The Hoosiers faced their second exhibition opponent on Monday night and came away with another win. Neither opponent was a great challenge for Indiana, but each game showed signs of Indiana can become as the season's opener is on the horizon. So what can fans takeaway from Monday's game against Hillsdale?
The biggest question for Indiana this year is how they are going to replace the losses of Cody Zeller and Christian Watford in the frontcourt. One of the potential replacements is Mosquera-Perea, but his contributions throughout his time in Bloomington have been limited, to say the least. However, he was pretty impressive in his time on the floor against Hillsdale. Not only did he make an impact on the offensive end, but he was incredibly disruptive on defense and really showed the potential to use his length to an advantage. If he can continue to build on this performance, he could be the answer that allows Indiana to use a two big lineup.
I ranted pretty extensively in my last postgame article about the weaknesses in Indiana's defense during the first exhibition. This is still not a masterpiece, but they looked substantially better in this game. They were more aggressive, stayed in front of opponents more often, and were motivated. Often, players would realize they missed an assignment in the first exhibition and simply resort to guarding the paint or space. This clearly is a problematic strategy. In the game against Hillsdale, the players worked to get back on defense and ensure that if they missed a switch, they made up for it as quickly as possible. The defense will have holes, but if they continue to build like this, it could allow them to compete with some good teams as the season continues.
3. Luke Fischer
As a highly ranked freshman recruit, many have kept their eyes on Fischer. There were reasons to be excited and concerned with Fischer's performance against Hillsdale. One of the big things that was good to see was his ability to use his arms to disrupt opponents on defense. It certainly helped to have a major length advantage on Hillsdale, but this is something that's good to see. One concern was his inability to set proper picks and screens. If Fischer is going to get time on the court, he will definitely have to improve in this area. Several times he failed to seal out and completely ruined a good driving opportunity for a teammate. However, there's a lot of potential here for the future.
Something that most agree on is that Indiana is going to need to use a lot of transition basketball this season. It's going to help the team make up for inexperience and use allow the team to use its athleticism to its advantage. However, it's important to have the proper playmakers to do this effectively. Williams is going to be a guy that will get this done. His athleticism and speed are simply amazing. If he can add a few more aspects to his game, he could quickly become one of the most important players on the roster. Get him opportunities and he will burn opponents.
5. Zone Defense
One of the things that really hurt Indiana in this game was their struggle with Hillsdale's zone defense early. They clearly got the offense humming as the game continued, but for a good hunk of the 1st half, they really did have trouble getting the ball moving and penetrating inside. This may bring up some bad thoughts of the Syracuse loss last year, but Indiana really needs to find some playmakers and techniques to burn the zone more effectively. Sure, they ran all over Hillsdale at the end, but longer and more athletic teams will clearly be more effective at running the zone than Hillsdale. Speeding up the ball in transition could help, but it will be interesting if more opponents try to use this scheme against the Hoosiers in the future and to see whether it works or not.
There's no doubt this was a good tune-up for Indiana. As the regular season approaches, they will be one of the most interesting teams in the conference. There is talent and options everywhere on the roster, the biggest questions will be about who ends up in the starting lineup and who gets the lion's share of minutes. With real games awaiting, this questions will probably be answered sooner rather than later.