Indiana Basketball: 4 Upgrades Indiana Must Make to Get to the 2013 Final Four
After a long, painful stretch in Big Ten basketball purgatory, Tom Crean and the Indiana Hoosiers have jumped back into the national college hoops scene.
Last year, IU won 27 games after winning 28 games in their previous three seasons.
By getting to the 2012 Sweet 16, Indiana made their deepest run in the NCAA Tournament since Mike Davis led the Hoosiers to the 2002 championship game.
To take things to the next level, the Hoosiers need to make four upgrades to get back to the Final Four in the upcoming season.
Note: Thank you to YouTube.com for the video segments for this article.
Get Rid of Their Road Woes
Last year, Indiana's total record, including the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, was 27-9. They were almost perfect at home (18-1), but the road was a different story.
In 11 true road games, the Hoosiers were 5-6 overall.
Inside conference play, IU was 3-6 away from Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Indiana was not only getting beat on the road, they were losing by an average scoring margin of 10.6 points per loss.
That's more surprising when you consider the fact that Crean's crew had a +11.8 scoring margin for the season (in their 36 games).
Cody Zeller's play in away games was indicative of what was happening on the entire team. In Big Ten games, Zeller averaged 19.4 ppg at home and 11.5 ppg on the road.
Indiana has a high percentage of their team returning, which should help them be tougher on the road.
But this has to be a significant point of focus as the Hoosiers begin their 2012-13 season.
Get It Done Against Top 25 Teams
One of the high points in last year's college basketball season (unless you are a Cats fan) was Indiana's upset of the No. 1-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Christian Watford's last second three-point shot.
Even though IU entered the game 8-0, they were unranked because of a weak early season schedule. This win, however, signaled the Hoosiers' return to the national collegiate hoops scene.
Unfortunately, the Hoosiers were not able to maintain this level of play against all Top 25 teams on their schedule.
Last year, Indiana played nine contests against teams who were ranked in the AP Top 25 when they faced them and went 4-5 in those big games.
In comparison, Michigan State, one of the three Big Ten teams that tied for the regular season title, went 8-5 against AP Top 25 teams.
The old cliche that says, "To be the best, you have to beat the best" is true.
Kentucky was a perfect 6-0 against their ranked opponents.
Every game on the schedule matters, but IU needs to find ways in the upcoming season to not only get up for their big games, but find ways to take care of business.
Shoot More Threes
Last year, Indiana was the No. 2 team in the nation in three-point shooting percentage. They shot a scorching 43.1 percent as a team.
Jordan Hulls was the sixth best shooter from beyond the arc at 49.2 percent. PF Christian Watford shot 43.7 percent from downtown.
With having these kind of shooters, you would think that the Hoosiers would be launching three's like nobody's business.
Strangely, Indiana didn't.
On the year, IU shot 531 threes, which is No. 229 among all Division I schools.
You might argue that the reason they shot so well is that they were smart about when to launch a shot from distance. There is probably some truth to that thought.
However, if the Hoosiers can find ways in the upcoming season to increase their number of three-point attempts just slightly, that might be enough to get them over the hump in any of a number of tight games.
Do a Better Job on the Offensive Glass
Last year, Indiana's standard half-court offensive set was "four-out, one-in."
The Hoosiers kept the floor spread to create open looks from outside, drives to the basket by their many skilled perimeter scorers and space for Cody Zeller to operate down low.
The downside to this scheme is that it leaves IU weak on the offensive glass.
Last year, Indiana only grabbed 10.6 offensive rebounds per game (No. 218 in the nation).
Zeller is capable on the O-boards, but many times he is playing one-on-two or three when trying to collect a missed shot.
Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford are both athletic forwards who can pull down their share of offensive rebounds.
But it is not likely that Tom Crean is going to make huge adjustments in his basic offense (if it ain't broke...) and so this may be a matter that the Hoosiers will just live with in the upcoming season.