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Three Things We Learned: Mississippi Valley State

The regular season has finally begun. What did we learn?

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Keeping firmly in mind that this is simply game 1 of a 31-ish game season against a team from the from the SWAC, here's what we learned about the Hoosiers tonight.

  • The freshman class (and the transfers) are going to be very important to the Hoosiers this year. James Blackmon Jr. scored IU's first 5 points on his way to 15 in the half, Rob Johnson swished his first official 3 as a Hoosier, and Max Hoetzel got a couple easy buckets early as well. New fan favorite Tim Priller didn't check in until the second half, but grabbed his first rebound and scored his first bucket within a minute of entering, provoking the first chanting of his name during the regular season. Jeremiah April also got in late and grabbed some numbers for the box score. On the transfer front, Nick Zeisloft made his presence felt early, with 10 of his points packed into a foul trouble shortened first half, and Ryan Burton added a few buckets too. We can't always expect them to be firing on all cylinders, but they sure came out ready to play tonight. It's gonna be a lot of fun to watch these guys grow and develop this season and into the future.
  • Hanner must keep growing into his role. Kyle touched on this in the UIndy Three Things, but Hanner Mosquera-Perea is going to be the big man in the middle most of the time for the Hoosiers. HMP racked up 6 points and 8 rebounds in the first half on his way to a near double-double (9 points, 10 boards), and was almost always hanging around the basket when the ball got near there. There were still a couple mistakes (swatting the ball right to MVSU on a rebound instead of grabbing it comes to mind), but that's still a big jump from where he's been in the prior two years. While he didn't have many blocks, he certainly forced more than a few shots to be altered, and in some games, that may be all we need him to do.
  • Turnovers are still going to be an issue, but one than can be managed. The Hoosiers committed 13 first half turnovers, and forced just 6 from the Delta Devils, but those turnovers only led to 12 points for MVSU. They cut down the turnovers in the second half, making the final numbers look a bit more palatable. Tom Crean's IU teams have always had a bit of a struggle holding onto the ball at times, but if they can hold down the points off those turnovers with good defense, they won't cost themselves too badly for playing aggressively. One way the team may be able to cut down on the turnovers a bit is with tighter dribbling, as a few well-timed pokes shut down the Hoosiers before they could get possessions really going.
Mississippi Valley kept it close early, and got back to within single digits before a 26-7 run shut the door going into halftime. From there, the Hoosiers started knocking down 3s from all over the building, and stretched the lead out to as much as 53 while breaking past the century mark with 6 minutes left in the game. There was a lot of good feelings to go around from this game, and while there may have been more important games played in the history of Indiana basketball, this was a cathartic experience and an easy win that everyone needed to start the year.