Attitude is needed in Lawrence as the Indiana Hoosiers look to upset the Jayhawks.

Well, I think we can all agree that the first 10 minutes of the Arizona game would almost spell “no contest” for any team. Oddly enough Indiana put together enough of a game to crawl back into it and give Arizona a truly competitive matchup. Down Jalen Hood-Schifino it took the Indiana offense some time to get going (understatement for sure), that being said once it did get going Indiana was sticking right with Arizona. Only problem with that was the Hoosiers were playing right into Arizona’s game. In the case of a shootout, the Wildcats had every advantage.

While Kansas is a perennial powerhouse, with an experienced veteran core to lead their impressive recuits, I just don’t think they will be bringing quite the same offensive production that the All-Euro semi-pro team that was the Arizona Wildcats did. This gives me much more hope that the Hoosiers won’t be liable to such a gouging drive out the gate.

But that will take emotion, that will take execution, both of which are assets that the Hoosiers lacked entirely in the first 10 minutes of the Vegas Clash. It will be on Mike Woodson to have these guys ready to go into what will be one of the most hostile environments that a team could possibly find themselves in. 292-16. That is Bill Self’s record in Lawrence, KS. One could almost argue with that few, he should be able to remember each one. No wins come easy in Lawrence. It’ll take a conscious effort from the top down to bring emotion into this one. A level of emotion that this Indiana team may have yet to put on film may be needed to get the win here.

Bill does not lose at home.

With or without Jalen Hood-Schifino, the Indiana offense will be fine. Please remember our whole off-season prep involved JHS, it may take a while for the gears to find their place without him, but once they do, the Indiana personnel can still compete, they did against Arizona, and I may be speaking out my butt, but I think they are a pretty good barometer for offensive production. I refuse to give credence to the “Indiana goes as far as Jalen goes” mindset. Our team found it eventually, now it’s a matter of having it ready come tip.

All of that being said, you’re out your mind if you think I am not saying my prayers and putting good karma out in the world, hoping I get to see Jalen take the floor. While Indiana can still compete without him, his presence grants the Hoosiers not only the ability to compete, but the ability to dominate.

With or without Jalen Hood-Schifino I expect Trayce Jackson-Davis to demand just as much attention as Rutgers, Nebraska, and Arizona all paid him. He’s the All-American and is a circled date for each opposing center in the country. He gets everybody’s best look (the ol’ Nick Sagan ‘Bama argument). We have seen him transcend that pressure as he did against Nebraska. While he isn’t playing in front of the fans that love him, Trayce needs to be able to bring that same intensity to the court. As much as it’s on the coaching staff to have the boys ready prior to tip, it also is on Trayce. As the Captain and THE unquestionable veteran presence in the Indiana program, it’s on him to bring the emotion and intensity that all of his teammates can turn to and appropriate. If the intensity is there, and Trayce has that killer twinkle in his eye, I expect for him to have a banner day in the point column, and if not find ways to distribute from the post.

On the back of that post distribution, I’m looking for Miller Kopp to continue his hot shooting. While many of the more trollish Hoosier fans could argue his recent 3 point shooting is just a hot moment, I beg you to look at his career at Northwestern. The way he is shooting this season IS the norm. Last season was the anomaly. I fully expect Miller Kopp to continue finding his prime shooting locations and utilizing his quick catch and release to deliver some truly momentous shots on Saturday. The Hoosiers will need every three that they can get, here’s hoping Miller can continue finding the bottom of the bucket!

Tamar Bates was the largest positive in the Arizona matchup. His 13 points were largely needed and were delivered in huge moments that kept Indiana in the Arizona matchup. I’m really looking for Tamar to be the dagger hidden under the Hoosier cloak this season. He came into this season quietly under the national radar, while us fans watching him from day one knew we would be in store for a possible breakout season, no one could have foreseen Tamar’s development to be on display quite so consistently as it has this season. While teams focus on our stars, Tamar is able to come off the bench and leave them gutted with the unexpected production he is able to produce. I fully expect if the Hoosiers pull out the win against the Jayhawks, Tamar will be a huge part in getting the job done.

