At the midpoint of the college basketball season, the Indiana Hoosiers are going in the wrong direction. The Hoosiers’ 75-68 loss against the Wisconsin Badgers on Tuesday night marked the third straight loss for Indiana and fourth loss in six games.
However like I said, there is still a second half of the season to play and plenty of time for the Hoosiers to rebound from this slump and peak going into March. Here are three ways Indiana can improve during the rest of the season:
More De’Ron Davis: There was a five-minute span in the second half against Wisconsin when De’Ron Davis could not be stopped. Against Badger forwards Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes, Davis was unfazed as he was given the ball in the post on four of six possessions, scoring three times and splitting a pair of free throws on the fourth possession.
As we near midseason, Davis is now 100% healthy and is ready for more playing time. He doesn’t need to necessarily start every game with Thomas Bryant, even though the two have worked well together quite often. Davis has been brilliant offensively in the post on a limited basis, and having out on the court more may help draw defenses’ attention from the three-point line where the Hoosiers have shot just 32.8% (20 of 61) the last three games.
Avoid Live-Ball Turnovers: With the pace that Indiana plays, getting rid of turnovers altogether is going to be a tall order to fill. However, the Hoosiers can make their lives so much easier if they just limited live-ball turnovers.
The Hoosiers are capable of neutralizing their high turnover rate because their elite offensive rebounding creates enough second-chance shots to even it out. Yet it’s when a turnover is compounded by an easy basket by the opposition that it becomes too hard for the Hoosiers to overcome their mistakes. Nebraska, Louisville, and Wisconsin averaged 21 points off of turnovers during Indiana’s current losing streak. Cut that number in half and Indiana would have won two of those games.
Avoid Getting Into Big Holes: One reoccurring theme in all five of Indiana’s losses this season is that the Hoosiers have fallen behind by double-digits, causing them to exert all of their energy to even up the game again only to run out of gas near the end.
- Fort Wayne led by 10 with 16:04 left in the first half, and then led by 12 with 9:49 left in the second half
- Butler led by 14 at half and by as much as 16 with 19:23 left in the second half
- Nebraska led by 12 with 10:33 left in the first half
- Louisville led by 12 at half and by as much as 16 with 5:50 left in the second half
- Wisconsin opened the game on a 13-0 run and led by 14 with 16:09 left in the first half
Compare that to the North Carolina game, where Indiana never trailed at all during the game. Of course it’s unrealistic to expect that in every game so let’s compare it to the Kansas game:
The Jayhawks’ biggest lead was by nine points with 18:44 left in the second half. Over the next four minutes, the Hoosiers responded with a 14-5 run that tied the game up at 56. From there the lead changed 15 times and was tied another eight times before Indiana came out on top. The reason IU did come out on top was that they took a five point lead with 3:45 left in the second half and effectively flipped the script with Kansas having to claw its way back.
I’m not saying the Hoosiers are incapable of overcoming double-digit deficits. It’s just that the Hoosiers need to find out a way to avoid falling behind by so much, because it’s a lot easier to win a game when your sole focus doesn’t become trying to overcome a big deficit.