.
The only real disappointment was when his 3-point attempt late in the game bounded off the back rim to the crowd's disappointment.
In all seriousness, rebounding is one the areas he has circled to improve.
"Rebounding is something we all definitely need to work on," he said. "Me personally, that's probably my biggest thing. I just try to go in there, rebound, do my role and help us win."
Crean has high hopes for the freshman he compares to Shaggy from Scooby Doo.
"The biggest thing to me is that Tim knows who he is right now," Crean said. "But at the same time, Tim doesn't have any clue how good he can be. And it's not all of a sudden that he's going to become a windmill dunker, and we're not going to be throwing a lot of alley-oops to him and things of that nature.
"He's a position player. He's very, very conscientious. He doesn't want to make mistakes. But he's gaining activity, he's light on his feet, and he's got to sprint a little bit better, run to the boards a little more, but he wants to learn. He's very hungry to learn."
12 hours later, Tim Priller is still trending. #iubb— HoosierFaithful (@HoosierFaithful) November 15, 2014
Another freshman, 6-foot-11 Jeremiah April, made his first appearance of any kind in an IU uniform on Friday night, entering the fray with 6:50 remaining.
"Jeremiah was not cleared until today, and it was great to get him out there," Crean said. "Certainly he's not all the way back. His conditioning is not even close, because he's pretty much been full court as much tonight as he has been since he's been back this week.
"But it was good, and the doctors have cleared him to go, so it was good to get him out there."
April hit a contested fadeaway baseline jumper for his only basket and also grabbed two rebounds.
Hoosiers at Pearl Harbor
Indiana hasn't played Kansas in almost 20 years. The next meeting between the two programs will come with a twist.
The Hoosiers and Jayhawks will tip off against each other in the 2016 Armed Forces Classic at Pearl Harbor. The game will be played at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu on Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 11 -- just under a month from the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"This is one of the premiere events in college basketball and everyone in our program is thrilled and honored to be a part of this," IU coach Tom Crean said in a statement. Knowing that we will play on Veterans Day just prior to the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor adds even greater significance and offers us an experience of a lifetime."
Kansas leads the all-time series with Indiana, 7-6. The two schools have not met since 1995. Arizona and Michigan State will play the second game on the base that day.
"We're excited to be a part of it and having the chance to play a tradition-rich program like Indiana, one of the true blue bloods of the college game," Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement.