Friday, November 21, 2014

The Hoosier formula

It's early and it was only a peek. But for a few minutes down in Assembly Hall last night, the Great Red Horde got to see how their Indiana Hoosiers are going to get it done this year, if and when they do get it done.

Here's your first hint: It doesn't involve mistaking Hanner Mosquera-Perea for Wilt Chamberlain.

The Hoosiers' only real size down low went for three points and zero rebounds last night in the six-point win over No. 22 SMU, and those numbers aren't likely bloom much more. The offense, to put it mildly, is not going to run through him. And the defense is going to start a lot farther out on the floor, where Yogi Ferrell and a pair of terrific freshmen, James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson, will be both the first and last line of defense, disrupting opponents before they can take advantage of the chronic mismatches they'll be able to create with the Hoosiers inside.

That was the formula last night, when Indiana rattled 19 turnovers out of the Mustangs and dropped a dozen 3s, with Blackmon getting seven of those enroute to a 26-point night. It compelled SMU to stretch its defense to all points on the compass, which enabled Blackmon, Johnson and Ferrell to block out and crash the glass when the ball went up, combining for 18 rebounds.

Troy Williams, at a long 6-foot-7 the other crucial piece of the puzzle for Indiana, had four boards off the bench.

To sum up: The Hoosiers will live and die on the perimeter this season. With Blackmon, Johnson Nick Zeisloft and Ferrell, they've got both enough speed to beat teams down the floor in transition and to spread the defense in the halfcourt. That, theoretically, will open up the middle for Williams and Stanford Robinson to get to the rim and for Ferrell to drive and kick it out -- and when the ball goes up, it's got to be all hands on deck all the time, with all five players blocking out and crashing the glass.

If they can do that consistently -- and, at the other end, be disruptive enough at the point of attack to keep teams from swallowing them whole on the low blocks -- they've got a chance to win some games. But if they can't ...

If they can't, there are going to be some long nights in Bloomington this winter. To sum up.  

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