Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Indianapolis, Indiana has come across several basketball greats in the highest level like Reggie Miller, Paul George, and currently, Victor Oladipo with the Pacers. In addition to that, the city loves basketball and there is a large market for the sport. This makes the birth of The Indy Express a positive move toward local glory. The Express came into The Basketball League this year (2020 season) with high hopes and championship expectations.
Similarly, like the other teams in the league, a major selling point is the locality of the team. The team is mostly composed of Indiana born players and a General Manager and Head Coach in Andre Owens. Owens has experienced every level of basketball and has done so in Indiana. Born in Indianapolis, Owens played his high school basketball in his hometown. He then moved on to play for Indiana University for a year before moving to Houston, where he finished his college career. He then played a season for the Utah Jazz and his last taste of NBA basketball was a season for the Pacers before moving around the European basketball scene and eventually retiring. In 2018, Owens decided to play in the Big 3 league with the Ball Hogs. Being coached by an NBA legend like Rick Barry added more credentials to the already-filled resume of Andre Owens. As someone who’s represented Indiana at all levels, there are not many individuals better than him to lead this team and create a culture of local pride.
Listen to our interview with Andre Owens at the 2019 TBL Draft/Combine
This culture of pride translated into winning as the Express finished the season with the best record in the league (9-2), winning the regular-season title. Led by two players who are on very different stages of their careers. Six-foot-five Forward, Indiana born Robert Vaden, finished the short season averaging 20.3 points per game. At thirty-five years of age, Vaden is at the tail end of his career but brings in experience and leadership. Like their head coach, Vaden floated around different professional leagues in different countries before finding his way back home. A player like Vaden provides a good example of how other players in the squad should and could be.
Six-foot-four guard, Joe Retic, is very similar to Vaden but on the other side of his career. The twenty-six-year-old Indiana native averaged 17.4 points per game and was the second of the one-two scoring punch that the Express had last season. Only growing as a player, Retic is one to look out for next season and it would not surprise me to see him surpass the numbers of Vaden.
Going into next season, I think the Indy Express have a bigger challenge ahead of them. With how the last season turned out, they will be going into the new season not as newbies but as targets. On top of this, being that they claimed the regular season this year, there is that asterisk on their names. That asterisk is because the season was cut short, due to the pandemic. This is something that several experts have brought up; winning teams will always have that asterisk in their history. That being said, I am sure they are just itching to get back out there and prove that shortened season or not, they are champions.
This piece was written by Enrique Ortiz, a common contributor for Globally Ballin. This piece is the third article of the "Who Are They" series. An article series that takes a look at all the teams in The Basketball League from a fresh set of eyes. Each piece in this series will be out and available on the website every Tuesday, enjoy!
ALSO - Below are a few links that will take you to video/audio interviews we did at the 2019 TBL Draft Combine. The first interview is a video interview with former head coach of the Indy Express Lee McDuffy and Lions TMO, Mario Lovett. These audio interviews are a part of the Globally Ballin Patreon page. So, if you are not already subscribed, a subscription may be required. Click the links to find out and learn more, enjoy!
Geniussports. (2020). Indy Express Season Profile. Retrieved August 15, 2020, from https://hosted.wh.geniussports.com/TBBL/en/team/126994?
Geniussports. (2020). Robert Vaden Statistics. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://hosted.wh.geniussports.com/TBBL/en/person/1472781/statistics?
USBasket. (2020). Andre Owens Basketball Player Profile. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://basketball.usbasket.com/player/Andre_Owens/Big3/Aliens/33983
USBasket. (2020). Joe Retic Basketball Player Profile. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://basketball.usbasket.com/player/Joe_Retic/TBL/Indy-Express/286510