HOOSIERS ROLL. BUT WHAT DID WE LEARN?
Indiana opened the 2018-2019 season with a dominating 104-55 win against Chicago State at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Tuesday night. Some would argue that not a lot can be learned in games against obviously outmanned opponents like the Cougars, but I beg to differ.
The Hoosiers played some really good stretches of basketball last night. In doing so they solidified what most fans have felt would be a strong suit for this team, and that is depth. Indiana can run a lot of bodies onto the floor without a huge drop off in talent over the course of a 40 minute game, and that’s with three players who figure to be in the regular rotation not having stepped on the court yet.
Learning and accepting roles will be key to being able to utilize that depth as a strength as the season goes forward. If their exhibition win, and again last night are any indication, then they are doing so thus far. We’ll learn more once there is some tougher competition and some adversity arises, but as of now I’m encouraged.
Unselfishness seems to be a strength as well. They seem to be very aware that everyone on the floor is capable of scoring the basketball. And maybe more importantly, they are getting each other the ball in the right spots. A negative that could possibly arise from that unselfishness later on is overpassing. Which I felt they did a couple of times in these first two games.
Free throw shooting. Yeah, we learned that the free throw shooting has to get better. Significantly better. You can get by with shooting free throws like that against the Chicago States of the world, but against quality competition, which is right around the corner on the schedule, it will cost you games. Everyone is a capable shooter, so maybe it as simple as concentration. No matter what the issue is, let’s hope it’s corrected soon.
There is a tendency to get a little sloppy for a few possessions at times, but I think that will be corrected when they are in games that they’re not ahead by 30 plus points. But I’d still like to see them value the ball on every possession a little more right now so no bad habits are formed. This team is one of the longest and most athletic teams that Indiana has had in a long time. They have a willingness to play defense and that length and athleticism makes them a pretty good defensive team already despite their youth.
Coming off of last season there were obvious needs heading into this year. Those needs have been addressed. Every new player on the roster brings something to the table that is of value. It takes time but this group has a high basketball IQ as well as a willingness to learn. So again I ask, what did we learn? We learned that we are early in the season and have some work that still needs to be done. But I think we also learned that if some of the fixable things are in fact fixed, then this team has all of the pieces in place that they need to be a very formidable opponent for any team on their schedule from here on out.
I for one can’t wait for Friday night to hopefully see this group take the next step towards being a team that reaches their potential. A potential that I believe far exceeds some pre-season predictions by some of the '“experts.” GO HOOSIERS!