BLOOMINGTON – Indiana was everything Tom Crean expected during its 100-72 season-opening win over Chicago State on Friday.
The Hoosiers are long and athletic.
Their 62-36 rebounding advantage and 13 blocks spoke to that. The latter was one short of tying the program high.
But IU is young and inexperienced. Its 19 turnovers, lack of outside shooting and lapses on defense showed that.
And Crean’s team will be fast and exciting. A half-dozen highlight-reel dunks, the run-outs and multitude of Chicago State fouls on IU drives showed that.
Our guys showed a lot of the upside that’s there – a lot of the athleticism, Crean said. And there’s a probably five-page laundry list of things we have to be better at. So that’s where we’re at in the season. It’s a good start.
The Hoosiers converted a program-high 45 free throws out of 55 attempts and shot 45.8 percent from the floor. Their athletic style of play put at least two pairs of hands above the rim on nearly every rebound attempt and led to 52 points in the paint and 22 second-chance points.
The athleticism helps with the rebounding, offensively and defensively, sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell said. We got a lot of slashers and a lot of guys who like to crash and play above the rim.
Hollowell led the Hoosiers with a career-high 16 points as six players scored in double figures for IU. Hollowell also had four rebounds and four blocks, a career high.
Freshman forward Noah Vonleh scored the first five points for IU and finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds for his first double-double. The former McDonald’s All-American also had three blocks.
He also made all five of his free throw attempts, a stark contrast to missing all his tries during the Hoosiers’ exhibition games.
I just told myself I needed to start calming down and just focus on the shot, Vonleh said. Hopefully I can get some more double-doubles.
Freshman forward Troy Williams (13), sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell (11), senior forward Will Sheehey (10) and freshman forward Devin Davis (10) also reached double figures in points.
The Hoosiers held the Cougars to 25.9 percent shooting and just eight makes on 36 3-point attempts.
Crean said his team had 63 deflections on defense.
And they ran. They ran off rebounds, they ran off outlets and they ran off press breaks.
IU averaged 67 possessions last season. In the first game of the 2013 campaign, the Hoosiers had 82.
I like to play fast-paced and just get after it, playing Chicago State or any other team, said Davis, who also had nine rebounds and three blocks in 14 minutes. Just this team, we like to get up and down and just run.
There will be plenty more running to come. Friday started a 20-day stretch in which IU will play seven games.
We’re going to learn a lot in a short period of time, Crean said. The No. 1 focus, above all else, is: Are they getting better? Are they improving?