Indiana has plenty of firepower in a starting five that has four players averaging double figures and has been used in 32 of 33 games.
Forward Cody Zeller averages a team-high 16.9 points. Victor Oladipo averages 13.6 points, Christian Watford – who missed one start – averages 12.5, and Jordan Hulls averages 10.1. The other starter, Kevin Yogi Ferrell, averages 7.8.
The Hoosiers also have plenty of talent coming off their bench that will play a role as the team chases a national championship. No. 1 seed IU (27-6) opens play in the NCAA tournament against James Madison at 4:10 p.m. Friday in Dayton.
We have a deep team, Zeller said. We have a lot of guys that would be starting for other teams. I think it will help us because some of the starters will not have to play as many minutes, and it will help us play longer in the tournament.
Will Sheehey headlines Indiana’s reserves. The 6-foot-7 junior forward was named the Big Ten sixth man of the year after averaging 9.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per game.
It’s a great honor, Sheehey said after he was named the league’s top reserve. I accept the role of sixth man, and I love it. I’m going to continue to do so, hopefully.
Sheehey had two perfect shooting days this season.
He set a school record by making all nine of his shots in an 83-55 home win over Purdue on Feb. 16, and he went 4 for 4 in the Big Ten tournament semifinal win over Illinois on March 15.
Sheehey’s performance in the semifinal game also came at the perfect time as the Hoosiers locked down on the Illini defensively but were not scoring much themselves.
Indiana had a 5-2 lead when Sheehey entered the game with 14:45 to play in the first half.
He quickly hit a three-pointer and then a jumper to give Indiana a 10-2 lead with 13:18 to play in the half as the Hoosiers finished with an 80-64 victory over the Illini.
He’s a sparkplug, Indiana guard Victory Oladipo said. He comes off the bench, and he plays defense. He makes tough shots, and he rebounds. He’s one of our leaders as well.
Coach Tom Crean can also go to Remy Abell (4.1 points, 1.5 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game) and Jeremy Hollowell (3 points in 9.8 minutes per game). Maurice Creek, Derek Elston and Hanner Mosquera-Perea have played in 16 or more games.
While the reserves’ scoring production outside of Sheehey is not high, Crean said there is more than offense to look at when evaluating IU’s bench.
I’m looking at, are they engaged? Are they on the glass? Are they talking on defense? Are they trying to play the coverages the right way? Even if the score is not being impacted in the game, are they bringing fatigue to the game? Crean said. For the most part, the answer is yes.