Malik Reneau is a big dude.
Not the kind necessarily known for their work on the perimeter. More so for their strength and footwork in the paint, getting their three points the old fashioned way through contact.
But there he was, rising up on the arc in the closing seconds of the first half, sinking his third shot of the night from 3-point range. He spent the remaining seconds beating his chest heading back toward the Indiana bench, yelling loud enough for everyone in Assembly Hall to hear.
Of the 83 points the Hoosiers put on the board against North Alabama, 25 belonged to Reneau and 12 came from deep. He had someone to thank for the performance postgame: Hoosier legend and current Director of Player Development Calbert Cheaney:
“Just understanding how he played the game, how he was able to work around the court, be able to get his shot wherever he wanted on the court,” Reneau said. “ Just getting reps up, man, being confident when you go out there, not being scared to shoot the ball. I think that was the main part for me.”
Reneau, just a sophomore, had some pretty big shoes to fill following the departures of stalwart forwards Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson. He’s lived up to those expectations and has grown substantially in year two.
A recent concern has come from double teams, Morehead State swarmed the paint against Reneau and Kel’el Ware. The former has been able to score through some doubles at times, but the Eagles were sending as many as three his way.
North Alabama did the same but Reneau was prepared, kicking the ball out for even more 3-pointers from teammates and getting the better of a few doubles. That’s considerable growth and adjustment in just two games.
Also, Reneau spent 27 minutes on the court and collected zero fouls. For a player who has at times been known for sending opponents to the line, that was a huge step especially on a night when whistles were blown almost constantly.
He’ll continue taking steps to get better as he comes into his own as one of the programs stars for the present and future.