In the aftermath of the 73-72 Indiana victory Tuesday night over LIU Brooklyn, a lot of Hoosier fans were beginning to get nervous.
If you can't beat a team like LIU Brooklyn, how are you going to fare against the best that the Big Ten has to offer?
My take: Take a deep breath, relax and don't get too carried away with one result.
Here's the reality of this young Indiana basketball team. It's going to have games like the one it played Tuesday night against Brooklyn. There are going to be nights when the young Hoosiers click on all cylinders and look very tough to beat, too.
It's very likely going to be a mixed bag for a while. But it's the nature of the beast with a young basketball team. You're never going to be entirely certain what you're going to get from one night to the next.
But let's don't sell LIU Brooklyn too short here either. That was a good basketball team. It's a battle tested program that has made three consecutive NCAA appearances. Is it a team that Indiana should beat, especially in Assembly Hall? Absolutely. But it's also not like some tiny school that no one had ever heard of that had never tasted an NCAA Tournament berth walked in and almost knocked off IU. That wasn't the case here.
Someone on press row as the game ended made the comment to me that "Man, that was almost Northeastern, Lipscomb or Loyola (Maryland) all over again.''
I beg to differ. This LIU Brooklyn team is a lot better than those teams that came into Assembly Hall in the early years of the Tom Crean era. And the product that Indiana is putting on the floor is a lot better, too.
Another thing that needs to be pointed out is that college basketball is a bottom line business. No one is going to care that IU beat LIU Brooklyn by one point when it comes March and you're comparing scores. The only statistic that will matter is the ‘W' next to Indiana's name. Now, if Brooklyn had won, sure that would have been a bad loss at the NCAA Tournament resume.
But Indiana won and that's really the only thing that matters here.
I think for a while we're going to see this team learns a lot as it goes. I thought it learned a lot throughout that game Tuesday night. It learned that you can't settle for jump shot after jump shot when you have a height advantage like IU possessed against the Blackbirds. By shooting those shots, even though they were good looks, Indiana was playing right into LIU Brooklyn's hands. Especially considering that IU hasn't exactly given the impression in the early going that it's going to be a great perimeter shooting team.
So I think the fact that Indiana settled down and shot better than 50 percent from the field in the second half and followed up a 1-for-16 effort from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes to go 6-of-10 in the final 20 minutes shows that perhaps they learned something. They worked the ball inside out, made the extra pass and hit a few shots sure. But IU's game was much less one-dimensional.
Indiana should be able to pick up wins Friday night against Samford and Sunday against Stony Brook, although Stony Brook I believe is picked to win its league again this year so that won't be a pushover game.
But the one thing that is guaranteed is that Indiana will continue to learn a lot over the next 80 minutes of basketball this weekend and IU fans will continue to get a feel for what kind of team this going to be.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch