BLOOMINGTON – Radio play-by-play man Don Fischer is in his 41st year covering IU athletics and watching Hoosier basketball.
So what he said Friday during IU’s 105-59 blowout of Samford at Assembly Hall, subjective or not, bore significance.
Fischer said this group of Hoosiers might be the most athletic he’s ever watched. I take that as a huge compliment because he knows the game so well, IU coach Tom Crean said. He’d be the first to tell you he sees the upside in them, too, and I think that’s the most important thing.
The numbers so far this season tell the same story Fischer did.
IU (3-0) had double-digit blocks for the second time in three games Friday. The Hoosiers had 56 points in the paint, outrebounded the Bulldogs 53-32 and scored all but 18 of their points from within the arc.
Everything points to this group being one of the most athletic teams in the country – and one of the most explosive in Hoosier history.
I love fast-paced games, said freshman forward Troy Williams, one of the Hoosiers’ best leapers, who had 10 points and eight rebounds. That’s what I’m here to do.
The blowout of Samford and former IU assistant coach Bennie Seltzer came on the heels of a one-point win against LIU Brooklyn on Tuesday. Crean said he was pleased that his team responded to that wake-up call.
The Hoosiers tried to get the ball in the paint on each of their first seven possessions. Just a few days after hoisting 16 3-pointers in the first half against LIU Brooklyn, IU didn’t take a shot beyond the arc until 16:42 remained in the first half.
It shot only 15, and with better selection came more makes.
Tonight, we played the game one way for 40 minutes, Crean said. Very hard, very competitive, it was great hustle and energy to it, and we established what we wanted to establish.
Noah Vonleh became the first IU player to have double-doubles in three straight games to begin a season since DJ White did it in 2007-08 with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-10 freshman forward was the second of four Hoosiers to reach double digits.
He’s probably one of the best freshmen I’ve seen, especially as a big, said graduate transfer guard Evan Gordon, who had 10 points and seven rebounds for IU. Noah’s been able to adapt pretty well, and he’s taken it in stride.
Sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell hit five 3-pointers to reach a career-high 26 points and chipped in six assists as IU shot a blistering 57.1 percent from the field.
We weren’t hunting for shots, Ferrell said. We were pretty much taking what the game was giving us and really looking inside more.
Crean wants his Hoosiers to continue this trend as they prep for Stony Brook on a quick turnaround. IU takes on the Seawolves on Sunday at Assembly Hall.
We’ve got to grow up in a hurry, and I thought our guys over the last couple of days absorbed that message and retained it throughout the evening, Crean said. Now, will they be able to apply it over a period of time? That’s what the key is going to be.