When Mike Woodson became head coach of his alma mater, he said he wanted to play a fast-paced and well-spaced style and make a lot of three-pointers. So far, the Hoosiers have been shooting the ball better though not a lot, attempting on average about 19 three-pointers a game while converting at a 36.1 percent clip.
But, the pace, pun intended, is not quite up to speed.
Indiana ranks a middle-of-the road No. 155 nationally in adjusted tempo with a 69.2 rating, per the Kenpom.com. Adjusted tempo is an estimate of the tempo (possessions per 40 minutes) a team would have against the team that wants to play at an average D-I tempo. The highest-rated Big Ten team in terms of adjusted tempo is Nebraska. They currently rank No. 18 nationally with a 73.2 rating.
The IU offense contributes to a faster pace than the defense, but with the offense struggling to produce points as the schedule stiffens, there is a growing view that more scoring can be had via the transition game.
How does Indiana get there?
“It’s really a team effort. Everyone has to run harder,” said point guard Rob Phinisee on Wednesday.
“I feel like that’s when we’re at our best playing in transition, getting easy strikes to the basket, getting the bigs the ball quick on entry passes. So yeah, I mean it’s really a team effort, everyone has to run harder.”
For the Hoosiers to play faster, they need to be more active on defense. Indiana ranks No. 276 nationally with just 5.7 steals per game. Indiana needs to gain active hands, without fouling, to come up with more steals to push the ball.
“I think that’s the whole thing when we are at our best is we’re getting stops, deflections and we’re getting up and down the floor, where, you know, we’re getting quick strikes, is what I call them,” Woodson said of the fast break opportunities. “But you know, you’ve got to get stops, you know what I mean. That’s the name of the game.”
One missing piece to the puzzle could be Trey Galloway, who excels both as a defender and in offensive transition. Galloway has been unavailable since getting injured on a hard foul on an attempted transition layup against St. John’s on Nov. 17. The foul would eventually be ruled a flagrant, but Galloway would miss the next ten games with a broken wrist.
In his best game of the season against Northern Illinois, the Culver, Ind. native showcased how he can help the Hoosiers. In the first half, Galloway trapped his defender along with Trayce Jackson-Davis. The sophomore guard managed to get a fingertip on the exit pass, which landed in the hands of Xavier Johnson, who had an easy fast-break slam.
Galloway also showcased his ability as a playmaker, something the Hoosiers have been searching for. The former four-star recruit called for a screen for himself and drove the lane before kicking it out to an open Khristian Lander for three. He also found Jackson-Davis on an inbounds play for an alley-oop.
Galloway ended the game with seven points, three assists, and two rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. In many cases, he also operated as the point guard and set up plays. Some were pick-and-rolls. Others were give-and-go’s in which Galloway utilized his ability to cut without the ball to create offense and get easy looks. Another thing that the Hoosiers have been lacking.
“He’s using a lot of ball screens now too, and he can really create for others. I feel like that’s where he’s at his best on offense,” Phinisee said of his backcourt partner.
“When he’s getting downhill and creating for others, he’s really gonna help us and I feel like putting him in the rotation is going to help our offense a lot.”
Galloway is set to make his return on Thursday against No. 13 Ohio State, however, it remains to be seen how much he will play. But having someone who can create for himself and others will only improve the tempo of the offense.
“We’ve just got to work him back in slowly,” Woodson said. “But it’s not him; it’s going to take everybody that we dress that plays — that steps out on that floor to be ready to play. That’s what it’s all about,”
“But it’s good to have him back, because he’s a big piece to our puzzle, as well.”
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