Here is an analysis of Monday night's 79-39 exhibition victory over Hillsdale College at Assembly Hall. This analysis will become a regular part of our AllHoosiers.com cove rage of Indiana basketball this season.
WHAT LOOKED GOOD: After a sluggish start, Indiana was able to take advantage of its quickness and athleticism. The Hoosiers fell behind 13-2 in the first six and a half minutes but got back into the game by playing better defense and by attacking the basket. The final tally for points in the paint was 38-12 in favor of Indiana. IU also had an 11-0 edge on fast break points and was able to generate 26 points off of 17 Hillsdale turnovers.
WHAT LOOKED GOOD PART 2: Indiana got good play from its six-man true freshman contingent. Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson each had nine points for the Hoosiers. Noah Vonleh had eight. Devin Davis had five and Luke Fischer had four. That's 35 points from the freshman class. If Indiana can get 35 points of production from its freshmen, which equated to 44.3 percent of the scoring Monday night, that will be significant. IU also got 23 rebounds from the six freshmen with Vonleh leading the way with nine. Assist to turnovers from that group? Close to 50-50. The six freshmen had a total of five assists and six turnovers.
WHAT NEEDS TO IMPROVE: I would guess if you asked the coaching staff this question you'd hear that there is a long of list of things. But that's all just part of the process at this point. It's a young team that is going to take some time to jell. What the coaching staff will like, however, is that it has a another full game tape to dissect and work with players to get better. One question mark early in this one was IU's sense of urgency at the beginning. Vonleh looked good on the first possession of the game and scored inside on a sweet up-and-under move. But then IU went 8 minutes without a field goal. The Hoosiers missed five shots in a row, settled for 3-pointers instead of attacking the basket and didn't do a good enough job getting out on shooters. When the Hoosiers turned up the intensity on defense, then that defense led to the offense and IU was able to score a lot of points both in transition and in driving to the basket and attacking the rim.
FOR STARTERS:: Indiana's starting lineup Monday night was Will Sheehey, Jeremy Hollowell, Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams and Yogi Ferrell. The difference between this lineup and the one that started last week in the exhibition opener against Southern Indiana was that Hollowell was substituted in place of Evan Gordon. IU's starting five Monday combined to score 49 points, pull down 20 rebounds, with eight assists, 11 turnovers, two blocks and six steals. Those five players combined to shoot 18-of-34 from the field, 6-of-15 from 3-point range and 7-of-15 from the free throw line.
INJURY UPDATE: Sheehey went down awkwardly with 14:27 to play in the game on the left baseline on the Indiana end after apparently colliding with Evan Gordon. He did not return to the game and during a few timeouts was standing behind the huddle with a large bag of ice wrapped around his right calf. Tom Crean said after the game that he didn't think the injury was serious and Sheehey would continue to be evaluated by IU's medical staff.
SEVENTEEN PLAY, TWELVE SCORE: A total of 17 players saw action for the Hoosiers Monday night and 12 of those players scored. Andrew Calomeris and Joe Fagan were the last two players to be inserted into the lineup. On the other end of the spectrum, the first sub of the game for the Hoosiers was Hanner Mosquera-Perea at the 15:06 mark of the first half when he went in for Vonleh. Devin Davis and Evan Gordon were the next two players off the bench for IU, both coming in at the 14:23 mark. Luke Fischer and Austin Etherington were the ninth and 10th players, respectively, to get in the game for Indiana.
INDIVIDUAL OBSERVATIONS: Here's a look at my own thoughts on five Indiana players from Monday night's victory over Hillsdale:
1. YOGI FERRELL:: Yogi took the most shots of any Hoosier player from the field, the 3-point line and the foul line. He was 4-of-10 from the field, 2-of-5 from 3 and 4-of-6 from the foul line. He wasn't as sharp as he normally is handling the ball and lost it a couple of times in traffic driving the line. But he was better in terms of consistently driving and attacking. He needs to do a better of finishing around the basket but when he's taking it to the hole good things are happening for the IU offense. Defensively, he was scrappy and on one particular sequence was mixing it up inside pretty good with Hillsdale forward Tony Nelson.
2. WILL SHEEHEY: Will seemed to do a good job of taking what the defense was giving him. Early on that was attacking the basket. In the second half, before he went down with a calf injury, he hit a pair of 3-pointers as part of IU's 8-0 run to open the half and stretch the lead to 17 at 41-24. He hit one from the right corner and then later, a second one from the top when he faked a pass to the right, got rid of a defender and hit the open shot. He also had a sweet jam in the first half off a nice pass from Evan Gordon.
3. HANNER MOSQUERA-PEREA: Hanner looked active and much less robotic than he looked a year ago. He had four points, four rebounds and two blocks in 12 minutes of action off the bench. On one sequence he took a pass inside, caught it and went up strong and was fouled. Tom Crean walked back up in front of the bench, clapping and appeared to say, "He is so much better. He is so much better.'' That much is clearly true with the sophomore forward. I left Assembly Hall Monday night thinking Mosquera-Perea could really help Indiana this year.
4. LUKE FISCHER: You can tell he's not 100 percent healthy just yet but Fischer could eventually be a significant contributor for Indiana. He had four points, two rebounds and a steal. His one basket, he did a nice job of sealing off the low post and took an entry pass from Austin Etherington and went up hard for a shot. He was also aggressive at times on the board and had a steal on defense that led to a layup in transition. The thing I liked was that he was active and he was aggressive. Eventually he's only going to get better and become more and more fluid on both ends of the floor.
5. STANFORD ROBINSON: At some point this season, I really think Robinson will take over as the starting shooting guard in this lineup. He just has too many intangibles both offensive and defensively. He attacks the rim and has a good, quick burst to the basket. He gets into passing lane and, when he isn't reaching, can create some havoc on the defensive end, too. He made all three of his shots from the field, he was 3-of-4 from the free throw line, he had two assists, no turnovers and two steals in 11 minutes of play off the bench. A pretty solid effort.
NEXT UP: Indiana opens the 2013-14 regular season Friday night at 7 p.m. against Chicago State at Assembly Hall. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Digital Network.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch