Here we go Hoosier fans! The 2023 Big Ten season is really getting rolling as the Indiana Hoosiers head to Iowa to take on a beaten down Iowa Hawkeye side. Who has followed up their historic loss to Eastern Illinois with losses at both Nebraska and Penn State. This team is reeling right now, and I personally would love to see the Hoosiers come out and rightfully beat down a beaten team, as the best teams would do. Heading into this game, the Hoosiers took advantage of scheduling to give their side plenty of time to rest up and refuel. Some could be worried about a break like this resulting in flat play, but that tends to be the case for those teams rolling. This Indiana team has not been bringing the emotion prior to this, so I think this time will serve them well. That and the shakeup that is Tamar Bates getting into the starting lineup.
So Mike Woodson has made the call. Tamar Bates will be in the Indiana Hoosier starting lineup when the Hoosiers roll into Iowa. He will be replacing Trey Galloway, who was already replacing an injured Xavier Johnson. This call looks to greatly shake things up in the chemistry of this team to start the 2023 calendar year. Tamar has been a great presence off the bench, and many fans loved the thought of him being able to gut the opposition when they thought they would be getting a break, but the overall question that persisted proved too looming to continue having him start each game on the bench. Why isn’t your best offensive player in your starting lineup?
Because in my unprofessional opinion, Tamar has been our most reliable offensive option. While Miller’s been finding possibly the most reliable shot, Tamar is able to create his shot with the ball a bit more than Miller can when he’s cooking. I’m excited to see if the introduction of Tamar could be enough to inject some much needed life, swagger, or identity into the Hoosiers at the moment of tipping off.
With Tamar in the starting lineup, Trey Galloway moves into the marquee 6th man spot. Which I love. Trey has shown game by game a growing comfort in his back court capabilities. We all know of his confidence when operating in transition, but it’s been nice to see him grow into the ball handler the Hoosiers will need down the line. He’s finding his shot, and if he can continue to find more and more of a Backcourt General mindset, Trey will be crucial for us this year and even more so, establish a backcourt veteran with a veteran’s presence in the program moving forward. Tamar and Trey have been the two shining spots of this season in my mind so far. I hope to see that continue into Iowa.
With Xavier out and the swapping of Tamar and Trey, the ball handling load falls on the shoulders of Jalen Hood-Schifino, while I was never willing to fall into the “our season goes where Jalen goes” mindset prior to the Xavier injury, I feel like I find myself testing the waters of that mindset now. Jalen will be asked to log massive minutes here moving forward. But hey, he wants to play on the biggest stage in the world, the NBA, the workload doesn’t get easier after this right? Jalen’s lived up to every bit of the bill of goods the Hoosiers had on him. But we may need every bit of a NBA first rounder performance out of him moving forward. I have the utmost confidence in the young man’s ability to get this offense operating and moving at a championship level, while also providing a stout defensive presence. Here’s hoping none of the back ailments rear their ugly head moving forward.
Speaking of which, I have to imagine Trayce Jackson-Davis will be back after the 14 day break with a rested back and ready to go. I may start to sound like a broken record here for anyone who’s read my thoughts before, but if Trayce can find the emotion to hit his next gear I have all the faith in the world for him to get back to dictating matchups with his will. Trayce is a transcendent talent, who often times just seems not to know it for himself. You can’t tell me Trayce can’t takeover Big Ten opponents, because I’ve seen him do it before.
With the rest and the opportunity for reflection, I’m hoping Trayce can enter 2023 and give a masterful performance in Iowa. With his ability to distribute from the post, much of the distribution loss by Xavier’s injury can be subsidized by the Hoosier front court, and with the shooting the Hoosiers have found, I’ve never been more confident and willing to see the Hoosiers operate from the post. Like I’ve said about the Hoosier team before, all the pieces are there, waiting for a spark to ignite the powder keg of talent in Bloomington. If Trayce can find it, he will come out and give the Hawkeyes headaches all day.
While Trayce being back would greatly sure up the Hoosier front court, I still want to see Malik Reneau get the opportunities needed to work his way out of the funk he’s found himself in to end 2022. With the rest that came with the long break, I’m hoping Malik has been able to garner a bit more confidence in his game. He’s an absolute master with the craft and a fundamental expert. While growing pains were expected, it’s now time for him get through them and contribute to the dominance of this program. He has all the ability to be the most deadly big man off the bench in the nation. Now in the year 2023, I’d love to see him begin figuring it out against a battered Iowa front court.
While some could be afraid that this long break could potentially hinder Miller Kopp after having found his range this season, I am comfortable that he will come out just as deadly to start 2023. Again, I can not stress enough, that Miller’s shooting this season is not a “hot streak” this is what he was doing his whole tenure at Northwestern. He is just getting back to his own game, after losing the shooting a bit last season. I look for Miller Kopp to continue operating on the wing, lurking, and finding his opportunities to gouge the opponent. He will have his opportunities in this one.
The Hawkeyes are coming off a 53 point second half, falling just short of a meteoric comeback to the Nittany Lions. Kris Murray led the Iowa production (no surprise there) with 32 points on the night. He also tallied 9 rebounds in his valiant effort. The Iowa Hawkeyes may be on the most frustrating skid of games any Big Ten team currently finds themselves in. Fran McCaffrey had the most historic loss of his career only to follow them up with a blowout in Nebraska and a disheartening loss at Penn State. While some could argue that their comeback in the second half is something to fear, I say a loss like that does your team more damage at the inability to finish the comeback than they may have even gained by playing themselves back into it. it’s disheartening to fight so hard only to come up short in the end. That’s the state that the Hawkeyes find themselves in, hosting the Hoosiers and looking to get things back on track.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are led by both Kris Murray and Filip Rebraca. Rebraca currently leads the Hawkeyes in both points per game (14.1) and rebounds (8.4).
While the Hawkeyes could very well get things together come March, I have to believe the Hoosiers can go into Iowa and handle them with prejudice. While no Big Ten wins are easy, the Iowa Hawkeyes are currently playing like they should enter arenas with a dinner bell for the opposition. This downward trend for them can not end with the Hoosiers. Time to pile on.
Thank you for taking the time to read these thoughts of an Indiana Hoosier fan. I just write my thoughts on the team from time to time. If you like what you read, please give me a listen on the OFTEN DAUNTED podcast. New Year episode out now. Available wherever you get your podcasts.
Down with the Hawkeyes!
LUX ET VERITAS!