Column: Young Hoosiers need time

The Hoosiers have a team with a lot of potential this season, but losses like Saturday's to Northwestern will continue to come with such a young team.

<>Yes, Indiana's Saturday loss to Northwestern was a shocker and quite frankly a very bad loss for a team hoping to build an NCAA Tournament resume. After students stormed the court Tuesday as the Hoosiers took down Wisconsin for the first time since 2007, they had to watch as a shadow of that team fell to the worst team in the Big Ten.

But what fans need to realize is this: a team with just one influential senior is going to falter at times, and not having a pure shooter on this squad is going to handicap the Hoosiers till next season when James Blackmon Jr. arrives.

Beyond Will Sheehey's experience, Yogi Ferrell comes next in line, thrust into the leadership role after just one season in a starting lineup. He has the potential to be a great point guard that can lead the Hoosiers deep into March in the coming years, but he's just not that player yet.

His freshman mistakes last year often were either made up for by his senior teammates or looked over. This year he's certainly a better player, but he's not consistently the star IU needs. He's going to have down halves and games.

He's a sophomore.

We've been spoiled over the years with freshmen playing well above their age around the NCAA, but not every young player that's supposed to be a leader on his team is going to shine night in and night out.

He is the best player on this IU squad, but this team just isn't that great.

Greatness comes with consistent scoring, consistent defense and a deep lineup, and the Hoosiers lack all three. As we saw Tuesday, what they do have is potential. They have the potential to score with the best, defend the best, and on the right night when several guys are in the zone, they can appear to have a deep lineup.

But that is not reality. Neither Tuesday's win or Saturday's loss gave us a glimpse at the real IU team. It's somewhere in the middle, a team that just doesn't have the mature talent to go very far this season, and that's okay. They aren't built to.

Tom Crean and his staff haven't built this team to be a Kentucky squad with numerous first round picks each year that could make a Final Four or lose in the first round of the NIT. Truly great teams with a roster full of multitalented, mature, battle-tested seniors takes time to build, and in a few years, that's what this IU team will be.

Until then, we'll continue to see glimpses of greatness that show what this team can become, but it will come with loads of mistakes and off nights that a team full of freshmen and sophomores is bound to have. Top Stories