Indiana men’s basketball handled its second and final preseason exhibition matchup on Thursday, handing Saint Francis a 104-59 loss in Assembly Hall.
Before we go any further, we need to emphasize that this is an exhibition. A low-pressure environment for players to get loose for the upcoming season and Mike Woodson to test out some lineups.
We saw the latter, with a clear second unit led by guys like Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trey Galloway with some interesting groups that featured a lot of length and athleticism.
When it comes to the former? Yes, we noticed Xavier Johnson played erratically throughout the night. It’s not going to be one of the three things below because, well, that’s what games like this are for. Woodson said in his postgame press conference that he brought Johnson aside after the game and told him that he doesn’t have to do it all by himself.
Johnson has Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson, Malik Reneau and Hood-Schifino around him. We saw him slow down last year and I have faith in Woodson’s ability to make that happen again.
Anyhow, here’s Three Things.
Jalen Hood-Schifino is That Dude
With no transfer portal additions this past offseason, all eyes have been on Indiana’s freshman class. This is especially true for Hood-Schifino, a 5-star with the most NBA potential out of the gates since the Romeo Langford year.
The thing about Hood-Schifino is he has a lot more talent around him with a weaker Big Ten to contend in. He’s immediately one of the top guards in the conference and he really showed that against Saint Francis.
From his behind the back move on a drive to the rim to hitting 3-pointers off the dribble, Hood-Schifino continued to impress throughout the game.
On top of that, Hood-Schifino showed off some established chemistry with Jackson-Davis on a few alley-oops. We already knew Hood-Schifino could handle the ball and had an established bag, but if he can hit 3-pointers at a consistent rate he’s gonna draw even more NBA buzz.
Indiana is gonna get shooting wherever it can find some
Indiana didn’t add any vaunted shooting talent through the portal or high school ranks this offseason. We wrote in October that the Hoosiers were just gonna squeeze some shooting out of that they already have.
And, well, that’s what they’re doing. Indiana shot a 7-19 clip from the perimeter as a team with Hood-Schifino leading the way, making all three of his attempts.
Aside from him, things got interesting. Johnson ran cold on the night, coming up empty with four attempts, while others took shots sparingly. Four of the seven Hoosiers who attempted a 3-pointer ended the night with at least one going through the hoop.
Race Thompson, who caught fire with three 3-pointers against Marian, ended the night without an attempt. C.J. Gunn knocked down just one of his five attempts, but made enough plays around the rim and on defense to have a good night. Both Kopp and Hood-Schifino made all of their attempts.
Indiana won’t have some go-to shooter, but it’ll have enough to be okay if one or two players go cold.
The frontcourt is going to be a game planning nightmare
Jackson-Davis and Thompson were cemented as the top returning frontcourt in the Big Ten, they were arguably there last year. But when one of them checked out of a game or got into foul trouble, Indiana opted to send in Michael Durr.
Durr was mostly an answer on defense for any of the Big Ten’s many bigs, he wasn’t a true scoring threat down low. Now Woodson can send Reneau in, and he’s much more of a problem.
While smaller than Durr, Reneau is a modern forward that Indiana has been lacking. He can attack the rim or put the ball through the hoop with a jumper, he’s much more difficult to defend and forces opposing defenses to prepare for three bigs on offense with at least one having ample rest.