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Disappointing would be an understatement. Indiana’s season comes to a close after an 82-53 loss in the round of 64 against fifth-seeded St. Mary’s.
To wrap up the season, our guys answer and discuss some of the biggest questions.
What went wrong against St. Mary’s?
William McDermott: They just looked exhausted. There are no excuses but Indiana was unprepared and drained. St. Mary’s is a great team and it was just one of those games where the Hoosiers never left the hotel room. It doesn’t help that Trayce Jackson-Davis, Xavier Johnson and Jordan Geronimo were basically playing a three on five as the other players were non-existent.
Zak Ibrahim: What didn’t go wrong? Of course it’s important to note IU was playing its fifth game in a week. Saint Mary’s was playing its first game in nine days, so fatigue was clearly a factor. Indiana could never produce any quality looks outside of the first 10 minutes, while the defense never played up to its potential because of the fatigue. Saint Mary’s shot the lights out from 3-point range while IU got no perimeter scoring.
Jack Edwards: Beating St. Mary’s was always going to prove to be difficult. It is even harder when three starters struggle offensively. Race Thompson, Parker Stewart and Miller Kopp combined for 64 minutes and had just six points to show for it. Not good enough.
Zion Brown: It felt like Indiana was too mentally drained to compete with St. Mary’s. After all Indiana had been through in the week leading to the game, it was going to be far too difficult for the Hoosiers to contend with a veteran squad like the Gaels.
How would you grade Mike Woodson’s first season?
Zion: I would give Mike Woodson’s season an A-. The year was highlighted by an NCAA Tournament appearance and victories over Purdue, Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan. When you add the optimism of promising recruiting classes, Woodson’s tenure started off well. Woodson definitely has room for improvement as a college basketball head coach, but you can’t ask much more for a first-year head coach in the Big Ten.
William: B+. Very successful first year for Mike Woodson. I think it met and exceeded many expectations in the first season of a new era. Woodson was thrown into a tough spot and still made the tournament and ended multiple losing droughts. The sky's the limit.
Zak: Mike Woodson gets a B+ from me as well. I was the one that called his first season a success after beating Purdue but I felt inclined to change my mind after the month of February. Luckily for IU, a quick turnaround occurred in the postseason. Through its run in both tournaments, IU showed the necessary belief needed to make a run at March Madness. Woodson instilled that belief and that’s a powerful thing.
Jack: I’m gonna go a little different to the rest of the guys and say a B. Before the season, both myself and the other guys projected Indiana as a 6-8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, meaning that they’re eventual 12 seeded play-in fell below pre-season expectations. Granted, we learned a lot about the roster's shortcomings, so he gets props for making the tournament and having a run in the Big Ten Tournament. However, there were flaws to the season (looking at you, February), giving it a very average finish in my eyes.
How should this team be remembered?
Jack: The pretext for every big game this year was about what IU had done in the past. Indiana broke numerous negative droughts and streaks this year, leading the team into a new year in 2022-2023 with a fresher start in a lot of ways. This team won’t be difficult to improve from (decent shooting changes a lot), nor was it a disappointing season. The most likely scenario is that this team is largely forgotten beyond the ending of the Purdue and NCAA Tournament droughts, as this year does not represent what Woodson’s Hoosiers will look like with years and recruits under the belt.
Zion: This team should be remembered as one that built the foundation for the Mike Woodson era. Should Woodson make Indiana legitimate contenders in the Big Ten and around the country, expect to see some tweets along the lines of, “They built this” with images of Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson.
William: They should be remembered as the team that laid a foundation. The Hoosiers shut out all of the noise this year and simply got things done. They will set the tone and cultural change that the Indiana basketball program needed.
Zak: The 2021-22 Hoosiers ended some of the program’s most staggering droughts, most notably the six-year absence from the NCAA Tournament. It took a run in the Big Ten Tournament to get there and it’s when we saw IU play its best. In the end, this group will be remembered for its postseason play: the good and the bad.
What are you looking forward to most about next season?
Zak: I’m excited to see all incoming freshmen and possible transfers. It never hurts to see fresh faces contributing for a program that escaped mediocrity like Indiana did this year. It’s a program on the rise, in part because of Mike Woodson’s recruiting class. These will be players Woodson has selected and I’m eager to see how he gets them to perform.
