Trayce Jackson-Davis is a different monster this season, Little Rock in his sights next. (Indiana Hoosiers – Little Rock pregame thoughts)

The now #11 ranked Hoosiers (shout out to Kentucky at #15) are hosting the juggernaut program that is the Little Rock Trojans tomorrow Wednesday, November 23rd at 6:30PM. The Hoosiers’ immediately jump back into action following their action packed weekend, beating Xavier in Cincinnati and Miami (OH) in Indianapolis. 2 games in 3 days is quite a test for any team, and the Hoosiers handled it displaying a mettle that the Hoosiers had lacked in seasons prior. While Mike Woodson has been establishing an identity of tenacious defense and a new found sense of pride in the program. While he establishes this identity, it has been his greatest disciple, Trayce Jackson-Davis who has been setting the example allowing it to reverberate throughout the rotation entirely.

In case you have yet to tune into witness Indiana Hoosiers this season, Trayce Jackson-Davis continues to awe and amaze those loyal to the candy stripes. He has come out the gates of his 2022-2023 campaign guns blazing. While we all knew he was going to be the source of stability on this years Indiana team, I don’t know if many knew just what he would be bringing to the table this season. And yes, I understand how ridiculous that may sound, what with Trayce being already a preseason All-American and all. But even with that preseason nod by the national media, Trayce is playing far more dominantly than any Indiana fan has the right to expect. It’s incredible. He has taken his already incredibly dominant and reliable interior game and has added a persistent killer instinct to his game. This potential has always showed flashed in his game, but Trayce is now putting full game performances on tape with this attitude now. Trayce is leaps and bounds more athletic than most people he is going to face this season, and it’s almost like he finally realizes that for himself.

Look at his stat lines this season (yes weaker competition for 3 of those, but still). 15 points, 7 rebounds against Morehead State. 21 points, 6 rebounds against Bethune-Cookman. 30, YES 30!!! points, 6 rebounds in an incredibly hostile Xavier environment. Lastly 17 points, 16 rebounds all in only 24 minutes against Miami (OH). Trayce is beginning to own his game. Hoosier fans can recognize that he’s an absolutely SUPERIOR ATHLETIC SPECIMAN. It is good to see in this his final year with the Hoosiers, he’s starting to recognize that too. I fully expect, come tip tomorrow, Trayce will put up another dominant performance. It is now safe to expect this from our captain.

A lot of people say they wish to see him extend his range, as Trayce has yet to take a 3 point shot this season. To those people, I say just look at what he’s able to do! Who needs an outside game if he’s that dominant inside. While the NBA scouts may say he needs this or that at the next level, Trayce is doing what he does well… exceptionally well. Why mess with what is already a one in a nation skill set? Trayce is playing incredibly dominant and whatever size he comes across down the line, I have no reason to believe he won’t be able to finesse all of it.

As for Xavier Johnson, he has showed of the improved shooting he’s acquired in the off season over this weekend. What really stands out so far from him though has been his defense. Xavier has been an absolute menace for the opposing backcourts so far. I expect Xavier to come out and continue to provide the opposing offense with fits against the Trojans come tomorrow’s tip off.

I have been mentioning our freshman studs each pregame, and no different here. Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik are essential to the success of this team this season. Their ability to immediately produce offensively and provide more than competent defense, has taken the tournament team of last year and has made this a genuine contender. Short sample size, whatever, this Hoosier team is for real. While I keep waiting for Malik to have a genuinely rookie performance, he has yet to deliver one. So, I’m done waiting. I think this young man may just be so much more developed than even the NBA scouts were aware of. I fully expect both of the freshmen to shoulder minutes as we continue to give Trayce fewer minutes where we can. While our depth provides a lot of backup plans, Trayce is just far to valuable to the success of this season to be playing meaningless minutes.

If the Hoosiers can get ahead to the early lead against the Trojans, I expect Mike Woodson to unleash the depth as soon as he can. He has been using the bench in these weaker non conference matchups consistently, granting the starters valuable rest. While also granting the bench players ever important experience. The Hoosiers have been blessed to see multiple combinations running the floor, each playing the trademark nasty defense and running the floor in tempo with a cohesive rhythm. The speedbumps will come, but the evidence of multiple options present on this roster should give fans confidence in what this squad can do this season.

I expect to see a lot of Jordan Geronimo if the Hoosiers get ahead in this game. Jordan provides the Hoosiers with another SUPERIOR ATHLETIC SPECIMAN. Who sets the defensive tone of the second unit. When Trayce is absent from the court, Jordan can provide the big emotionally charged defensive stops, and consistently take the reins of the tenacious defense.

CJ should get some time in this one, should all go according to plan.

I would love to continue to see CJ Gunn and Kaleb Banks get minutes where they can. The two freshman have quickly flashed a future of shooting on the horizon for Indiana University. These two guys are destined for some big buckets in Assembly Hall, give them every minute we can afford to in order to help nurture and progress their development as college players.

Trey Galloway was had a minor knee issue in the Xavier game, sitting out the Miami (OH) game as a precautionary measure. I am hoping we get to see him back in the rotation in this game. He has added an improved jumper to his game, with a higher and more concentrated release point. I want him to be able to continue to find minutes and in turn find a rhythm for himself.

Mike Woodson continues to amaze this Hoosier fanboy at every opportunity. The Hoosiers have yet to backslide under him. His actions continue to get this program more and more aligned with what it takes to compete and win in today’s NIL game. He has been able to shepherd this program in the right direction and Indiana is now playing some of the most impressive ball it has in some time. He has a team buying into playing cohesively, a team of players who could easily garner mountainous minutes elsewhere. He has seamlessly integrated a second ball handler into the offense and as far as my very unprofessional eye can tell, both seem to be playing in tandem and offering up possessions. Its’ been an incredible start to this Indiana Hoosier basketball season, and in my humble and biased opinion, it’s going shouldn’t be coming to a stop in this matchup against the Trojans. Indiana should take it to Little Rock with extreme prejudice here. The Hoosiers have been great this season at appropriately dominating lesser talent. That is what championship teams do. I fully expect the Hoosiers to handle their business in this one.

Thanks for taking the time to read these short thoughts of one Hoosier fanboy. I recently started a podcast (yeah a drop in that ocean). You can give Often Daunted a listen the morning after the Hoosier games. Have a great day Hoosier fans and DOWN WITH THE TROJANS!

LUX ET VERITAS!!!!

-Burke

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