Five takeaways from Indiana’s non-conference season

  • 12/30/2014 2:37 pm in

Indiana completed its non-conference season on Saturday with a 10-3 record. Here’s a look at five takeaways from the first month and a half of the season:

· Indiana won’t have a problem scoring: While last season’s team struggled at multiple points during games to find points, this Hoosiers squad has had no such worries. The lowest points output Indiana has had this season has been 74 — and that was against the nation’s No. 2 defense in Louisville. Only 64 teams in the NCAA are even averaging that many points.

Through their first 13 games, the Hoosiers rank No. 10 in the country in offensive efficiency, according to They also are in the top 10, nationally, in effective field goal percentage and 3-point shooting, and are No. 47 in the country in turnover percentage (compared to No. 330 last season).

Whereas last season the Hoosiers had very limited shooting options, the Hoosiers have a variety of proven weapons this season — including Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr., Nick Zeisloft, Robert Johnson and Max Hoetzel. And Indiana’s inside-out threat continues to grow, as well, with the continued development of Troy Williams and Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

· The lack of a big man can be problematic: While scoring won’t be an issue, stopping physical big men will. The biggest warning signs came in the 88-86 loss to Eastern Washington, in which 6-foot-8 Venky Jois piled on 20 points and 14 rebounds against the Hoosiers.

Montrezl Harrell of Louisville and Joshua Smith of Georgetown had similar impacts on the game as big men who dominated Indiana.

The Hoosiers’ lack of size this season is well-known, and they have made strides in rebounding – they have out-rebounded opponents in their past four games (including Butler and Georgetown). But the impact of bigger, physical opponents having success against Indiana does not need to show up in the rebounding battle for it to be significant.

Jois, Harrell and Smith all were able to get easy points and offensive boards for their teams. Indiana simply did not have answers for them. And moving forward, the Big Ten will feature several teams with similar threats. The Hoosiers will have to learn how to solve that problem quite quickly.

· Troy Williams is showing significant improvement: When you look at Williams’ freshman stat line from last season, two of the numbers that stick out include 29 and 57. 29 assists. 57 turnovers.

A 6-foot-7 forward that has had plenty issues slowing down his game in his short college career, Williams is starting to do just that in the early phases of his sophomore year. And there have been results.

Through the first 13 games this season, Williams actually has more assists, 23, than he does turnovers, 20. His role has increased — he is playing more minutes, scoring more and rebounding more. Just in his past five games, including the Louisville, Butler and Georgetown battles, Williams is averaging 15.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

And to top it off, in his last outing against the Hoyas, Williams recorded career highs in both minutes (33) and points (23).

· Yogi Ferrell is the team’s clear-cut leader: This isn’t much of a surprise, but Ferrell has solidified himself as the Hoosier’s leader this season — both off and on the court.

Proof of that came in early November, when Ferrell was thrust in front of the media and apologized on behalf of the team after a turbulent start to the season that included Devin Davis being seriously injured in a car accident and Emmitt Holt, Stanford Robinson and Williams facing suspensions.

But Ferrell has continued to be the Hoosiers’ go-to guy on the court, as well — even with the added scoring options. He is averaging 17.2 points per game, just 0.1 off last season’s average, but he has also proven his worth late in games this season as well.

No two games have exemplified Ferrell’s leadership more than his 20-point second half performance against Butler in the Crossroads Classic and his two last minute 3-pointers against Georgetown just last Saturday.

And on top of that, Ferrell now is the lone active Hoosier on the 1,000-point scoring list: His 1,047 points rank No. 45 in school history.

· The Hoosiers have a shot at the NCAA tournament: Of course non-conference season is not the determining factor on whether a team makes the NCAA tournament.

But through 13 games, the Hoosiers already have picked up multiple résumé-boosting wins in Butler, SMU and Pittsburgh that could help come March. The Eastern Washington loss is not great, however the Eagles are 9-4 and are projected to go undefeated in Big Sky action. The Louisville and Georgetown losses will not look bad, either.

Big Ten season always comes with chance to grab signature wins. And in a wide-open Big Ten, the Hoosiers have as good of a possibility as any team to capitalize on a potential top-five spot in the league.

After 13 games, however, it is clear much of the book on Indiana’s 2014-2015 season has yet to be written. Plenty of opportunities lie ahead.

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  • Corey Schroyer

    Always love the insights throughout the season and offseason. I believe this one is right on point, certainly we can see the offensive improvement and continued growth as a team as the season has progressed. More room for growth, and cannot wait for the conference slate to get started!

