The Inside the Hall Mailbag: 2024-25 expectations, Battle 4 Atlantis, non-conference schedule and more

  • 07/10/2024 10:57 am in

The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions sent to us via X (@insidethehall), via email, submitted via our community and our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

The Eastwood: What record would you consider a successful season next year? Coach (Woodson) thought 19-14 was good enough last year.

The baseline expectations for Indiana basketball should be a top-four or five finish in the Big Ten and competing for a favorable seed in the NCAA tournament. By favorable seed, a five or six seed or better so that there is a reasonable path to advancing to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Record-wise, the minimum expectation for the regular season should be 21-10, given the resources IU used in the transfer portal and the non-conference schedule, which seems favorable.

Tony McWhinney: Any info on Jakai Newton? Will he be healthy? Do we expect him to get valuable minutes?

Newton was warming up regularly with the team towards the end of last season and appears to be a full participant in this year’s off-season program. There is optimism that he’ll be healthy for his redshirt freshman season.

As for his role, that’s far less certain. Indiana brought in Myles Rice and Kanaan Carlyle to play right away and returned Trey Galloway and Gabe Cupps. Anthony Leal is also back, so there will be no shortage of competition for minutes in the backcourt. On paper, Newton seems to be the 9th or 10th man on this roster at best.

HoosierFan 76: Given Bart Torvik’s updates dropping IU to #31, do you still consider top 4 in the conference and 2nd weekend in the NCAAT to be the measuring stick for a successful season? I think IU should be a lot better than #31 with this roster. Do you agree?

Yes, that should still be considered the measuring stick for a successful season. Mike Woodson is entering his fourth season in Bloomington. He’s finished in the top four of the league standings once and hasn’t advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. By season four, both of those objectives should occur at least once.

As for the ranking, Indiana is ranked in the top 20 in many of the human preseason rankings, but that might be slightly ambitious. The Hoosiers were barely a top 100 team in KenPom last season. If IU is a top-30 team this season, that will be a tremendous improvement from a season ago.

@FornBredFornFed: All Atlantis based questions. 1) when does the draw come out? 2) how would you expect them to “seed” it? 3) what’s the most ideal draw for IU?

Last year, the draw came out in early August, so expect a similar timeline this year. Given that Arizona and Gonzaga are the two highest-ranked teams in the preseason (per Bart Torvik), you could see those programs on opposite sides of the bracket.

For Indiana, the ideal draw is one in which it can play as many high-quality games as possible. That means winning the first game and thus guaranteeing a spot in at least the third-place game. The best-case scenario would be playing (and beating) Arizona and Gonzaga in the event.

Hoosier Jake: With Ballo and Reneau projected to start, do you see a big change in the offensive approach or do you think that post play will still be the main emphasis?

There should be no expectation of a massive change in the offensive approach. Post-play is still going to be a key emphasis. Indiana fans should hope for a slight increase in 3-point volume and a better percentage shot from the perimeter. The roster isn’t stocked full of knockdown shooters. Still, the addition of Luke Goode and the continued development of Mackenzie Mgbako should give Indiana a more potent perimeter attack in year four of the Woodson era.

@Toriente10: As of right now, which frosh/incoming player do you expect to contribute the most from a +/- standpoint during the early non-con part of the schedule?

Myles Rice. He’s going to play a lot of minutes right away and was a first-team All-PAC 12 player last season. Oumar Ballo should also make a significant impact, but he’ll play fewer minutes than Rice.

Rice is a two-way player who can score and facilitate offensively and won’t back down from challenges defensively.

Tron207 (Clay): Am I the only one that thinks our non-conference schedule is extremely meh and lacks the SoS needed to move the needle? Outside of the Battle for Atlantis, we don’t have any marquee matchups like the past 2 years.

It’s certainly not as strong of a non-conference schedule on paper as previous seasons. A lot is riding on the Battle 4 Atlantis and IU has to hope it plays Arizona or Gonzaga (or both) to get opportunities for Quad 1 wins. None of the other eight non-conference games will likely be Quad 1 opportunities.

The other thing IU needs to do this season is flatten some of the inferior teams it plays at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers had far too many close calls last winter, which hurt their computer numbers. So rather than squeaking past the likes of Army, Florida Gulf Coast or Morehead State, Indiana needs to win several of these games by 20+ to help their computer numbers.

Jeron Harris: In the past there has been a lot of ‘this team has a lot of new faces, the team will take time to gel, and this is a new team I need to get them to play together’, comments being made. In your opinion how long does a coach have to use this as a crutch for a poor performing team?  Ultimately it’s the coaches decision to build a new team in the portal or build a team through recruiting.

Not long. This is the reality of college basketball right now. Rosters are going to turn over quickly and you have to be able to build a plan to win with the players on your team on a year-to-year basis. When the ball tips in early November, there has to be a strong understanding of how you want to play and who you want to play. The time for experimenting is in the summer, in fall practice and in exhibition games. Indiana took far too long last season to figure things out and by the time it was playing its best later in the season, it was too late.

Michael MGDC: What do you think about the trade that was made: Tucker for McNeely. I know we won’t know for sure until we’re well into the season, but interested in what you think. They both come into the season with similar as well as different strengths.

McNeeley would have been more impactful as a freshman, in all likelihood. He’s older, fills a bigger need (shooting) and is the more accomplished player. Several early projections for the 2025 NBA draft as a lottery pick.

In the long run, however, Tucker could be the better player. He’s young (he just turned 18) and will have less pressure and expectations than McNeeley would have placed on him.

Indiana did an excellent job recovering from McNeeley’s loss by adding Tucker, a McDonald’s All-American and top-20 recruit nationally. Both players should go on to have very good careers.

The Mighty Quinn: Do you think McNeely de-committed because Mgbako came back for his sophomore season?

There doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation here. McNeeley reopened his commitment before Indiana’s season was over. Is it possible he knew that Mgbako was leaning toward coming back? Yes. But McNeeley was going to play major minutes at whatever program he chose. He is going to UConn, which is coming off back-to-back titles and is ultra-competitive for minutes.

Chicago Hoosier: Why are we playing no big non conference game 12/7 and 12/21 (assuming 12/14 is the week of conference games)??? These games are what I really look forward to as a fan… measuring stick against Kansas, Arizona, Auburn… why didn’t we do that on the two huge Saturdays?

It looks like the early season Big Ten games for Indiana will be after December 6 as the Hoosiers play in Atlantis Nov 27-29, Sam Houston State on Dec. 3 and Miami (OH) on Dec. 6 and then have a break from non-conference play until Dec. 21 against Chattanooga.

Finals will be the week of December 16-20, so look for the Big Ten games to be played between December 9-14.

As for the question about the lack of big non-conference games, IU hopes to get a couple of those matchups in the Bahamas, but that’s no guarantee.

Filed to: