Terry Hutchens: There are a couple of things in place here. First is simply that Indiana had lost its opening two Big Ten games to Illinois and Michigan State and falling to 0-3 with the thought of returning home to play Wisconsin was not where Hoosiers fans wanted to be. And it's not like it was completely out of the question. Penn State was actually favored in the game by one. The other thing in place, though, was that Indiana still didn't have a true road victory until it beat Penn State. IU had only played two other true road games (at Syracuse and at Illinois) but beating Penn State was big for a young Indiana team trying to find its identity.
The 15-point deficit was more a case of Penn State doing a lot of things well than IU really struggling. Penn State hit six of its first seven shots, including its first three 3-pointers. It was 17-4 and 31-16. The latter score was with nine minutes to play in the half but by half the Hoosiers were within four. So it's not so much a matter of who Indiana played but the fact that IU simply needed a win against anyone before things began to get too far out of hand in Big Ten play.
2) How has Yogi Ferrell elevated his game this season with the personnel losses around him and taken the leadership responsibility?
Hutchens: The big thing with Yogi is that last year he looked to pass first and his shot was more of an afterthought. This year he's looking to score first. Because of that his assists are way down but his shooting percentage has been decent and he has been IU's best 3-point shooter, too. Last year IU had all kinds of scoring options. The same could be true next year with a couple of good shooters coming in with the next class. This group is more of one that needs a player, like Yogi, to assert himself and get to the basket. That's why it is important that Ferrell has reached double figures in all 16 of IU's game this season.
3) Has Noah Vonleh met or surpassed expectations to this point, and how is his game translating to the Big Ten?
Hutchens: I think it would be more under the 'met' heading than 'surpassed' and to be honest, he just has so much upside and potential that I'm not sure he has really even met the expectations yet. He hasn't had a 20-point game in 16 games. He had a career-high 19 against Penn State on Saturday and had 18 two other times. His thing has been that he needs to be more comfortable in demanding the ball inside. In his first five games of the year he had four double-doubles and was very active. But the competition wasn't that high either. In those five games he averaged 10 shots from the field per game.
In his next 10 games, he never took more than six shots in any of the games. That streak ended on Saturday when he took nine shots. For IU to be successful, Vonleh needs to stay out of foul trouble and to be extremely active, especially in the low post. IU fans are still waiting for him to have a complete break out game. My guess is that it will happen sooner rather than later.
4) Why has Indiana rebounded the basketball so successfully this season? What are the Hoosiers doing that give other teams trouble on the glass?
Hutchens: First of all Vonleh is very physical on both ends of the floor and has kind of set the tone for the rebounding effort. But because IU doesn't possess great size, the Hoosiers usually send five players to the glass. Because of that you have a lot of guard rebounds and thus an elevated rebound total. It's not one major thing but more of an attitude toward rebounding. IU has only been outrebounded in one game this year (Michigan State).
5) What areas of Wisconsin do you expect will give Indiana trouble? Where do you think the Hoosiers have the edge over the Badgers?
Hutchens: IU struggles with teams that (a) shoot the ball well from the perimeter and (b) don't turn it over that much, because those are the two things that Indiana doesn't do well. IU also has to find a way to hang around. It can't afford a run like Wisconsin went on against Illinois for example. Not sure how many teams could rally from a deficit like that but Indiana certainly doesn't have that firepower because it has few options that can really shoot them back into a game. Indiana needs to hang around, get to the foul line more than 25 times and then convert its free throws.