IU Insider Blog: What do we know about IU?

If you've watched Indiana play the first four games you have an idea of what to expect from the 2013-14 edition of IU basketball. By the time IU plays two games in Madison Square Garden this week, however, Hoosier fans will have a much better grasp on how good this IU team can be.

Indiana is 4-0, ranked No. 22 in the coaches poll, not ranked in the Associated Press poll and is in New York City this week to play Washington Thursday night and either Connecticut or Boston College Friday night.

That much we know.

But what do we really know about Indiana basketball after wins over Chicago State, LIU Brooklyn, Samford and Stony Brook.

We know that:

Indiana is young and inconsistent

The youth part scares me a little bit because you just don't know about the consistency night in and night out. There's going to be growing pains and you just wonder how those struggles are going to present themselves. Or more to the point, when are they going to present themselves?

One night Indiana can't miss from the free throw. A few games later, Indiana can't hit a free throw. The Hoosiers missed 19 against Stony Brook including 13-of-28 in the first half. One night the Hoosiers seem to play pretty good on-ball defense. The next time out they get beat off the dribble way too much.

The good news is that the more this team plays together the more it will grow up and the youth excuse will soon go out the window. Some may cling to it for a while but at some point, 10-12 games in, you have to put the youth card to bed. This doesn't mean these guys won't continue to make freshman mistakes because they will. It's just that the mistakes will become less frequent.

Indiana is extremely athletic

The athleticism piece is something that has Indiana fans excited moving forward. This is a fun teamto watch because they can get up and down the floor and they can jump out of the gym. Play-by-play Don Fischer, who it has been rumored was calling games when James Naismith was coaching (sorry Fish I couldn't resist), says this is the most athletic team he has ever seen at Indiana. That's high praise from a guy who has been calling Indiana basketball for 40 years and has witnessed the Hoosiers with three national championships.

No, the one thing that is certain is that there is plenty of highlight film material left in the tank with this Indiana basketball team. Of course you're going to see it against the likes of the competition that Indiana has faced to this point, but I think you're going to see shine brightly on the national stage beginning this week at Madison Square Garden, too. Indiana has athletes. Now it's a matter of getting those guys comfortable enough playing together that you can take full advantage of that athleticism.

Noah Vonleh is as good as advertised – maybe better

Four college games and four double-doubles for Vonleh. That's pretty impressive. But when you watch him play, as Tom Crean has said in the past, you get the feeling like he hasn't scratched the surface. You get the feeling like when he ultimately feels comfortable in the system that he's going to be unstoppable.

You can just see it when he gets the ball in the post. This is a guy who is going to attack the basket. If he misses the shot, there's a good chance he's going to follow it up and tip it in. He goes after rebounds. He doesn't wait for them to come to him. Rarely do you see Vonleh get a flat-footed rebound. He's got springs for feet and he goes up and gets it.

No one knows how long a player like Vonleh will stay in college but like Cody Zeller before him, I know one thing is for certain. I'm going to enjoy watching him play until that day comes where he goes to the next level.

Indiana isn't great handling the ball just yet

I say ‘just yet' because it's still early. A lot of IU's problems could be from going too fast and learning when to push it and when it pull it back. I saw some growth from Troy Williams in the Stony Brook game late with about 4 minutes to play when it was on a break and didn't think he had numbers and pulled it back out and got the ball to Yogi Ferrell. The first few games I don't think he would have done that. He was all about initiating the attack and heading for the rim. And that's good, too. But sometimes, a situation dictates that you pull it out and set it up.

You can get away with turning the ball over 17-19 times against most of the teams Indiana will play in the non-conference season. It won't fly against the competition this week in New York and it won't work in two weeks at Syracuse in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It certainly for play when conference season rolls around either.

But for now, it's still part of the process. As Indiana fans, you can just hope that the Hoosiers continue to make steady improvement in several areas. One of those is taking care of the ball.

I'll be in Madison Square Garden both Thursday and Friday for AllHoosiers.com to bring you all the reporting of a two-day stretch when we should get a much better idea of just how good this Indiana basketball team could be.

The ride continues. Hope you come along and follow all of our pre- and post-game coverage at AllHoosiers.com.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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