Indiana moved to 2-0 on the young season Monday night by beating former IU coach Mike Davis and Texas Southern 83-64 at Assembly Hall. Here are a few things we learned from the victory.
1. INDIANA MUST LEARN TO START FASTER: Slow starts are often an issue with young teams and against lesser competition, but the Hoosiers have yet to start fast through two exhibition games and two regular season games. Sure, the atmosphere wasn’t stellar Monday night because of the early 6 p.m. start, but the Hoosiers need to find a way to come out of the gate fast and step on the opposition’s throat from the beginning.
IU let a bad Texas Southern team hang around for far too long, a troubling fact with a game against SMU looming on Thursday night. The Hoosiers have been good in second halves, but they might not have that long to wake up against better competition.
That’s something I stressed to IU fans throughout the offseason, and fans are starting to see just how good Johnson is. The freshman guard led all scorers with 21 points on Monday night, including 17 in the first half. Johnson was 8-of-13 from the field, 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and he added six assists and five rebounds with only one turnover.
”There wasn’t even a time when I wanted to take him off the floor,” Crean said.“He makes a lot of things happen.”
I love Johnson’s game and he’s a guy I think will become a fan favorite because of the way he plays on both ends of the floor. Johnson possesses a killer instinct, and he’s already showing it early in the freshman year. He will be an important player for Indiana all season long.
3. SUSPENSIONS ARE OVER: This one kind of ties in with the previous category, so I thought it made sense to put it here. Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson and Emmitt Holt have now sat their four games and will return to the team for Thursday night’s game against SMU.
Indiana’s bench gets much deeper in a hurry, and having Williams back should help the Hoosiers on the boards. Indiana was outrebounded for the second straight game on Monday night, 34-32. IU has given up 34 offensive rebounds in two games.
So, how will the rotation shake out with Williams, Robinson and Holt all back? Here’s my take:
IU’s starting lineup will remain the same, at least for the next couple games. I could see Tom Crean going with Williams over Nick Zeisloft for Thursday’s game against SMU, but I think Johnson deserves to keep his starting spot over Robinson. Why? Johnson is the better player. Their games are very similar, but Johnson is a better shooter, takes better care of the ball, and is a better defender. Bringing Robinson off the bench as the sixth man is an attractive proposition, as well.
Minutes will be more scarce going forward, but Collin Hartman deserves to stay in the rotation because of the way he has played. Max Hoetzel? He’s more up in the air. I could see his minutes being extremely limited against SMU, if he gets off the bench at all.
I don’t think Holt is a guy that’s ready to contribute right away, but he’s a big body that could spell Hanner Mosquera-Perea at times. Down the road, later in the season, Holt will be able to help more. Just not now.
4. REBOUNDING WATCH: It will undoubtedly be an issue to watch with this team all season, and it was again against Texas Southern. The Hoosiers were outrebounded for the second straight game, 34-32, and gave up 12 offensive rebounds, including nine in the first half. Mississippi Valley State had 22 offensive rebounds in the season opener.
Williams’ return will help some in the rebounding category, but IU shouldn’t be getting outrebounded by two really bad teams, regardless of who’s on the floor. Neither team had good size, they just outhustled IU on the glass. As the competition gets better, the size gets bigger, and Indiana will have to do a better job. If the Hoosiers don’t, they will face some big deficits. It’s just that simple.
5. ZEISLOFT, HARTMAN QUIETLY EFFECTIVE: They may end up being role players this season, but Nick Zeisloft and Collin Hartman are critical to Indiana’s success. Both played well on Monday, even if their stats might suggest they had quiet nights.
Zeisloft finished with only six points, but I thought it might have been his best game at IU thus far. He made both of his field-goal attempts — 3-pointers — with six rebounds and only one turnover. Zeisloft didn’t try to force anything, and he made smart plays on both ends, specifically with rotating the ball offensively.
Hartman continues to impress and shock me. He has been terrific. He finished with three points, four rebounds, an assist, three blocks and two steals. He also had 14 deflections.
”I don’t know if he had 14 deflections all of last year,” Tom Crean said.
Hartman is moving around better than I’ve ever seen him, and he’s played flawless defense. Not only is Hartman not a liability on the defensive end, but he’s making as many impact plays as anybody on that end of the floor. When Williams and Robinson come back, Hartman should stay in the rotation.
”We have some limitations with him in practice, but he’s staking his claim,” Crean said. “And that’s what you want. He just goes out there and does what it takes to win the game.”Ferrell named to Wooden Watch list
Analysis: Time for Basketball Predictions
Davis feels like he's coming home