Last season, by the time Indiana got to the Big Ten season, its rotation had been whittled down and established. When the game was on the line, you had a pretty good idea who was going to be in the game for the Hoosiers.
This season has been a different story entirely, and that was to be expected after four of the six players listed above graduated or left the program from the NBA. Now, eight games into the conference season, Indiana still does not have a regular rotation. It changes daily.
The reason: Inconsistency.
Last year, you had a pretty good idea what you were going to get out of your top six players. This season, you really have no idea.
And that's why, this deep in the season, Indiana coach Tom Crean continues to tinker with his lineups and rotations, trying to find a semblance of the consistency he had a year ago.
On Thursday night at Nebraska, Crean played 13 guys in the first half. Eight guys logged double-figure minutes, and 11 guys played at least five minutes.
For comparison's sake, here's a look at the same numbers for other Big Ten teams in their most recent game:
Purdue (at Michigan): Nine guys played double-figure minutes, and 11 played five minutes or more.
Iowa (vs. Michigan State in OT): 10 guys played double-figure minutes, 10 played five minutes or more.
Northwestern (at Wisconsin): Seven guys played double-figure minutes, seven played five minutes or more.
Minnesota (at Nebraska): Nine guys played double-figure minutes, nine played five minutes or more.
Penn State (at Ohio State): Eight guys played double-figure minutes, eight played five minutes or more.
Illinois (at Indiana): Eight guys played double-figure minutes, eight played five minutes or more.
Nebraska (vs. Indiana): Eight guys played double-figure minutes, nine played five minutes or more.
So, what does all that prove? Only Purdue played as many guys five minutes or more as Indiana in its most recent game. It doesn't happen very often, and it's a sign that Crean and the Hoosiers are trying any and every lineup possibility to get some consistent production.
The Hoosiers hadn't played 11 guys five minutes or more in any Big Ten game this season. When they beat Wisconsin at home, only eight guys played five minutes or more.
The problem is, as the season goes along, Big Ten teams have more and more film on Indiana, which is making it harder and harder for the Hoosiers to score. Last year, they were multi-dimensional, could shoot with any team in the country, could fastbreak at an incredible rate, and could also attack the rim. Now, with their outside shooting extremely limited, teams know the Hoosiers want to attack the basket, and they are packing it in to keep them from doing so.
Which is why I think it was important that Crean began his press conference on Thursday night by talking about his team's lack of awareness defensively in the second half. This team, more than any other, must turn its defensive stops into easier opportunities on the other end. In the half court, it's difficult for any team to score consistently, but especially a team that struggles to make shots from the perimeter.
For Indiana to be successful, it must get out and run more often off turnovers and defensive rebounds. The Hoosiers had only two fastbreak points against Nebraska on Thursday night.
For the Hoosiers, nobody other than Ferrell and Noah Vonleh are set in their roles. They haven't had a consistent sixth man like they did a year ago. There is no consistent starting lineup. Inconsistency has been the biggest issue for the Hoosiers this season, which is expected with a young team. But if they want a chance to return to the NCAA Tournament, they must find at least a sliver of the consistency they had last year.