Indiana Basketball: Christian Watford Has to Shoot Better This Season

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIINovember 5, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 01:  Christian Watford #2 of the Indiana Hoosiers shoots the ball while defended by Aaron Martin #30 of the Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats during the exhibition game at Assembly Hall on November 1, 2012 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Indiana Hoosiers played their lone exhibition game on Thursday, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance. The team looked sluggish for most of the game, though, and didn't look like a No. 1 ranked team.

A lot of the issues were caused by the team's shooting woes. That can be blamed a bit on senior Christian Watford.

Watford hit a shot last year against Kentucky that may go down as one of the best shots in Hoosiers history. He is a very streaky shooter, though—if he's on, he's not missing, but if he's off, he's way off. Thursday night, Watford was way off.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not judging this season based off of an exhibition game and lack of player performance. But, I am saying that Watford needs to shoot better.

Against a lesser opponent, Watford only was four for 10 from the field, including zero for four from behind the arc. He also shot a dismal 50 percent (three for six) from the free-throw line. That's not going to cut it.

I'm more critical on Watford this year, as he's now a senior. After four years he should know how to put the ball in the basket. Now, everybody has off days, and I'm not blaming that on him, but he no longer can go 40 percent from the field on 10 shots, shoot 50 percent from the line and hit zero three-pointers.

Usually, shooters know early on when they're off. Some nights it's just not there.

In the past, the Hoosiers could afford Watford the opportunity to shoot himself out of a slump. But this year, it's not needed. He needs to find other ways to score—whether it's coming off dribble drives, put backs or the fast break—or find another way to impact the game, like on the defensive boards.

In the past, IU had no depth. The Hoosiers were lucky enough to have scholarship guys on the team. Now, they have 13 guys that can all play. A guy missing shots and allowing a team to stay in the game isn't needed.

Let someone else score if you're off. Missing 60 percent of the shots isn't going to get the job done and is a recipe for an upset. If he wants to get out of shooting slumps, then it's time to put the effort in at the gym—not during a game.

Last year, Indiana struggled a bit in February. I was critical of Watford for that and even wrote an article about it. He was dismal. He was shooting the worst I've seen anyone shoot.

Again, I can't take anything from Thursday's game, but he can't allow that to happen again.