Photo courtesy of IU Athletics -
IUSportComâ€™s Print Editor Ben Baroff and Podcast Editor Tony Adragna discuss the weekend slate of IU Basketball after itâ€™s victories over Stony Brook and Chattanooga. Full player-by-player, coach and team evaluation’s included.
hrough two games IUâ€™s biggest problem has been the lack of production from Christian Watford, presumedly the teamsÂ best player going into the season.
This is a good problem.
The box score says Watford is shooting a dismal 3-14 to start the year. But more importantly, he responded to a subpar performance in the season opener against Stony Brook by coming out against Chattanooga with an edge, looking for his shots, but at the same time, not forcing the action.
Yes, the result was just two points (1-7 shooting), and another subpar reading on the box score. But what the stat line does not show, however, was the poise and unwavering focus Watford continued to played with despite his struggles – let’s not forget IU was + 24 with Watford on the floor, the highest of any Hoosier.
For a talented but inexperienced team, panicking over this slow start will only press the issue.
There is no need to harp on Watfordâ€™s struggles, as turbulence now will help steel everyone for later. This is what the early season games against lesser opponents are for, flying through a little turbulence working towards a safe landing.
Instead lets focus on two 25-plus point routes of teams projected to win their respective conferences and how we got there.
It should be a none-too-startling revelation that Victor Oladipo has been IUâ€™s most effective player across the board.
Oladipo, who along with Jordan Hulls spent a chunk of his summer in China playing with Reach USA against different international all-star teams, is already starting to pay dividends.
As Watford struggled to find his touch and the Hoosier offense struggled to find Cody Zeller inside against Chattanooga, Hulls and Oladipo showed immediate signs of growth, and were able to take control of the game at a pivotal point â€“ 15-18 – when Chattanooga was about a possession or two away from deciding they could win this game.
It was not that they accounted for 18 of the Hoosiers next 21 points, but that they decided they had to.
Tellingly, this stretch came during the same time Oladipo was switched onto Chattanoogaâ€™s Omar Wattad, a Georgetown transfer, who was heating up with 11 points and killing the Hoosiers offensively.
â€œHeâ€™s finishing a lot better, heâ€™s hitting free throws a lot better and heâ€™s knocking down shots a lot better,â€ Hulls had to say about Oladipoâ€™s career night. â€œItâ€™s all the hard work heâ€™s put in during the offseason.â€
It was commonly expected that Jordan Hulls would come into the season further developed, poised and improved not just as a talent, but as a leader.
While mild improvement from Victor was widely anticipated, his play was not expected to result in a parasitic relationship between his performance and the teams success that it has.
Though only two games in, Oladipo has accounted for over 21 percent of IUâ€™s point production, and 23 percent of their free throws (Stats according to statsheet.com).
With Victorâ€™s production nearly doubling from last year, along with the ebb and flow and style-of-play being altered due to the addition of Cody Zeller, the Hoosiers offense is a work-in-progress.
This may explain the early season struggles out Watford and Verdell Jones, who despite finishing with 16 points last night, has also noticeably tussled with finding his role in the offense.
Expect Watford and Jones to become more efficient and fluid within the offense as the non-conference season ensues.
On the defensive end, As Tony touches on the rebounding â€“ or lack-there-of â€“ below, a true cause for concern has been the Hoosiers inability to closeout on shooters.
Itâ€™s not as if the game plan is not clear and adjustments have not been made â€“ Wattad did not score off the dribble when he was stroking in the first half â€“ as much as being a step too slow.
Stony Brook was able to capitalize early by setting multiple screens, working the shot clock and capitalizing on open looks, which came at a premium early.
If the issue is not soon corrected, Big Ten teams will look to exploit this particular weakness in the Hoosier defense and get out to early leads, which will be costly if this team plans on reaching the postseason.
â€œConsistency does not come from two games, itâ€™s been there, but it has to be done over the long haul.â€
If there is truth to the sentiment Tom Crean left after Sunday nightâ€™s victory, look for IU to start digging themselves out of these little holes Wednesday night, when the Hoosiers will face their first true road test of the season at Evansville (1-0).
|Verdell Jones III||B-||B+||B-||B-||C||B||B||A||B|
|Tom Crean||Lineups||Subsitutions||Timeout usage||Playcalling||Intensity||Sideline Antics|
|Team Grade||Execution||Teamwork||IQ||Physicality||Defense||Free Throws|
he Indiana Hoosiers Menâ€™s Basketball Team opened up their season with two convincing wins over Stony Brook and Chattanooga this past weekend. Looking at the names of the schools may be misleading, as both are projected to finish at the top of their respective conferences. For that reason, I expected Indiana to struggle a bit, and possibly not win either game by double-digits.
