Stats: 10.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 apg, 1.4 spg, 47% FG, 75% FT
Best Game of the Season: @Purdue – 23 points (6-14 FG, 1-1 3pt, 10-12 FT), 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks
What We Knew: Following last year, we saw the potential that Oladipo had. While incredibly raw, his hustle and insane athleticism got him playing time off the bench last year. We knew that Vic had to work on developing something resembling an offensive game. He couldn’t rely on athleticism forever and either developing a jumper or a go-to move was necessary.
Defensively, we saw an equal amount of potential, but Vic had to keep himself under control. Many times, he would get overwhelmed or excited and make a bonehead play. Really, in order for his game in general to be effective and to keep and gain playing time, he was going to have to play under control.
What We Learned: Quite possibly no one made bigger strides and improved more than Victor Oladipo. Not only did he get his game under control, he was easily IU’s best penetrator and his Big Ten All-Defensive Team honors prove his prowess on that end of the floor.
Offensively, while maybe not being a distributor, Oladipo was essentially the team’s point guard. No one could get into the lane or break down and get by his defender like Vic. While his finishing skills leave much to be desired at times, his consistency to draw the defense in was a huge key in IU’s success this year. It might not have been on display then in his best game of the year at Purdue. With the Hoosiers having lost five of their last seven at the time and facing a seemingly do or die game, Oladipo stepped up and gave his best performance of the year. He got to the line 12 times and controlled the game throughout. The game turned IU’s season back around and launched them toward their Sweet 16 berth.
Defensively, Oladipo Island quickly became a none-too-desireable destination. The list of unhappy visitors include Aaron Craft, Doron Lamb, Tim Hardaway Jr. and a slew of other guards and forwards alike. One of the stand-out moments by Oladipo from this season came when we hosted Ohio State. Late in the first half, with IU attempting to close the gap before halftime, Oladipo ripped Craft of the ball and found Verdell Jones downcourt for a lay-in to cut the deficit to one. He then picks up Craft full-court, rips him of the ball, and slams it home for the lead. And it all happened in less than 15 seconds.
What We Expect: While we may not expect as much from him as we will Watford, we still expect a lot. If he can at least come close to matching the strides he made last off-season in this one, then we’ll have a very special player next year.
On the offensive end, I’d love to see him develop a more reliable outside jumper. In no way, shape or form do I want him to become a primarily outside shooter. However, he needs to be able to knock down open jumpers, something he couldn’t come close to doing this year. If he can match his ability to get to the basket with his ability to knock down outside shots, he’d take an even bigger step forward than he did last year.
Speaking of getting to the rim, he still needs to work on his decision making near the rim. Too often he’d put up either a contested lay-up, an overly difficult one, or miss an open teammate. While I realize he’s (likely) never played a point guard position, he has to learn that, when another defender comes, someone is up. With the shooters this team has, driving and kicking out needs to be something he can get use to. However, just as I don’t want him to become an outside shooter, I don’t want him to become someone who only drives and kicks. He needs to know when to finish and when to find a teammate.