The Hoosiers are enjoying a great season so far.
As the first half of the season winds down, the Indiana Hoosiers are thrilled to be sitting at the top of the latest AP poll. After starting the season at the No. 1 spot, they are right back there again after defeating the Michigan Wolverines.
The Hoosiers have some tough games ahead of them, including games away from home against the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans. The rest of the regular season won't be easy, but they have the talent to come out on top of the Big Ten, and possibly the NCAA.
Here is a report card grading the five starting players, the bench as a whole, and a few other important aspects.
Yogi may be small, but he is fast.
Yogi Ferrell may be a freshman, but he has not looked like one during his first year with the Hoosiers.
The Hoosiers are quite happy to have Ferrell in the starting lineup. Despite his inexperience at the college level, he has done an excellent job distributing the ball and running the offense. It moved Jordan Hulls away from the point guard position and the opportunity to not have to make his own shots, which he wasn't the best at. Ferrell's 4.5 assists per game lead his team, with some of those assists coming from spectacular passes.
Despite the great job by Ferrell, he has still shown some struggles that most freshmen face. His shooting is still developing, although it has definitely improved in the later part of the season. His turnovers have also been a bit of a problem, averaging 2.1 per game. There is still room for improvement for Ferrell, but he still has a few more years to do so.
Midseason Grade: B
Jordan Hulls is deadly from behind the arc.
There are few players in the country that are as efficient from behind the arc as Jordan Hulls. He is shooting 49.1 percent from long range, which is the 17th best in the country. His move from point guard to shooting guard in the starting lineup has been beneficial to him this year, as he has turned the ball over significantly less, dropping from 2.1 to 1.3 turnovers per game.
Hulls' biggest problem is his struggles on defense. He struggles against taller players, especially ones that are terrific shooters. According to Sports-Reference.com, he has the fourth worst defensive rating on the entire roster, allowing an estimated 93.5 points per 100 possessions. It's hard for a player listed as six feet tall to guard athletic shooting guards, but something needs to be fixed.
Midseason Grade: B
Watford has improved defensively this year.
He will always be known for his buzzer beater against the University of Kentucky, but that doesn't mean Christian Watford will be remembered only for that shot.
Watford has had a very productive season. His shooting has improved in all aspects, more specifically his three-pointers. His three-point field goal percentage has jumped from 43.7 percent last year to a very impressive 47.9 this season. He has also shown a lot of improvement defensively as well, as he has done a terrific job guarding players and boxing out. His 6.7 rebounds per game are the second best on the team, and are also a career-high for him.
Despite being a better shooter, Watford has still struggled with consistency this season. He has put up some ugly numbers against good teams, including making only one of his nine shots against the North Carolina Tar Heels. When he is facing cold streaks in games, he tends to try to shoot out of them, which leads to some questionable shots.
Midseason Grade: B+
Cody may be the best of the Zeller brothers.
The Zeller family certainly knows how to breed basketball players, and Cody Zeller is no exception.
Zeller has had a great deal of success this year. He added a lot of muscle over the offseason, and has found himself dominating smaller centers in the paint. His field goal percentage of 59.6 is the eighth best in the country, as he is great at getting the ball off the glass and creating shots in the post. His 8.3 rebounds per game are the second best in the Big Ten, as he has had some big games on the boards.
There have been a few smaller issues with Zeller this year, however. He found himself struggling for a while at the free throw line, but is beginning to get that corrected. He has still yet to find his shot from outside of the paint, as he struggles making open jump shots.
Perhaps one of the bigger disappointments for Zeller this year has been him not quite being able to meet expectations. After being selected as the Player of the Year before the season started, he hasn't done quite enough to prove that he is the best player in the country. He has still had a fantastic year, but there are others that have simply been better.
Midseason Grade: A-
Oladipo is one of the most athletic players in the NCAA.
There are few players in the country that have been as electrifying as Victor Oladipo this season.
