Previewing Indiana

(Pomeroy moved his stats behind a paywall, so there will be no more links to the scouting reports and such. Sorry about that. Statsheet has all the same data, it just isn't as well organized. Most of the tempo-free stats in this preview come from Ken's site.)
2011 Stats / 2012 Stats
2012 Roster
2012 Schedule

Indiana Offense 09-10
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 46.4 270
Turnover Rate 23.0 306
Off Reb Rate 35.0 89
FTA/FGA 48.1 79
Indiana Offense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 51.6 61
Turnover Rate 19.9 156
Off Reb Rate 32.1 181
FTA/FGA 36.9 196

Tom Crean had a lot of work ahead of him when he took the Indiana job prior to the 2008-2009 season, and it's been slow going. His first team won just six games overall and one conference game, and although his teams haven't won more than four league games in a single season, there are indications that the toughest days are behind his program.

For one thing, they made some significant strides in two key offensive factors from 2010 to 2011, which led to a significant improvement in the team's offensive efficiency. It always helps when you start making a decent percentage of your shots. The gains were largely due to new-found two-point accuracy, and that was a development led by underclassmen. All the more reason for optimism going forward.

Crean managed to keep blue chip forward Cody Zeller (yes, Tyler's brother) at home, and those are the sorts of victories that can speed up a rebuilding job. So far Zeller's been as advertised; he leads the Hoosiers in scoring.

It's a pretty safe bet that this will be Crean's best Indiana team, and as long as Zeller continues to score efficiently inside, there's no reason to think their offense can't be better than it was a year ago. But they've already seen the improvement they needed from the offense to make the next step possible. If they can make similar strides at the defensive end, Crean may have this program back a little earlier than expected.

Starters:

Jordan Hulls (6-0, 181) -- During his freshman season in 2010, the bulk of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, whereas the split was closer to 50-50 last year, so he diversified his game a bit. Regardless, though, he was very good from outside. This year he's 10-19 from three.

Verdell Jones (6-5, 195) -- In his first three college seasons, Jones shouldered a heavy load and wasn't very efficient in doing so. He's hit less than 30% of his three-point attempts in each of the last two years. But he's been more selective in the early stages of this season, perhaps coincidence, perhaps evidence of a shift in emphasis for the Indiana offense. Whatever the case, it's good news for the Hoosiers. Still a guy State needs to be wary of at all times, though, as he could revert to primary scorer mode at any time.

Victor Oladipo (6-5, 214) -- Versatile player--excellent offensive rebounder for his height, good finisher on the interior. Willing to step outside on occasion but that's more touch-and-go. He did a good job getting to the line as a freshman in 2011 and his steal rate was excellent. He probably flew under the radar last year considering the amount of playing time he received and looks like a good breakout candidate in 2012.

Christian Watford (6-9, 225) -- Led the Hoosiers with 16 PPG in 2011 but needed a whole heck of a lot of shots to get there. He was a 38% three-point shooter but shot south of 44% inside the arc. In 2010 he made just 105 of 273 (38.5%) two-point attempts. That's pretty bad for a tall guy. He's been a huge part of the offense, which is part of the problem. This season his workload is as light as it's ever been and that's paid dividends early on. One of his strengths is getting to the line, where he is deadly, so given his 2FG%, about the worst thing a defender can do is foul him around the basket.

Cody Zeller (6-11, 230) -- Zeller leads the team in scoring, but it isn't because he's come in and gone JJ Hickson on the joint. In fact, three other guys have taken more shots than Zeller even though he is second on the team in minutes played. But when he does shoot, he doesn't often miss: he is 29-40 from the field and 31-41 from the free throw line. Tyler Hansbrough would kill for that free throw rate. So yeah, keeping him out of the lane and defending without fouling is a major concern for us.

Bench:

Will Sheehey (6-6, 200), Derek Elston (6-9, 225). Including Sheehey and Elston, ten Hoosiers have played in all six games, but these are the only two non-starters averaging at least 10 minutes per game. Sheehey's the sixth man extraordinaire--second on the team in scoring--and when he gets in the ball game he is not messing around. It will be interesting to see how he fits in when the schedule gets tougher, because he's taking an enormous chunk of the team's shots when he's on the floor. So far so good, though.

Elston was a solid role player a year ago--hit 56.5% of his twos, rebounded well at the defensive end. This year he's been far more effective, and he's 4-5 from three after a 3-17 effort in 2011. Not sure that's going to last, but maybe he's been working on that jumper.

Indiana Defense 09-10
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 49.7 206
Turnover Rate 20.6 156
Off Reb Rate 35.4 287
FTA/FGA 41.1 242
Indiana Defense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 49.6 197
Turnover Rate 19.9 184
Off Reb Rate 31.0 108
FTA/FGA 50.2 333

Crean managed to build some strong defenses toward the end of tenure at Marquette that were based on interior defense and forcing turnovers, but those are exceptions rather than the norm. His teams have never been very good on the defensive glass--that 31.0 from last year is the best mark his teams have ever had, and that inlcudes his Marquette squads--and the track record elsewhere is pretty meh as well.

Of course, there's always time for some remodeling; they've been good in the FG% and TO% categories early in 2012. The eternal question this time of year is just how much of that production is tied to the non-conference schedule.

The Pomeroy Predictor says you should flip a coin on this one.

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