Jack: A matchup with Kansas in December of 2022 is highly exciting, and will do wonders to improve Indiana’s non-conference strength of schedule (a big talking point in tournament seeding). The trip to another legendary arena in college basketball will make for great viewing.
Zion: The three incoming freshmen (Jalen Hood-Schifino, Kaleb Banks and C.J. Gunn) will be a big storyline heading into the 2022-23 season. Hood-Schifino and Banks are touted as top-100 prospects and Gunn is the one Indiana native that is always good to get. The possible impact that these recruits could have on the team is very intriguing, as it may decide the ceiling of the team.
William: I'm actually really looking forward to seeing the adjustments Woodson makes with his playbook. Now, a year into his college coaching career, what changes does he make? Does he change some of his offensive philosophy? He’ll have a whole offseason to look at film and see what he has with the new guys? Next year I expect there to be a little more fluidity and pace in the offense.
What (potentially returning) player needs to take the biggest jump next season?
William: Trey Galloway. Not that he doesn’t already, but if Galloway can develop a jump shot he will mean a whole lot to this team. That jump shot, whether it's from 3 or midrange, is going to be crucial for Indiana and for Galloway if he wants to take the next step. Anywhere above 35 percent and it makes IU’s offense so much more dynamic.
Zak: I’ll go with Tamar Bates. He’s a true freshman who struggled through a shooting slump and inconsistent minutes but still played his game whenever on the court. He's never bashful when it comes to shooting the ball, and that’s something I like. Defensively, I also see him making noticeable improvement under Woodson. Overall, his supreme talent and confidence have me intrigued to see what he can become next season.
Jack: Geronimo is an interesting choice, but the player that needs one will be Khristian Lander. Lander is clearly not up to Woodson’s expectations, and as such, needs to either improve or move on to another program. He is one of many interesting players who are teetering on the edge of their IU future.
Zion: It’s Jordan Geronimo. I’d love to give some insightful, out-of-the-box answer but Geronimo is the easy choice. He’s the most athletic player on the team and he’s already a great defender. If Geronimo can develop one consistent offensive skill — whether it’s perimeter shooting, ball handling or post play — he will be in position to get consistent minutes and become one of the Big Ten’s best. Indiana’s coaching staff should prioritize Geronimo’s development more than any other returning player.
DAYTON, Ohio -- Jordan Geronimo brought a Core Power protein drink to the postgame press conference after Indiana’s 66-58 win over Wyoming in the First Four.
He placed the bottle on the table, next to the microphone and it was quickly snatched up by an NCAA employee as the product isn’t a March Madness sponsor. Geronimo smiled wide and laughed to himself.
Clearly, Jordan Geronimo hasn’t gotten to talk to the media postgame much this season. But, after being one of Indiana’s main contributors in the program's first NCAA tournament win in six years, he deserved every second of it.
“I found another player tonight off the bench, and that was Geronimo who gave us some major major minutes tonight,” Mike Woodson said in his opening statement.
Geronimo smiled again, ear to ear. He looked like the Grinch. He was guilty.
Indiana has been known for its defense all season long. It’s floated around the top 25 in the country all year in terms of efficiency and IU even has an All-Big Ten Defensive Team player to show for it in Trayce Jackson-Davis. But what really got the ball rolling and allowed Indiana to clinch its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2016 was its recent offensive improvements.
Since his one-game suspension on Feb. 8, Xavier Johnson has become a focal point for IU’s offense. It’s worked.
Earlier in the season Indiana forced itself into running offense through Jackson-Davis and set pieces to get shooters open. Now, Mike Woodson seems to have given Johnson the reins and has lengthened his leash with his point guard.
This development and comfortability of Xavier Johnson has been a breath of fresh air for this Indiana offense.
Firstly, this play looks like two guys who both know each other. Over the season we've really seen a development between Jackson-Davis and Johnson's two-man game. This is worked to perfection as 'X' works himself into the paint and waits just the right amount of time to get the ball over Zach Edey.
Secondly, watch how Parker Stewart, Miller Kopp and Jordan Geronimo immediately clear out and unclog the lane when Johnson calls for the pick and roll. This gives Johnson and TJD half of the court to themselves and plenty of room to work with.
Pick and rolls are going to be emphasized heavily in this article, Woodson and Indiana have run it continuously in the past several games.
