The Indiana Hoosiers basketball team has a light week before Thanksgiving. IU plays just one game, Tuesday night against Evansville, before the holiday break.
IU has this week to prepare to finally leave the comfortable confines of Assembly Hall for a true road game when they’ll face No. 8 Syracuse.
We learned a lot this week about the Hoosiers. They are far more competitive than their makeup suggests and the fact that they are unranked is perplexing. They lost by one point to No. 18 Connecticut (which has jumped up to 13th) on the road. IU dropped a few spots in the coaches poll for losing a game by ONE to a team they weren’t supposed to beat.
Does that make any sense?
These aren’t the BCS rankings, and in basketball they essentially don’t matter. But this IU squad deserves to be ranked based on how they’ve played against quality opponents this past week.
IU dominated Washington 102-84 and then narrowly lost to UConn 59-58 (and on a questionable no-call as well).
Here’s what we took away from the Legends Classic:
- Yogi Ferrell is a much improved scorer. He is more aggressive when going to the basket, and incredibly dangerous when slashing while other players are making their cuts. He is also more adept at getting to the free throw line. If there is one problem, its that he is taking too many shots to get his 19.5 points per game (an average of 14 shots). He also needs to cut down on turnovers against better opponents.
- This team can be too unselfish. There are times where players are making an extra pass just to make an extra pass. Players have deferred to someone else rather than taking a good look or trying to draw a foul. This isn’t “Hoosiers” and Tom Crean doesn’t care if every player touches the ball before they can score. It is nice to see players make that extra pass, but too often it leads to a turnover when it could have been points.
- Noah Vonleh can’t get into foul trouble. It was a problem at times in high school, but it’s more important now that he stay on the court. IU’s rebounding ability nose dives without him and the offense lacks a dominant presence on the low block with him on the sideline. If he stays on the court, IU beats UConn by more than a few points.
- Troy Williams needs to be more assertive on offense. He has 22 points against Washington, then just two against UConn off only four shots. It was more than just a bad game. If he had taken nine or 10 shots and wasn’t hitting, that’s one thing. But he is a shooter and, according to Crean (among others), is the second coming of Victor Oladipo. He’s already ahead of him in terms of offense, but when he’s not attempting shots and cutting to the basket, IU’s offense suffers.
- Jeremy Hollowell needs a serious boost in his confidence. He looks hesitant and very indecisive on the court right now. Neither is a quality you want in a starter. He has the potential to be a better Christian Watford, and needs to start playing like it. He clearly gets frustrated when his shot isn’t falling, and starts overcompensating. Hollowell is a big presence on the court and needs to play more in the paint (or midrange) until the long ball is going for him.
Pomeroy currently has IU ranked 33rd. Their adjusted offense plumeted after the UConn game, dropping them to the 62nd ranked offense (down from 45th last week). They also have the 24th best defense.
Nov. 26th – Indiana vs Evansville, 8pm
The Hoosiers will host the undefeated Evansville Aces Tuesday night. The Aces have one of the better offenses in the country, ranking 25th per Pomeroy. They’re 16th in points per game and haven’t had a night where they scored less than 84. They’re exceptional at sharing the ball and rank third in assists per game in the country. The team is shooting a blistering 57-percent from the field as well.
They have a very young starting five that consists of two sophomores and three freshmen. DJ Balentine has been on fire for this team, averaging 29.6 points per game which is fourth in the country, while shooting 59-percent from the field. He’s also giving his team nearly four assists as well.
Balentine’s partner in crime is Adam Wing who is putting up just under 14 per game, but doing so while hitting 68-percent of his shots.
The fatal flaw of this team is it’s defense, which is ranked 267th. The lowest point total they’ve held an opponent to was 68 points against DIII Anderson. They also struggle to rebound the ball, sitting at 315th (out of 351) on the glass.
The starters are pretty much all guards, with the tallest checking in at 6-5, which would explain why this team is so bad at rebounding. The Aces rotation players all check in at 6-7 or taller. Suffice it to say, its a weird rotation.
Evansville has only had one road game, a six point win at IUPUI, and heading to Assembly Hall is going to be a real test for this young team. IU can start out big and out muscle the defensively deficient team and will likely spend most of the game snagging all the missed shots.
The problem is that this is a clear trap game for the Hoosiers. Yes, they should beat Evansville, but with the holiday break coming up and Syracuse looming, it would be easy for this team to get distracted. Especially after coming off such a close loss last weekend.
That said, I believe that the Hoosiers win this game, but not without some trouble from the Aces.
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