Oladipo has exceeded all expectations that were set for him this season. With the spotlight on Zeller, he was able to not draw a lot of attention, and has made opposing teams pay for that mistake.
His shooting has been unbelievable so far, as he is shooting 64.4 percent, making him the third most efficient scorer in the country. He has been great shooting from anywhere on the court, as he has been able to do anything from drive to the bucket to settle for an outside shot.
What makes Oladipo more dangerous than any other Hoosier has been his dominating defense. His 2.5 steals per game are the best in the Big Ten. According to Sports-Reference.com, his defensive rating of 82.6 is the best in the Big Ten as well. He has truly dominated opposing teams, shifting momentum towards the Hoosiers at many points in the season.
The only thing that has appeared to be a problem with Oladipo are his turnovers. He has averaged 2.3 turnovers per game, which is the most on the team. This is likely due to his fast and aggressive style of play, but it would be better if that number could drop a little.
Midseason Grade: A+
The bench needs to step up.
One of the more disappointing aspects of this year's Hoosiers has been the players coming off of the bench.
Will Sheehey has been the one bright spot for the bench, as he has done a great job accepting the role as the sixth man. He has averaged 9.9 points per game, while shooting just over 50 percent. His ability to come off of the bench and make big plays has been a luxury for the Hoosiers.
The rest of the bench hasn't been as pretty. Few players have been able to make much of an impact on the offensive side of the ball, as Remy Abell is the only other bench player to average over five points per game. The freshmen have been disappointing, as they have failed to meet expectations. While the bench has done a pretty good job defensively, their lack of offensive consistency has been a big problem.
Midseason Grade: C
Crean has done a great job recruiting for the Hoosiers.
Tom Crean has been loved by Hoosiers fans for the past few years, and their support has finally paid off this year.
There is a lot that Crean has done right, as he has led his team to an impressive 20-2 record at this point. His team boasts one of the best offenses and defenses in the country.
However, there are a few things that have given the coaching staff trouble so far. The team has struggled making adjustments during the game. One of the bigger examples of this has been the inability to switch out of a zone defense. In the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Hoosiers defense was having trouble guarding them, yet they still stayed with the zone. The game was too close for comfort, as the Hoosiers only won by four points. The team has also struggled finding a rotation of substitutes, sometimes slowing down the offense.
Midseason Grade: B+
The Hoosiers are one of the highest scoring teams in the nation.
The Hoosiers have one of the best offenses in the nation, and it's pretty hard to argue against that.
The team is capable of breaking triple digits in points in nearly every game, as they have some big scorers. The team averages 83.8 points per game, which is the second most in the country. They are also great at making their shots, as they are shooting 50.1 percent this year, which is the sixth highest in the nation.
The only problem with the offense is that they turn the ball over far too much. They average 13.5 turnovers per game, which is simply too many. The team needs to fix this as they begin to play more elite teams.
Midseason Grade: A
The Hoosiers are also a fantastic defensive team.
Along with a great offense, the Hoosiers also have a good defense.
The Hoosiers have done a great job of containing opposing teams, as they average only 61 points per game. They also do a great job forcing the other team to turn the ball over, as players like Oladipo and Zeller have done great jobs stealing the ball. Opposing teams struggle shooting against them, as they only make 37.7 percent of their shots.
There are still a few weak links in the defense. Hulls, as stated earlier, has struggled guarding shooting guards, and they tend to leave shooters open on the outside. The zone defense has worked a lot, but sometimes it has hurt them tremendously.
Midseason Grade: A-
The Hoosiers are one of the best teams in the nation.
It's hard to give a bad grade to a team that has been ranked at No. 1 in the AP Poll multiple times. The Hoosiers have simply dominated weaker teams, and pulled out wins against some great programs.
The team has been impressive both offensively and defensively. They have star players that can score and contain defenders. Quite simply, they are the complete package, and teams should be very afraid of them going into the NCAA tournament.