Same thing here with the high ball screen, but Purdue's Eric Hunter Jr. (No. 2) ices it well by staying in front of Johnson.
However, this is just a great read by Johnson as he stops on the left elbow and waits for TJD to get position on Trevion Williams, who gets caught swiping at the ball.
This play is made by Johnson getting into the lane and being under control with the ball. Many players would panic once they pick up their dribble in that spot but Johnson surveys the perimeter for shooters.
Kopp does a great job here understanding the passer's vision and flares to the corner. Because Michigan over-helped because of the threat of Johnson inside, it's a wide open 3-pointer.
Now, these are the shots Indiana is going to have to hit if the Hoosiers want to get past Wyoming and make a run in March.
Let's examine three plays against Michigan.
Play 1: The roll isn't there for TJD as Moussa Diabaté (No. 14) comes over to help, but look at the rest of Indiana's players immediately flare out to the 3-point line and allow for the two-man game and isolation with Jackson-Davis against Hunter Dickinson.
This gives TJD and Johnson so many options.
Play 2: This play starts with a ball reversal to get the defenders moving and then Johnson uses his speed to blow by and get a high-percentage shot. It helps that 'X' is shooting 48 percent on twos since late February.
Play 3: Another clear-out high ball screen with TJD here. This time Johnson is so patient with the ball and guards the ball from the defender using his backside and waits for Jackson-Davis to get underneath the basket.
During IU's loss to Iowa, IU again used screens effectively.
Play 1: Lovely give-and-go slip screen here. The pass makes it even better as Johnson works it between two defenders.
Play 2: This is the only set play that's not a pick and roll on this list. The double ball screen attracts so much attention it leaves a wide open Jackson-Davis. And again, look where the rest of the Hoosiers are, on the perimeter. This spacing makes all the difference.
This next play is by far my favorite on this list.
Johnson knows exactly what to do and he directs Race Thompson to spin around and front the smaller defender. It's an easy layup.
This play really shows Johnson's growth. In November, he wouldn't make that play and would force a pass.
The pick and roll usage has revolutionized Indiana's offense but without Johnson's patience and confidence, it would be nothing.
What makes things even crazier is that Johnson is shooting 50 percent on 28 attempts from 3 since Feb. 24. Where has this been all season?
Well the answer to that is that Woodson is letting 'X' be 'X' and it has unleashed a completely different side of his potential.
Johnson is posting his highest 3-point percentage of his career at 38 percent and is turning the ball over at the lowest rate of his career, averaging 2.6 a game.
As a team, Indiana hasn't shot below 41 percent since Feb. 21 at Ohio State. The four games before then? Indiana shot below 41 percent three times.
As seen at the Big Ten Tournament, Indiana has an amazing chance to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, but they've got to start in Dayton against Wyoming.
INDIANAPOLIS — Down one, the Fighting Illini’s speedy guard Andre Curbelo snatched the ball off the rim after a missed Miller Kopp free throw and went coast to coast with 10 seconds left.
In the way was Indiana sophomore Trey Galloway, who forced Curbelo to his left hand and beautifully contested the layup.
The shot missed and Indiana went on to beat No. 16 Illinois 65-63 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal.
INDIANAPOLIS -- It was written all over the players' faces coming into the locker room at halftime. Defeat.
Indiana was down 41-28 and was never even competitive.
Whether it was the 11:30 a.m. start time or the pressure of needing a win to improve its NCAA Tournament hopes, it all looked to be crumbling down. But then, one of the greatest comebacks in Big Ten Tournament history happened, and Indiana survived to play another day.
The tears were flowing, the jerseys were framed and the flowers given to parents were fully bloomed as Race Thompson and Parker Stewart waved goodbye to the Assembly Hall crowd for, potentially, the last time.
Just like 10 times prior this season, Indiana lost. This time, just before the buzzer in heartbreaking fashion to a scrappy Rutgers team fighting for a bid in the big dance, just like the Hoosiers, 66-63.
Many had deemed Wednesday night's Senior Day matchup as a “win and you’re in” deal, but just like many times before, Indiana just couldn’t finish.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It was going so right for Indiana. Until the last minute of the game. Up by four with 56 seconds to go it was almost sealed. They just needed to get a stop. But after two Ohio State free throws, IU committed a rare defensive miscommunication that led to a wide open E.J. Liddell underneath the basket to tie the game.
