We are so close Hoosier fans… so close to Assembly Hall opening her gates to allow the masses in to kick off our 2022-2023 campaign. With our first exhibition game taking place this Saturday I wanted to begin this season by stating 3 things this Hoosier fan wants to see at the end of this season. Now I am admittedly hopelessly optimistic when it comes to the Indiana Hoosiers so I will try my absolute hardest to remain as realistic as I can.
But now that we are back to contending, if you think I WANT for anything more than a title, you’re wrong. For this list I wanted to avoid the obvious hardware. Of course a national title would be number 1, 2, and 3. But to keep it a little more interesting I’m going to pick 3 things I’d like to see that aren’t just merely victories and trophies. So number 1…
1) Developed Shooting
There’s no way to get around it. If we stand any chance of making a deep run in March, we need improved shooting. Indiana shot 33.9% from 3 last season. As frustrating as it was Parker Stewart was our best from behind the arc and he’s gone. I have to think while defense may be this program’s identity, a large portion of this last offseason was dedicated to finding our shooters. Whether it’s weak legs or what. We cannot afford to demand perfect defense games each and every time out. So where will the shooting come from?
Personally I believe that Xavier will only have matured in his game this off season and hopefully this has translated into his shooting percentages. For a man who plays the game at breakneck speeds, slowing down the game may give him the opportunity to develop and mechanize his shot. If there is one player who I think could very well turn around his shooting fortune, it is Trey Galloway.
He is just coming of injury, but it sounds like he is feeling pretty great. “pretty much back to 100%”, said Trey. We will need him to be even better because his 3 pt percentage of 21.4 was a team low. I believe that he can get this percentage up. While he’s at his best in transition and getting to the rim, another year of training and maturity may assist the young man in understanding his shooting motion. I have to believe Trey can improve that percentage. I’m fully confident in the young man.
2) Program Identity
Mike Woodson is creating an identity in Bloomington that the rest of the country can’t help but take notice of. As a program he (and the Indiana social team) are projecting a sense of traditions mixed with newer, “cooler” aspects of pop culture. He’s selling Indiana to recruits, and for recruiting program identity is only second to cold hard cash. While we are presenting ourselves well off the court. What program identity will Mike Woodson look to continue growing in Bloomington?
Defensive intensity had been the core aspect of our on-court identity last year. I’m looking for this to continue into this season. Our defensive identity served us well last season, even when it seemed like we couldn’t buy a bucket, we were still in each game. If our tenacity on that end of ball can remain up to the par Mike has set in his first year, we can’t help but win games.
Everything about the identity of Indiana basketball has gotten a face lift since Mike has rolled back into town. He’s working magic to define a program of intensity, of stability, of traditions, and of winning.
3) The Core of Tomorrow, Stepping Up Today.
Continuity is king. The teams that win titles are in the mix year after year. This is because the leaders of the team the following year have made themselves apparent throughout the prior one. That’s what I want to see. We have our leaders this year, but looking into the future. I want to see who puts themselves into position the be, for lack of a better term, the “faces of the franchise”.
Personally, who would I like to see begin stepping into that roll over the course of next season? Well it sounds like everything is pointing to Jalen being one and done, and good on him, get the bag. Malik should be staying but who knows, he may be moving on if he tears it up too. Personally in my opinion, this season is the time for Tamar Bates and Jordan Geronimo to make this team their’s moving forward. Both of these players will be given time and opportunity to show that come the next season, they will be leaned on as foundations to this team. They will both be given opportunities to lead on the court and have been in the program long enough to demand a certain level of respect by those in the Indiana locker room. I have Jordan Geronimo and Tamar Bates both down as role players who will be getting plenty of minutes and plenty of opportunities to show off their development and make their bids as the next Indiana Hoosier captains. We need to keep passing the torch in that regard.
While I can write for all that I want. I’ve already gotten more than I had expected. Mike Woodson has delivered ten fold on my expectations and I may have never been so excited for a season of Indiana Basketball. I said it before… I was excited with Crean. But running it with one of OUR guys, a guy who loves this program and has an irrational reverence for Bobby Knight just like all of us, it just feels different. I want him to succeed because I know more than any job he could get, he wants Indiana to do well. He wants to give back to the team and school he feels gave him so much. I love to see it and I love to support it.
All in all, I’m writing this mostly as a therapeutic distraction to my growing restlessness over the fact Indiana Basketball is back in 2 days. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read my very unprofessional opinions. Have a great day Hoosier Faithful. Go Hoosiers!
LUX ET VERITAS!