Against Indiana State, UE will play the same team for a second time in less than a week.
Well, sort of.
“It’s a little different in this regard that we anticipate them getting a major piece back in the lineup, which really changes the dynamics of their basketball team,” coach Marty Simmons said Wednesday. “Manny Arop’s a fantastic player. He can score inside and outside. He can affect the game defensively. So from our standpoint, there are some things we have to focus on differently.”
Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said a decision on Arop, the Sycamores’ indefinitely suspended second-leading scorer, could come down to game time at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
Does Simmons have some sort of inside information on the Indiana State junior’s status?
“I wish,” he said.
Simmons added: “I just think when you’re preparing for a team like that and a guy traveled with them — he warmed up with them — I’d rather be readily to prepared to the best of our abilities. I just think he’s a terrific player, and he brings another dimension to our team. We really prepared for him last time. Then you play the game and he doesn’t play, and now you’ve got to be careful. I don’t know anything, but I sure anticipate he’ll play.”
Arop averages 12.6 points per game and scored a game-high 19 in 27 minutes during the teams’ first meeting, a Jan. 19 Aces loss in Terre Haute. The 6-foot-6 Gonzaga transfer from 7 of 9 from the field, made his only 3-point attempt and sank all four of his free throws.
“He brings another dimension to their team as an offensive threat,” said UE senior Ned Cox.
Arop missed last Saturday’s UE-Indiana State game, an Aces win in which the host team racked up 84 points on senior day.
Sophomore Ryan Sawvell noted Arop’s abilities without the ball.
“He also brings pretty good defense to their team, too,” Sawvell said. “I think he was guarding Ned at certain points in that game, and he held Ned to a few points up there. So I think he brings not only some scoring, but some pretty good defense.
“He’s probably going to play, just because it’s a pretty crucial part of the year and they’ll want their best lineup out there. I think he’s one of their best players.”