Indiana Basketball: Hoosiers' 5 Biggest Concerns in Big Ten Play

Kyle GrandFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014

Indiana Basketball: Hoosiers' 5 Biggest Concerns in Big Ten Play

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    The Big Ten slate is underway for Indiana, and the Hoosiers are not off to a good start. IU is 0-2 in conference play, losing in overtime to Illinois before getting smacked by Michigan State in Assembly Hall. 

    The two losses have exposed some major holes in Indiana's game, things it must correct if it wants to get back on track. Here are the Hoosiers' five biggest concerns as Big Ten play continues. The concerns were ranked based on how they affect Indiana's chance to win. 

     

5. Youth

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    Freshman Stanford Robinson has played well as of late, but others need to pick it up.
    Freshman Stanford Robinson has played well as of late, but others need to pick it up.Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    After losing the majority of the roster and replacing it with freshmen, the Hoosiers are very young. Their inexperience showed against Michigan State and will most likely continue to be a problem going forward.

    It's asking a lot, but a number of Hoosiers need to grow up—and fast. 

    At times against the Spartans, Indiana looked intimidated and afraid to attack. Confidence will come in time, but head coach Tom Crean is hoping his team matures sooner rather than later. 

    Who knows? By the end of the season, the Hoosiers could be completely different. But don't be surprised if this is a major issue for the rest of the season. 

4. More Than Yogi

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    Indiana's top offensive player so far is point guard Yogi Ferrell. Ferrell is averaging a team-leading 17.7 points per game and runs the show when he's on the court. After him, the Hoosiers are struggling to find consistent contributors. 

    Since becoming a starter this year, Will Sheehey could easily be labeled as a bust. He averaged 9.5 points per game as the sixth man last season and is only mustering up 10.9 now, shooting under 50 percent from the floor and just 30 percent from beyond the arc.

    He's not the only one failing to carry his weight. Troy Williams and Jeremy Hollowell are at fault as well (more on them in the next slide).

    Against Michigan State, the offense was stagnant. There was too much dribbling and not enough attacking. Someone other than Ferrell has to be aggressive and look for their shot.

    One option for Indiana is to have Ferrell try to be more of a facilitator, but do you really want the team's best scorer not looking for his shot? Coach Crean has a lot to ponder about IU's offense. 

    The Big Ten schedule will not be kind to the Hoosiers if the offense continues to struggle and be so one-dimensional.  

3. Jeremy Hollowell and Troy Williams

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    Jeremy Hollowell is really slacking.
    Jeremy Hollowell is really slacking.Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    Freshman Troy Williams and sophomore Jeremy Hollowell have underwhelmed this year. Fittingly, both average 7.7 points per game. Their shooting percentages leave something to be desired.

    The more experienced Hollowell is making an ice-cold 34.6 percent of his attempts and only 22.2 percent of his threes. Williams brings more of the same with his 44.7 field-goal percentage and only 12.5 percent of his threes (2-of-16 shooting). 

    These two must be better, plain and simple. 

    If things don't improve, a change could be coming. Freshman Stanford Robinson is seeing more and more minutes (19 against Illinois, 26 against Michigan State) and has been impressive. He dropped 11 points on the Spartans and was arguably IU's best player that day.

    Maybe he can succeed where Hollowell and Williams have failed.  

     

2. Keeping Noah Vonleh Involved

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    The Hoosiers have to get Vonleh the ball.
    The Hoosiers have to get Vonleh the ball.Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    Freshman Noah Vonleh was one of the Hoosiers' brightest stars during nonconference play and the Hoosiers need to continue to feed him the basketball. He hasn't attempted a field goal in the second half in their two Big Ten games.

    Simply unacceptable. 

    Does he need to demand the ball more? Absolutely. The Hoosiers have to work to get him the basketball, though.

    He's shown he can put up points, averaging 11.8 per game. But he's a post player. It's hard for him to create his own shot. He sets up on the block and requires a good entry pass.

    The Hoosiers need his production in order to compete in the Big Ten. They have to get better at finding him down low.  

1. Turnovers

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    Indiana is giving the basketball away far too much.
    Indiana is giving the basketball away far too much.Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Indiana is one of the worst teams in the country at holding onto the basketball. The Hoosiers average 16.3 turnovers per game, ranking 339th out of 345 teams. 

    How awful that is explains itself, and it's an enormous red flag.

    Just think if they cut down their turnovers by four. That's four more scoring opportunities, which very well could be the difference between winning and losing. 

    Indiana has to stop giving away so many possessions. Turnovers against Big Ten competition will see the Hoosiers consistently rack up losses.