A player-by-player breakdown of Indiana’s roster through 19 games

  • 01/24/2024 10:42 am in

Indiana’s week-long break between games gives Mike Woodson and the coaching staff extended preparation time and an opportunity to work on the most significant deficiencies for the Hoosiers.

As we near the halfway point of conference play, it also allows us to break down, player by player, the performance of the current roster through 19 games.

Let’s dive in:

Malik Reneau

After trailing Kel’el Ware early in the season, Malik Reneau is Indiana’s leading scorer and most efficient scoring option. The sophomore forward is logging nearly 30 minutes per game. He’s shooting an efficient 57.3 percent from the field and is 40.6 percent on 3s on 32 attempts. His 16.5 points per game are a team-best and he’s second in rebounding at 6.1 per game.

The 6-foot-9 forward has cut down on his fouling, which has allowed him to play extended minutes in most games. As a freshman, Reneau was whistled for 6.8 fouls per 40 minutes, which is down to 3.4 fouls per 40 minutes this season, per KenPom.com.

Rebounding is an area of potential growth for Reneau, who ranks just 22nd in the league in defensive rebounding percentage and doesn’t rank in the top 25 in offensive rebounding percentage.

“I just gotta get him defending better and rebounding the ball better,” Woodson said of Reneau on his radio show earlier this week. “Because he’s figured out the other parts of it. He’ll get better as time goes along, but I need him to get better now. But I need him to get better now, I do, but I think he understands that. But he has made a hell of a jump.”

Kel’el Ware

Ware has answered the questions about his motor that shadowed him entering the season following his transfer from Oregon. He’s missed two games – one due to COVID-19 and, most recently, the game at Wisconsin due to a foot injury.

The 7-footer is second on the team in scoring at 14.2 points per game and he leads the Hoosiers in rebounding with 9.4 per game. His 27 blocks are also a team-high. He’s also showed off a solid perimeter game and is 10-for-24 on 3s (41.7 percent).

He still struggles with physicality at the rim – Woodson called his recent experience against Zach Edey a “learning lesson for him” – but should continue to get stronger in the years ahead as he hits the professional ranks.

Mackenzie Mgbako

Mgbako came in with sky-high expectations due to his lofty national ranking. His off-court incident and slow start put him under a microscope, but his improvement has been undeniable.

In Big Ten play, he’s third on Indiana in scoring at 12.4 points per game and is connecting at a stellar 45.2 percent on 3s on nearly four attempts per game. The Hoosiers should be looking to free Mgbako for more perimeter looks as his confidence has never wavered and his shooting stroke is pure.

Defense is the only thing keeping Mgbako from being on the floor more and he could also be much better on the glass. But even with those shortcomings, Indiana should look to ride Mgbako as much as possible for the remainder of the season.

Trey Galloway

Much has been asked of Galloway, one of Indiana’s two captains along with Xavier Johnson. Ideally, Galloway would be a more complementary player capable of providing energy and the occasional scoring outburst. But that’s not his role on this team.

At times, he’s been the team’s point guard and he’s dished out a team-best 74 assists. His perimeter shooting has been a struggle – he’s connecting on just 29.7 percent of his 3-point shots – but his 2-point percentage is up this season from 48 percent to 57.5. Free throw shooting has also been an issue for Galloway. He’s just 23-for-46 from the stripe.

What can never be questioned with Galloway, though, is the effort and intensity he brings.

Gabe Cupps

Cupps has started 10 of Indiana’s 19 games due to Johnson’s injury and recent flagrant fouls which cost him a spot in the starting lineup. A top 150 recruit out of high school, Cupps was not expected to start this season, but the experience gained should be valuable for his future.

Statistically speaking, the impact from Cupps has been minimal. He’s averaging just 2.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists. He’s 8-for-20 on 3s (40 percent), but just 38.7 percent on 2s. He also takes too many long 2s and is making just 30.4 percent of his 2-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math.com.

“Gabe is giving us everything that I thought he would give us. He was coached by his dad, who did a hell of a job with that young man in high school,” Woodson said Monday on his radio show. “It’s been a nice carry-over into his freshman year because he’s not very big, and he’s not shot the ball like I thought he would shoot, but again, I think that will come in time. But the fact that he competes, man, that’s a big part of playing this game. You gotta be a competitor and want to compete and he leaves it out there on the floor when he’s out there.”

Xavier Johnson

Johnson’s final season in Bloomington has been a struggle thus far. A foot injury forced him to miss seven games and when he returned, he earned an ejection at Rutgers and a flagrant foul against Purdue.

As one of Indiana’s captains, Johnson’s performance has been a disappointment to this point. In 12 games, he’s averaging 7.8 points and has 25 assists and 23 turnovers. Still, when he’s playing well, he gives Indiana a different look. Against Ohio State, his 18 points were instrumental in the 71-65 victory.

There’s still time for Johnson to change the narrative on his final college season and perhaps this week between games will help him get back on track for the season’s final stretch.

Anthony Walker

The Miami (FL) transfer has provided a spark off the bench, averaging 6.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game. When he can get to his spots, Walker typically finds success offensively. He’s shooting 57.6 percent on 2s, including a 71.1 percent mark at the rim, per Hoop-Math.com.

From an efficiency standpoint, this has been Walker’s best season as a college player.

CJ Gunn

The sophomore from Indianapolis has played in all of Indiana’s 19 games and has the lowest offensive rating on the roster by a significant margin, per KenPom.com. Gunn is shooting 33.3 percent on 3s and 33.3 percent on 2s. He’s also shooting 26.5 percent on 2-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math.com.

Defensively, Gunn has shown an ability to pressure the ball and get into passing lanes. His 21 steals are tied for the team lead and he’s racked up that total despite averaging 13.2 minutes per game.

Payton Sparks

The Ball State transfer has started two games in place of Ware but has also earned several DNPs and is on the fringe of the rotation when the Hoosiers are fully healthy.

Sparks is 16-for-31 from the field (51.6 percent), which could be better for a player who attempts most of his shots within five feet of the basket. He’s also 12-for-30 from the free-throw line. At 40 percent, that’s the worst mark on the roster. Sparks brings energy and post-depth, but there’s no expectation he’ll develop into more than that in an IU uniform.

Kaleb Banks

There was hope Banks could break out as a sophomore, but it hasn’t materialized. His minutes have fallen off dramatically recently with just 13 minutes in the last four games.

He’s shooting just 5-for-19 on 3s (26.3 percent) and only 38.8 percent from the field. Banks has some tools athletically, but as the rotation has tightened, he’s been the odd man out.

Anthony Leal

The 2020 Indiana Mr. Basketball has attempted only five shots this season and is 4-for-5 from the field. He’s only played in seven of Indiana’s 19 games, and in most of the games he didn’t play, he was healthy and available.

Now in his fourth season at IU and third under Woodson, it’s clear he isn’t viewed as a viable option for minutes.

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