It was exactly what you want out of an exhibition game.
There was some -- even lots -- of good. Confidence is being built, and there are reasons aplenty for optimism around this Indiana team. But yet not too good -- just enough mistakes to keep a group of 18-22 year olds grounded to start the year.
Oh, and the most important thing. Nobody got hurt.
James Blackmon led Indiana with 15 points and 6 rebounds as Indiana got revenge and pulled away from Canada's top-ranked college team that knocked off the Hoosiers on their tour of the Great White North last summer. Here's five takeaways from the Hoosiers' first public showing of 2016:
1. Might Thomas Bryant have that Cody Zeller-level impact ability?
Bryant's activity on the boards had to be heartwarming for Hoosier fans. The freshman & former McDonald's All-American out of New York's motor in going after his own and other misses was impressive to watch. He gives Indiana something they absolutely did not have on either end of the floor in 2014-15 -- a low-post presence. He scored with his back to the basket. He altered shots at the rim. And, perhaps most importantly, he's a mobile, athletic big man that could not compliment this team as constructed more perfectly. Don't be mistaken: Ottawa couldn't match Bryant's size and he'll certainly have some struggles as a freshman. But early returns on Thomas Bryant look very, very promising.
2. You're probably going to get tired watching this team. You're also going to have a ton of fun.
Do you hate this style of pro ball? This ain't how basketball supposed to be played! What would BOBBY say! Great! Please finish eating your stick of butter for dinner and promptly move to Charlottesville -- Tony Bennett would love to have you watch his 50-possession-a-game team. Everyone knew this Indiana team wanted to run and score, but jeeeeeeeeesus. I wasn't tracking this, but I can't think of a time with rotation players in the game that Indiana actually walked -- or even jogged -- the ball up the floor. Indiana played at a sprint for the majority of the game, shot a ton of threes, and took a majority of shots early in the shot clock. It might not work all the time, but good lawwwwwwwrd it's gonna be fun when it does. Which leads into the next point...
3. Tom Crean's going to sub a ton and you won't understand why. We'll all be better off if you understand this now.
Here's the thing. Running a ton make you tired. Tom Crean wants to run, and if Tuesday's exhibition was any indication, he'll have no problem trotting anyone and everyone off the bench and throw them into nearly any permutation he feels on the court. At one point during the second half, Crean trotted out Bryant, Max Bielfeldt, Ryan Burton, and two guards that are of no consequence here. Ryan Burton, a walk-on post player, was playing the 3. A wing. Small forward. It didn't last long, and it went fine, considering I have no distinct memories of anything terrible coming from that stretch of play. To hell with the opinions on Peegs or wherever other pseudocoaches hang out, Tom Crean wants all of his players to be able to play all of the positions on the floor. This showing made it clear he's completely serious about holding true to that promise.
4. Meet Max Bielfeldt, your father's favorite Hoosier.
Max Bielfeldt is probably the exact player you'd expect to have a nice outing against a bunch of Canadians. Bielfeldt's Hoosier debut featured 8 points and 8 boards -- and just enough gritty white-guy-narrative stuff to solidify himself as my father's favorite player for the 2015-16 season. I sat on the baseline and listened to 90+ minutes of swooning over Bielfeldt's "light feet" and great calves.
Joking aside, the Michigan transfer did have a very nice Hoosier debut and looks to be a very valuable addition by Tom Crean if this team has hopes to go deep in March. He rebounded well, showed an ability to shoot it, and defended fairly well on the whole. Don't be surprised if he's often Indiana's first guy off the bench -- or if he even makes an occasional start for Tom Crean this season.
5. The defense is... a bit better.
Like, it's, uh, better. But Ottawa's final ten minutes of the first half showed some of the issues Indiana had last season on the defensive end. Indiana got beat back on defense a time or two. Indiana's guards still struggle to lock down a man one-on-one at times. And while Bryant's presence helped defend at the rim, Ottawa's perimeter players were able to penetrate and take mid-range jumpers with some success. Still, the defensive figures were pretty good. Ottawa turned it over 23 times on the game -- and shot less than 20% from long range. If the Hoosiers can duplicate those numbers against major conference foes, they'll win lots and lots and lots of games.
TOM CREAN PRESS CONFERENCE