Indiana Basketball: Areas Hoosiers Must Improve Before Start of Conference Play

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2013

SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 03:  Head coach Tom Crean of the Indiana Hoosiers calls a play for his team against the Syracuse Orange during the second half at the Carrier Dome on December 3, 2013 in Syracuse, New York.  Syracuse defeated Indiana 69-52.  (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
Rich Barnes/Getty Images

A year after Indiana won an outright Big Ten title and with one of the most talented teams in college basketball, the squad is struggling. The good news is there is still plenty of time to turn things around.

With a very young roster, the Hoosiers have only gotten off to a 6-2 start, which includes a one-point win at home against LIU Brooklyn. In their last appearance, they lost by 17 on the road to Syracuse.

Although fans never want to see a rebuilding year, there are definitely positives to take away from the start of the year. With some more experience and a bit of work, this squad could easily get back near the top of the conference.

However, the squad must first work to improve these flaws.


Driving to the Basket

SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 03:  Noah Vonleh #1 of the Indiana Hoosiers drives to the basket around the defense of DaJuan Coleman #32 of the Syracuse Orange during the second half at the Carrier Dome on December 3, 2013 in Syracuse, New York.  Syracuse defeat
Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Last season, Indiana had one of the best outside shooting teams in the nation. Unfortunately, many of the players capable of hitting those shots are long gone.

This year, the team is shooting only 28.1 percent from three-point range, and that includes Yogi Ferrell's mark of 41.2 percent. The rest of the team might have the ability to perform better, but they have not shown much up to this point.

In the two losses, players not named Yogi are only 1-of-12 from behind the arc. As a result, the Hoosiers have to stop settling for these shots.

With the athleticism between Troy Williams and Noah Vonleh, the offense should be based on getting into the lane and attacking the rim. Ferrell also can help with his great quickness.

Not only will this create more high-percentage shots, but it will allow the team to get to the foul line more often. With a good free-throw shooting team, this would be an easy way to get points on the scoreboard.


Avoiding Turnovers

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22:  Troy Williams #5 of the Indiana Hoosiers grabs the loose ball in the first half against the Connecticut Huskies during the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 22, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty
Elsa/Getty Images

This is something that comes with a young team, but the Hoosiers have been completely out of control too often this season. Whether it is lack of focus or being overexcited, the players simply have not been taking care of the basketball.

Heading into the team's game against North Florida, Indiana ranks 330th in the country with 15.9 turnovers per game and 338th with a 0.65 assist-to-turnover ratio. 

Jeremy Hollowell has been the biggest culprit so far, but everyone who steps on the floor has to take responsibility.

Not only is this limiting opportunities on the offensive end, it is also providing easy buckets for opponents on fast breaks. If Ferrell and company can do a better job of holding onto the ball, it will help on both sides of the court.


On-Ball Defense

SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 03:  Tyler Ennis #11 of the Syracuse Orange drives to the basket around Yogi Ferrell #11 of the Indiana Hoosiers during the first half at the Carrier Dome on December 3, 2013 in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Imag
Rich Barnes/Getty Images

While this is a skill that is tough to improve, man-to-man defense is something that has limited the Hoosiers so far this season.

Vonleh, Hollowell and others have done a solid job of protecting the interior, but perimeter players have been able to get into the lane way too easily. A few dribbles seems to be enough to beat the Hoosiers and make easier shots in the paint.

On the other hand, the Orange were able to hit 46.2 percent of three-point shots against Indiana in the most recent game. 

The players must be able to find a middle ground where they can guard the perimeter and still keep the opponents in front of them. Otherwise, opponents will continue to put up points against this defense.


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