Hoosiers’ 1st shot comes in lone exhibition

The gold practice jersey goes to Indiana’s best player behind the scenes. During the past week, that was freshman wing Jerome Hunter.

Hunter didn’t earn the jersey merely from his athleticism. He didn’t earn it from his defense or rebounding. No, Hunter earned it through a different avenue, one that will be much-needed as this IU offense rounds into shape and seeks to unlock its potential.

“He made a lot of shots,” coach Archie Miller said.

And IU needs a lot more of that.

Indiana was a poor shooting team, especially from distance, during Miller’s first campaign last season. With a potent freshman class and a graduate transfer in Evan Fitzner who specializes in perimeter shooting, the Hoosiers should improve in that area during the year to come.

Entering Thursday’s 7 o’clock exhibition game against Southern Indiana, the Hoosiers’ offense is understandably a work in progress. As the regular season nears and the early portion of the schedule unfolds, IU is trying to identify the quality shots that will complement the offense Miller wants to see in Bloomington.

“It’s something that’s going to be evolving,” Miller said. “We’ve got to take good shots, I think No. 1, and if you do that, we have a chance, but we’ve got to be a better shooting team than we were a year ago. That’s obviously something that it’s on our minds right now.”

IU’s field goal percentage of .456 ranked eighth in the Big Ten last season, while its 3-point success rate of .322 was the program’s worst mark since the NCAA’s universal implementation of the 3-point line more than three decades earlier.

Improving those marks is necessary, particularly so that it opens opportunities for Indiana to do what it really wants to do offensively.

Finding good shots, Miller believes, will be a product of this squad’s more natural ability to attack the rim.

Miller said this week that he doesn’t think this team “aspires” to shoot a lot of 3-pointers. The ones it does attempt have to be smart and come from quality looks. By extension, those quality looks should open as IU demonstrates its desire to penetrate and get fouled.

“It’s just kind of who we aspire to be, a team that attacks the paint,” Miller said. “Whether that be with the pass or with the dribble and getting fouled is obviously a huge thing for us. We want to be a team that can get fouled.”

It appears that IU certainly has the personnel to make that happen.

Freshman guard Romeo Langford’s style of attack lends itself to that pursuit. So, too, does senior forward Juwan Morgan’s ability in the post.

“I think Justin (Smith) has a chance to draw some fouls,” Miller said. “… It’s a team, to me, that has to take really good 3s and has to take 3s off of assists, not just launching them. We’re not that type of team. I don’t think we’re a prolific shooting team. We’re a team that, if it takes good shots, quality shots, I think we’ll have good percentages.

“But I think playing through the paint, playing inside-out and being able to really attack off the dribble is something we have to get good at. When you do that, you have to be willing passers. Guys have to be willing to share. The 3s that we get should really come off, in my opinion, inside-out penetration, kicks, numbers in transition. Those are the 3s that we are looking to try and take advantage of.”

So that will be one thing to look for when the Hoosiers host the Screaming Eagles at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in their lone exhibition of the fall.

Is Indiana taking quality shots and, with that, are they coming within the flow of the attacking offense Miller wants to see?

“You never really know where you’re going to go in terms of shooting a ball just because you hope the quality of your shot gets better,” Miller said. “Right now, the quality of the shot probably isn’t as good. As you get more experience playing, I think all of our perimeter guys have got to have confidence.”

5 comments

    1. Ron,
      Jon is writing a preview of Friday night’s exhibition game, not sure if he’ll post any of that here, but he spent some time talking with the Latvian mystery, Aleksa Gulbe. I’ll be covering the exhibition game Friday night, so we’ll be hitting full stride on that front quickly.

  1. Very, very interested if Clifton Moore has made improvement from last year. Read absolutely 0 on any site nor hear anything in the wind. At 6’10” – 230# he holds a size of need for IU. What a boon for this season if he can play 6 positive minutes a game keeping Morgan at PF. He was ranked as the 102nd player by 1 of the recruiting sites.

Leave a Reply