This is the Indiana feature in which we address the three most important questions that each team must answer heading into the 2019-20 season.
1. Can Devonte Green take the next step?
The Indiana offense has undergone quite a facelift since their season ended against Wichita State last March. The Hoosiers’ lose their top two scorers from the 2018-19 season after Juwan Morgan’s (15.5 ppg) graduation and Romeo Langford’s (16.5 ppg) departure for the NBA Draft. That leaves incoming senior Devonte Green as the leading returning scorer for this Hoosiers squad.
Rob Phinisee will be used in the traditional point guard role after averaging 6.8 points and 2.9 assists per game last year. However, Green will be looked upon to find a bucket when everything else breaks down. His ability to take that next step while being the focus of opponents’ defenses will make or break Indiana’s season.
2. How will the newcomers be deployed?
A lot of the contributors for the upcoming season have never faced the gauntlet that is the Big Ten schedule. The Hoosiers bring in freshmen Armaan Franklin and Trayce Jackson-Davis, and Butler transfer Joey Brunk. They also get to finally see what highly-recruited Jerome Hunter can do after redshirting last year with a leg injury.
Watch for Archie Miller to use a lot of big lineups this season, relying on Jackson-Davis, Brunk, and Hunter on the court at the same time. Jackson-Davis’s raw athleticism will flourish in the 4 spot where he can focus on getting to the basket on pick-and-rolls. Brunk’s size and strength at the 5 will also allow Jackson-Davis to not worry about his lack of strength down low against Big Ten opponents.
Meanwhile, Jerome Hunter provides Archie Miller with some versatility. Hunter can realistically play the 2, 3, or 4 spots. This will be important as foul trouble will inevitably come into play with the big men. Hunter and junior Justin Smith will be relied on to play minutes at the 4 to relieve either Brunk or Jackson-Davis at times.
3. Can the Hoosiers find outside shooting?
Indiana’s offense was efficient enough inside the arc last year to remain respectable, ranking 69th nationally in two-point shooting percentage. However, they were awful at three-point shooting, to put it simply. The Hoosiers shot 31.2% from beyond the arc, which came in at 312th nationally.
The good news for the Hoosiers is that the two most efficient three-point shooters on the team last year return - Devonte Green and Al Durham. Also, the return of Jerome Hunter should be a welcome addition. Hunter’s catch-and-shoot ability should be huge to open up the paint for Brunk in the paint as well as allowing Jackson-Davis and Justin Smith to rim-run.