Five takeaways from Indiana’s non-conference season

  • 12/28/2015 11:15 am in

Indiana completed the non-conference portion of its schedule on Dec. 22 with a 10-3 record. Here’s a look at five takeaways from the first month and a half of the season:

· The offense is still elite: Say what you want about Indiana’s disappointing trip to Maui or the blowout loss at Duke, but the Hoosiers have one of the best offensive units in all of college basketball.

The numbers are impressive nearly across the board: IU ranks fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency, second in effective field goal percentage and seventh in offensive rebounding percentage. The offense alone should win IU its fair share of conference games.


The major problem has been the turnovers where IU ranks 273rd nationally. That’s a major dropoff from last season when IU entered Big Ten play 47th in the country in turnover percentage. But overall, the offense is still outpacing last season as IU had the nation’s 10th best offense a season ago going into Big Ten play.

· The defense remains a major work in progress: The Hoosiers have the Big Ten’s best offense, but what’s holding them back from consideration as a legitimate conference contender is the defense.

According to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings, IU has the 11th best defense among Big Ten teams entering league play. The Hoosiers are coming off a performance in which Kennesaw State scored a season-best 1.08 points per possession. As illustrated below by ShotAnalytics, Indiana’s defense at the rim is still a major issue:


It’s not that Indiana hasn’t shown itself to be capable of defending at times this season, it’s more the lack of consistency that’s concerning. The Hoosiers turned in a subpar 30 minutes to start against Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic before clamping down in the game’s final minutes to grind out a much needed win.

· Indiana’s 3-point shooting options are plentiful: While it seems to be taken for granted at times because it has become the norm over the last season and a half, what the Hoosiers are doing from 3-point range is impressive.

IU has seven players who have made seven or more 3s this season and of the seven, all but one (Collin Hartman) is shooting 38.9 percent or better:


There are very few lineups that Tom Crean is playing that don’t have four players who can make a shot from the outside, which makes the Hoosiers incredibly difficult to cover. If Hartman can return to the form that he exhibited last season, he’ll become much more valuable as a stretch four or even for spot minutes at the five if Crean elects to go with a small ball lineup for stretches.

· The Maui trip could prove costly for NCAA tournament seeding: It’s over and done with, but falling into the loser’s bracket was damaging to Indiana’s non-conference strength of schedule. Rather than a day two matchup with Vanderbilt, ranked No. 18 in the KenPom ratings, the Hoosiers played St. John’s (No. 230) in their second Maui contest.

As IU enters the Big Ten portion of its schedule, the Hoosiers have a non-conference strength of schedule rating of 292nd by KenPom, 242nd by Sagarin and 202nd according to the RPI.

The Notre Dame win will certainly help with the resume, but in order to earn a favorable seed, Indiana is going to need to clean up on its league schedule against lesser opponents while also beating some of the league’s elite when given the opportunity.

· Overshadowed by IU’s struggles, Yogi Ferrell is playing well with room for growth: As pointed out in our non-conference player-by-player review, Yogi Ferrell has played very well this season.

In 32.5 minutes per game, Ferrell is averaging 16.1 points, 5.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game while shooting an effective field goal percentage of 55.9. In terms of offensive rating, he currently sits at 38th nationally according to KenPom.

With just 18 Big Ten games, a conference tournament and a potential NCAA tournament to play in his IU career, the next three months are likely to define the legacy that IU’s point guard leaves in Bloomington. Statistically, he’ll certainly be one of the top guards to suit up for the program. But will he prove himself capable of leading a team on a deep run in March? The answer to that question will be pivotal in determining where Ferrell ultimately lands on the list of great guards to don the cream and crimson.

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  • iubase

    Nothing here we did not know. The question now is how the players respond in the Big Ten season. Will Troy decrease his TOs, will JBJ play D, how do we get Bryant to toughen his inside D, and how much will the other 2 frosh play esp if they play better D. CTC gets paid big bucks to sort this out. Still anticipate we should be no lower than 4th in Big ten with a trip to sweet 16. Anything beyond that is gravy. If Yogi and CTC manage this then Yogi will be remembered as one of the best and CTC will hopefully be calmer.

  • SCHoosier

    My personal opinion is that the definition of elite when it comes to a b-ball offense needs somehow to be reconsidered. Maybe “elite against cupcakes” etc. Not being a smart a– here..but to say IU was elite against the better teams is puzzling. The TO ratio alone should disqualify them from the “elite status”. A worthy goal to be sure…but…

  • Ms hoosier

    I agree IU’s defense is nowhere good enough to overcome 15 to 20 turnovers against elite teams!!

  • Ms hoosier

    IU’s offense could help the defense out by cutting down on the turnovers

  • Kyl470

    Easiest way to cut down turnovers is to cut down on Troy playing PG. Let Troy play the forward spot and let Yogi handle the PG duties.

  • Ms hoosier

    I don’t know why Crean thinks Troy needs to play the point. Troy is much better playing off the ball!!

  • BeatDuke

    Play Morgan and OG at the 4, and tell them they in for defensive purposes. This helps our rim protection and rebounds. We will still have plenty of shooters on the floor. Not sure how CH fits into this, but we need the length of these guys on defense (as shown in the last 1.5 games).

  • Ole Man

    They’re not ready for extended duty against most B1G teams. Doing it against KS doesn’t mean a thing.
    CH is our best bet off the bench; especially if he begins to come around.

  • Really? In our most important games Yogi led the team in turnovers.. or at least was one of the leaders. I agree he needs to be the point guard more, but that doesn’t ensure a decrease in turnovers.. Troy’s turnovers happen more when he takes one of his patented trips down the floor on a fast break and we all sit there shuddering in anticipation, of his losing the ball again. Not exactly a result of him playing the point.

  • Not too much difference this year.. especially if OG and Juwann begin to come around… CH hasn’t really been as dramatically a difference maker as he was last year IMO. And, he certainly isn’t shooting the 3 spectacularly. I mean he’s been ok on ‘D’, but his all around game isn’t as good.

  • dwdkc

    CH has not looked like himself until the last game, and the logical explanation is that he wasn’t fully recovered from a lingering injury. I think we can expect him to at least attain the productivity he showed us last year, assuming he can get fully healthy.

  • ToothGuy

    Respectfully, Troy uses the exact same approach when handling at PG as he does when haphazardly running the break. Instead now he has all five defenders in front of him and less real estate to utilize. Yogi hasn’t been much better with the ball, but it’s a huge stretch to say positive things about Troy directing the offense. This is blatantly a selling point from CTC that he would allow Troy “x” number of plays to showcase his ball handling for scouts. I’m puzzled how more people don’t pick up on that.

  • Chappy Dan

    Agreed. Let Troy’s growth as a ball-handler occur on the NBA’s watch.

  • hardly

    Alex – is the offense elite in non-home games? I’m guessing it’s still probably pretty good, but I don’t have the tools to answer the question myself

  • PBzeer

    Could we worry a bit less about NBA player development and a bit more about college team player development. (yes, that’s a statement, not a question)

    The primary purpose of the IU head coach is to put the best IU college basketball team he can on the court. Not NBA player development, nor showcasing for pro scouts. Those are, and should be, secondary concerns that only come after putting our best team on the floor to win the games they play.

  • Where did you find out that information? I will agree Troy whether he’s at the ‘point’ or just bringing the ball down floor on a break, is just too ‘out of control’ or careless with the ball.. Or maybe we’re giving him too much credit, maybe he’s just not nearly a good enough ball handler. At any rate, I expected better from him this year. Actually, I expected him to be better last year, but that never happened either. I’m not sure how they feel that his performance will get any NBA scouts excited. I can’t see where he’s exhibited the kind of skill so far, that will sell in the NBA and there’s nothing that makes me think that will change..

