[Postgame 3-2-1] What We Learned From Indiana's Exhibition Opener
Jerod Morris breaks down three key stats, two observations, and one lingering question from Indiana's 74-52 win over the University of Indianapolis.
The general preseason consensus about the 2023-24 Indiana University men’s basketball team seems to be the following:
This team is replacing a lot of experienced production with a bunch of new guys, so there may be some early-season growing pains while chemistry and cohesion are built.
Those new guys, including the young holdovers, are either long and athletic (Ware, Mgbako, Walker, Banks, Gunn) or compensate by being uber-competitive and tough as nails (Cupps, Sparks), which gives this team an intriguing ceiling once it all comes together.
To these eyes, the first 40 minutes of public basketball by this IU team put both of those attributes on display.
The first half was mostly a disjointed mess, with the offense lacking much flow and bunnies being missed left and right when the offense did create a favorable opportunity. The defense was also far from locked in.
But the second half was a completely different story after, as Anthony Walker put it postgame, “Real Coach Woody came out.”
The Hoosiers played with a renewed sense of purpose on defense, found opportunities to push the pace and get in transition, and finished much tougher around the rim so those bunnies started turning into points.
In all, Sunday’s 74-52 victory over UIndy (box score) was about what should have been expected: a bunch of talented dudes scuffling at times while learning how to play together, but with enough flashes of talent and athleticism to hint optimistically at what this team could become.
Here are 3 stats, 2 observations, and 1 lingering question coming out of Sunday’s exhibition.
Did you miss yesterday's edition of the postgame show?
3 Meaningful Stats
1. Indiana was +8 in turnovers
This stat is important for two reasons:
First, Indiana committed only 10 turnovers.
Given the amount of new players playing together, and how often they were getting out in transition, a higher number wouldn’t have been surprising.
But even with how clunky the halfcourt offense looked at times, the Hoosier still did a nice job of valuing the ball. That’s an important habit to develop early in the season.
Second, Indiana forced 18 UIndy turnovers.
Now, we should allow plenty of space for this gaudy number to be a function of how overwhelming Indiana’s size and length were compared to DII UIndy.
But it’s also important to note that Indiana has been ranked in the bottom third of college basketball the last two seasons in opponent turnover percentage. And last season, Indiana forced just 12 turnovers in each of its two exhibition games.
Given Indiana’s length, plus how important finding easy transition baskets may be for this team’s offensive efficiency, Indiana stands to benefit greatly from its defense being more oriented toward forcing turnovers.
Scoring 20 points off turnovers, and 28 fast break points overall, was a good early sign for a team that may be searching for a reliable offensive identity for a while.