Three keys: Oakland

Indiana has four games in a three-week span to prepare to open Big Ten play New Year's Eve at Illinois. Here are three things that the Hoosiers need to do better beginning Tuesday night with Oakland.

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 Oakland:


Oakland's Travis Bader is attempting 11 3-point field goals per game. He has made 40 in the first nine games. Let's put that number into perspective. Indiana, as a team, has made exactly 40 3-pointers in the first nine games. The reason Bader shoots so many is that he is constantly on the move. As Tom Crean said at Monday night's media availability, Indiana has to do a good job of communicating and knowing where Bader is at all times. And Bader is not going to be intimidated playing on the road in a venue like Assembly. Oakland's first seven games this season were on the road. Bader has played in places like North Carolina, UCLA, California and Gonzaga. So Assembly Hall will be just another venue.


Not literally another step out or anything like that but simply continue to knock down perimeter shots. If Indiana can do that, it will open things up more in the middle for a player like Noah Vonleh to do a lot of interior damage. Against North Florida, four different IU players connected from 3-point range: Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell, Evan Gordon and Austin Etherington. That's a start. Now players like Will Sheehey and Troy Williams also need to hit some shots from 3-point range. But it's not just the 3-pointer. When that 17-foot jump shot from the corner or the elbow is there, Indiana needs to be able to convert on it. Otherwise opponents are going to sit in a zone defense more and more and dare Indiana to shoot perimeter shots. IU took a step in terms of progress from the perimeter Saturday night against North Florida but the Hoosiers need to take the next step against Oakland.


What I mean by that is that when Indiana tips off Tuesday night against Oakland the Hoosiers will be exactly three weeks away from opening the Big Ten season on the road in Champaign against Illinois. The big question there is whether Indiana looks ready for Big Ten play just yet. I think the Hoosiers have a ways to go myself. IU needs to become more consistent, take care of the ball better, knock down the perimeter shot as was discussed above and play better lockdown defense. IU has four games, beginning with Oakland, to get prepared for a rugged start to Big Ten play that includes games with Illinois, Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin. The next four games will be an important stretch for the Hoosiers.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Top Stories