It wasn't always pretty, but Indiana responded from an early double-digit deficit and beat the University of Indianapolis 76-63 in its final exhibition game Monday night at Assembly Hall. Here are a few takeaways from Indiana's win. (The Hoosiers open the regular season Friday night against Mississippi Valley State.)
1. JOHNSON IS A WARRIOR: Freshman guard Robert Johnson struggled a bit in his debut last Thursday night against Northwood (4-of-12, 13 points), but he was much more effective against UIndy.
Johnson's final line: 15 points, 6-6 FG, 2-2 3-pointers, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 steal, 35 minutes
The Virginia native was not only incredibly efficient on the offensive end, he defended ferociously and went hard to the defensive glass on every possession. Johnson has a bulldog mentality and fears no one, which is so rare among freshmen. Sure, he's a very good shooter, but Johnson is special because of his ability to attack the basket, his ability to defend, and his warrior-like mentality.
"Growing up with three brothers, there was basically always a competition around the house," Johnson said. "Coming here with the attitude coach Crean and his staff have, we pretty much do competition things every day. So when you're going against guys like Yogi [Ferrell] and James [Blackmon] in drills, it just brings the best out of everybody."
Indiana fans are going to enjoy watching Johnson play because he's willing to guard the best player on the other team, and he will also battle on the boards with guys much bigger than he is. Plus, he's about as unselfish as they come. It was a great night for Johnson, and it won't be the last.
2. YOGI PLAYS EFFICIENT GAME: Yogi Ferrell finished with a game-high 19 points on Monday night, and he did it efficiently. Crean gave Johnson and Blackmon Jr. opportunities to run the point even when Ferrell was in the game, giving him an opportunity to play off the ball and get open shots that way.
Ferrell was 7-of-11 from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc with five assists and two turnovers. He played within himself, didn't try to force anything, and simply picked his spots. That's what we're likely to see from Ferrell going forward.
3. TURNOVERS, REBOUNDING ARE CONCERNS: It's early, sure, and Indiana is still missing a couple of key players, but IU's rebounding and turnover numbers were not good against UIndy.
The Hoosiers committed 18 turnovers and were outrebounded 41-35. They allowed 22 offensive rebounds.
Those are numbers that will have to come down, and soon.
"There were a lot of long rebounds and they were very physical and able to win the jumping contest some because we didn't get into their bodies as well," said Indiana coach Tom Crean. "Obviously, we're not as big. We've got to get better on the weak side boards. We've got to spend even more time than what we have in really isolating the weak side block out and isolating those jump ball contests. Hopefully through our drill work and our progression, we'll get better."
4. MOSQUERA-PEREA SOLID AGAIN: Hanner Mosquera-Perea had two fouls and two turnovers in just the first few minutes of Monday night's game, but he settled down and played well after that.
Crean let Mosquera-Perea stay in the game and play with two fouls for awhile, and he finished the game with just those two fouls. He also didn't commit another turnover. That's legitimate progress for a guy that was wildly inconsistent in his first two years at IU.
Mosquera-Perea finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, bringing his two-game exhibition average to 12.0 ppg and 10.0 rpg. He has been a beast on the boards through the exhibition season. Now, can he carry it into the regular season?
5. HARTMAN GOOD, ZEISLOFT BAD: Collin Hartman played his best game as a Hoosier on Monday night in his second game back from ACL surgery. The Indianapolis native had eight points, two rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal in 18 minutes. He knocked down all three of his field-goal attempts, including two from long range.
Hartman remains on a minutes limit, but it was great to see him back on the court and playing well.
Nick Zeisloft, on the other hand, wasn't nearly as good against UIndy. Zeisloft, a junior transfer from Illinois State, finished with four points on 0-of-6 shooting and five turnovers in 30 minutes. He had 24 points on 5-of-10 shooting in the first exhibition game against Northwood.
I wasn't surprised to see Zeisloft struggle from the field. He's going to have a few games like that this year. All shooters do. But the five turnovers are way too many, especially for a guy not responsible for handling the ball in high volume.
"He's not a specialist here," Crean said. "That's not the role we have for him. He's a player. He's got to wear a lot of hats for us, and I think he's fully capable of impacting the game. He's got to learn that. That becomes an experience and that becomes an expectation level.
"He's a very, very smart player. The bottom line is he's got to spread out, play, be comfortable with that, and it's the same thing in the rebounding. He doesn't have to be a great leaper, but he's got to be a technician, so to speak. He's got to have physicality. He's got to step inside the body, and he's got to get into people."Hulls: 'They should know better'
Indiana beats UIndy 76-63 in final exhibition game
Albers: Takeaways from first exhibition game