Yahoo! Sports: Ten impressive college hoops starts
I’m impressed by Indiana. The Hoosiers haven’t played anybody, but in the last few years that still didn’t guarantee victory. This season they’re 5-0 with five dominant victories. Along the way they’re second nationally in 2-point field-goal percentage (61.2 percent).
Freshman Cody Zeller has been sensational without trying to do too much, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks. He’s shooting 80 percent from the field, and the last game against Gardner-Webb was the first time he missed more than one shot in a game. The challenges will come soon enough: between Nov. 27 and Dec. 17, Indiana plays Butler, North Carolina State, Kentucky and Notre Dame.
In wins over Savannah State and Garnder-Webb, Indiana dished out 35 assists on 57 field goals.
Simply put, this team is moving the ball better and finding the open man.
In the latest edition of Film Session, we’ll look at Christian Watford. Once a recipient of the ball in the post and mostly looking to score, Watford is now finding teammates out of the low block and in the paint.
1) SAVANNAH STATE
Cody Zeller has the ball at the top of the key as Christian Watford calls for Remy Abell to come across the court:
Zeller passes it to Verdell Jones on the right wing and Watford comes across to the right block:
Jones dumps it down to Watford as Zeller cuts down to the rim:
Five games into the season, the 2011-12 Indiana Hoosiers have yet to be challenged.
Four games in Assembly Hall and one at the Ford Center in Evansville have produced five wins by 20 points or more by Indiana. That’s never happened in the history of the program.
Dig into the box scores and you’ll find little to nitpick with the way Tom Crean’s team has dismantled the opposition.
The fouling epidemic, an Achilles’ Heel a season ago, has tempered at least for the time being. The Hoosiers are one of the top shooting teams in the country thanks to unselfish, crisp ball movement and smart shot selection. And there’s an inside scoring threat roaming the paint for IU for the first time since D.J. White’s departure. His name is Cody Zeller and he’s already picked up two Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards.
IU’s 5-0 start feels different than last season, when the Hoosiers didn’t always win convincingly. This year, IU has left little doubt who is the better team. There are high fives, smiles and a cohesiveness present in Assembly Hall that was not visible last winter.
But how much better is this Indiana team?
The answer to that question will begin to take shape in the coming weeks when the competition level increases. Significantly.
Musings on a 73-49 win over the Bulldogs:
For the first 25 minutes of this one, Indiana struggled with energy.
But Victor Oladipo, as he was born to do, made sure it would not last.
A steal by the sophomore and subsequent assist to Cody Zeller just over five minutes into the second half ignited the Assembly Hall faithful. From there, the rout was on.
The Hoosiers picked up the tempo. The offense started firing on all cylinders with stronger ball movement. Will Sheehey, IU’s other hype man, hit a jumper at the 9:21 mark — his tenth straight point — to put the Hoosiers up 30.
Game. Set. Match.
Tom Crean reportedly challenged his team to get after it on the boards tonight. That challenge was met with success. The Hoosiers were strong on both the offensive (38.7 offensive rebounding percentage) and defensive (84.8 defensive rebounding percentage) boards this evening, the former of which led to 14 second-chance points. The Hoosiers also had 40 points in the paint, good for more than half of its scoring. They also converted Gardner-Webb’s 19 turnovers into 26 points. Scoring in this fashion helped the Hoosiers tonight, who after shooting nearly 50 percent on threes through four games, went only 3-of-18 from beyond the arc. They also had a poor night on the line, hitting only 12-of-23.
DEREK DOES IT AGAIN
After the Savannah State tilt, I noted Elston might be better served stepping behind the three-point line instead of shooting long twos. Tonight, Elston showed off another facet of his offensive game instead; he had several strong takes to the rim on his way to 10 points and also muscled in for nine boards (three offensive).
This all came in just 15 minutes of play.
I thought IU’s Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcast Services Jeremy Gray put the Tipton native’s current play nicely via the Tweet Machine: “Elston’s confidence is growing game by game. He’s always been skilled. Now he looks comfortable and purposeful.”
Check out 15 photos by Jamie Owens from Indiana’s 73-49 win over Gardner-Webb at Assembly Hall in the embedded photo gallery after the jump.