What’s it all mean?

Indiana vs. Kentucky is a measuring game, no matter how you shake it.

Kelvin Sampson constantly reminds us that his team is a work in progress, that every one of these losses is a little lesson on the way. This, undoubtedly, is true.

And the Hoosiers are owed a bit of space because they’re under a new coach, one with exacting standards and his own way of doing almost everything. It’s just going to take time for them to adjust. They actually ARE behind in preparation time when you compare them to other teams.

That also makes this an exciting year to watch, if you’re an analytical type of fan. Clearly Indiana has improved on defense and rebounding, the two areas Sampson proclaims his priorities.

But what’s up with the offense? D.J. White can be fantastic one night and a non-factor the next. The guards are interchangeable, according to Sampson, and yet also seem to to pick the same nights to be lackluster. In other words, they don’t do a great job of picking each other up.

Lance Stemler was 0-for-7 from 3-point range today but he’ll get his touch back. Don’t mistake this for some sign that he can’t play against good teams; this was his best effort on the boards and on defense. He was very, very active.

This illness could really hurt Allen. He was just starting to get confident in the low block and now he’s got to sit out. You get the feeling with Allen that he’s a guy who’s unsure — and not unwilling or unable — of how he needs to play, given his size. And he’s not going to learn just by some coach telling him or a bunch of media types writing about it. He was slowly picking away at it, feeling his own way, getting to where he needed to be. Who knows how far he’s been kicked back now.

Anyway, what I really want to know is: what are you guys thinking? Analyze the first eight games for me. Where were the Hoosiers, where are the now, and where are they going?

4 comments

  1. No matter how many times I remind myself how much patience this Hoosire team requires, I (likely similar to much of the hoosier nation) find that at the end of the moral victory at Duke and tonights exhibition of significant improvement that it sure would be great if they could put it together against a team better than Wester Illinois. They just didn’t shoot well tonight and that’s too bad when you play well enough on D to almost win a game while shooting around 30%. As encouraging as all of this improvement is, I think there is (and should be) an expectation that come OSU and the big ten season we’ll be able to put together a squad at least capable of challenging for a #3 spot.

  2. Bottom line is you have to make shots to win, and even moreso on the road. This team’s toughness, in terms of rebounding and defending, is extremely solid. But they have to get consistent production from DJ White, similar to his production vs UK, as well as a couple guys stepping up each game. Whether that be Stemler, Ratliff, Wilmont, etc…they have to have another guy come to play and hit open shots. They will hang around in games as long as they keep defending and rebounding well, but to win, they have to start putting up points against better teams. They are definitely getting better when you look at the preseason NIT and now. Hopefully the woeful shooting display was a fluke, and based on their ability I think that is the case. Stemler probably won’t have too many days like today on the offensive end. Not to be forgotten was his effort on the glass and grabbing loose balls as well. I’m optomistic about the rest of the season, but we have got to win the rest of these pre-conference games.

  3. Has anyone tried to hit a three in front of 26,000 people screaming down at you? Many of these 18 and 20-year-old guys are still very new at the big time college game and this experience, along with Duke, was invaluable for them. Yes Lance Stemler didn’t hit a shot, but after that experience he will be much better prepared for it later in his career. They will grow up fast with this schedule. It is a little disappointing that some of the older guys that have been in these situations aren’t picking it up better. What happened to A. J. Rattlif? He should be carrying this team by now. It is good however, to see D. J. White get it going. Let’s hope he can keep it up and the other guys will join him. They can be pretty good if that can happen, although I don’t think anyone can beat Ohio St. with Oden in the line up.

  4. My thoughts about this Hoosier team are written pretty plainly on my blog, but I like your question.

    In the first eight games, I think we’ve seen this squad start to “get it” first defensively, and the offense cohesiveness is coming. Despite the bad, bad shooting, they still had 72 shots against UK, and only 11 turnovers. For a team that only had 3, maybe 4 players (if Suhr played last season) who had faced the Kentucky press before and had been averaging about 15 turnovers going in, I’d say they ran the offense pretty well, they just didn’t hit.

    Hopefully, this, the Butler game, and the Duke game give this squad an idea of how to play against quality competition away from home. SIU may be the best team that IU will face in the pre-conference schedule, but since it’s at Assembly Hall, I feel pretty good about the Hoosiers’ chances.

    Where are they going? Well, I guess we’ll see after they play SIU. If they win, they’re a NCAA at-large bid contender. If they win some quality Big 10 road games, they’re a NCAA lock.

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