Anunoby makes his case in Big Ten debut #iubb

On Wednesday afternoon in New Jersey, OG Anunoby made a case for extended playing time.

He did so with a career-high eight points and a personal-best seven rebounds during Indiana’s 79-72 victory over Rutgers, necessary production in a game when IU’s starters fell flat.

But just as important as the tangible boosts Anunoby provided, it was his energy and activity off the bench that seemed to give the Hoosiers the biggest push.

Anunoby’s best moments so far this season have come in spurts, as is often the case with any freshman. But even when his most measurable production is modest, Anunoby has found ways to impact the game through his general activity.

Through 13 games, that’s what separates Anunoby from some of his teammates. Perhaps more than anyone else on IU’s roster, Anunoby isn’t relying on gaudy offensive numbers to dictate his performance.

“If I play with energy and hustle, that can be a really big spark plug,” Anunoby said. “I just try to do those things.”
For an Indiana team looking to establish depth and define roles, Anunoby can play a valuable part coming off the bench. That’s especially the case on the defensive side of the floor, where opportunities should be up for grabs for those who show an interest in engaging ball-handlers and addressing IU’s biggest area of weakness.

And with his 6-foot-8 frame and 7-2 wingspan, Anunoby is showing signs of bringing that much-needed presence to the defensive realm.

“OG can be a quick defender because he’s got quick feet,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “He’s got active hands and great strength in his legs. So we’re going to be able to do a lot of things with him as he gains confidence and understanding. We’ll be able to switch with him and we’ll be able to trap with him. He’ll be able to guard guards as we move forward. He’s going to be able to do things.”

Anunoby is already gaining confidence, and games like Wednesday’s go a long way in that department. He says confidence is his biggest area of development since the start of the season, and it seemed to gain a further boost against the Scarlet Knights.

That much was clear early in the game when he took the ball on the wing, lined up and sank a 3-pointer. That’s not necessarily an area where IU needs Anunoby to flourish, but he finished 2-for-2 from beyond the arc at Rutgers and his coach said it constituted additional progress for the swingman.

“That’s one of the reasons we recruited him,” Crean said. “We thought he could shoot the ball as a junior in high school. That’s something that he’s going to continue to get better at. He works very hard at it.”
Over his last three contests, he’s averaging 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11 minutes per game. Anunoby is also showing a penchant for grabbing key rebounds late in games.

He did so against Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic, picking up a big offensive board in the middle of IU’s second-half rally. With IU clinging to a six-point lead with a minute to play at Rutgers, he grabbed an offensive rebound that turned into a pair of made free throws for Yogi Ferrell.

“(I’m) just providing a spark when I get in and playing with energy,” Anunoby said.

Even before Wednesday’s game, Crean said on his weekly radio show that Anunoby was no longer playing as tentatively as he may have been feeling two months ago.

In IU’s Big Ten opener, Anunoby followed through.

“It’s just a matter of learning and being comfortable,” Crean said. “I see the respect level going up all the time in practice with the other guys because they know (Anunoby and classmate Juwan Morgan) really want to work. OG’s progress is he’s practicing harder and more competitive. Those types of things are really starting to take shape, and I think they’ll really continue to grow.”

4 comments

  1. The Real O.G. I like to say I called it at the beginning of the season, that he was going to be a special player. Another under the radar recruit for CTC to make some noise. He is by far my favorite player on this year’s team and can’t wait to see him grow as a player and do big things. Great pick up CTC, u r an inspiration to mega HOOSIER fans like myself for all u do on the court and most importantly all the great things u do off the court!!! The world needs more good hearted ppl like u and u make this world a better place, I hope my children grow up to be as great of a person as u.

  2. Obi-Wan Anunoby…..? I beg to differ, but I do believe I “called it” when I referred to him as the next Jim Thomas.

    Obi quiet, Harvard. Nobi Wan to listen to you anymore.

  3. Harvard, that is really very clever. And self-deprecatingly funny! Kudos to you! Did you do that Han(d) Solo?

  4. I do tend to Jabba way too much….You could say I’m Scoops ‘Jabba the Haughty’…or Jabba Habba Da Haughty Habbilly’…Leia around too much, i guess. Never stopping to Chew…bacca and forth the fat. Always Yodaing from my mountain top…it’s forced? But it’s a force you don’t want with you.

    Yoda man! Take care. Did Vadar play any hoops…? How many stars did he have coming out of college? Nobody could ever stop that little Vadar from the baseline. Also had a good head fake. ..but Skywalker was no Chet Walker.

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