1. How many points does Indiana get in transition – Tom Crean has been making plenty of efforts to connect with past Hoosier greats, and he also appears to be trying to bring back on old brand of IU basketball – the Hurryin' Hoosiers.
Crean has emphasized the importance of getting points in transition so that IU can use its abundance of guards to its advantage when it comes to getting up and down the floor and scoring fast-break points. But he said this week that he hasn't seen as much up-tempo play and he'd like in practice.
"The one thing we're not grasping is how much we want to run, miss or makes," Crean said. "We're very sporadic with our running. With most teams that talk about running, it's not the coaches that pull it off – it's the players who don't run hard all the time."
So keep an eye on how successful the Hoosiers are in rushing the ball up the floor and getting either fast break buckets or wide open looks thanks to penetration and kick outs. This team doesn't want to rely on getting most of its point production from the halfcourt – that's where it's lack of size will create problems.
2. Which of the walk-ons will be a part of the rotation – There's a unique opportunity for some walk-ons to be significant contributors this season, and Friday will provide IU fans with a glimpse into which walk-ons have impressed the IU staff the most thus far.
During the first two scrimmages everyone was logging significant minutes because the teams were split into squads of six or seven. But Friday will offer some evidence about who will be in the rotation this season. A couple of players who are worth keeping an eye on are guards Daniel Moore and Brett Finkelmeier. Moore could be the team's best pure ball handler, while Finkelmeier was singled out by Crean earlier this week as a likely contributor as well.
Forwards Kory Barnett and Broderick Lewis, meanwhile, are two others to watch to see if they're logging double digit minutes. With the shortage of frontcourt players, these two 6'6" walk-ons could contribute as well if they can find their niche.
3. Will Indiana shoot 50 percent or better from the floor – One of the things Crean singled out to watch this week was his team's shot selection. One of the strengths of this year's team should be that it has plenty of players who can knock down open jump shots, and they've shown that in each of the two public scrimmages.
But instead of playing in front of a couple thousand, the Hoosiers will be in front of 10,000-plus tonight in the exhibition opener. With such a young team, the question becomes whether or not the environment has an impact on the quality of shot that IU's players take tonight.
"When the lights are a little brighter, I'm looking to see that we're taking the right shots, that we make the next pass, that we don't try to force things that aren't there," Crean said.
Indiana's team shooting percentage should show the quality of shot that the team is taking. The Hoosiers will likely launch plenty of 3-pointers tonight, but they've shown in the scrimmages that they're capable of making those at a very good rate so long as they're not contested perimeter shots.
4. Will Malik Story mix it up inside on both ends of the floor – It's long been known that 6'4", 211-pound Nick Williams and 6'5", 222-pound Malik Story were going to have to play in the paint a fair amount this season. While both arrived as shooting guards/wings, IU's lack of size has put each in a position where they're going to need to play inside as well.
On the offensive end, Williams has already displayed a versatile game that suggests he'll be able to score in a variety of ways both inside and out. Story, meanwhile, has probably leaned more on his 3-point shot in the early scrimmages, and the IU staff would probably like to see him do some things closer to the basket as well.
Defensively, Story will also need to be a presence inside and a force on the glass. He's probably as physically imposing as anyone on the IU roster other than Tijan Jobe and Tom Pritchard, and IU is counting on him to be a primary rebounder when he's on the floor. Assuming he logs 25 minutes plus – which seems likely – he should be pulling down at least five or six rebounds if he's doing his job.
5. Can Tom Pritchard provide some point production in the post – The Hoosiers figure to rely a great deal on its transition game and its 3-point shooting to put points on the board this season. It's likely starting backcourt of Verdell Jones, Devan Dumes and Nick Williams is young, but all are players that have shown enough signs for fans to think they can be reliable offensive weapons. Soon, they'll likely be joined in the lineup by senior Kyle Taber, who figures to be a "glue" type of player at the power forward position.
The hope is that the 6'9" 242-pound Pritchard can provide some offensive punch in the paint. While he's only a freshman and didn't become a primary scorer on his high school team until his senior season, he has more low post tools to work with than Jobe, who figures to be counted on as a defensive presence and not an offensive threat.
That leaves Pritchard as the only player with the potential to provide some consistent points in the paint. He's struggled to finish in the first two scrimmages, but he'll have a chance tonight to go against an Anderson frontline that won't have anyone that is as big as Pritchard. This could be a good opportunity for Pritchard to gain some confidence with a solid night of work.
Exhibition Opener - What to Watch (Out) For
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