Hoosiers answer some questions

In my last article I wrote about it being hard to refrain from outwardly showing too much emotion while covering the game from a media standpoint as opposed to just being a fan, and I can assure you that was really put to the test last night in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall during Indiana’s dismantling of the #24 ranked Marquette Golden Eagles. In my defense, when you’ve spent the past 40 years standing to applaud a great play, or some great defense, it’s hard to just turn that off and on.

Although statistics are a vital part telling the story of a game, there is so much more to the story in a lot of cases, and I felt like last night was one of those nights. Yes, Indiana won on the stat sheet, therefore they also won on the scoreboard. But in the fashion in which they did it tells me more of the story than the that stat sheet does. The stat sheet just backs up what we all saw.

From the time I entered Assembly Hall and walked passed the few players on the court getting some shots up, until the time the final horn sounded, they had a quiet confidence about them. Not arrogance, confidence. They looked as if they knew that they were well prepared, knew the game plan, and that they were more than capable of carrying it out. Which they did, decidedly so. They were far from perfect. And that alone probably, or should have anyway, sent notice to the remaining teams on IU’s schedule that they have the utmost trust in their coach, his system, and each other.

A lot of questions surrounded this team heading into the season. And while not all were answered last night, enough of them were to know that as fans we are in for a fun year, and future. Defense is something you can play each game…period. Some nights you may struggle offensively, it just happens, and it happens to the best of them. But there’s really not a viable excuse for not making it tough for the other team to score. Good defense is the product of a lot of things, effort being a big one of those things. This group not only gives that effort, but the reactions from the players on the court and on the bench tells me that they are also taking pride in their defense.

Offensively they not only share the ball, they get it to the right man in the right spot. They have a lot of weapons and have shown an ability to utilize those weapons. They recognize mismatches when the the other team switches on screens and they immediately look to exploit it. They know each others tendencies, and they trust each other. And with all of the new faces on this years roster, that’s something that I think all Hoosier fans wondered how long into the season it would take to happen. Well, if the first three games are any indication, it’s already happening.

I don’t want to paint the picture that I believe this team is a finished product, because they are far from it. But enough of the questions that I had personally are being answered more and more every game. And they are being answered in a positive way. A way that leads me to believe that in the very near future, if not already, when opposing teams see the name Indiana up next on their schedule they know they had better bring their “A” game.

The crowd was not only there, they were also into “it.” Assembly Hall can be one of the toughest arenas to play in when the crowd is involved. All players feed off of crowd energy, but especially young players. There is nothing better than great crowd involvement, both supporting and encouraging a team, and when it happens in B-Town it is a beautiful thing to be a part of. With continued improvement like this team has shown, there will be plenty to cheer about going forward.

There is not a player that sees the floor for Indiana that doesn’t contribute. IU was down four players last night. They started two freshman, two sophomores, and a senior. There was absolutely no hesitation from the onset in any of the Hoosiers, not even from the first year players. In fact, the took it right to the Golden Eagles from the opening tip. And aside from a few possessions here and there, they continued doing so right up until the final buzzer.

Can Evan Fitzner help the Hoosiers? Can Robert Phinisee run the team when called upon? Can Juwan Morgan be a leader now that this is his team? Is Romeo Langford as good as advertised? Can Justin Smith take the next step in reaching his potential? Just a few examples of some of the questions I had, along with A LOT of other Hoosier faithfuls. A resounding YES would be the answer to those questions.

After a win, or a loss, I’ve always been excited for the next game to roll around. Some years that’s amped up even more…this is one of those years. Sure, this team has things to improve on, but don’t tell me after what we witnessed last night that you don’t wish they played again tonight. Unfortunately we have to wait until Sunday, and playing Arkansas in Fayetteville will be no easy task. A pretty good team and our newcomers first trip into enemy territory will answer even more questions, I’m sure. But seeing the poise and the confidence that they’ve shown so far, I like our chances.

The young Hoosiers are pretty good and improving before our eyes. Assembly Hall was rocking pretty good last night. We have a damn good coach. Yep…Hoosier Hysteria is back in Bloomington, Indiana and I absolutely love it!