BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 19: Cody Zeller#40 of the Indiana Hoosiers reaches for a loose ball during the game against the Savannah State Tigers at Assembly Hall on November 19, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana won 94-65. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
I didn't get to see all of this game, but it didn't appear to be a high-drama affair or really even an epic or impressive beatdown. Savannah State's basketball reputation has generally been for being in the cellar of D-I, and this was a game that IU should have won easily - and did. Most notable was all the fouling - yes, there were an amazing amount of whistles with 55 fouls being called. Three Savannah State players fouled out and FOUR IU players finished with four fouls (Victor Oladipo & Will Sheehey probably would've fouled out if they'd been forced to play more). The box score backs up what I saw with my eyes - the Hoosiers largely eschewed outside shooting to attack inside, either through transition looks or posting up Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, or Verdell Jones. Doing this while keeping the turnovers low (9) was Good news. And the Hoosiers have started with four 20+ wins for the first time since Bobby Knight was coaching (98-99), but the grain of salt to add: the level of competition has been less than intimidating so far. That's ok in my book, as the Hoosiers are taking care of business and the tougher games are coming up. I do have a handful of eyeball observations from the game tonight to discuss after the jump:
- Cody Zeller (23 pts, 5 rbs, 3 steals) plays a bit like Jared Jeffries, and a bit like Alan Henderson. He's got the nice agility, solid footwork, and extra pass ability of Jeffries, but some more toughness as a freshman and runs the floor more like Henderson. I think this is the fourth straight game where opponents have been whistled for a flagrant foul on Cody - but this seemed more like the Refs watching out for Cody's well-being rather than the other team trying to get in his head. Also, I love this dude's willingness to get on the floor, but I grit my teeth every time the bodies are unpiled. I hope the coaches are spending time teaching him how to hit the floor properly.
- Christian Watford (19 points, 3 rbs) looked like a beast tonight, he just ate up his defenders inside, outside, and at the foul line. Also, he had a very nice look to Cody when making a move on the post. A healthy and confident Watford makes this offense much richer. I would like to see him grab more than three rebounds, though.
- Having Oladipo and Sheehey be interchangeable is a nice luxury, At one point early in the second half, Oladipo had been facilitating the offense very nicely but picked up a foul and had to go to the pine. Immediately Sheehey came in, made a nice cut, and finished over a defender while drawing the and-one. These two have matured nicely from last season.
- Jordan Hulls is running the break waaaay better than last year. He also seemed to be breaking up a lot of plays and snagging steals. Hulls is turning into a very floor general.
- Verdell Jones remains a double-edged sword. He can get by defenders and create offense for himself or others so consistently, and he is an integral part of the new Hoosier fast-break. Also, he seems to be playing defense again, which I've not seen him consistently do since he was a freshman. However, he still throws passes that are just poor decisions, plain and simple, and he really forced a two or three post-up shots when he did not have a good look. Room for improvement still.
- Derek Elston is noticeably better on both ends of the floor from last season. It looks like that injury really was the source of a lot of his problems. He bricked a couple of free throws, though.
- The bench was rather unimpressive, but Remy Abell looks like he'll be at least able to fill minutes this season if we have foul trouble. The kid's an athlete, and knows how to stay on the floor and out of the way, which isn't a bad thing to know how to do.