I did expect IU to win both games, but not in the fashion in which they did. They had a 96-66 triumph over Stony Brook, and then followed it up with a 78-53 victory over Chattanooga.
Both games had similar flows to them.Â It is interesting to note that against Stony Brook, the Hoosiers led 22-21 at the under eight minute media timeout, and trailed Chattanooga 21-18 at the same point in the game Sunday. Against Stony Brook, the Hoosiers closed out the first half on a 23-7 run, and had a similar run of 18-3 to close out the half against Chattanooga.
It is encouraging that IU is able to rebound from slow starts and turn them into impressive performances, but it is also troubling they have started slow in both games. Against Big Ten competition, a slow start could translate to a quick 10-point deficit. Itâ€™s still early in the season, but it would be nice to see the Hoosiers get out and jump on somebody right out of the gates.
Outside of the overall outcome, there were a lot of bright points to take away from the weekendâ€™s two games for the Hoosiers.
Cody Zellerâ€™s presence is known.
In his first contest, Zeller was able to tally a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.Â Although he did not put up the same numbers against Chattanooga, he made his presence known with six steals, one block, and five rebounds. On the offensive end, Zeller only attempted three shots, and ended the game with seven points.Â Although his teammates struggled to find him in the post at times, his presence definitely opened things on the outside for IUâ€™s shooters
On the topic of IUâ€™s shooters, the Hoosiers have shot the ball very well. They are shooting just under 58 percent from the floor and just under 44% percent on three-pointers.
The great shooting can be attributed to Indianaâ€™s much-improved passing game and court awareness.
Multiple times last season, the offense would turn very stagnant where there was not much ball-movement, but thus far, the Hoosiers have been moving the ball efficiently and finding the open man.
We both agree that one of the biggest stories has to be the emergence of Victor Oladipo. Oladipo was named the Big Ten Player of the Week. This past weekend, Victor averaged 18.5 points per game, while shooting 72 percent from the floor. He also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
Aside from Oladipoâ€™s offensive emergence, Victor has also drawn the assignment of the other teamâ€™s best player on defense.
In terms of improvement, two other players have emerged: Will Sheehey and Derek Elston have both impressed Hoosier Nation with their performances.
Sheehey was suffering from the flu the entire weekend, but was still able to produce with limited minutes. He is averaging 9.5 points per game on 61.5% shooting from the floor. Elston is averaging seven points per game on 75% shooting.
As the season continues, both Sheehey and Elston will be expected to play important roles for this Indiana team.
As there were many bright points to take away from the Hoosiersâ€™ performance, there were a couple troubling points as well.
The first alarming statistic is Indianaâ€™s ineffective rebounding. In their two contests over the weekend, Indiana was outrebounded 71-68 against undersized opponents. The even more troubling statistic is that Indiana gave up 36 offensive rebounds, while only tallying 14 themselves. If the Hoosiers expect to be competitive against higher competition, they are going to have to secure more rebounds and stop giving the opponent second chances.
The final negative takeaway from this weekend, as you mentioned above, was the play of Christian Watford.
Watfordâ€™s play has to be taken with a grain of salt because he is coming off of an injury. Is the injury the reason for his less-than-stellar 4.5 points per game on 21 percent shooting, or is Watford just underachieving?
Perhaps Watford is struggling to find his role on a team that is much more dynamic than past seasons.
Time will surely tell.
Overall, Indianaâ€™s weekend contests have to be encouraging for fans. They shot the ball well, look much improved, and took care of business against two possible NCAA-tournament teams.
Although the Hoosiers did look good, they have to continue to grow as a team, as they have only played two games in a long, 31-game regular season.
|Player||Shooting||Defense||Physicality||Decision Making||Rebounding||Passing||Intensity||Free Throws||Overall|
|Verdell Jones III||A-||B||B-||B-||C+||B||B+||A||B|
|Tom Crean||Lineups||Subsitutions||Timeout usage||Playcalling||Sideline Antics|
|Team Grade||Execution||Teamwork||IQ||Physicality||Defense||Free Throws|