Yesterday's 78-65 comeback victory against Division Two Ferris State marked the end of the exhibition portion of Indiana University's schedule.
Last Wednesday the Hoosiers easily handled Franklin College—a Division Three school—89-37. But they had serious problems with the Ferris State Bulldogs, trailing them for most of the game until coming alive in the last five minutes of the game then pulling away for good in overtime.
However, now that the exhibition games are over lets look back at what we have learned so far about this 2010-2011 Indiana Hoosiers Basketball Team.
6. Maurice Creek is still not healthy:
While he looked better on the court vs. Ferris State, Creek is still obviously not anywhere near 100 percent, or at least the level he was at last year (might have been 110 percent considering how he played). His shot has lacked the strength it had last year, as many of them fell short of the basket. Also his overall quickness on both sides of the ball is not back to full speed.
After seeing yesterday's game and the Hoosiers struggles with making their own shot, it will be of huge importance for Creek to get better every game because the Hoosiers will need him to help carry the scoring load. He should be back to full strength by the time the Big Ten season begins.
5. IU's big men still have a lot to learn:
Despite having a summer to bulk up and gain in strength, the Hoosier big men are still lacking experience and fundamentals at key points in the game. Yes it is early, but it was not a happy sight to see players like Tom Pritchard and Derek Elston not boxing out on a shot or being out-boxed by an opponent. At the same time, they need to stop committing careless fouls. While they had a huge advantage against Franklin College due to height, Ferris St. was able to match them in that respect.
We have seen in the past that when the Hoosiers have done a good job in the low post, rebounding, scoring and controlling the paint, it has helped open up the court for the shooters and lead to wins.
4. Christian Watford is much more improved this season:
In two games so far (though against lesser opponents), Watford has totaled 50 points, 12 rebounds, 17-20 from the free throw line, three assists and more.
He looks much more comfortable this year facing up his defender or with his back to the basket, and he has embraced the go-to scorer role that he has right now with Verdell Jones III injured and Maurice Creek still on the path back to full health.
And even on the defensive end he has looked more confident and has done a good job to contain his opposite, as well as stay with him around screens. Even his defense down low in the paint has improved, and should continue to improve in each and every game this season.
Look for Watford to score at least 12 points a game and chip in with a few rebounds and assists as well
3. Jordan Hulls is not ready to run the point:
Yes it is early, but Jordan Hulls does not look like he can run the point. He is still constantly picking up his dribble at the wrong time and having trouble making his own shots, which can be deadly when he is on his game.
Hulls still lacks the overall strength and speed to compete at this level, and while it has improved from last year, he is really still a couple years away. His experience from last year will help him at times, but I would expect Verdell Jones III—once he gets back on the court—to take the point guard duties.
2. Injuries and eligibility issues are keeping this team back; (more minutes to freshman):
With Verdell Jones and Guy-Marc Michel yet to play a game yet, the Hoosiers have already started the season short-handed. And now adding Matt Roth to that list, Indiana is going to have to dig deep into their bench once again to find some quality minutes.
Luckily, the additions of Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo have given IU a different kind of athlete than they had before. Oladipo's heroics in Tuesday night's come from behind victory has already made him a fan favorite, and the skills he showed will help the team in the long run. Hopefully the Hoosiers will not need to rely on these two freshman as they have had to rely on freshman the past two years.
1. The Hoosiers still have a long way to go:
Based on the last two performances, it looks like fans are going to be waiting a bit longer for a postseason berth. It is still early, but this Hoosier team still is young and inexperienced overall and needs to find its way on the court. Hopefully, when the injured players return to full strength, fans will get a better idea of the potential of this year's Hoosier squad. Until then, expectations must be kept low in case of failure like last season.