AllHoosiers.com's staff Nathan Brown takes a look back at the Indiana non-conference season and the Kennesaw State game in particular.
During Tom Crean's tenure at IU, you normally knew what to expect going into conference play. For the first three years, we knew IU would struggle. In the 2011-12 season, we knew the Hoosiers would make some sparks, and last year we knew they would challenge for the conference title.
But with a young 10-3 team with loads of potential that has three of its first four games against high-major opponents this season, what can we expect? What do we really know about this squad?
You look at the points they've put up per game – an admirable 82.2 points per game. But their three worst scoring performances this season? All losses. In two of those, they scored less than 60.
This team is not built to grind out wins. We all know how they've performed against teams like Wisconsin and Syracuse over the past few years, teams that slow down the pace and force IU into the half court.
The Hoosiers need to score by committee, getting five or six guys into double figures to prevent teams much stronger at defense in the Big Ten from locking down on one or two players and taking all IU's chances of scoring away.
Right now, you take Noah Vonleh out of the game, and Yogi Ferrell is IU's only trusted consistent scoring option. Big Ten defenses will take him out of the picture all too easily. Ferrell has done a great job taking on the bulk of the scoring – reaching 25 points Sunday and putting up 16.8 points per game, but he can't be the only guy.
IU continued to put up big scoring numbers in the Big Ten last season because it could throwJordan Hulls, Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo or Cody Zeller at teams, and at least two or three of them would have solid scoring games night in and night out.
The Big Ten this season is as strong as it has been at the top, with Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin all ranked in the top five heading into conference play. The Hoosiers were once ranked and now have to question whether they'll be playing on the big stage in March.
And if the Hoosiers continue to turn the ball over like they have as of late, finishing this weekend with back-to-back 20-turnover outings against Nicholls State and Kennesaw State, you can almost guarantee IU won't have a shot at a third Sweet 16 appearance.
Through one half of play Sunday, the Hoosiers had amassed 12 turnovers already. Some great teams don't turn the ball over 12 times a game.
Crean has been saying all season that he doesn't mind the turnovers stemming from trying to push the ball too fast and getting out of control. Sure, you don't want to hamper the athleticism the Hoosiers have, and you can give young guys time to grow and learn.
But at some point, turning the ball over because of your own fault rather than the solid defense of your opponent can't be excused. A turnover is still a turnover.
Hopefully Crean can use these next nine days to teach Troy Williams and company to control the ball while they're slashing to the bucket. IU's fast-paced offense has been exciting to watch so far this season, but it will create an awfully hard Big Ten slate if IU can't get it under control.