While not showing up in the win/loss column, the Indiana men’s basketball team’s exhibition against Gannon on Tuesday night gave the coaching staff, team, and fans a glimpse of what is to come this season.
Here are my three main takeaways from the game.
Team chemistry grew as the game progressed
As the starting lineup for the Hoosiers of Armaan Franklin, Damezi Anderson, Justin Smith, Trayce Jackson-Davis, and Joey Brunk was announced during introductions, no one knew exactly how they were going to look, including head coach Archie Miller.
No matter who began the game, due to injuries and new faces getting acclimated, chemistry was not something that was going to happen overnight. Rather, chemistry will only be achieved through growing pains.
Those challenges were seen when, with under three minutes remaining in the first half, the Hoosiers saw themselves behind 29-28 on the scoreboard.
Whether it was turnovers, missing open shots, or not closing out defensively, Indiana looked like a team that has not played together a lot.
What impressed me was the way Indiana closed the first half and played more crisp in the second half. The Hoosiers closed the half on a 9-0 run to lead 37-29 heading into the locker room. From there, it was all Indiana. They outscored the Golden Knights 47-25 in the second half en route to the 84-54 win.
Freshmen Trayce Jackson-Davis and Armaan Franklin both showed flashes of their star potential
The buzz surrounding the potential of both Trayce Jackson-Davis and Armaan Franklin as incoming freshmen was understandable.
Jackson-Davis finished the game with 12 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots. There were a few plays that stood out above the rest watching Jackson-Davis last night.
There was a sequence of events where he made a good recovery defensively and managed to block a layup attempt. Shortly after, his teammates found him on the inside, fed him the ball, and let him do the rest. He bullied his defender inside and threw down a vicious dunk that got the crowd’s energy going.
When he received the ball in the paint after carving out good position on various occasions, Jackson-Davis showed his effectiveness at finishing around the rim.
Overall, the potential is there without question for Jackson-Davis. The consistency on a nightly basis and against better competition remains to be seen.
Not to be overshadowed is freshman guard Armaan Franklin.
Starting his first game at Indiana as a point guard is no small task, especially when considering that Franklin is not a point guard.
Overall, Franklin was in control of the offense and his confidence with the starting unit as well as some of the role players only grew as he played more minutes. Franklin’s penetration, quickness, and aggressiveness when going towards the rim benefits the team in more ways than one. If he can consistently get to the rim it allows for easy shots for not only himself but for his teammates.
Posting a stat line of 12 points, eight rebounds, and four assists is a solid first performance. Franklin also had four turnovers as he tried to adapt to primary ball handling duties.
Add three steals to his night and fans have a full look at the impact Armaan Franklin had in last night’s game on both ends of the floor. Pairing him with guards Rob Phinisee, who is also a very good on-ball defender, and Devonte Green, who has active hands defensively, and the backcourt looks like one that has the ability to make life difficult for opposing team’s guards on a consistent basis.
Justin Smith had a very effective and efficient game
Justin Smith is a year older and he certainly played like it against Gannon. He tallied 18 points on five-of-five shooting from the field and eight-of-nine shooting from the foul line.
Albeit an exhibition game against the Division II Golden Knights, Smith was very impressive after struggling to find his rhythm on a regular basis this past season.
If Smith can emerge as a player who more regularly and efficiently gets 10-15 points a game, that would help Indiana’s offense tremendously and would be considered a successful year in terms of his growth.
- Damezi Anderson hit two of his four three-point attempts. The Hoosiers desperately need consistent three-point shooting. If Anderson can provide that it will be a huge help to opening up the offense.
- Indiana hosts Western Illinois on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. EST in their regular season opener.
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