Hoosiers close Canadian tour with 109-77 victory over Quebec-Montreal

MONTREAL — By the time they filed off the campus at the University of Quebec-Montreal on Wednesday en route to beds they could call their own, the weary travelers in red and white could only hope this trip of bonding and basketball had served its purpose.

In the moments after another convincing win over an outmatched opponent — this one a 109-77 victory over UQAM — there were certainly reasons to believe it had.

Over the span of five games in six days, players like Troy Williams and Yogi Ferrell looked to be on the verge of a breakout year. There was an introduction to the new guys, like Illinois State transfer Nick Zeisloft, who looks to be a worthy addition to the program with his shooting ability outside the arc and his leadership inside the huddle.

Then there were the conceptual breakthroughs of the trip, things like speed, spacing and ball movement.

While it’s wise to not over emphasize much of what can be found in the box scores, there appeared to be true value to be uncovered from the week-long Canadian swing, even if it doesn’t manifest itself until months from now.

“You want to have a very good beginning, you want to have a very good ending, you want the rest of it in between to be a ton of life lessons for them, basketball-wise and in life,” IU coach Tom Crean said after the Hoosiers’ fourth win in five games north of the border.

Indiana closed the excursion by placing six figures in double figures against outmatched, but punchy UQAM. Williams led IU in scoring for the second time time on the trip, scoring 21 points, while James Blackmon added 20.

“We learned a lot,” Crean said. “We saw a lot of different defenses, we didn’t do as much set-wise or things like that offensively, but ball movement and understanding how good everybody is and getting a better feel for one another out there for the type of youth on this team, it was very, very good for us.”

Williams took great advantage of his skill set on this trip, showing off a degree of length that few of the Canadian teams could match. While he exploited smaller, sometimes slower, defenders over the last week, the amount of confidence and comfort he exhibited in five games appears to be something that will translate back to the United States.

With his big finale on Wednesday, Williams finished the tour averaging 18.4 points per game and appeared to be one of the many who took prime advantage of the rare opportunity to play games in August.

But beyond the time for individual development, there was time for recognizing each other as a whole. The five games offered opportunities to learn the styles and skills of the new players on top of learning where each player on the roster will look to be on the floor once the season starts.

Much of basketball is about comfort, and five games in Canada seemed to develop that.

“We’re more together off the court, like we are on the court,” Williams said. “Last year’s team, we weren’t as together and thinking the same mindset. But now everybody is on one page and you can tell how it is on the court. We’re not afraid to share anything with each other. We all take accountability with what we do.”