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    looking forward to b1g season starting. i still just don’t know what to expect from this team. i have to say at this point they’ve absolutely exceeded my expectations. i certainly didn’t expect HP to show the type of improvement he’s shown so far. and the same goes for TW on a lesser scale. being said, there’s still no way around the size issue. they’re going to have trouble rebounding, and more importantly they’re going to give up a lot of points in the paint. barring a miraculous emergence of JA as a significant contributor this season, it’s simply something this team will have to overcome with lights-out shooting.

    it was easy to see ahead of time that UL and Gtown were major match-up problems. i wonder how many of the b1g teams would be similar bad match-ups for us. wiscy? osu?

  • hagster

    Whats up Knight???????????

  • marcusgresham

    Two predictions for the conference season.
    1.) IU will beat someone in the top-20 and everyone will begin prediction tournament seeding.
    2.) IU will lose to someone outside the top-40 and it’ll be Tom Crean’s incompetence in coaching/recruiting/over-clapping/etc…

  • N71

    Ken Pomeroy has Indiana ranked #45, Nebraska #93 yet we’re a 4 point dog. I realize home court is worth something…is this considered a bad match-up for IU? If we’re up by 12 at half and loose by 4 I’m going to punch a hole in my TV.

  • SCHoosier

    To complete the picture iMO..the first para should have been something like..”Indiana won’t have trouble scoring..but its likely the Hoosiers will have trouble defending.” What stands out to me is how soft this team is on defense..especially the freshmen.

  • Eastwood88_2

    This offense is good enough to get us in the tourney. I have never said that before the start of the season. Guys can flat out score. Yes we have size issues, but our guards have done a much better job at crashing. I am not afraid of getting out rebounded. Other bigs will score against us, but other teams can’t guard us. To me, his is the best team for crean’s offense since he started here. Minus one big man who can produce.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    3. IU will repeat 1. & 2. at least once, maybe twice…

  • John D Murphy

    My 6
    -TW has gotten really good…really fast. Can’t wait to see what is next.
    -This freshman class came in ready to work. JBJ, RJ, and MH have put the work ethic back into the team that I think was missing last year.
    -Our interior defense is and will be bad but the exterior could become better through the season. I think it will dictate how successful we are in the B1G.
    -Yogi is still Yogi just a touch better. All the things that frustrate us about him are apparently going to stay: pounding nails, too careless with the ball,… But the great things are getting better.
    -CH and NZ have found their role. Stan hasn’t and we SO want him to.
    -JBJ reminds me so much of a young Steve Alford. Not freak show athletic, but has a great shot, super smart, and cold blooded.

  • Ole Man

    Jordan, I was surprised that you listed Hoetzel rather than Collin Hartman when you mentioned scorers. Was this an oversight?

  • gm

    A couple random thoughts:

    1) I keep hearing people say JBJ isn’t an athlete. Are you kidding me? What about his put-back dunk earlier in the season? What about his dunk on Herrell? Dude skies for rebounds too. His athletic ability may be deceptive, but there’s no question about his hops.

    2) HMP needs to stop that weak-ass baseline move that inevitably results in the defender cutting him off and him throwing up some awkward shot. If he’s going to drive the baseline and get cut off, he needs to be prepared to spin back the other way, put up a pump fake, anything. But don’t leave your feet and throw up some garbage. Dude plays so much smaller than he is. Just like Cody…and Vonleh. I get that they’re not natural post players, but that’s what they’re called upon to do at Indiana because of circumstance. Does Crean teach back to the basket post moves or what? It would be refreshing to see Indiana with a monster post player like that for a change.

    3) It’s terrifying what will happen to this team if they go cold behind the arc, especially against a good team. It will be a massacre.

    Other than that, and of course their woeful defense, everything’s great!

  • ForeverIU

    We’ve being doing pretty well with rebounding, 40 against Gtown and 48 against Butler. We outrebounded both teams.

  • IUJeff

    There is no big guy walking through the door any time soon. The team needs to toughen up, stop ball reversal and force drivers to their off hands, locate someone and get a darn body on em on shots, then look for the rebound, and have some pride playing D.

  • GaHoosier

    I thought the same thing.

  • Ole Man

    Great thoughts.

  • pcantidote

    Yep, finally play some team, help side defense is exactly what this team needs. It has never seemed to be a point of emphasis however of CTC.

  • iubase

    still think that interior play is much better now than beginning of yr and this is primarily due to HMP development. Most points scored by smith were when HMP was not on the floor.

  • Dagwoods

    Regarding the big man issue: We played ourselves into the loss with Eastern Washington, Jois, should not have been an issue. We had an answer for Smith in the first half, Georgetown figured it out the second. Harrell is Harrell.

    I crack up at the coaching criticism (I’ve been guilty myself in the past, but not publicly), when none of us could even land a job coaching a community college team – and if we did, none of us would even have half the record of these coaches we criticize.