Here are three key takeaways from Monday night’s 80-69 overtime loss in Columbus.
Ohio State exploits IU wings
It was clear in the first few minutes of the game that the Buckeyes wanted to utilize their wing matchups.
Buckeyes guard Malaki Branham had a team-high 13 points in Indiana’s win over OSU back in January and in that game Eugene Brown III had zero points in 10 minutes.
Monday night, those two gave IU trouble.
Branham: 27 points, five rebounds and three assists
Brown: 10 points and six rebounds
Branham was the focal point of the Buckeyes’ offense down the stretch. Every set piece, every pick and roll and every play went through him.
“We had no answer for him,” Mike Woodson said postgame in reference to Branham’s big game.
Parker Stewart and Miller Kopp were targeted and attacked on defense laterally and it showed at the end of the game. It has been clear over the course of the season that defensively those two are liabilities, it was exploited on Monday.
Miller Kopp can’t stay absent
It took Miller Kopp, who hasn't hit double figures since November in Syracuse, until the 11:39 point in the second half to take his fourth shot, which he made.
In recent weeks it seems as if on most of Indiana’s offensive possessions, Kopp stands in the corner or on the wing without touching the ball.
However, it was Kopp who sparked the run midway through the second half. Kopp was aggressive, got to the foul line and despite him shooting 2-for-8 from the field it was clear he lit the fire.
Indiana’s offense is better when Kopp gets to his spots on the floor, moves without the ball and is aggressive. While it very well could be a confidence issue with Kopp as to why his volume has been ghost-like, it needs to change.
A wing scoring threat gives Indiana a lot more options offensively. Tamar Bates, who was the birthday boy on Monday night, also showed flashes of that aggressiveness but his inexperience showed down the stretch as he hoisted a late shot clock isolation 3 with IU up two and less than 30 seconds remaining.
IU plays with resilience but can’t finish
Despite all of the heartbreaking losses, suspensions and inconsistencies, Indiana fights till the very last whistle.
This resilience was on full display Monday. Down 11 with 13:32 to go it would have been easy to fold and give up, something which has been all too familiar to fans in recent years.
The Hoosiers' defense kept them around in the first half as a struggling offense failed to give them any pace at all. IU shot 4-for-15 on layups and looked to have no direction whatsoever. Those are the numbers that teams get blown out with.
“I can’t fault effort,” Woodson said. "This team has not quit. If you think that, I think you watched the wrong game tonight.”
Yes, the team didn’t quit but it didn’t finish. But sometimes it feels like we’re watching the same game over and over again. A scrappy IU team fights itself back into the game and until the very end, just to let one mistake destroy them.
It’s clear there’s just something missing and a speed bump the Hoosiers just haven’t gotten over yet.
On No. 15 Wisconsin’s first possession, Badgers guard Johnny Davis slipped by Indiana’s ball watching Miller Kopp on a pindown screen and found himself wide open underneath the basket for an easy layup.
On Wisconsin’s most important possession with Indiana up 69-68 and 1:12 to go, Johnny Davis went against the screen from Badgers center Steven Crowl, crossed over to his left and had Kopp on skates. An easy path to the basket was followed by a foul on Kopp. And-one. Davis knocked down the free throw, putting his team up two and the rest was history. Game over.
On a chilly 2020 February evening in Minneapolis, just about 15 miles west of then-sophomore Race Thompson’s hometown, Indiana was down three to a subpar Minnesota team.
After being subbed in at the 17:50 minute mark in the second half Thompson immediately drained his first shot attempt. Then, something just clicked for IU. The Hoosiers went on a 35-20 run until the end of the game, resulting in a 68-56 win.
The hometown kid, from the nearby suburb of Plymouth, was the storyline that night after nearly tallying his first career double-double with a statline of a season-high 25 minutes, nine points, 10 rebounds, a block and a steal. Over the last 10 games of that 2020 season, Thompson averaged 18.4 minutes per game. Prior to the Minnesota game, he was averaging 11.2 minutes per game.
Oh and that double-double number? In his first two seasons Thompson had zero. In the past two seasons, seven.
Impressively, Thompson has not missed a game since the start of his junior season last year and has started in all 48 games in that stretch. However, early in his career in the candy stripes, it was never easy to finally break through.
