BLOOMINGTON – Indiana can’t hide anymore.
The Hoosiers have no cupcakes left to feast on after Sunday’s 90-66 win over Kennesaw State at Assembly Hall and Big Ten play starting Dec. 31 at Illinois.
I like, so far, where we are, said sophomore forward Yogi Ferrell, who had a game-high 25 points and scored in double figures in every nonconference game.
Being young doesn’t really play a factor into it now. We’ve got a lot of games under our belt.
More questions than answers came from a nonconference slate that saw the Hoosiers (10-3) beat who they should and lose to then-No. 19 Connecticut, then-No. 4 Syracuse and Notre Dame.
Coach Tom Crean has seen improvement, and he sees promise despite the lack of a marquee win.
The Big Ten schedule is tough. It’s also a tremendous opportunity.
We did some really good things offensively in the second half today, he said Sunday. There’s no doubt about that.
IU shot a season-best 62.7 percent from the floor, but tied its season-high in turnovers with 20, which the Hoosiers set Friday against Nicholls State.
The Big Ten doesn’t have a Nicholls State or Kennesaw State (3-10) for the Hoosiers to beat up on, and the discipline that was lacking toward the tail-end of the nonconference schedule will be needed.
When we give the ball back to the other team, it’s really taking points off our average and off our individual averages, Crean said.
We’ve just got to take care of the ball better because there’s such opportunities to do good things with it, he added.
Players like Ferrell, who also had six rebounds and five assists, along with senior forward Will Sheehey (15 points on Sunday) and freshman forward Noah Vonleh, (14 points and nine rebounds) will remain mainstays.
Others like Luke Fischer, who had a career-high 10 points and three blocks against the Owls, should continue to rise.
Whether that’s enough for this team to be in the top half of the conference remains to be seen.
They are a very young group that does not have the experience of what it takes to be in their first semester of college, let alone play 13 basketball games, Crean said. With that being said, I think they’ve done an excellent job of working to get better and worked extremely hard.