With Indiana men’s basketball’s season fast approaching, the staff of the Crimson Quarry is here to share our takes on the Hoosiers’ season.
Who will be the top contributors for Indiana this season?
LCN: Like Colin said, the obvious answer here is Trayce Jackson-Davis. He’ll be Indiana’s bread and butter throughout the season, and he’ll only be more effective if the Hoosiers can leverage the threat he provides on the interior for shots from the perimeter. Aside from Jackson-Davis, Xavier Johnson and Jalen Hood-Schifino will lead the Hoosiers as distributors with a few plays mixed in. There’s depth, so I expect a lot of contributions.
Colin: Trayce and Race are the obvious answers, experienced big men in an offense that’s struggled to score from the outside in recent years. Xavier Johnson also ended the season on a tear, and I think we will see more of the Big Ten Tournament version of Johnson than the regular season version this year. I think Jalen Hood-Schifino will also get his, whether as the primary ball handler or somebody who can drive and distribute after Johnson breaks the defense down.
Miles: Xavier Johnson. XJ looked so good once he got acclimated to Woodson’s system, and I think he picks up where he left off last year come November.
Who isn’t getting enough buzz?
LCN: The issue is that Indiana just has so much returning depth. I’d go with guys like Miller Kopp, who should settle a bit more into his role after being the first or second option at Northwestern for a while there, and Jordan Geronimo for his ability to jump like he’s on the moon. If Geronimo develops more of a 3-point shot? That’s spooky.
Colin: Whoever is going to make our 3’s. Luke wrote about it this week, including the fact that there wasn’t a huge influx of shooting talent to this roster. That said, I think somebody out of Miller Kopp, Xavier Johnson, CJ Gunn, or even maybe Trey Galloway will have the potential to really elevate their play and Indiana’s ceiling by shooting around the 40% mark from deep.
Miles: As per usual I’m going with Jordan Geronimo here. He’s a flat-out freak athlete and was 7th in the Big Ten in blocks and rebounds last season. His 15 points off the bench helped will IU to an ugly First Four victory over Wyoming in March, and I think it’s time we give him his flowers for that performance.
What are Indiana’s strengths and weaknesses as a team this year?
LCN: Indiana’s strengths, like last year, will be the frontcourt duo of Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson and the team’s defense as a whole. With so much depth to look to, Woodson won’t have to worry much about subbing anyone out. Combine that with Johnson and Hood-Schifino in the backcourt and you have a daunting matchup for any team. The weakness, like always, is 3-point shooting. They’ll need that if they wanna go as far as they say they do.
Colin: Strengths and weaknesses are largely the same as they have been for the last couple of seasons, though I do think the addition of Hood-Schifino and Gunn help mitigate the offensive issues we’ve seen of late. Having two legit ball handlers on the court at once should help spacing, so I expect the guys with shooting potential to get more open opportunities and hopefully more makes.
Miles: Strengths: Trayce and Race. Weaknesses: apparent lack of consistent 3-point shooting. I have no real insights to add here, it’s all been said before.
What are your games to watch for Indiana this season?
LCN: My two cohorts have named non-conference games, so I’ll be that guy and go with the Purdue game. I’m really interested to see how Woodson plans on stopping/countering Zach Edey, and I wanna see what the Boilermakers have this year.
Colin: For a team that’s now vocalizing national championship ambitions, I am interested to see them matchup with the defending national champs in Lawrence this December. I’m almost glad it’s a road game, so a loss wouldn’t look terrible. Really just an early season opportunity to see where Indiana stacks up in the national conversation, since we know how Big Ten play can distort one’s perception of a team.
Miles: I’m looking forward to Indiana hosting last year’s National Runner-Up UNC in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in November. It’ll be as good of a basketball game as it is a uniform matchup. My roommates and I are already strategizing how early we need to line up for lower-level student section seats.
What would you view as a successful season? What about a failure?
LCN: I think a bit of a run in the NCAA Tournament, from the second round to the Sweet Sixteen, would be a great breath of fresh air for a fanbase starved for success from the men’s program. If this is another “will they make the tournament or not” year, then I’d call it a failure. They have every reason to.
Colin: I am of the opinion that postseason success, in the conference and NCAA tournaments, is a bit of a crapshoot, so I won’t say that Indiana needs to make it to a particular round for this season to be a success. I would like them to finish in the top 3 in the Big Ten and would love to see them play in the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. Practically speaking, I think that means winning the games they should win (no late game collapses in Madison) and competing in every game on the schedule.
Miles: I would call this season a success if the team can be consistent through conference play and beyond. I feel like talking heads have spent the last few seasons questioning “Which Indiana is gonna show up tonight?” and I just want to feel like I have a decent understanding of the answer on a nightly basis. I think getting bounced early in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments would constitute a failure. I want a deep run in at least one of the two.
Any bold predictions?
LCN: Indiana will defeat one of Kansas or North Carolina.
Colin: I could see this team outplaying its potential a little bit and maybe reaching the Elite Eight. In addition to the most talented Hoosier roster we’ve had in years, I think there’s a good mix of Indiana guys or underrated recruits who feel they have something to prove. Trayce playing for his legacy, Woodson trying to fast-track the program into national relevance, and multiple guys with NBA aspirations could help carry this team beyond its apparent limitations.
Miles: Indiana sweeps the Illinois home-and-home.