IU finished the non-conference portion of the schedule with a disappointing 0-2 performance in Las Vegas. The weak pre-conference schedule did provide IU with a good number of wins--IU's 9 wins are three more than they finished with in 2008-09 and one short of last year's total--but IU's performance is lacking anything approaching a quality win. Last season's win over Pitt and even the win over Cornell in 2008-09 were better than anything IU did in this year's pre-conference. IU played 9 home games, all against teams ranked under #100, and won them all. IU played four games away from Assembly Hall, all against teams ranked in Pomeroy's top 100, and lost them all. I'm not completely defeated by this performance. After all, in previous seasons, poor performances like those that IU posted in Las Vegas, against decent teams, were comparable to performances that IU had against the likes of Lipscomb and Loyola (Md.). The lost weekend in Vegas shows that IU isn't where we had hoped at this point, but I don't think the two previous teams would have made it through even with a 9-4 record.
Here are the stats at this point:
|Verdell Jones III||12||25.2||4.6||9.6||47.8||0.3||1.6||21.1||2.8||4.4||62.3||0.5||2.4||2.9||3.4||4.0||1.5||0.1||2.1||12.3|
This remains a flawed team. Christian Watford has emerged offensively, but his play against the better teams on IU's non-conference schedule suggests that he will struggle against physical Big Ten teams, which is most of them. Verdell Jones is one of IU's few guards who can create his own shot, but he struggles with turnovers and perimeter shooting. Jordan Hulls is an excellent shooter, but he isn't finding many looks in this offense. Maurice Creek simply doesn't look healthy, which is a shame, because he can be dangerous on both ends of the court when 100 percent. Victor Oladipo has provided lots of energy off the bench, but as a freshman, unsurprisingly is struggling with turnovers and decision-making, not to mention from the free throw line. Derek Elston is the key to the frontcourt, but his play and playing time have been uneven. Tom Pritchard and Bobby Capobianco simply aren't contributing much at this point. Will Sheehey has been solid in limited time as a freshman. Matt Roth has had one good game. Jeremiah Rivers is the team's best defender and has played much better this season, but his offensive skill is limited to
In some ways, the roster still hasn't recovered from the purge after the 2007-08 season. Of the eight players seeing more than 10 minutes per game of action, one is a senior transfer, two are juniors, and the rest are freshmen and sophomores. The team hasn't been without improvement. IU's turnover percentage is down. The team has shot reasonably well, albeit against weak competition. Defensively, there has been a huge contrast between IU's wins and losses. In IU's wins, the Hoosiers' defensive efficiency has ranged from .66 to .86. In their four losses, the defensive efficiency has ranged from 1.06 to 1.45. This does raise the question of whether IU has the ability to guard even the lower end of the Big Ten.
Well, it's now about 24 hours before the Big Ten season begins, and the Pomeroy projections say that IU will finish 15-16/6-12. Here are the Big Ten wins in Pomeroy's order of likelihood:
|DATE||OPPONENT||OUTCOME||CHANCE OF WIN|
|1/30||@ Michigan St||L||15%|
|2/26||@ Ohio St.||L||4%|
A few thoughts on this. First, the Penn State game tomorrow is IU's best chance for victory, but it comes when the team's confidence must be at an all-time low. A win is a necessity, and a loss could lead to disaster. Also, I have a hard time believing that IU has a better chance of beating Illinois at home than winning at Iowa or Michigan. Under IU's current Pomeroy profile, IU's odds drop off substantially. Even cutting things off at 30 percent would give IU only 10 wins, and such an outcome would include home wins over Illinois, Purdue, and Wisconsin. That strikes me as a tall order for a team whose best win is against Wright State.
Well, we will find out beginning tomorrow night.