Thompson redshirted his entire 2017-18 season because of his reclassification and foregoing his senior year of high school to enroll early at IU, an Archie Miller staple. But then, in 2018-19, his freshman season the injuries started piling up.
“My freshman season was probably one of the toughest I’ve dealt with,” Thompson said in an interview with the Big Ten Network. “It was one of the worst concussions our doctors had seen. And I was out for months.”
This concussion not only sidelined the former top-100 recruit for two and a half months but the concussion was bad enough that he couldn’t even attend practices.
“I was alone a lot,” Thompson said. “I felt like I had one year stripped away from me.”
Thompson was also sidelined to start the season with a groin injury.
It’s impossible to make up for lost time, which is something everyone has been realizing lately. But for Race Thompson, the goal was to never make up for that time, it was to take advantage of it when it came in the future.
It was to the surprise of nobody that Trayce Jackson-Davis found himself in foul trouble early against No. 18 Illinois in the 74-57 loss.
Having to guard a seven-plus footer in Kofi Cockburn was a challenge on its own but Indiana relied on Michael Durr off the bench for most of the first half. A similar story had been written just a few weeks before when Indiana hosted Purdue. Jackson-Davis was in foul trouble early and a scratch-and-claw type effort was needed.
Unlike the Purdue game, Indiana didn’t show much, if any, effort and urgency in the second half. IU was outscored 40-21 in the second half after heading into the locker room with a two-point lead.
An issue that plagued Indiana early in the season was the unenergized openings to the half. It seemed as if IU had gotten away from that until Saturday.
“They put a solid 40-minute ball game together and we put a 20-minute ball game together,” Mike Woodson said postgame.
In the second half Indiana continuously forced the ball into Jackson-Davis who just couldn’t get anything going. Over and over again Jackson-Davis put his back to Cockburn and missed badly. He finished the game 3-for-9 from the field with six points and six rebounds.
Why would you continue to feed the ball inside to a guy clearly struggling and not in rhythm? I have no idea.
Outside the paint, Indiana was abysmal, shooting 3-for-13 on 3-pointers and Miller Kopp, a starter who played 16 minutes, didn’t even attempt a shot. You can’t win if you can’t shoot and if a starter doesn’t put up a single shot.
IU has struggled getting its wing players open and finding them looks all season but it makes the Hoosiers a very one-dimensional team by forcing them to work through the post in a game where Indiana was out-muscled and at disadvantage down low.
Consistently, IU went to its bigs and nothing worked.
In the postgame press conference Woodson mentioned how he really didn’t know what the offense was doing on Saturday.
“I can’t tell you one play we called tonight unless I was calling it,” said Woodson. “We never got into anything.”
Woodson also mentioned that Xavier Johnson never really dictated the direction of the offense on Saturday, an area he had been improving in.
Trent Frazier played lights out for the Illini, knocking down three 3-pointers and totaling 23 points. Indiana just couldn’t stop him and it became one of the bigger wins of the season for Illinois. No matter who you are, it’s hard to win at Assembly Hall.
He was a big part of why the Illini pulled away in the last 10 minutes, he was just too good.
Indiana was dominant in a must-win game against Penn State on Wednesday night. IU led from the very beginning and never looked back.
Three factors were key to the Hoosiers’ victory.
With 30 seconds left and Indiana in search of its first road win of the season at Nebraska, its best player was on the bench, closing his eyes and with a large bag of ice taped to his back.
Since the moment Trayce Jackson-Davis subbed out for injury after taking a hard foul on a baseline drive from Cornhuskers’ forward Derrick Walker, the Indiana offense just wasn’t the same.
When Jackson-Davis exited the game at the 7:36 mark in the second half, the Hoosiers had 68 points. After that Indiana committed six of its 13 turnovers, had no direction and without the 23 points and 12 rebounds he put up prior to injury, the result of a 78-71 IU win would have looked a lot different.
The story of Rob Phinisee at Indiana has taken countless turns. From starting in 29 games as a true freshman and hitting a ridiculous game winning shot against Butler in the Crossroads Classic, to entering the transfer portal and finding himself coming off the bench as a senior, it has never been a smooth ride for the point guard.
On Sunday in Indiana’s 73-60 win over Minnesota, we saw a large amount of growth from the Lafayette, Indiana native. Not only did Phinisee shoot the ball 10 times, but nine of those were from beyond the arc.
