Five takeaways from Hoosier Hysteria

  • 10/27/2014 10:22 am in

Indiana’s season opening showcase, Hoosier Hysteria, took place Saturday night in Assembly Hall and included player introductions, a 3-point shootout, dunk contest and a 20-minute scrimmage.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from what we saw on Branch McCracken Court:

· Indiana’s offense should be significantly better: Yes, the sample size (five games in Montreal and a scrimmage) is small, but if there’s one thing that stands out right now about this team, it’s the possibility for a very good offense. The turnover issue still looms large, but the perimeter depth and versatility should make this team tough to guard. Yogi Ferrell is still one of the best guards in the country, but Tom Crean has surrounded him with an elite shooter and scorer in James Blackmon Jr., a combo guard who competes like an upperclassman in Robert Johnson, a veteran who seems confident in Nick Zeisloft and two sophomores, Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams, who love to attack off the dribble. There will be a learning curve to make all of the pieces fit together, but the upside of this group is tremendous.

· Mosquera-Perea shows flashes of improvement: Junior Hanner Mosquera-Perea showed a few flashes of improved hands and footwork in Saturday’s scrimmage. On one particular sequence, Nick Zeisloft cut from the right corner on the baseline, received a pass from Yogi Ferrell and then dropped the ball off to Mosquera-Perea on the left block. It was a pass that Mosquera-Perea may have had trouble handling in the past, but he caught it and went up against Emmitt Holt and missed. He then collected the offensive rebound off a tip by Devin Davis and finished at the rim.

“The bottom line is, we’re trying to keep it where Hanner is gaining confidence every day,” Crean said on Saturday. “The more confidence he gains, the more we can stretch his game. He’s on a good road, he’s hungry. I’m not going to over-exaggerate it, I’m not going to over-compliment him, but you’re seeing what we see – he’s really working to get better. We’ve got to stay on that path.”

· Robert Johnson is flying under the radar: Johnson hasn’t been talked about nearly as much as Ferrell or Blackmon Jr., but the Richmond (Va.) native looks the part of a Big Ten ready guard. There’s something to be said for a player who makes the smart play most of the time and that’s exactly what Johnson is. He’s not ultra explosive, but he’s strong and crafty enough to get where he needs to with the ball, moves fairly well without it and can stroke it from deep. And he competes, which is what Crean said on Saturday has stood out so far.

“I think he’s competitive, I think he’s a pitbull, I think he’s got to gain confidence that he can still be really good when his shot’s not there,” Crean said. “What happens with new players, especially ones that were high-volume scorers and were as good as he was and as good as James was, they have to understand that you can still really impact the game even if the shots aren’t there.”

Johnson won’t be a featured offensive player in IU’s offense immediately, but impacting the game without shots is something we saw him do in Montreal and with his ability to play facilitator and also mix it up on the boards when asked. He’ll play a valuable role.

· Dual threats on the perimeter should open up the floor: Outside of Ferrell and Noah Vonleh, who didn’t spend much time there, Indiana didn’t have consistent perimeter shooters last season. It’s a big reason why the offense was often disjointed. In Ferrell, Blackmon Jr. and Johnson, the Hoosiers now have three legitimate threats to shoot from distance or go off the dribble. The result is better ball movement and trust amongst teammates to find the open guy because there’s a belief that anyone can knock down a shot.

“When you look at our higher-level shooters, they are also good at driving to the lane – Yogi, Robert and James,” Crean said. “Dribbling is a weapon, not a necessity. We were able to work on that a lot this summer and we’ve had success. We didn’t do a lot of rebounding drills before Montreal or physical taxing things. We just started to do more of those so we’ll see more improvement in not over-dribbling, we’ll see improvement on continuing to make the next pass.”

· Defense and rebounding are still very much a work in progress: On the defensive side of things, Indiana still has a ways to go, which isn’t necessarily surprising considering this is, like it or not, a young team. Nine of the team’s 15 players are new to the program and two of its primary frontcourt pieces, have limited experience. Having size isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to having a good rebounding team, but making first contact and getting bodies on guys, particularly on the defensive end, is. So far, as Crean said, Indiana hasn’t done a lot in those areas and it showed in Montreal and on Saturday.

Right now, Ferrell is easily Indiana’s best defender and how quickly the rest of the group makes progress in areas like communication, stopping unnecessary reaching and not over-helping will be pivotal.

“We have spent a lot of time breaking it down. So it’s not the fatigue that shows up easily, it’s the fatigue of not talking as much or we don’t have our hands up as much – the little things,” Crean said. “The details of it are behind when it comes to game speed. But they aren’t behind when it comes to drilling. I think the effort is there. I’ve been seeing us come off shooters and we never do that. That’s the one adjustment I’ve seen being in the Big Ten, you cannot chase the ball when there are so many good shooters in the league. You have to defend the shooter. Stop the ball, but defend the shooter.”

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  • KmanCRK

    Great post. I completely agree with everything you said. I think Hanner, just like most people, will get better with experience. And for whatever reason he never got the PT in his first two years (always a gripe of mine especially his Freshman year when we’d be up 30 with 10 to go and he still wasn’t playing) even when we were up big. But now we know he’ll be getting lots of PT opportunity. I thought he grew quite a bit last year in little game time. These guards will be the talk of the Big Ten in about 3 months.

  • KmanCRK

    I hope so, but he seems just so damn slow to me. I assume he’ll be elsewhere in a couple of years. I can’t see him guarding anyone in the big ten. But the kid can shoot the rock.

  • KmanCRK

    When you’ve got guys like AE, Hollowell, J Marlin and E Gordon coming off the bench, how can you complain about PT for the starters?

  • KmanCRK

    Actually I liked Crean’s comments about getting stamina up as the season progresses and that they aren’t focused much on that yet. He said this was their longest scrimmage yet. He talked about not peaking/buring out too soon which I thought was probably a good idea considering the pace we will be looking to play at come the Big Ten season.

  • KmanCRK

    Can somebody start blowing up Bryant’s twitter about the impending violations that could really hurt Syracuse? It is us against them in my opinion and they are scheduled to be here in Indy later this week meeting with the NCAA.

  • KmanCRK

    Emmitt will definitely be getting PT. I still can’t get over the fact that last year in Syracuse, we had Stan guarding CJ Fair for a good chunk of that game. That’s how bad our depth was last year down low. He will get to play and needs to get the basics down so he can hold his own when his chances come.

  • FinEndNow

    Well… we can shoot the tre ball. That is all I know.

  • ForeverIU

    Nice post! On a (funny) side note, I was missing AnonymousDave, and here is his just-as-good cousin, SilentBob! Where is DisappearingJoe??!!

  • SilentBob

    Haha the word around the web is Dave was blocked for an unexplained reason. I’m considering a hashtag campaign #FreeDave in hopes the moderators will provide one is give Dave a chance to comeback a changed commentor lol jk. If not I may have to rely on that new name you have provided me.

  • ForeverIU

    You just added five years to your life!

  • SilentBob

    Well added muscle can cause one to fatigue quite quickly. A lot of these players seem to just be bulking. Here is an interesting fact, the Spurs (who in the NBA have an additional 8 minutes) didn’t play one single player 30 minutes or more last season. No we don’t have to deal with age, but keeping guys fresh will avoid injury and allows us to hopefully not to get too hot or too cold. Hopefully this will allow for a better team atmosphere.

  • Outoftheloop

    They are all focused right now. They want to impress the Coach and to earn playing time. Wait until late January and those averaging under 10 minutes/game will drift and lose intensity!

  • Outoftheloop

    Great observation!

  • Outoftheloop

    Tim is 6’9 going on 6’11. He just needs to stand tall and keep his position. He is difficult to shot over and to drive around. On offense he is not trying to be elusive, he is 6’9 and unless you are 6’6 and above and right on top of him, he will get his shot off and hit 50/60%!

  • Outoftheloop

    It was a group trip and 2 out of the 3 were sick. When you are sick no one wants you spreading the germs. Stay home and get well!

  • Outoftheloop

    The more you play your best players over 30 minutes/game the more fatigued they are in February and March.

  • Outoftheloop

    And EFFORT! That IS rebounding!

  • Outoftheloop

    More importantly, grab the rebound and flush it!

  • 5_Banners

    Defense and rebounding first and foremost. Then just be able to put anything around the rim in the basket. That’s all they really need from him.

    I don’t think that’s out of the realm of possibility for him this year.

  • 5_Banners

    I think the guards + wings will be in there grabbing rebounds this year. There will be some games where IU might get pounded on the glass, but I think if they can neutralize the offensive rebounds moreso than anything else…they’ll be alright.

  • Displaced Hoosier

    Agreed on both counts. Nobody on Indianas roster is a Lance Stephenson clone, or even close, so reckless can check itself at the door when it comes to an unsaveable pass, or diving for a ball under the scorers table.

  • marcusgresham

    He doesn’t need to be Sullinger. Dallas Lauderdale would suffice.

  • marcusgresham

    April wasn’t wearing the boot, though, so that’s encouraging.

  • marcusgresham

    I was also impressed. Don’t get me wrong, he has a lot of work to do, but he at least appeared to have a good understanding of the game. Also, he’s going to develop into that 6’9″ 3-point shooter trailing the break, so he doesn’t have to be super fast. We ever see a guy like that hit a shot? Hmm.

    The one who impressed me (and again, he has work to do,) is Hoetzel. I have to applaud his mobility, because, while he isn’t the fastest, it takes some skill to get around carrying balls that big. Dude is 100% confidence. I actually met his mother in the concourse afterwards and told her, “there was a guy here about 10 or so years ago named AJ Moye who people fell in love with and still are. I have a feeling the guy out of this group who ends up in that position is your son.”

  • marcusgresham

    For free, but the UK fans were pissed because it was delayed. They actually thought they could post enough on Facebook to force ESPN to show it live (why didn’t they beg Betty White to MC while they were at it?)

  • Jrod

    I like Mad Max also he can shoot the ball with the number 1 strength and conditioning coach in the league he should be able to add some pounds to help bang down low. A lot of people are worried about or rebounding but with the guards crashing the boards it is hard to block out someone faster. Rebounding is all about hustle and desire just put your A$$ in to it. 🙂