  • Bill Graham

    Ok, so obviously the D is the hot topic right now on the forum. Here’s my take: I don’t think our defensive issues will ever be fixed. Can they improve? Absolutely, but I don’t think we will ever be a good defensive team. The problem lies in recruiting (its the same in football) we recruit offensive minded players. If you look at a gritty team like Butler they have one or two offensive minded guys. Dunham and Lewis obviously arent there to lock down the other teams best players. Contrarily, guys like Chrabascz, Martin, and even Jones weren’t recruited for their stellar shooting ability (although their offense is surprising at times). We think that because we are getting guys who average 18 + points in high school that they are good two way players, but the fact is the past two years prove otherwise… I mean do you really think James was recruited for his stellar defense? Troy? Yogi? even Thomas?? Offense sells tickets but it doesn’t win championships. Maybe its time we take grit into account when a recruit signs

  • Outoftheloop

    I humbly disagree. Any talented good player can play defense! Any great coach can get most of his players to “buy in to” giving the effort and toughness to be good at “team” defense: i.e. Coaches K and Izzo (and any coach at Butler). Crean has NO team defensive plan and identity! So sad!

  • Outoftheloop

    That is way too simplistic. Without at least 2 and usually 3 NBA quality players in the top 8 rotation you can not win the NCAA Championship in today’s game, usually (Danny Manning at KS under Larry Brown was the last exception)!

  • Outoftheloop

    Good idea, but what do you do when Thomas, OG and Morgan all have 3 fouls in the first half on the road?

  • Outoftheloop

    Collin is still getting back into shape after his rib injury (very painful!).

  • Outoftheloop

    Why is that NOT obvious to the guy getting paid $3 million a year to coach?!?

  • BeatDuke

    Put in Max.

  • PBzeer

    Having NBA quality, and pandering to it aren’t the same thing.

  • CTC will have to be ready to simplify his defense, stop trying to innovate, which he doesn’t do well, and keep and teach a simple defensive plan. By all means ‘STOP’ the defensive ‘shift’ during mid-possession!! CTC, please stop trying to be on the floor as a 6th player micromanaging the game, you were never good enough at bball to play for any major college and you aren’t now. I have to agree with those that say CTC seems to be ‘showcasing’ certain players without regard for what is best for the team. I also think, in the back of CTC’s mind, he is showcasing himself as coaching material for the NBA (assistant not head coach. I’m saying in his mind not anyone else’s mind). I’m also personally convinced CTC will do none of this and that he will, in the next few years, will no longer be IU’s head coach.

  • ToothGuy

    I don’t have any first-hand info, its just my understanding that this is how NBA-level prospects bargain with returns to school. Scouts identify a “wishlist” for the prospects to develop…the prospects, in turn, talk over these with the coaching staff. Prime time for coaches to make promises. JBJr and Yogi no doubt had similar conversations with the staff.

    I think you are absolutely right that we probably expected too much out of Troy as a ball handler. We’re recruiting under the guise of turning raw athletes into D. Wade’s and Oladipo’s so there is pressure to allow these (unfortunately limited) would-be-stars to tryout some versatility. I feel for CTC because he’s in a tough spot. Either level these fragile mindsets with the harsh reality of their limitations or saddle a team with the consequences of these personal projects. Pretty clear the latter has been chosen.

    The “NBA fence” guys are in a tough spot too. Their handlers have them convinced they’re Pros. Whats worse, they have them convinced that they did IU a favor by sticking around one more year. Problem is….guys like Troy and JBJr have been exposed. Exposed defensive ability, exposed consistency issues, and exposed inability to improve on said deficiencies. So they are faced with leaping to a league that knows them too well or swallowing pride and staying in school under a hot-seat coach with his own unpleasant exposures. Bridges burned in both directions.

  • Outoftheloop

    Pandering, schmoozing, pampering, convincing, call it what you will, you have to get those NBA type of recruits to sign the LOI!

  • Outoftheloop

    Good, but Max and Collin are not good enough to beat B1G frontlines.

  • PBzeer

    So, you seem to be saying that only by promising to put the players NBA hopes above the team, the school, and the people that pay for their scholarships, can we have a good team.

    Maybe that’s why that stockpile of lottery picks up in Indy are in the top 10.

  • Bill Graham

    and i think that is the most frustrating aspect of this. We have the athleticism to play D. We just aren’t.