Mike Woodson said it best on Sunday night folks, Indiana Basketball still has a long way to go.
The Hoosiers squeaked by Army in their evening contest, beating them 72-64 in a game that went down to the wire.
Was Army deserving of such an adrenaline rush for Indiana fans? Not in the slightest.
Coming into the game, Army ranked 338th in KenPom’s rankings, and dropped two games against sub-200 ranked opponents Marist and Stonehill. As a result, IU was favored by 24.5 points heading into tip off.
But what was supposed to be a beatdown turned into a game the Hoosiers barely edged out in the final minutes.
Two games to open the season many believed would be easy victories have now turned fans uneasy as Indiana’s struggles have exposed more uncertainty than confidence.
So, what has gone wrong?
Head coach Mike Woodson has had a lot to say about his team’s performance, but his main focused has stayed the same: Defense.
“I mean, we have to get better in pick and roll coverage and getting over the ball screen and guarding — taking on guarding your own guy” he said Sunday night. “I thought last season we were good in that neighborhood, but right now we still have a ways to go.”
Army ranked near dead last in the nation in offensive efficiency according to KenPom prior to Sunday. However, IU gave up 13 threes against a team that had only made the same amount total in their two previous games. Along with that, Army took nearly 20 more total shots than Indiana, yet still lost by eight.
Indiana’s defensive struggles may be alarming in their own right, but Woodson thinks it also limits their offensive opportunities.
“The game is like this: If you get stops and you rebound the ball, you have an opportunity to get out and fast break and make plays,” he said. “If you get in passing lanes and you get easy steals where you can generate offense that way, it’s a quick way to get out and play faster. Right now we’re not doing none of those things. We’re not getting stops. We’re not getting the ball out and getting up the floor and playing faster.”
The Hoosiers still lack a true identity on offense with a revamped roster, but that’s not enough of an excuse against an opponent like Army.
Indiana’s 18 turnovers are certainly a lowlight from Sunday night’s game, which is the main reason why the Hoosiers did not have as many chances to get shots off.
IU was efficient when they got shots, making 58% from the field as a team. But Woodson is still looking for more production on the offensive side, and it all starts in transition. Indiana finished the night with just four fast break points against Army, and Woodson demands that number rises.
“We haven’t shot the three ball very well, and we’re not getting very many fast break points, which we had in our first couple of exhibition games. We were out running, and that’s where we’ve got to get to.”
Indiana did have some quality individual play from sixth-year captain Xavier Johnson, who finished with 19 points and tacked on five assists with three rebounds. However, rather than worry about his individual stat line, Johnson is more focused on using his leadership to preach Woodson’s vision to his teammates.
And right now the message is fairly straightforward.
“I try to tell them to do the right things,” Johnson said Sunday evening. “You do the right things, play hard, and Coach will reward you. I think a lot of guys go away from not playing as hard and just not want to play at all, but you have to play hard to play for Coach Woodson.”
For complete coverage of IU basketball, GO HERE.
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
- Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier
- You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
- Seven ways to support completely free IU coverage at no cost to you.