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Indiana men’s basketball: Hoosiers show what they can be, what they are right now

Thursday’s game against Wright State had its moments.

Syndication: The Herald-Times Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

The first half of Indiana men’s basketball’s game against Wright State had its moments.

The Hoosiers were playing with their hair on fire early, getting stops on defense and transition buckets on the other end. Playing fast with high energy.

Then, toward the end of the half, the Raiders started hitting the same 3-point shots that plagued Indiana for the first two games and all the energy was gone. Suddenly we are all watching a game instead of something to feel good about.

It’s fine to be happy that Indiana finally flashed the potential of what it could be this season. That’s legitimate progress worth feeling good about. Also fine to worry about where all the energy went when the lineup changed.

What’s clear is this: the team is at its best when doing what it was built for. Getting stops and boards, hustling down the court and making a play. Outrunning less athletic opponents and running up the score.

That style lets the teams that play it get into a groove, we saw it when Mike Woodson turned to three guards against Florida Gulf Coast and then on Thursday early in the first half. It’s promising that Indiana made that happen with two different lineups.

Buckets on one end turn into locked in defense on the other. That defense turns into more scores and the cycle keeps going for a run. You could see the vision against Wright State, even if for a moment.

They’re not that right now. Indiana is still playing deep into the bench as Woodson and the staff find who they can rely on and let dudes play through mistakes and learn from it while there’s still ample time to do so.

Right now, Indiana is a mix of experienced pieces like Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway, transfers like Kel’el Ware, freshmen like Gabe Cupps and Mackenzie Mgbako and sophomores earning real minutes like Malik Reneau, Kaleb Banks and C.J. Gunn.

It was always going to take time to work itself out. This happened last year too, with more experience.

Over the next few games, we’ll see if Indiana can start looking more like what they were built to be. UConn is their first test of the season and one of the biggest overall.