Nearly halfway into the season, an identity has emerged for Indiana.
Right, wrong, or indifferent, now 13 games into the season, and after six straight games against high major competition, the 2019-20 Hoosiers are in many ways who they are.
With the resumption of Big Ten play now here, how will IU fare in what appears to be as difficult of a league slate as we’ve seen in a long time? First and foremost, can Indiana avoid a season sinking stretch like last season that saw the Hoosiers drop 12 of 13 in January and February? And how is IU trending as the schedule stiffened in December?
Today we go inside the numbers to examine what the Hoosiers are doing well, and the areas of concern as IU gets set to face Maryland on Saturday.
(Stats according to KenPom unless otherwise noted)
LIVE BY THE TWO, DIE BY THE THREE
Here we go again with Indiana’s inability to knock down three point shots. IU is all the way down to No. 231 (out of 353) nationally, making just 31.4 percent from three point range. The futility has largely come over the last four games. The Hoosiers have made just 22.4 percent from distance in those contests.
IU is No. 28 in the country making 55 percent of their two-point shots, but the question now is just how many good looks can IU get from close range? A clear pattern has emerged with opponents packing the paint and forcing the Hoosiers to win by making perimeter shots.
Only 29.9 percent of IU’s total shot attempts are three-pointers, which makes the Hoosiers one of the most reluctant (No. 322) to shoot from distance. And based on the results, that’s probably a good thing.
In total just 20.4 percent of Indiana’s points come from three pointers (No. 347), while 55.8 percent come from two-point shots (No. 50).
This certainly looks like another stretch where IU either starts making shots, or they will struggle mightily on the offensive end.
GETTING TO THE STRIPE
Something new for Indiana this season has been an elite ability to get to the free throw line.
At 47.4 percent, Indiana is No. 2 nationally when it comes to free throw attempts as a percentage of field goal attempts. Those marks are substantially higher than last year’s 34.6 percent and No. 131, respectively.
The free throw line can be a major mitigating factor to IU’s inability to knock down three-pointers — if the Hoosiers can continue drawing fouls.
After attempting nearly 30 free throws a game over their first 11 contests, IU has only averaged 15 over the last two. Moreover, when the Hoosiers get to the line they need to convert better. While an improvement over last year’s 65.5 percent, Indiana is still making just 69.1 percent of their free throws, which comes in at No. 200 nationally.
POINTS PER POSSESSION PLUMMETING
After averaging around 116 points per 100 possessions over the first nine games to open the season, Indiana’s productivity has dropped off considerably.
Over the last four games, IU is averaging just 97 points per 100 possessions according to Bart Torvik. That is a measure that would likely push the Hoosier offense out of the top 200 nationally if extrapolated over an entire season. More important, those last four games have been against the kind of high major competition the Hoosiers can expect to see the rest of the way, while some of the early productivity came against overmatched low-major opponents.
POUNDING THE OFFENSIVE GLASS
Along with the free throw line, an ability to grab offensive rebounds at a high rate has been a reason why the Hoosiers are 11-2 to open the season.
IU is rebounding 36.6 percent of their own misses, which is good for No. 16 in the country.
Whether Indiana will be able to continue this level in the Big Ten will go a long way towards how IU finishes the season. A byproduct of teams packing the paint and forcing IU out to the perimeter is that the Hoosiers are not in a great position to get offensive rebounds.
Better motion on offense and more transition opportunities will create more lanes for Indiana to crash the boards.
ASSISTS TO TURNOVERS
If the Hoosiers aren’t going to be a great shooting team, that puts a greater emphasis on ball security in order to maximize possessions and thus shot attempts. When it comes to turnover percentage, Indiana may need to be elite, but right now they are just average.
The Hoosiers are turning the ball over on 19 percent of possessions, which comes in at No. 143 in the country.
Similarly, an offense predicated on ball movement and motion rather than individual play should give the Hoosiers better looks from both two and three-point range. It’s another area where IU needs to be better than average if it isn’t going to knock down contested shots.
Right now, Indiana is getting an assist on just 51 percent of its makes for No. 187 nationally. It is worth noting that Indiana’s higher free throw rate could negatively impact this mark marginally.
MEDIOCRE POSSESSION LENGTH ON BOTH ENDS
The hallmark of an effective pack-line defense is forcing long possessions, and Indiana is not standing out in that regard. Archie Miller wants to be in the top 50 nationally in defensive possession length, and right now the Hoosiers are a middle-of-the-road team, coming in at No. 178.
This is a measure that has trended favorably as the season progressed in Miller’s first two years, and if his young team can once again become better guarding the ball and better schooled at help concepts and ball screen coverages then the Hoosier defense could become a reason why Indiana returns to the NCAA Tournament.
On the offensive end, Miller wants to be a transition oriented offense, but thus far Indiana is mediocre there as well, coming in at No. 159.
TRAYCE IS ON THE CASE
On an individual level it should come as no surprise that freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis is Indiana’s standout. Not only is he the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, Jackson-Davis is leading the way in the advanced measures.
The 6-foot-9 Jackson-Davis is top-100 nationally in several categories including overall offensive rating (No. 13), effective field goal percentage (66.4 percent / No. 28), offensive rebounding percentage (13.2 percent / No. 65), block percentage (8.6 percent / No. 46), and free throw rate (No. 20).
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