Malik Reneau and Jordan Geronimo are both on a run of dull performances. Malik’s growing pains have been on display through our last few games. While he has all the skill and game IQ to be an absolutely transcendent talent, these few growing pains were to be expected. After being dominant in high school, it may take a few games to adjust to going to battle with grown men who have spent multiple seasons with the professional level strength training that comes with Power 5 basketball. I really want to see Malik’s confidence begin to snowball. If he is able to cut down on the fouls and begin to find the bucket, I think he can definitely get through this current speed bump.

As for Jordan Geronimo, he has been unable to fully realize a role in these last few games for Indiana. The dribbling development and strides in his game were on display to start the year but he now finds himself struggling. His athleticism is endless. With a week to get right before the next matchup, I’m hoping Jordan Geronimo has been able to take a moment and assess what he must do to contribute meaningful minutes (yes I hope he studied for his finals as well).

Trayce, Race, and the Indiana front court will absolutely have to clean up the boards. The rebounds off the hands, hurdling into the first row, just give the opponent more bullets to damage us with. It’s just executing to the end. Only a few rebounds fall into your lap each game, for the most part it takes execution throughout to corral the ball in before looking to distribute it. Here’s hoping the Indiana coaching staff has emphasized these small points of execution that could tip games drastically in the Hoosiers’ favor. We cannot afford to give Kansas any more opportunities than the plethora that they will create for themselves.

If Jalen Hood-Schifino is able to get back into this game, I would expect for Xavier Johnson to find his form again in Lawrence. Being able to play off the ball has allowed Xavier Johnson to further contribute to the overall production of this side. Having two ball handlers opens up the entire offense allowing more and more points of entry. It also allows Xavier to find his shot in a way he hasn’t last season. Either way, Xavier Johnson will be tasked with a lot in regards to defense. This aspect of his game only seems to have improved this year, and while the Kansas backcourt is very talented, I don’t know if they will offer quite the same nail-in-the-coffin runs that Arizona hit us with. I fully expect Xavier and Trey to be up to the task to closing out and throwing off the Jayhawk shooters, most deadly of which is Grady Dick.

“Grady Dick”, that is a villain of college basketball if I’ve ever heard it. Name like that is usually reserved for Duke’s biggest pest.

Luckily, Kansas doesn’t possess quite the size the gargantuan Arizona front court had. That being said, their forwards can shoot the ball well. It will take a conscience effort of allowing shots to be taken by the Jayhawks, but making sure each of those shots have a body moving out on it, effecting it at the point of release. Jalen Wilson can damage the Hoosiers at any spot on the court, really opening up the paint for the Jayhawks. It will take a total team effort to be able to cut down lanes fast enough and collapse quickly enough to stop Kansas’ offense.

I’m not going to say I’d really appreciate if the NCAA could provide an official that can ref a fair game, you know like one that wouldn’t call that BS flop on Malik, or one that would lock up Tuleswhatever for hitting Trayce with the flying ‘bow, or one that understands the goaltending rule (you know the same one we all do). I’m not going to say that, because losers blame officiating.

Heading into our matchup with Kansas many of the most pessimistic of Hoosier fans could think that the Arizona game was indicative of Indiana’s inability to show up for the moment. I am hopelessly optimistic in most situations, never more so than when thinking on the Indiana Hoosiers, so I can’t help but think we’ve seen evidence of all the necessary parts to a championship team, it is all about having those parts as finely tuned, consistent and in rhythm as possible come tournament time. I have full faith the same team that took the court against Arizona can beat the Kansas Jayhawks Saturday, it will just take an entirely different mindset at first tip.

While the Hoosiers’ have put some very great basketball on tape this season they haven’t put it all together just yet, and that is just fine. Because as far as I can tell, if this team can be playing it’s best ball and putting it all together for a full 40 by March, they will be a deadly contender. A huge win at Kansas would go along way in cementing this team’s presence in the national consciousness, but even better would aid in this team’s confidence moving forward. We have the talent, it’s just a matter of it showing up.

Thank you for taking the time to read these short thought of a Hoosier fanboy prior to our matchup in Lawrence. If you liked what you read, give me a listen on the OFTEN DAUNTED podcast. New episode previewing this one is out now! Down with the Jayhawks!

LUX ET VERITAS!

-Burke

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