Hoosier State Hoops: First week thoughts on IU

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The Indiana Hoosiers are one young team, and the “cupcake” games show that they are blowing teams out. However, I think the expectations and what we have seen from Indiana need to take a pause. 

Justin Smith has been dominating in his first couple of games. His energy, hustle and discipline helped him stand out in these two games. Smith is averaging 16 points a game and his athleticism is exceptional and was a factor for how former Indiana coach Tom Crean brought him in. But his mid-range shooting and his 3-point shooting are still showing some weaknesses.  

The schedule the Hoosiers face for the three games are Princeton, Louisiana Tech, and South Dakota State. While the latter two of those can be a little more competitive, those defenses will have a struggle finding a way to defend how athletic Smith is. So I suggest we wait, and see what he can be on December 3 against Florida State where his athleticism can be matched. 

However, I can’t be negative all the time. There are some bright spots on this team that have been showing. Let's take a look at Al Durham, who’s been nothing but sensational for the Hoosiers. Indiana this season has had to deal with Rob Phinisee and Devonte Green being hurt. Those two players are significant for the backcourt and will eat minutes for Indiana. Still, Durham is doing everything he can, averaging 17 a game and is taking more responsibility being a playmaker, so that step in his game will be something to watch this season because Durham is showing he is all about winning. 

Meanwhile, Trayce-Jackson Davis is starting to figure it out as well. In his first four games, he is averaging nearly a double-double (14 points and 9.5 rebounds). Jackson-Davis is exceeding my expectations for how he would start this season. To have that start is super good for his confidence and he will need a lot of it in the Big Ten. With the Big Ten being a conference that consists of lots of physicality, it takes a while to adjust. If the confidence can lead to him being better in the long run, then IU should be okay with it. In fact, they should love it. It will be a huge key to how they finish this season and for all the fans that think they can make the NCAA Tournament, TJD can be a big reason. 

So overall, I think it will be about how Indiana can perform on Dec. 3 against the Seminoles. They do not have a ridiculously hard non-conference schedule and the test will help them evaluate where they are at. 

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