Upon Further Review - the NIT Season Tip-Off

HoosierNation.com takes a look back at IU's performance in the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament in Indianapolis. What were the most impressive, concerning, and surprising things to emerge from the Hoosiers' trip?

Tournament MVP - Rod Wilmont. In an up-and-down two-game effort by Coach Kelvin Sampson's squad, the Hoosiers' fifth year senior was the one constant, particularly on the offensive end. Wilmont averaged 19 points, five rebounds and three steals in the two games while shooting 56 percent from the floor and 53 percent from behind the 3-point arc. He was particularly good during Indiana's late-game surge against Lafayette that carried IU to a 25-point win, and he scored seven points in the first seven minutes of the second half against Butler to help the Hoosiers open their 12-point lead. Consistency was an issue with Wilmont earlier in his career, but indications are he'll be a reliable double-digit scorer this season.

Biggest Surprise – Coach Kelvin Sampson said after each of the games it's not uncommon for the officials to call games much closer early in the season, but the quantity of fouls called was staggering. Indiana was whistled for 53 fouls in the two games, its foes were called for 43 fouls, and foul trouble was a serious issue in both contests. Against Lafayette D.J. White was a non-factor after picking up three first-half fouls and then a quick fourth to start the second half, and both White and Earl Calloway were forced to the bench against Butler in the second half after picking up their fourth fouls. Time will tell if officials will dial back on the calls, but it's a concern for IU, particularly with their new aggressive approach on the defensive end. This team is still learning to pick and choose when the right time is to gamble on the defensive end, and right now they're extremely foul-prone.

What I Found Most Impressive - This year's Indiana team appears to be much more capable of producing spurts than IU's recent squads. That's likely due to their ability to create easy opportunities with their play on the defensive end, coupled with the explosiveness of Calloway and Rod Wilmont, a pair of players who are relentless defensively and explosive in transition. Indiana blew open the Lafayette game with a 24-2 second half flurry, and a 12-2, 3 ½ minute run against Butler enabled it to open its 12-point second half lead. IU was unable to hold on against Butler, but big runs should be much more common this season than in recent years.

What I Found Most Concerning… Indiana turned the ball over 38 times in two games, and it came against a pair of foes that don't produce a great deal of on-the-ball pressure. While Earl Calloway led the way with eight turnovers in the two games, IU had nine players with at least three turnovers in the two contests. Some of the miscues were a result of the officials keeping a close eye on carries as well as offensive fouls, but the fact remains Indiana can't afford that many miscues and expect to come out on the winning end.

Quotes of the Tournament: "You know we switch a lot on screens. So if a guard screens a guard we usually switch. The first half (of the Lafayette game) they set a guard to guard screen and get a three on it. If Errek Suhr is in there, that doesn't happen because he knows how to defend a guard to guard screen. Bassett's man screened Shaw's man and that is the blind leading the blind on that one right now. A lot of mistakes but that is basketball early in the season.." - Kelvin Sampson

"One thing I have noticed about Rod (Wilmont) in coaching him the last four months is that he is going to shoot it regardless. If he were to sprain his left wrist or have any kind of injury to his fingers on his left hand, he would have to quit." – Sampson on Wilmont, who averaged 19 points in the two games and attempted a team-high 25 shots in the two games.

"We just have to play this game smarter. It is not a hard game but you have to play it smart.." – Sampson after IU's 20 turnovers and 28 fouls helped Butler to a 60-55 win Tuesday night.

"I thought A.J. Ratliff made great strides tonight. He impressed me. D.J…There are some good things and we are disappointed we lost the game, obviously. But I saw some good things that our kids did." – Sampson after IU's loss to Butler. Ratliff's defense helped limit A.J. Graves to 4-18 shooting one night after he scored 28 and hit eight 3-pointers against Notre Dame.

Random Thoughts: One area the Hoosiers were solid in both games was rebounding. IU owned a +12.5 rebounding margin in the two games, including a 28-16 edge on the offensive glass. That was also done with no one on the roster averaging more than five rebounds. D.J. White and Rod Wilmont each aveaged five rebounds in the two games…it was a bit surprising to see Xavier Keeling for the final minute of the Lafayette game. There had been speculation he might redshirt, but that option is now out after he played in a regular season game. While it's not a huge surprise he's not being redshirted, it was a bit of a surprise to see that option go by the wayside in a meaningless one-minute stint at the close of a game…it looks as if Errek Suhr is going to once again force his way into the IU rotation with his ability to knock down shots, provide energy and protect the ball.

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