With each game this season we'll put the spotlight on an Indiana player that we believe is someone to keep an eye on for that particular game.
This one is a no-brainer. You can talk about any other player on this roster and the reality is that every Indiana fan from the time they walk into Assembly Hall tonight for the Nebraska game and look out on that court the first person they're going to look for is No. 1 in his white jersey. The first thing on their minds will be the hope that he's not in street clothes like he was Sunday afternoon against Ohio State with a protective boot on his left foot. If Vonleh is at least in uniform, IU fans will be able to resume a more regular breathing pattern at that point. The next thing they will focus on is how he is moving in warm ups with his injured foot. So, believe me on this one, in terms of a player to watch the only one that IU fans will be watching early on is Vonleh to see if he'll be effective tonight against Nebraska. Sure, Indiana has basically won the last two games without Vonleh. He played against Iowa but was ineffective. That was the night that Will Sheehey busted out for a career-high 30 points. And then Sunday IU played without him and somehow found a way to beat a decent Ohio State team with a big front line.
Now if Vonleh can play, and IU coach Tom Crean gave the impression Tuesday that he expected his big freshman to be back in the lineup, then he needs to be considerably more active this time around than he was the first time the Hoosiers faced the Cornhuskers. In that game, Vonleh played 27 minutes and scored seven points. He was limited to three rebounds. He took his customary five shots from the field and made three. But as Indiana hits crunch time, Vonleh needs to begin playing at a different level Sheehey has cleared elevated his game and Yogi Ferrell continues to be a steady presence. IU has been getting more of late from players like Troy Williams and Jeremy Hollowell. But this is the time in the season where Vonleh needs to shine. Indiana is hoping to be 18-12 overall by the time Wednesday evening is over and to do that it's going to need a solid effort out of Vonleh. The big freshman is still looking for that initial 20-point scoring game of his career. This might not be a bad time.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch