Indiana has finished its exhibition slate 2-0 after defeating St. Francis (IN) 104-59 at Assembly Hall on Thursday night.
Now that we are just days away from the regular season, let’s look at what we know about the Hoosiers so far.
Jalen Hood-Schifino will transform Indiana’s offense
It’s only been two exhibition games, but you can instantly see why freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino is starting for Indiana on day one. The Pittsburgh native was the biggest story of the team in the exhibition matches.
Hood-Schifino’s pace, touch and passing have all stood out. On Thursday night, he canned three 3s while making dazzling plays in transition. There’s a reason why so many expect him to be the top freshman in the Big Ten this season.
Hood-Schifino finished Thursday with 15 points and a team-high five assists. His presence as a ball-handler and decision-maker will be crucial for the Hoosiers this season. When starting point guard Xavier Johnson was out of Thursday’s game, Hood-Schifino filled that role excellently.
The most lethal offensive players are those with the threat of attacking and facilitating, which is what Hood-Schifino has shown. He should lift Indiana’s offense, which was pitiful at times last year, to a new level.
We saw the same Trayce Jackson-Davis
Trayce Jackson-Davis was the best player on the floor on Thursday, per usual. After an injury kept Jackson-Davis out of Saturday’s exhibition against Marian, he came back to play in IU’s final tuneup before the regular season. Jackson-Davis has 19 points and nine rebounds, and it took him only eight field-goal attempts to get there.
Jackson-Davis was once again fantastic around the basket and defensively. He made the game look effortless, as he often does against lower competition.
What we didn’t see from Jackson-Davis on Thursday was a jump shot. Not a mid-range shot nor a 3-pointer was attempted in this one by the preseason All-American. After another offseason where Jackson-Davis and Mike Woodson discussed how he’s worked on stretching the floor, he still didn’t take a jumper in a game the Hoosiers dominated.
There’s a whole season ahead of IU, but it’s odd that Jackson-Davis still isn’t shooting from the perimeter. He’s still an incredible player, but his reluctance to step outside is something to note as the season begins.
This team needs to play at a soaring pace
Indiana is extremely athletic at nearly every position. Last year, when the Hoosiers were a little less athletic, they played with an adjusted pace of 67.2 possessions per 40 minutes, just above the Division I average of 67.1 (per KenPom). IU had a bevy of transition looks and opportunities in Thursday’s game, and it boded well for the team.
It took Indiana just five seconds to score off the opening tip, and that remained the theme of the game for the team. The Hoosiers have explosive guards such as Johnson, Hood-Schifino, Trey Galloway and Tamar Bates. They also have multiple big men who get down the court well.
There’s no reason for this team to play at a moderate tempo again in 2022-23. There are too many explosive athletes on the squad for Indiana to try to master playing patient half-court offense.