Indiana Basketball: State of the Program (short thoughts prior to Big Ten play)

Ahead of Indiana’s first game in the 2022-2023 Big Ten season visiting the Scarlet Knights, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the overall state of the Indiana basketball program, with the Hoosiers now 7-0 with two impressive wins already under their belt. The Hoosiers have placed upon themselves lofty expectations, so far everything has gone according to plan for the 2022-2023 season.

The current state of the program as we find ourselves on December 1st, 2022 is one of great excitement. Not only that, one of great reliance. I’ve been thinking for the word to best describe what I feel this team is bringing that last year’s lacked, and in my opinion it is reliability. I find myself being able to trust the ability of this squad so much more than last seasons team.

To best describe what I mean, I want to compare two of our non-conference games over the past two seasons. Last season at Syracuse in Double OT (you know the game), the Hoosiers largest minute munching forward off the bench was Michael Durr with 5 of the games 50 minutes. This season in a comparatively competitive game against Xavier in Cincinnati, the Hoosiers relied on Malik and Jordan Geronimo to provide a combined 22 minutes of relief to the starting rotation. Not only are the starters this season getting the ability to refuel, the loss of their time off court is being offset by the superb play of the personnel stepping up. The bench is in one word… reliable.

The Xavier Game WAS a great win.

Coming off the tail end of that North Carolina game, I have to say I’ve never felt more confident that we were going to beat an opponent while watching the game. From beginning to end, this program is currently finding reliable ways to get the ball in the bucket. Even when shots aren’t falling from deep, this team is finding ways to dominate through Trayce down low. Trayce was able to routinely take it to his fellow All-American in Bacot and even when in foul trouble, the Indiana depth made him just another guy on both ends of the floor. Indiana has found reliable offense, you can’t tell me Trayce wasn’t highlighted by the North Carolina staff as the scoring threat. Even when guarded by another All-American Trayce powered through with little resistance. This is a high powered team right now.

Every player in this program is playing with their heart on their sleeves and the Hoosiers are just that much better for it. The attitude teaming throughout our locker room currently has each of these guys looking to take ordinary moments and make them extraordinary. This team is using every opportunity to seize in game momentum and that is what the best programs do. Momentum is everything in College Basketball and now that the Hoosiers have established their defensive identity and the offensive identity is coming to fruition, Indiana will look to continue capitalizing on the moments that offer more than mere points on the board. The current play of the team is feeding back into itself and just keeping the momentum of this train rolling forward. Time to hop on if you haven’t yet.

Indiana fans were over the moon when they had heard Trayce Jackson-Davis would be returning this season, all of the returning pieces set us up for some lofty expectations. The crazy thing is, those expectations were set before we saw what we even had. Which in case you weren’t Nostradamus, is more than you were were expecting. The development that Mike Woodson and his staff have been able to get rolling in Bloomington is speaking for itself. Xavier Johnson is finding the bucket beyond range at a jaw dropping clip, Trey Galloway has changed his shot and the clean release has made for a more repeatable shot. Jordan Geronimo has added a finesse and touch to his tremendously athletic and abusive game. And least of which, Tamar Bates continues to show his offensive productivity is coming to fruition. The development happening within Cook Hall is apparent. Good on Mike Woodson and company for getting the best out of these guys.

In terms of recruiting Mike Woodson seems to have gotten off to a start on par with even Crean at his hottest. With Gabe Kupps and Jakai Newton on the horizon, Mike Woodson has continued to recruit at a tremendous clip. All of the recruits that Mike has brought in this season has already contributed enough to show they can be an asset to the program moving forward. For example, CJ Gunn. Brought in this year, he won’t be asked to do much, but he is going to be a problem in the future for other teams. Glad Mike is able to go get these guys to sit a little and learn under him. The recruits look to be heading to Bloomington and if we can start amassing a reputation of winning again, they will only come that much easier.

The Big Ten has looked great for the most part prior to the conference tip off. The Indiana-Purdue rivalry looks to be one of, if not the most highly ranked rivalry game of the season. Both teams are playing well, and while I know we are indoctrinated to hate Purdue at all costs, I want them to continue to beat up other teams. I want them to look good doing it. Then I want to take them to the woodshed as the good Lord intended Indiana Basketball to do. Having this rivalry flourish is beneficial to both programs. I want that to be a game recruits will kill to play in.

Currently life as an Indiana Hoosier basketball fan is going pretty smoothly. Everything has gone according to or has exceeded our expectations so far. 7-0, having just whooped up on the North Carolina Tar Heels is reason enough to celebrate. But those of us who have watched this team know that there is so much more than just this perfect start to be excited for. This team is built for the tournament, and has the depth (even with our significant senior presence) to have the future core of the team moving forward. That is a position any program would be grateful to find itself in.

Just wanted to keep this short and share some thoughts of mine on the program this season. Plenty of basketball left to play, and I never want to get ahead of myself, but I’m enjoying the confidence I’m finding in this Indiana team and I am going to proceed with the confidence they’ve earned until they give me any reason not to. Everything Indiana has put on tape this season has pointed to them being a title contender, I’m not going to pessimistically look for reasons this team may falter down the line in this one. I’m just going to enjoy the good vibes that come with the “and 0” lifestyle. 7 and 0, let’s keep it going.

Thanks for taking the time to read. If you’d like to read more I post here on flyoverwire.com almost daily. If you want to hear some of my thoughts on the UNC game or thoughts on Rutgers ahead of our Big Ten opener, listen to the latest episode of Often Daunted wherever you get your podcasts.

LUX ET VERITAS!

-Burke

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