As we reach the 10th game of the season Tuesday night against Oakland at Assembly Hall, the first third of the regular season will have come to an end.
The big question: What are your thoughts now about the Hoosiers compared to what they were a little over a month ago when IU was preparing to open the regular season against Chicago State?
Are you more confident now or less?
What are your biggest concerns? Where do you think Indiana will finish in the Big Ten now that have you have a sample size of 10 games after the Hoosiers face Oakland?
In terms of record, this is exactly where I figured Indiana would be. I thought they would be 7-2 going into the Oakland game and 8-2 coming out. I thought Notre Dame would be a game that could go either way but I expected IU to win. I predicted the Hoosiers would be 11-2 heading into the Big Ten.
But record is one thing and what my actual expectations were for this team are two different things. Because IU was going to be so young I figured that there would be a lot of growing pains. Nothing like 2008 when Tom Crean arrived on the scene. That was a different set of circumstances. This team is multiple times more athletic than Crean's first team.
The level of consistency or lack thereof isn't a surprise, however, I think that most people down deep hoped it wouldn't be a rollercoaster ride. And I'm not sure I would call it that but that final 18 minutes against Syracuse, after Indiana had put itself in a good position, was a little difficult to stomach.
Still, I'm a constant believer that it's all part of the process. Indiana will get better as the next weeks and months wear on. Will they get appreciably better in time for the postseason is the big question? Unfortunately, I think it's still too early to tell. I think we'll know a lot more on that front about five or six games in to the Big Ten season.
I guess I'm surprised that Indiana isn't a better perimeter shooting team. I expected a couple of guys to be a little more consistent. Two of them are Will Sheehey and Austin Etherington. Sheehey was the most experienced returning player and I thought he was ready to step into a different role. I'm still not sure he has made that leap completely.
As for Etherington, I thought he was flying under the radar a little bit and would have a great chance to show the kind of shooter he has been at the high school and AAU levels coming to IU. But he's just not there yet. I was encouraged by the two 3-pointers he knocked down against North Florida. If he could repeat that performance in the next game or two, I think it would do a great deal for his confidence.
I thought coming into the year that there was a good chance that Noah Vonleh could possibly play more than one season at Indiana. Now, I'm not so sure about that one either. The exciting thing for Indiana fans is that it's obvious that he has barely scratched the surface of his potential. The big question, however, will be whether he comes close to reaching that potential while in still in college or if that potential gets him drafted in the first round very soon?
I still think Indiana will be a middle of the pack or better team in the Big Ten this season. I think the Hoosiers will have another game or two like Syracuse where they really struggle. But I also think there are an upset or two in the cards for this team as well. This is still a team that you're not going to want to face before a raucous capacity crowd at Assembly Hall. IU simply has too much athleticism and too many playmakers.
I'm really interested in your feedback on this one. I'll post it on the premium message board and I'm hoping that you weigh in and give me your thoughts there.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch