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Indiana Basketball: 5 Positive Signs from Hoosiers' Start in 2013-14

Kyle GrandFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2013

Indiana Basketball: 5 Positive Signs from Hoosiers' Start in 2013-14

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Temperatures in Bloomington, Ind., may have dropped, but the Indiana Hoosiers are hot. IU is 4-0, and though the competition hasn't been especially daunting, this very young team has played well.

    Obviously there is a ton of basketball still to be played, but through four games, Indiana has a lot to be happy about.

    Let's examine five positive takeaways from Indiana's undefeated start.  

The Play of Noah Vonleh

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Freshman Noah Vonleh is arguably the most impressive Hoosier through the first four games. He's everything head coach Tom Crean was hoping he would be—and he's only going to get better. 

    Throughout high school, Vonleh was used to having the ball in his hands on the wing. He could go down low if he needed to, but he would mostly catch and drive. Now he's exclusively in the post but still thriving.

    He's dominating the block, averaging a double-double (14.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG). The competition isn't near as tough as it will be when the Big Ten schedule starts, but nonetheless, his play is encouraging. 

    The sky's the limit for this youngster, and it will be interesting to see how his game progresses as the season continues.  

Yogi Ferrell's Improvement

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Yogi Ferrell's biggest problem last year was his jumper. He shot just 40.3 percent from the floor and was even worse from beyond the arc, making 30.3 percent of his attempts. 

    So far in his sophomore season, those numbers are much improved. Ferrell's field-goal percentage is 46.2, and he's shooting 40.7 percent from three. Because of these improvements, his scoring has skyrocketed to 19.5 PPG, which leads the team. Overnight, he's become Indiana's top scoring option.

    He's confident, aggressive and playing like the floor general head coach Tom Crean thought he could be when he recruited him.

    If Ferrell keeps this up, he will be regarded as one of the country's best point guards by the end of the year.   

Will Sheehey at the Charity Stripe

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Will Sheehey has never been a good free-throw shooter. Coming into this year, he made just 66.9 percent of his career attempts. It's an unacceptable number for someone who loves to attack the rim as much as he does.

    Through four games, Sheehey is 8-of-9 from the line, good for 88.9 percent. It's a very small sample size, but hopefully it's foreshadowing how Sheehey will be from the line in 2013-14.

    IU needs him to continue to convert these opportunities, especially as the opponents get tougher in the coming months.   

Clean Bill of Health

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    Troy Williams missed practice time with a wrist injury.
    Troy Williams missed practice time with a wrist injury.Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Indiana dealt with numerous injuries during the preseason. Troy Williams hurt his wrist, Luke Fischer suffered a shoulder injury, and Stan Robinson had a knee problem.

    Luckily, none of those issues continued into the regular season, and even though each missed practice time, Fischer is the only one whose injury negatively affected his play.

    Williams has looked solid in the starting lineup, contributing 10 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He also leads the team in steals with eight.

    Robinson is only playing 7.8 minutes per game but scoring 4.5 points in his limited time.

    Fischer barely gets any playing time, as more minutes are going to Hanner Mosquera-Perea. This is likely because Mosquera-Perea logged so much more practice time than Fischer.

    But, when Fischer has been on the court, he has looked decent. Expect his minutes to rise as the year progresses. 

Rebounding

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    Will Sheehey boxes out a Stony Brook player.
    Will Sheehey boxes out a Stony Brook player.Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Indiana is absolutely destroying its opponents on the boards. The Hoosiers are averaging 52.2 rebounds per game, good for a rebounding margin of plus-18.8.

    This is surprising considering IU lost its top three rebounders from a season ago, including Cody Zeller's 8.1 boards per game.  

    Noah Vonleh is leading the way. He's IU's janitor, cleaning up the glass on a nightly basis (12.5 RPG).

    Can the Hoosiers keep up this torrid pace? Most likely, no. Once the Big Ten season starts, opposing teams will be much bigger and better. Still, it's clear rebounding is a focal point for the Hoosiers in 2013-14.  

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