The college basketball season is just about to begin, and it should be another exciting year for the Indiana Hoosiers. Last season, the Hoosiers went 27-8, including a stellar 15-3 record in Big Ten games. They made a nice run in the NCAA tournament, eventually losing in the Sweet 16 to North Carolina.
Missing Yogi Ferrell
Indiana fans will surely miss four-year starter Ferrell, who averaged 17.6 points and 5.6 assists per game in his senior year. That sort of senior leadership at point guard is impossible to replace, but the Hoosiers have plenty of other returning talent that should leave them in good shape this year. The first option to replace Ferrell at the point is transfer Josh Newkirk from Pittsburgh. He is a talented playmaker and defender, but he will have to improve his 38.6 percent shooting from his last season at Pittsburgh if he wants to stay the starter.
Two Stars in the Making
The Hoosiers have a couple of players that could become household names by the end of the year. Thomas Bryant could have easily been drafted last year, and Hoosiers fans should consider themselves lucky that he came back for his sophomore year. The big, tough center should be the best player on the court in most of Indiana’s games, and he should dominate other big men in the Big Ten.
OG Anunoby is another sophomore for the Hoosiers who will likely be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft next year. He had a coming out party in the NCAA Tournament last year, going from an unheralded recruit to a key piece in the Hoosiers’ run to the Sweet 16. Anunoby never started a game last season, but he will be one of the most important starters this year. He is one of the most versatile and exciting players in the nation. He can defend all five positions and play four of them. The 6’8” Anunoby is a matchup nightmare who will cause many a head coach sleepless nights this year.
One thing that will be exciting for Hoosiers fans to watch this year is the development of junior college transfer Freddie McSwain. He is the best athlete on the roster, but the 6’6”, 220-pound small forward has primarily been focused on football until now. If he can develop quickly, he could be a key piece of the puzzle for Indiana to make a return to the Final Four.
Tough out of the Gate
The Hoosiers won’t have long to see if they are ready to compete with the elite teams in the nation. Their very first game is against Kansas in Honolulu at the Armed Forces Classic on November 11. They also play North Carolina in Bloomington on November 30 as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. These two games will go a long way towards showing whether Indiana is going to be a factor in the national title picture this year.