Sunday nights game against Howard saw the Hoosiers take what I would call a half a step forward. That may not seem like much, but after Friday’s showing against Indiana State, any step forward is a positive. Especially considering how many steps are still left for this Hoosier squad to take.
Obviously the first thing that jumps out from a statistical standpoint is the free throws. I’ll keep this G-rated by not saying what I was screaming at the TV, but WOW! On the flip side of that though, and yes this is optimist coming out in me, is the fact they were being aggressive by taking the ball to the basket and not settling on jump shots, or turning the ball over.
But the fact still remains that the margin of error for this team to have a chance to win games against even middle of the pack teams is very small. So that’s an area that for sure needs to be not only addressed, but also fixed, going forward.
Losing Juwan Morgan to an injury and knowing that he’ll be joining another key player from the rotation on the sidelines for the foreseeable future was not what this team needed. Not anytime, but especially not right now. But once again, on the flip side of that, Justin Smith and Clifford Moore saw pretty significant minutes after Morgan went down, and both of them got more comfortable and confident as the game wore on.
I know it’s hard to be patient. And I know looking for any sign of improvement, no matter how small, is even harder. But I’m believe that’s exactly what we as a fan base have to do at this stage. Some of the players haven’t fully bought in yet, and they also still have some leftover bad habits.
The truth of the matter is this: Some of them will eventually get it, slowly but surely. While some of them never will. I think how we see the minutes being distributed as we go forward will tell us who fits in which category…as it should.
My biggest gripe up to this point is the play of our Senior guards. I’m not a player basher, but Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson have been even less than average. They are the two most experienced guys on the floor and yet several times when I felt as though Indiana had a chance to put Howard away, they took an ill advised shot, made a pass that just wasn’t there, or drove into the teeth of the defense with their heads down resulting in a turnover.
Senior guards making Freshman mistakes is not what you need anytime, but especially when they are supposed to be leading the team and setting an example for the younger guys. Freshman Aljami Durham showed more poise than anyone else on the floor last night. Did he make mistakes? Oh yeah. But this was also just his second collegiate game, and he seemed to learn from those mistakes within the game.
The body language of some of the players is not good right now. Aside from the Freshman and De’Ron Davis, most of them look unsure, although there was improvement from most Sunday night. As the season goes on some players will start to get “it” and it will be obvious as to who those players are. Of course it will also be obvious as to who the ones that don’t get “it” are, and they will start to “check out” completely.
This happens regularly the first couple of years after a new coach takes over a group of kids that he didn’t recruit and they just don’t fit his style or system. As a fan you hate to see kids transfer, but when it does happen, it opens the door for kids that the coach knows fit his system, and that want to wear an Indiana jersey.
Indiana is back in action on Wednesday night, and it will be tough one on the road against a Top 25 team in Seton Hall. My expectations: At least one full step forward from the entire team is what I’m hoping to see. Anything more than that would be icing on the cake at this stage. Anything less and…never mind, I’m not even going to think that way. Go Hoosiers!