This week’s opponents: The Hoosiers continue the patsy portion of the Hoosier Invitational with games against the Savannah State Tigers on Saturday night and the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs on Monday night. Don’t worry, the schedule will get more interesting starting next week.
Savannah State is in it’s 10th season playing D1 basketball. Unfortunately, the Tigers are perhaps best known for the first four seasons when they went 9-104. Since those difficult early years, the Tigers have reached double digit wins in 5 consecutive seasons, and this year will play in the MEAC conference for the first time this year. Savannah State is 1-2 with a win over Jacksonville after opening the season with losses to Georgetown and North Florida.
Gardner-Webb’s big moment came on November 7, 2007 when it stunned the college basketball world with an 84-68 win over the University of Kentucky. This was one of many low points in Billy Gillespie’s short tenure at Kentucky. One month later, Indiana also crushed the Wildcats, in Assembly Hall with the Hoosier student section taunting UK guard Joe Crawford “Jordan’s better.” Since then, things have gone slightly better for Kentucky than for the Hoosiers. Gardner Webb is 2-1 this year with wins against Lipscombe and Lees-McRae versus a loss to Clemson.
So what have we learned about the Hoosiers: Three games, three blowout victories. Obligatory caveats aside, there are certainly promising signs of improvement in areas which have troubled IU in recent years. First is the obvious, post play. Not only has Cody Zeller taken some big steps toward surpassing last year’s production,(he needs 221 points.) But interestingly, Derek Elston’s strong start has put him on pace to almost match last year’s total by himself as well. This improved post play has opened things up on the outside as well. The Hoosiers are currently shooting 47.2% from behind the 3 point line. Overall, the effective field goal percentage of 64.9 is best in the nation. I’ve been impressed with the offense, but the defense has been equally impressive in some respects. Many Hoosiers still have flashbacks whenever an opponent swings the ball to the arc and around to an open shooter. However, this season, opponents are shooting only 34.5% on three point attempts.
So what’s the problem: This is where those caveats come in to play. The opponent’s three point percentage certainly looks impressive but IU still ranks 9th in the conference. It will bear watching as the quality of opponent improves if the defensive improvements hold or if better shooters start making the shots which the Chattanooga’s of the world miss. Also, the Hoosiers rebounding has left something to be desired. IU was outrebounded by Chattanooga and has given up double digit offensive rebounds to all three opponents. On the flip side, the Hoosier’s opponents have been missing a lot of shots.
Scouting Future Opponents:
Butler has three home games in five days as they host Louisville on Saturday night before playing Savannah State and Gardner-Webb.
North Carolina State plays #18 Vanderbilt Saturday in the Legends Classic. (Strange, was Jim Delaney involved in this?) The Wolfpack also take on the Elon Phoenix on Wednesday.
The Stetson Hatters take on St. Leo before going to Atlantic Sun play against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.
Prediction: I’m gonna eat and then eat and then eat some more: While we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from games against inferior opponents, there’s something to be said for beating up on the teams you’re supposed to beat up on. The Hoosiers get two more blow outs under their belts before getting to the meat of the schedule next week.
Weekly Prediction: 2-0
Regular Season prediction: 20-9
Accuracy last week: 100%
Accuracy for season: 100%