Indiana needs their big men to step up

Jeff Newton has played well all year, but recently he lacks the aggressiveness he had earlier in the year. Indiana needs Newton and Leach to play well during the Big Ten season in order to take pressure off of their outside shooters and establish some semblance of balance.

In almost any sport, balance is necessary to be successful. In football, teams need to run and pass the ball effectively so the defense cannot focus on one aspect. In baseball, teams need fast runners on the bases along with the power hitters to bat them in. Basketball is no different. Teams need production on the perimeter balanced by production inside. Indiana lacks balance lately, depending solely on their perimeter players to carry them by shooting three-pointers.

Teams can win without balance on offense. Football teams can overpower their opponents or dissect them through the air. Baseball teams can use quickness on the bases to manufacture runs or depend on a plethora of power hitters to give them their runs. In basketball it is much harder to win without balance. Teams depending on their inside game will see double teams forcing their perimeter players to make shots. In Indiana's case, teams will begin pressuring the ball, preventing IU's perimeter shooters from getting good looks from outside.

The Hoosiers have not faired well against pressure on the ball. Both Kentucky and Temple used their athletes to bother Indiana's shooters. Kentucky held Indiana to 29 percent shooting from behind the arc. Temple gave Indiana more open looks from outside, but shut down Indiana's inside game, holding IU to 33 percent from inside the arc. Jeff Newton carried IU on the interior against Kentucky and gave Indiana a good chance to win the game. The Hoosiers will need Newton to step up at certain times during the Big Ten season when Indiana's shooters have off games.

Newton did not shoot the ball particularly well, shooting 6-for-15 from the field against Kentucky, but he used his quickness to get inside and draw contact. Newton went to the free throw line 14 times, but he has not shown that same aggressiveness since.

Indiana depends on Newton and Leach. Coach Mike Davis does not have much confidence in IU's other big men. Sean Kline barely averages double-digit minutes and often Davis prefers to use the much smaller A.J. Moye at power forward. Moye provides big minutes for the Hoosiers but Davis must wonder if Moye can bang with the bigger, stronger forwards in the Big Ten.

So Indiana needs Newton and Leach to play well all year or at least well enough to give Indiana some balance. For the most part, Newton has been consistent all year. Leach could make an impact by being active on the boards and by staying out of foul trouble as much as possible. The key for Indiana will be getting the needed buckets inside at high-pressure points in the game to take pressure off of their guards.

Newton and Leach will need to step up at these key points and Indiana will need to get penetration from their guards. Coverdale, Strickland, and Indiana's other guards will need to penetrate and kick out to the shooters but also use their penetration to get the ball inside. Bracey Wright passes well inside as does Coverdale, but Cov has not been getting the ball inside as much this season. Indiana will need Coverdale to make plays at big points in the game if they want to win another Big Ten championship.

Finally, the last way for Indiana to take some pressure off their shooters is to take advantage of their fast break opportunities. IU has one of the deepest backcourts in the country and they have to offset their lack of scoring inside by pushing the ball into fast-break situations whenever possible. When Moye plays at power forward he needs to utilize his quickness to offset the size advantage of the opposing forwards. Top Stories