It turned out to be quite a night for Indiana last night and more specifically a big night for the freshmen. Indiana was able to dispatch the Washington Huskies with relative ease and they did it on the back of some big performances from the young guys. Troy Williams finished up leading all Indiana scorers with 22 points to go with his 8 rebounds. Vonleh nearly matched that effort by racking up 18 of his own points to go with 9 rebounds. Unfortunately, that breaks Vonleh's string of 4 straight double-doubles to open up the season. Despite the "poor" rebounding effort last night he is still averaging just a shade under 12 rebounds per game.
Vonleh's and Williams' performances for the first time in front of a national audience, and more importantly national sports writers and scouts, had most of the nation coming away buzzing about the potential of these two players. Twitter was a buzz with writer after writer proclaiming that Vonleh should be included in the conversation when discussing the nation's best freshmen. At the same time Troy had everyone awed at the sheer athletic capabilities and potential he possesses. Needless to say, it was a good showing for both.
Another individual who had a bit of a coming out in front of a national audience was Yogi. His 20 points, second on the team in scoring, came pretty easily for him and I saw several comments about how much the game has slowed for him. His shooting continues to be impressive from range and not even Washington's very good defensive guards could keep him in front of them. However, the most impressive thing about Ferrell last night wasn't really his offense. Indiana fans know what that looks like through 5 games, but his defensive effort was very impressive.
McDonald's All-American freshman, Nigel Williams-Goss came into last night's game with an assist to turnover rate ratio of nearly 4 to 1. Last night Williams-Goss walked away with three turnovers to go with his three assists and 13 points. Most of the night, Williams-Goss was visibly frustrated by Ferrell (and company's) defensive efforts. He just never really got anything going in rhythm last night and a ton of credit goes to Ferrell there.
Despite the quality defense on Williams-Goss, Indiana still left many wanting with their effort last night. The Hoosiers weren't terrible by any means, but the second half was very different from the first. Indiana went into halftime allowing only .99 points per possession, but came out and finished by allowing 1.11 points. The extra 10 points and approximately 1.22 points per possession more in the second half shouldn't be considered acceptable. Yeah, for a good chunk of the half Indiana was up 15+ and just trying to maintain a lead rather than build one, but we saw several times Washington fight their way back within striking distance. Against a better team Indiana will pay for that lapse in effort.
Still, the Hoosiers are very young and trying to add more into their defensive package. The hardest thing to get clicking with guys that are relatively new to each other (in context with the rest of college basketball) are defensive rotations. We're seeing both Kentucky and Kansas struggle with it some and it's just one of those things that takes time. You can see the tandem of Hollowell, Sheehey and Yogi working very well together out there, but when it's anyone else there are mis-communications galore. That will come, but it is going to require some patience.
But don't let that get you down on last night's game. It was still a huge success. Will Sheehey was back to his normal self with 16 points on three rebounds and 5 assists. In fact, he could have still been a lot better. Sheehey, always one with a flair for dramatics made a couple of dumb plays trying to make highlight reels instead of the simple play. I'm sure Crean will try his best to knock that out of him, but at a point we've just got to accept that is just Will.
Evan Gordon also looked pretty good in his 17 minutes of play. He didn't score but off one free throw, however he was a great facilitator and had several nice passes that set up the passes for assists. Through the first four games he looked a little selfish, but last night he played within himself. Didn't stuff the stat sheet but was a big asset. Devin Davis continued as a big spark off the bench with impressive rate stats in scoring 4 points in seven minutes and grabbing 4 rebounds. Probably the most impressive, but not in a good way, is the astronomically high foul rate he's currently experience. 4 fouls in 7 minutes last night brings his per 40 up to a staggering 9.5. Look for him to try and rein it in a little in the future.
Now the Hoosiers take on a Connecticut Huskies team that has struggled a bit in their last two games. However, this should be a very good test for where Indiana is currently. Shabazz Napier can make an argument that he's the best point guard in the league and Indiana is going to have to contain that. Luckily, they have some real concerns with depth. It should be a battle, but first lets enjoy this win for a few more hours.