Today, and only today…

We are in the very early stages of not only a new era, but also a new season of Indiana Basketball. Which as most of you know, usually means the time between games is very minimal.  And in most cases that can be a good thing.  Especially following a loss like the one Friday night.

The Howard University Bison come into Assembly Hall tonight with an identical record as the Hoosiers (0-1) after having lost their season opener on Friday night to their crosstown rivals, George Washington University, by a final score of 84-75.

It is only natural to look at the recap of that game to try and gauge not only where IU may have an advantage, but to also look at where their focus may have to be centered in regards to what Howard does best.

The thing that jumps out the most from their first game is their two leading scorers from the loss were their starting guards, both of whom scored over 20pts.  The second thing was that as a team, even though they didn’t exactly burn up the nets, they still shot better from behind the arc than they did from inside it.  They also had 6 steals, forced 15 turnovers, and only committed 12 themselves.  But, they also gave up 40 points in the paint.

I’m not usually a big numbers person, but I do see the importance of those numbers when you consider what the Hoosiers struggled with the most against Indiana State.

The Sycamores scorched the nets from all over, but especially from behind the arc.  They forced Indiana into some ill advised turnovers, but took care of the ball themselves for the most part.  All things that were glaring weaknesses for the Hoosiers on Friday night.

But being the realist that I am, I feel the Hoosiers main focus should be more on themselves and less on the Howard Bison.  Yes, they obviously need to be aware of what Howard’s strengths and weaknesses are so they can try to take them away, orexploit them, whatever the case may be.

But there really needed to be some soul searching in that locker room both Friday night and yesterday in practice more than anything.  There needed to be some accountability from each other, and also while looking in the mirror.

This season, nor this team, is a lost cause by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s in times of adversity when you find out the most about an individual, whether that’s your teammate, or yourself.  Individual improvement is the first step to team improvement.  Finding that little extra something deep down inside that any competitor just naturally has is a huge step in getting better.

So going into tonight’s game that may be what I’m looking for the most.  Not so much how well we do certain things, but how much better we do them tonight than we did Friday night.  Will I be able to see that there is a conscious effort to be tougher and to have a willingness to scrap and claw and fight, even when things aren’t going so well?  I hope so, because that will be the first step towards the ultimate goal.

Face it, there will be nights that the other guy is just better.  There will be nights your shot is just not falling.  There will be nights that every rebound and every loose ball just seems to bounce the other teams way.  But there should NEVER be a night that anyone wearing the Candy Stripes should ever get outworked.

It will be hard to score sometimes due to our roster, so therefore we need to make it as hard as possible for the other team to score too.  Treat each defensive possession as a battle that you refuse to lose.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing another team frustrated with not being able to get a clean look at the basket.  Effort…that is 95% of defense.

I think we see steps in the right direction tonight.  I think maybe we see some minutes being distributed differently.  I can see those minutes being distributed to guys that show they are ready to fight.

I for one have always been in the corner of playing guys that are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.  The ones that have it in them to not give two shits about the box score, but only about the final score.  The bench can be an incredible motivator.  If you’re going to lose, you may as well lose with the guys that give you the best chance to win because they are giving everything they have, whether that’s a Senior, or it’s a Freshman.

Improvement.  Fight.  Effort.  Those are things that this Hoosier fan is looking for heading into the second game of this young season.  Go Hoosiers!