With every basketball game that Indiana plays this season we will take a look at three things to watch that could be important for that game.
Here are the three keys for Washington:
1. HANDLE A ROAD ATMOSPHERE
If Madison Square Garden is like most neutral site tournaments where Indiana has played over the years, there will be a good number of IU fans in attendance. Indiana fans have purchased the largest allotment of any team in this week's 2K Sports Classic. Still, it will be far from a home game and a young Indiana team will be traveling away from Assembly Hall for the first time this season. One challenge in any NBA arena is to get adjusted quickly to the shooting background. Indiana likely will have a had a chance prior to today's game to get into the arena as Indiana arrived in New York on Tuesday night. But just as big as it will be for Indiana to face a little bit better competition over the next few days, getting over the hurdle of playing on the road will be challenging for the Hoosiers, too.
This was the primary theme that Tom Crean harped on with the media Tuesday that Indiana has to be good at against the Huskies. Washington likes to run, it takes the ball out quickly and tries to beat you down the floor, and transition defense will be a major key in a game like this. Indiana has had mixed results in that regard in the first four games. This is one area though where Indiana's upside in terms of athleticism should come in handy in its ability to keep up with the Huskies. But it will have to be a point of focus from the very beginning or this will be a much-talked about postgame key as well.
3. KNOCK DOWN FREE THROWS
In the opener against Chicago State, Indiana made 45-of-55 free throws. Perhaps that gave IU fans a false sense of security. Against Stony Brook on Sunday, IU made30-of-49 from the line. Getting 49 attempts is a positive but you can't leave that many free points on the floor against good teams. So much of free throw shooting is confidence and it will be imperative for IU to come out and hit foul shots early. The player that all eyes will be on will be freshman Noah Vonleh who is averaging nine free throw attempts per game. He has made 23-of-36 free throws, .639 percent. With as much as he will likely get fouled on the interior it is really important that Vonleh gets his percentage well over 70 percent.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch