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Indiana Basketball: Biggest Lessons Learned in Big Ten Play So Far

EAST LANSING, MI - JANUARY 21:  Coach Tom Crean of Indiana Hoosiers shouts at his team during the first half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Breslin Center on January 21, 2014 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Duane Burleson/Getty Images
Kyle GrandFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2014

For Indiana basketball, the Big Ten season has been a roller-coaster ride. After the win against Wisconsin, it seemed like the Hoosiers were on the the right track. Then, a loss at home to middling Northwestern showed that Indiana still had to improve in many areas.

Through the first seven games of the conference slate, Indiana is 3-4. Here are the biggest things the Hoosiers have learned through the beginning of the Big Ten season. 

 

Noah Vonleh is the Real Deal

The freshman wowed in nonconference play, averaging 12 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Yes, nearly a double-double. The 5-star recruit lived up to expectations.

But, he was going against weaker competition. How would he fare versus the rugged nature of the B1G? 

Vonleh is a rebounding machine.
Vonleh is a rebounding machine.Michael Hickey/Getty Images

So far, in conference play, Vonleh has kept up what he started. Currently, he leads the Big Ten in rebounding (9.7 RPG) and is the league's top-scoring freshman (12.0 PPG).

The stiffer competition yet to slow down this youngster, and his continued production is something Indiana will need in the coming weeks. 

 

Stanford Robinson Deserves to Start

Before the Big Ten season started, Robinson only played 10 minutes per game. Since, he's made his way into the starting lineup and has been a revelation.

He's brought an edge to the Hoosiers. Robinson shows no fear as he constantly attacks the basket (69.7 percent of his attempts are at the rim, per Hoop-Math.com) His aggressive play is turning into points. 

The Hoosiers have welcomed Robinson's presence with open arms.
The Hoosiers have welcomed Robinson's presence with open arms.R Brent Smith/Associated Press

In Big Ten games, Robinson is averaging 7.9 points per game, good for fourth among conference freshmen

Robinson is solid on defense as well, so much so that his play grabbed the attention of Illinois head coach John Groce. Per the Indianapolis Star's Zach Osterman, Groce complimented Robinson's defense. 

The Hoosiers were searching for consistency in their starting lineup. Jeremy Hollowell wasn't the answer and neither was Evan Gordon. Perhaps they've found their man in Robinson.

 

Off Nights Not Allowed

This season, the Big Ten is competitive from top to bottom. There is no such thing as a guaranteed win. Even the teams at the bottom of the standings have posed problems for the Hoosiers. 

Indiana barely escaped Penn State with a victory. Northwestern came into Assembly Hall and knocked off the Hoosiers, an almost unthinkable outcome at the time. Indiana lost at Illinois and didn't pull away from the Illini when they visited Bloomington until late in the second half.

The point: The Hoosiers will be tested every game. They still face Nebraska twice, Purdue (away), Penn State (home) and Northwestern (away). Even though these teams don't have impressive records, the Hoosiers must take them seriously.   

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