Coming into the Minnesota game, Phinisee had been shooting 27 percent on 3-pointers. On Sunday, he made four (44 percent).
When the shots don’t fall it can be very easy to lose confidence, something Phinisee has struggled with in the past few seasons. But for a guy whose shooting percentages have dropped every year since his freshman year, it must feel like he’s on top of the world after making four Sunday.
“He’s a senior. So I expect him to lead…I don’t have too many players like Rob,” head coach Mike Woodson said.
That leadership has evolved this season. From someone who appears hesitant to shoot and make a mistake to someone who pushes his teammates and never backs down or passes up an open shot, no matter how many in a row he’s missed or how low his percentages are. That’s who Rob Phinisee is.
“He can’t live in the past. I’m just trying to break that past and say, ‘Hey man, here's the ball, it’s OK to go lead. It’s OK to be good,” Woodson said.
It’s OK to be good and Indiana needs Rob Phinisee to be good. When a team like Minnesota packs the paint and forces you to play through your guards — something more teams will likely do — you have to be reliable and consistent. Phinisee, Xavier Johnson and Parker Stewart were reliable Sunday.
Rob Phinisee: 13 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds
Xavier Johnson: 14 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds
Parker Stewart: 12 points, 0 assists and 3 rebounds
Most importantly, the three combined for just two turnovers.
In order for Indiana to take the next step, this has to be consistent. It also needs to be done on the road, where Indiana has not won this season.
So what is the next step?
Look, the defense is there. It has been this whole season. It’s one of the best in the Big Ten, but after the brutal Penn State loss, the offense looks a lot better. They’ve started bringing Stewart off of screens and curls as well as using pin-down screens and movement to get Trayce Jackson-Davis isolated on the block.
You have to be multi-dimensional to win in college basketball. That process has started for IU.
When the guards open the floor up and Jackson-Davis has more options it makes such a difference.
The new year started with a performance all too familiar to Indiana fans. After a 61-58 loss on the road to a 6-5 Penn State team, the same questions people were asking for the past four years arose once again. Where is the energy? Where is the offense? What happened to the 3-point shooting? How is the rebounding margin that large?
To be clear, Sunday was an exact microcosm of the last four years for Indiana. It was a team facing an inferior opponent with minimal energy that fell back into its old habits.
Change can be difficult for any program. It can be hard to flip a switch in just one offseason and as this Mike Woodson rebuild has begun, Sunday was just another speed bump in that.
In college basketball, good teams win the games they should win. Penn State on the road is a game Indiana should win.
Whether it was the slow start, giving up 11 3-pointers, being out-rebounded by 10 or lacking bench production, it just simply wasn’t good enough.
At times the Hoosier offense looked stagnant, was slow and had minimal movement. The floor spacing was poor on pick and rolls leading to a clogged paint and one-on-one play rarely led to IU points if it wasn’t Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Through the first 13 games of the season we’ve seen the ups and downs of Indiana’s offense. We’ve seen them score 100-plus points on the road but we’ve also seen them score fewer than 60 on the road. The inconsistencies need to be diminished and until they are, IU will continue to lose a game here and there that the team should win.
Another glaring margin was the rebounding. The Hoosiers were out-rebounded 39 to 29 against Penn State, giving up 11 offensive rebounds. The Hoosier with the most rebounds against the Nittany Lions was Race Thompson with 10 but other than that the most was Jackson-Davis with five.
“I point the finger straight at Trayce [Jackson-Davis]. Five rebounds in 33 minutes. That's not good enough. He's got to rebound the basketball. That's his job," Woodson said.
Rebounding is a statistic that directly shows effort and hustle. IU didn’t have that Sunday as it was the first time Indiana had been out-rebounded this season and the margin was 10. Yikes.
Indiana also gave up 11 3-pointers on 50 percent shooting. It's the highest percentage given up all year. The barrage came at some of the worst times for the Hoosiers, like early in the second half where the Nittany Lions made four consecutive 3-pointers leading to a 10-point IU deficit.
On the offensive side of things, Indiana only had four 3-pointers.
Coming into the Penn State game, it had been 11 days since the Hoosiers last played due to a cancellation last week, which could explain the sluggish start.
“I just didn’t think we had any juice starting out,” Woodson said.
That “juice” will be necessary against a top-15 opponent in Ohio State later this week.
