There is very little doubt that this Indiana basketball team will be an elite offensive team as the season continues to progress. Through the first three games the Hoosiers are averaging 92 points and have the second most efficient offense in college basketball according to KenPom. However, if the Hoosiers wish to maximize their potential, the defense will have to continue to progress as the season goes on.
The team took a step in the right direction Thursday in its 86-65 win over the Creighton Bluejays in Assembly Hall. Creighton came into the game averaging 98 points per game, but the Hoosiers' defense was able to stall that offense in the blowout victory. Indiana also forced 15 turnovers on the night, which was the most the Bluejays had on the young season.
“When you hold a team like that and hold them to that standpoint, that's a really good effort,” said Indiana center Thomas Bryant. “That gives a lot of encouragement to us knowing that what we're doing is right.”
As the season progresses and the opponents get tougher, it is key that the defense is able to get stops and force turnovers. As good as the offense already is and has potential to be, there will be games where the three point shots aren’t falling or a key player gets in foul trouble, and the resilience to get stops even when your offense is having an off night will be key for the Hoosiers.
Indiana will look to stay undefeated when they face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in their first game of the Maui Invitational this upcoming Monday. Wake Forest has shown the ability to score the basketball early in the season; they come into the game averaging 86 points per game but just took a tough loss to Richmond in which they scored 82 but conceded 91.
Indiana shouldn’t have much trouble scoring against the Demon Deacons, but this is another opportunity for the Hoosiers to get defensive reps against a very respectable opponent. A victory in this game could lead to a face-off against No. 17 Vanderbilt, but the Hoosiers will have to take care of business on the defensive end and keep the momentum going.
“We’ve got to defend the corners and the rim better, but so much of that starts up higher because we are young down low," Indiana head coach Tom Crean said. “It’s got to be up front and not everything feathering out."