A Short look at Indiana’s largest minute munchers before Morehead State (short player profiles)

Disclaimer: The following opinions are that of a hobbyist writer who quit the beautiful game on top (winning a CYO championship in the 8th grade). I am by no means an expert on the game.

So heading into the actual season opener for the Indiana Hoosiers I wanted to go through some of the Hoosiers who will look to dictate the most minutes for us in the Indiana Men’s basketball program. With so much anticipation for this season, each role that these guys play will have to be played to its finest if the Hoosiers want to make a deep run in March and get back to being at the peak of college basketball. It will take a team effort, so I wanted to offer short thoughts on each of the players on this roster that will be demanding the most minutes noting their strengths and weaknesses(that can absolutely be addressed).

Let’s get into it starting with the baddest man in Bloomington…

Trayce Jackson-Davis

What can be said about Trayce that hasn’t already been witnessed by those of you with enough interest in Indiana basketball to click this link in the first place? Our captain continues to set the standard for his teammates to look towards. Trayce takes advantage of his superior athleticism to out play any big in college basketball. As a preseason All-American, all eyes (and game plans) will be on him. After convincing him to come back, Mike Woodson has sold Trayce on the idea that he will be one of the main shepherding forces of Indiana back to national prominence. His game will be the nucleus of this Indiana squad, setting the tone both defensively and offensively.

Strengths: His post up and mid range game are unparalleled at the college level. His energy and effort are absolutely taxing on any larger, slower bigs that are tasked to guard him. Although shorter than his wingspan, that wingspan is an impressive 7’ meaning defense comes easy to him. His calm, collected nature is the lighthouse for composure in the Indiana locker room. Absolute freak of nature athletic ability.

Biggest weakness: Outside the post. I’m not saying anything NBA scouts haven’t already told everyone. Trayce has all the skills it takes to make it in the NBA today, but his size means that outside game isn’t an asset it’s a necessity. I have to imagine this was one of his main offseason focuses, so here’s hoping this has been addressed in the last season he has with Indiana.

Race Thompson

Race is back as co-captain for the Indiana Hoosiers. While he has more experience and development, I can’t promise that that will mean higher numbers for Race this season. The Indiana depth, and the presence of Malik in particular, will mean that Race won’t be tasked with as many minutes as he was last year (28.5 mpg). While he doesn’t have the skill that Malik has already displayed in the two openers, or Trayce’s freak of nature athletic ability, Race does have a truly irreplaceable skill. That being his basketball IQ and knowledge of positioning. His ability to be in the right place at the right time is second to none on the Hoosiers. His game often looks slow because often times it doesn’t have to be fast. He puts himself in position to make plays with minimal effort. It’s a true skill. While he won’t be responsible for shouldering as much of our production as he was last year, I still am looking for him to have a stellar season for a more than competitive Indiana squad.

Strengths: Basketball IQ and positioning. While he does know where to be and when to be there, when he is called to make the hustle play, he is one of the first to go to the hardwood for the loose ball. Undeniable effort.

Biggest Weakness: I would say shooting, but in the two exhibition games it seems that he may have found some range. Even going 3 for 3 against the inferior Marian side. while Race by all measures should improve from last year, with the addition and yet to be revealed development of talent on this team, it may be hard for him to tally as many minutes.

Xavier Johnson

Now the most divisive figure on the team (for those Indiana fans with a dump still in their pants over the driving incident), Xavier Johnson. While Xavier was a stat sheet stuffer for the Hoosiers last year, it was often times necessary. There were points last season no one was looking to take a shot, and X had to will an Indiana offensive game into existence. While I by no means think he is one of Indiana’s all-time players. In my personal and unprofessional opinion, he is on the Indiana Mt. Rushmore of all-heart. He plays with such a fire that often times it can burn himself. When he has had to shoulder so much offense in the passes it has led to sloppy dribbling and rushed plays. While I love the effort, it didn’t always help the Hoosiers. Luckily, I think this Hoosier squad is much more capable offensively. Multiple scoring options will negate Xavier’s need to rush and force the ball so often.

Biggest Strength: Xavier is a true point guard in every sense of the word.

Biggest weakness: forcing the issue. When Indiana’s offense is hurting was hurting for a bucket, Xavier would look to get to the bucket by all means necessary, often times to the Hoosiers’ detriment. Here’s hoping we can limit the turnovers thanks to the added offensive weaponry.

Miller Kopp

Miller was brought in last season to be a spot up, knock down option for the Hoosiers. While he didn’t shoot up to what we had expected following his productive tenure at Northwestern, Miller will once again be relied on for the 3 pt. option.

Strength: Experience. Miller is returning for his 6th year and he has been a figure in the big ten for the last half decade. He knows the teams, he knows the venues. While he won’t be asked to carry as much of the shooting he will be called to still be a reliable option. He came here with shooting as a strength. I have to think another year at Indiana has made him more comfortable draining them in Assembly Hall.

Biggest weakness: his inconsistency offensively. I only bring this up because for Miller’s game this year, a high shooting percentage will be key to him getting plenty of minutes. We need a reliable knock down shooter. I believe he can improve and provide this this season.

Lastly the two Freshman…

Jalen Hood-Schifino

Well, for those of you that have watched either of the home exhibition games, you will have noticed that everything we were hearing about this kid prior to his arrival in Indiana were absolutely true. At 6’ 6” with a game already developed to compete at an elite level out of the gate, Jalen Hood-Schifino is able to dictate the game offensively, getting the ball to the rim, while also being able to knock down the perimeter shot. He is a truly special player that will quickly become a Hoosier favorite. Just in time for him to leave us for the NBA next year. The big bodied point guard is going to be a problem for Big Ten defenses.

Biggest Strength: His ability to finish at the rim is jaw dropping. He is silky with it…

He provides a consistent scoring threat that is always an option to make a cut and get the Hoosier offense going.

Biggest weakness: Jalen Hood-Schifino hasn’t done much losing in his time at Montverde, I only point out this weakness to express worry about how he may handle the tribulations that are bound to show up throughout the Big Ten season. Here’s hoping Jalen can take the hits that come with college basketball in stride. I’ve got confidence in him.

Malik Reneau

Malik Reneau has quickly put his name on the mouths of Hoosier fans. Providing the Hoosier faithful with quite possibly the biggest and most pleasant surprise they’ve had in some time. Coming into this season everything seemed to point to Malik getting plenty of minutes but setting himself up to be a staple of next years’ Hoosier squad. After his first two games (yes I get it was Marian and Saint Francis), I’m beginning to fear that Malik may not be long for Bloomington. Malik Reneau’s game is so fundamentally sound and smooth that I was absolutely blown away by the skills that the freshman was already putting to tape. He is going to be so much more of a problem for the rest of the Big Ten than we had initially anticipated.

Biggest Strength: His fundamentals and ball handling. Malik’s post work was a thing of beauty in the two exhibitions, I know he will only begin facing bigger and badder postmen, but the starting position for his skill is very promising. I could rave about how skilled Malik is, but I’ll just leave this here…

That’s my big man.

Biggest weakness: Strength. While I can’t speak to this much, I just figure that when he is tasked to guard the likes of guys who have spent years developing at these big time programs, he may face some bigger stronger big men. Luckily, his talent and fundamental understanding of the game will be a large equalizing factor here.

Just wanted to breakdown and share some thoughts on each of these guys prior to tip. I can’t wait to see what this season has in store for us Hoosier fans! Head back here if you want to check out my post game thoughts following the game! Thanks for taking the time to read these short thoughts of an Indiana basketball fan boy.

LUX ET VERITAS!

-Burke

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