When you think of Trayce Jackson-Davis you think of 43-point stat lines and soul crushing dunks. For a guy who leads the NCAA in dunks he’s pretty hard to miss. Wednesday night in Indiana’s 79-61 win against Northern Kentucky, he displayed that he’s become much more than just a scorer to this team.
Before this season TJD was never elite on the defensive end or a big with excellent court vision but through 12 games this season it’s easy to argue that those are the two biggest jumps he has made.
The preseason All-American has learned when to pass against the double team, when to split it, how to find open shooters across the court from the opposite block and has perfected timing opposing drives and layups.
And against Northern Kentucky he posted a stat line of 21 points, six rebounds and four assists.
TJD has improved his block percentage by 5.9 percent from last year with a percentage of 10.7, 30th in the country. This block percentage and his ability to contest shots without fouling has led Indiana to allow the third lowest effective field goal percentage in the country, 40.4.
As for the offensive end of the court, Jackson-Davis not only dished out four assists but also had zero turnovers against the Norse. This season Jackson-Davis has 22 assists. That’s already more than half of his total last season, 37.
These facets have allowed the Hoosiers a lot more flexibility on the offensive side of the ball.
Most importantly this has had a great impact on fellow big man Race Thompson. Thompson has been Mr. Consistent for IU this season, completing Indiana’s lineup and playing with chemistry.
We saw this here.
If you look at the National Championship winners over the past 10 years in college basketball they all have one thing in common: steady and consistent point guard play.
College studs such as Jalen Brunson, Joel Berry, Ryan Arcidiacono, Peyton Siva and Kemba Walker -- just to name a few -- led their teams to a National Championship. While IU, a team that hasn’t made the NCAA since 2016, is far away from even reaching a Final Four, through 10 games Indiana is missing that steady point guard play.
The highlight of IU’s 81-49 win over Merrimack on Sunday wasn’t a crazy statline or dunk from Trayce Jackson-Davis or a 3-point barrage from Parker Stewart and Miller Kopp -- it was actually a substitution. As Khristian Lander trotted onto the court with 7:34 left to play, a sleepy Assembly Hall had one of its loudest moments of the day.
While Lander may not have had his best moments when he played Sunday against the Warriors, it was a sight for sore eyes as the former five-star prospect hadn’t made an appearance since the road trip at Syracuse.
Yes, Lander is a former five-star recruit, but you wouldn’t think that based on how little he plays. He’s averaging just under 13 minutes a game with limited appearances.
Lander hasn’t been great but it’s hard to find your footing when you play limited minutes even in blowouts.
If you look down the stretch in the 64-59 loss at No. 22 Wisconsin last week, Woodson was persistent on keeping a struggling Xavier Johnson in the game to hold off the Badgers' push. Well, we all know how that turned out, and many were calling for a substitution.
Johnson finished the game shooting 4-for-16 from the field with four fouls. The Pitt transfer plays with a lot of emotion, which can be a good thing. Once he gets going downhill and in rhythm he’s hard to stop but if a few whistles or turnovers affect him it can be difficult to come back from.
Indiana needed a new face and a change of pace, just something different, but it was too late.
Unfortunately for Indiana, the two point guards in the rotation play on opposite emotional spectrums. Rob Phinisee is known for his collective composure and steady hand but he’s never been consistent. He’s never been able to just get you a bucket when you need one or lead the offense after a scoring drought.
Can Khristian Lander be that eventual sweet spot between the two?
I think he can. The talent is there, we just need to see more. He’s made big shots like he did at Syracuse and has shown his talent but the sample size is just so small.
Eight-thousand, seven hundred and eighteen days. That’s how long it has been since Indiana marched into Madison and took down Wisconsin.
Could this finally be the year that Indiana takes down the Badgers in the Kohl Center? Not so fast. Wisconsin has a lot of talent and is a surprise in the Big ten early on this season. As well as creeping into the AP Poll in recent weeks, the Badgers went home from Feast Week as champions of the Maui Invitational, which included taking down a top-15 Houston team.
Sophomore guard Johnny Davis has made great strides from last season especially when shooting the ball. Davis is averaging 13 more points a game than he did last season and has solidified himself as a focal point of the offense. He and Brad Davison, who has been in college since I was a freshman in high school, have proved to be one of the best backcourts in the Big Ten.
