Although the 2020-21 college basketball season is only seven weeks old, we are already roughly halfway through the pandemic shortened 27-game slate.
That means it is time to look at how Indiana is stacking up nationally and relative to years past according to the KenPom.com advanced metrics.
While such analysis 13 games into a season is ordinarily not particularly instructive on the heels of a typical non-conference slate, this season has of course been different. Indiana has faced high major competition in 11 of its 13 games, providing a fairly instructive sampling of who these Hoosiers are.
The headline right now are the overarching trends on both ends of the floor. We’ll see how the season plays out, but as of right now IU is continuing the progress it established over its last three campaigns. Indiana is on pace for four straight seasons of year-over-year improvement in both overall adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency during the Archie Miller era.
Let’s take a look at some of the outliers along with favorable and unfavorable trends emerging thus far.
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (No. 54) — The overall measure of offensive effectiveness based on points per possession, Indiana has improved this ranking each year under Miller, from No. 92 in 2017-18, No. 82 in 2018-19 and No. 65 in 2019-20. Indiana’s overall effective field goal percentage (No. 112 / 51.6 percent), while not necessarily impressive nationally, is also IU’s best mark during Miller’s tenure. The same is true of Indiana’s assist rate of 55.5 percent. That figure is good for No. 100 in the country.
Turnovers Percentage (No. 78) — This is currently Archie Miller’s best team at IU by a decent margin when it comes to taking care of the ball with a 17.4 percent turnover rate. His previous best team (2018-19) ranked No. 133 with a 17.9 percent turnover rate.
Offensive Rebounding (No. 274) — With limited front court depth and not a lot of overall size, Indiana either hasn’t committed to crashing the offensive boards or just simply hasn’t been effective. Their 23.6 offensive rebounding percentage is more than four percentage points lower than Miller’s previous worst team at IU (18-19). The 2019-20 team finished No. 44.
3-point Field Goal Percentage (No. 167) — Yes, everyone’s favorite topic. IU is by no means shooting the lights out at 33.6 percent from long range, but the rate is IU’s best during the Miller era after his teams shot 32.6, 31.2 and 32.2 in the seasons ended 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Last season was Indiana’s best finish nationally at No. 204 as conversion rates dropped across the country due to the longer distance. As has been the case throughout Miller’s time, IU continues to be a team that relatively speaking, doesn’t shoot a lot of 3-pointers, coming in at No. 273 in percentage of overall field goal attempts that come from behind the arc.
Free Throw Percentage (No. 243) — Miller has never had a good free throw shooting team at IU, and that hasn’t changed in 2020-21. While the team’s 67.8 percent conversion rate is a tenth of a percentage point lower than last season, this is still actually Miller’s best team in the rankings. His first two IU squads were No. 331 and 328.
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (No. 14) — The overall measure of defensive effectiveness based on points per possession, Indiana has also improved this ranking each year under Miller, from No. 65 in 2017-18, No. 32 in 2018-19 and No. 26 in 2019-20. What is probably most interesting about IU’s defense thus far is that they aren’t really masters of anything but are good at a lot of things. Of particular note, the Hoosiers are top-100 in effective field goal percentage defense (No. 69) and offensive rebound rate (No. 85). In essence, they force you into tough shots and limit second chances. IU will never be a turnover-focused defense under Miller’s pack-line, but the 18.4 percent turnover rate is their best since 2017-18.
Block Percentage (No. 17) — Miller has always had good rim protection at IU, with each team finishing in the top-50 in block percentage. But this is his best group thus far, with both Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson in the top-100 nationally.
Assist rate (No. 88) — This is an area that has really improved this season as teams are generating assists on 47.4 percent of field goals made. Still not an elite number relatively speaking, but Indiana’s previous best mark was No. 178 (51.3 percent) in 2019-20.
Tempo (No. 292) — IU is averaging 17.7 seconds per offensive possession, That comes in at No. 248 nationally and reflects Indiana’s slowest rate of offense during the Miller era, a half-second slower than the 2018-19 squad. At one point this season Miller suggested less focus on transition offense to keep turnovers down. That is likely the main culprit here.
The Hoosiers are forcing 17.4 seconds per defensive possession, good for No. 232. Interestingly, Miller’s first two IU teams were his best at forcing longer possessions, each nearly a full second more than this year’s squad. Perhaps opponents are just exhibiting less patience and forcing earlier bad shots? That seems to be the national trend.
Experience (No. 289) — Getting old and staying old continues to be a bit out of reach. The number is fueled by big minutes from sophomores Trayce Jackson-Davis and Armaan Franklin, who happen to be IU’s two leading scorers.
Strength of Schedule (No. 15) — With just two games out of 13 coming against non-high major competition, this one should come with little surprise. And with every remaining game against current KenPom top-60 teams, look for this figure to climb.
2-Foul Participation (No. 283) — If you like a coach that gambles when a key player earns a second foul early, Miller doesn’t appear to be your guy.
Trayce Jackson-Davis not surprisingly is ranked high in a lot of categories. He is top-100 in usage, block rate, fouls drawn and free throw rate. A quiet key to his success is simply staying on the floor. Jackson-Davis is committing just two fouls per 40 minutes. Overall, KenPom ranks Jackson-Davis as their second-most valuable player in the country.
Armaan Franklin is No. 75 nationally with his 47.6 rate from behind the 3-point line. He also has the highest steal rate on the team.
Al Durham’s turnover rate of 12.1 percent is best on the team and No. 289 in the country. He also has the best assist rate on the team.
Race Thompson’s block rate and free throw rate are both best on the team and top-85. He is also No. 212 with a 58.3 effective field goal percentage.
Trey Galloway’s 2-point field goal percentage (63.9) is No. 136 in the country and especially impressive when considering his size.
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