Indiana Basketball: Early Takeaways from Start of Hoosiers' 2013-14 Season
The Indiana Hoosiers' first two games are in the books. They are 2-0—barely.
Here's what we've learned about Indiana through two contests.
Will Sheehey Is the Leader
Being the Hoosiers' most experienced player, Will Sheehey was expected to be IU's leader. He has shown that he has embraced the role, especially against LIU Brooklyn.
It was a tale of two halves for the senior forward. To start the game, Sheehey was atrocious. He scored four points and was 0-of-8 from the floor. He settled for attempting three-pointer after three-pointer, but nothing was going through the nylon.
After halftime, Sheehey came out of the locker room a new man. Still shooting from the outside, he made 3-of-4, attacked the basket and rebounded. Sheehey finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. He stepped up when Indiana needed a bucket, including two huge threes late in the game.
The most important part of Sheehey's game was that he never looked discouraged. As bad as he was in the first half, he came out in the second half like the first 20 minutes had never happened.
This is exactly what an extremely young, raw Indiana squad needs. No matter what, Sheehey needs to keep his composure in front of his team. If his fellow Hoosiers see Sheehey keep his head up, they will likely do the same.
Sheehey was clearly the vocal leader against LIU Brooklyn and made his presence known. Throughout the game, he pulled his teammates aside, especially the freshmen, and imparted his wisdom like a seasoned professor.
Sheehey must continue to lead with his play and words as the season continues.
Noah Vonleh Is Large and in Charge
Through the first two games, freshman Noah Vonleh has been the most impressive Hoosier.
He has dominated the glass, averaging 12.5 rebounds and 14 points. Vonleh has been Indiana's only inside presence, as Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Luke Fischer have shown little competence.
He fueled Indiana when it struggled in the first half against LIU Brooklyn, but as good as he's been on offense, he's still raw in the post. That is understandable, considering that he isn't used to playing exclusively down low.
Vonieh needs to develop his low-post moves, and they will be better with more practice and game exposure.
By the end of this season, Vonieh should be a totally different player, but in the meantime, head coach Tom Crean has to like what he's seen so far.
Questionable Outside Shooting
To put it lightly, Indiana has been less than stellar from beyond the arc.
Against Chicago State, the Hoosiers were 1-of-8 on their three-pointers. Game 2 was more of the same, as IU was 7-of-26 from three-point territory.
Indiana has chucked it from deep with little afterthought. Despite logging miss after miss, the Hoosiers have still let it fly.
LIU Brooklyn clearly studied film from Indiana's game against Chicago State, as the Blackbirds were content to give up outside shots. They backed off, played a zone and dared Indiana to shoot.
The strategy worked and kept LIU Brooklyn in the game.
Indiana settled for way too many three-pointers. When the Hoosiers let the game come to them and stopped forcing long shots, they looked much better offensively.
Indiana must fix its offense quickly. The Hoosiers have to be able to play against zone defenses because other teams are going to notice Indiana's shooting troubles and it won't be a surprise if they employ a zone defense as well.
This is not the 2012-13 version of Indiana, which featured Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford, who could do serious damage from the three-point line.
This year's Indiana team must relax, work on its half-court offense and not fall into the temptation of settling for outside shots.
If Indiana keeps shooting from outside and the shots still don't fall, expect a long and unsuccessful season.
Bench Production Is Lacking
The Hoosiers bench was solid against Chicago State, but a no-show against much-better LIU Brooklyn.
Indiana put up a measly five points against the Blackbirds—all from freshman Stanford Robinson.
Perhaps its just a one-game aberration, and we should think nothing more of it, but this Indiana group has struggled before. Indiana's biggest problem last season was its bench. Will Sheehey was the only real contributor, so there is precedent for head coach Tom Crean to have concerns.
His bench has to a find a way to score. Whether its Robinson or senior Evan Gordon, someone must embrace the role of sixth man and lead the reserves.
Indiana's starters are not as strong as they were a season ago. IU needs a complete team effort this season in order to be successful, so the Hoosiers' role players had better step up their game.