The No. 22 Badgers, who are 7-1, had one slip-up against Providence at home in the Gavitt Games. How could that happen? Well, Wisconsin shot 5-for-27 from deep for a percentage of 18.5 and was out-rebounded. Those are the keys Wednesday night for the Hoosiers, who are in search of their second Big Ten win and first win over a ranked opponent this season.
After a disappointing road opener at Syracuse, Indiana will have to come out the gate with energy and intensity. You can’t afford to fall behind early on the road like IU did at Syracuse.
Will the streak end? The Hoosiers are 0-19 in Madison since Jan. 25, 1998. Let’s find out.
It’s been the tale of two halves for Indiana the past three games. A trio of slow starts resulted in IU’s need to come from behind.
That’s a trend that certainly won’t be too pleasing to head coach Mike Woodson and Hoosiers fans. but unlike Tuesday night at Syracuse, IU was able to steal one away in the Big Ten opener Saturday against Nebraska 68-55.
Let’s just be real here. Nebraska isn’t an amazing team and certainly wouldn’t be a tournament team if the season ended today. On Saturday, it was the Indiana bench that came in and gave the team the spark it needed.
“We came out very slow...we were flat, man,” Woodson said. “And that's the first time I've seen that.”
Woodson was right. Indiana was sluggish. Maybe it was the noon tip or the tired legs coming off a 2OT loss. But whatever it was, Indiana needed a change. Woodson turned to his bench and brought in Anthony Leal and Tamar Bates for Miller Kopp and Parker Stewart at the 11:26 mark in the first half. Indiana was down 10.
Leal has seen very minimal playing time this season but Saturday he provided the Hoosiers with fundamental and paced basketball.
The former Indiana Mr. Basketball zipped passes, tallied a steal and splashed a 3, giving Indiana a refresher for the last 10 minutes of the half.
“The second unit pushes the first...that’s being competitive,” Woodson said after the game.
The bench is a foundation of a team that you can rely on and turn to. You shouldn’t be afraid to turn to it. Something that every good team in college basketball has is a reliable bench.
Indiana’s bench scored 18 of the team’s 26 first half points.
It’s safe to say that this team’s bench is led by the freshman Bates. Bates led the Hoosiers in box +/- with 16 against the Cornhuskers. He was also Indiana’s second leading scorer with 13 points and shot 3-for-7 from beyond the arc.
There’s no doubt that Bates is talented and his high volume scoring is a big refresher for the starting unit.
Bates said his teammates "believe in me the same way I believe in myself."
This belief urges Bates to continue shooting and play his game whether the shots are falling or not.
On the last night of November, the Hoosiers may have gone to bed feeling something all too familiar in recent years: dissatisfaction.
It wasn’t that Indiana lost. Everyone loses. But rather the way it happened — 112-110 double overtime loss on the road against a struggling Syracuse team, where you come back from 18 in the second half and have so many chances to win just slip through your fingers.
I’m going to dive into a few major takeaways from the loss but first of all, let's all just take a deep breath. It’s a long season.
OK, now let’s do it.
Indiana faces its first road challenge in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge this Tuesday in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse. The Orange have by no means had a similar start to the Hoosiers coming into the matchup with three losses, two of which were in the Battle 4 Atlantis to a subpar VCU squad and a ranked Auburn team — not the showing that was expected for a team who made it to the Sweet 16 last March.
Jim Boeheim’s squad has been shaky defensively running the infamous 2-3 zone. They want teams to shoot the ball, which can really make it a track meet for the opposing team — a situation in which Indiana did not fare well against Marshall.
Indiana plays best when it plays in the half-court and is able to run an established offense. If the Orange force some turnovers, win in transition and shoot the ball well, it might be a long night for Mike Woodson and company.
For IU, it will be critical to defend the 3-point line. Syracuse is shooting a lethal 38.1 percentage from beyond the arc this season and guys like Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim can kill you if you get going.
Guys such as Parker Stewart and Miller Kopp will be players to look out for when it comes to making shots on Indiana’s sideline. Trayce Jackson-Davis is coming off a career-high night of 43 points and will face a challenge in the middle of the zone. For both TJD and Race Thompson, you have to be able to make quick decisions when getting the ball in the middle — the soft spot — of the zone.
It’s the road test many have been waiting for after Indiana’s 6-0 start to the season and this evening — at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 — we very well may find out what this Hoosiers team really is capable of.