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Indiana men’s basketball: A guide to The Expectations

They’re gonna need time to figure it out. Grant them that.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Kent State vs Indiana David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana added ten (10) new players this past offseason. Three transfers. Three freshmen. Four walk-ons.

It was out of necessity. The program lost four of its five starters and had two members of its bench transfer out. Mike Woodson and the staff needed to reload for the coming season while building for the future.

The result is going to be Weird, I’m telling you right now.

It was readily apparent during Indiana’s first exhibition that these guys needed to knock some of the rust off and they did so after halftime. They’re also still actively learning how to play with one another.

The same can be said for the players who’ve been here. C.J. Gunn, Kaleb Banks and Malik Reneau are looking to take that sophomore leap. Xavier Johnson is playing live basketball for the first time since 2022.

It’s the reality. A ton of new pieces are going to need time to jell and deserve that time from both the staff, media and, frankly, the fanbase.

So here’s what’s gonna happen these next few months:

  • Indiana is going to lose some games.
  • National media is gonna have a heyday with that, takes are gonna be flying off the shelves from podcast to columns alike.
  • January rolls around.
  • Indiana looks better. The defense is more heads-up with switching/positioning. Passes are finding their mark.
  • They win a few games they shouldn’t. They lose some they shouldn’t.

We said this last season too. Indiana is and has been a lightning rod for criticism for the better part of the past few decades and that’s never gonna change. The brand is too big to ignore, they’re just always gonna be a part of the conversation.

Indiana does not care about what’s likely to be said these next few months. Neither should you.

For you have the benefit of paying close attention to this team. It’s simple reality that they’re gonna take time to mesh and I’d imagine they have something put together by January that amounts to a winning formula.

If Indiana loses an early nonconference game, that doesn’t mean the sky is falling all of a sudden. If they have a bad game against a Big Ten opponent, it doesn’t mean the season is over.

What we’re seeing is the beginning stages of what Mike Woodson wants to build in Bloomington. The priority in his first two years was winning with what he had, namely Trayce Jackson-Davis. Now, Indiana looks to the future.

Freshmen are going to have freshmen moments. The sixth-year point guard is gonna be another coach and the floor to correct mistakes in the moment.

So if things look weird in this first month or so and you start typing up an angry tweet or writing up a message board manifesto on The State of the Program, I urge you to stop and consider all of the above.

Time and patience are necessary here. And deserved.