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Indiana men’s basketball and getting Too Close For Comfort

These games are weirder than you’d like them to be.

Army v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Army is Bad.

Army is Really Really Bad.

Not The Army. Just Army. The collegiate men’s basketball program Indiana faced off with on the hardwood tonight. The one ranked below three hundred on KenPom. And yes, faced off with. It was an Actual Game for all forty of those minutes.

That was not what was supposed to happen. It’s fair to say.

Look, November basketball is weird. Teams with experience playing together (Purdue, as an example you are all aware of) look amazing. Teams with tons of new pieces, like Indiana? Not so much!

The Indiana team you saw tonight (and against Florida Gulf Coast. and the exhibitions.) is now the same team you’re gonna see on the floor in January. Things are going to be different, for better or for worse.

Players are going to develop. Lineups are going to emerge. Things should get better.

.... Should.

A great many questions followed the Hoosiers into this season. Few answers have emerged through the first two games. If anything, it’s been more questions.

What’s up with the starting lineup?

Who can lead the offense off the bench?

What’s the identity on offense?

What’s Mackenzie Mgbako going to look like?

Threes? Anyone? Please?

The starting lineup has ended up being mostly what was expected: Johnson, Galloway, Mgbako, Reneau and Ware. Right now, it’s not working all that well. That may be different in a month or two. The lineup itself may be different. Again, there’s not a good way of knowing.

Ware is a true center. Reneau is probably more valuable as a five. Mgbako’s skillset is that of a modern power forward.

Personally, I’d like to see a lineup with three guards, Mgbako and Ware on the floor. That’s five capable shooters (another topic entirely) and one that can get down the court quickly and push the ball in transition.

Indiana is running into the same problems it had with the Trayce Jackson-Davis/Race Thompson frontcourt only without any of the experience those two had. All those bigs aren’t giving them a rebounding advantage either, they won that margin by a narrow 29-26 tonight.

Mind you, all those 3-pointers (38 of them!) are getting a ton of bounce off the rim but also, come on man.

There were a lot of lineups on the court today that didn’t work. With a ton of new players, that’s to be expected. They’re lineups we likely won’t be seeing much as the season goes on, barring some serious development.

Again, it’s November and the team will look different with time. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for some concern here.