Three Positives And Three Negatives From Indiana’s Overtime Loss At Wisconsin

No word better describes the Indiana Hoosiers’ 81-78 overtime loss to the Wisconsin Badgers than “complicated.”

How complicated? It was a game that the Hoosiers (17-4, 7-1) should have won but at the same time deserved to lose. It was a back-and-forth affair where every time it looked like the Hoosiers made one too many mistakes, the Badgers (12-9, 4-4)gave Indiana another chance. So should Hoosier fans feel positively or negatively about the Hoosiers overtime loss at the Kohl Center? Well the answer is actually both. Here are three positive takeaways and three negative takeaways from the Hoosiers’ first Big Ten loss:

The Positives

  1. For more than a decade, the Wisconsin Badgers have been the Indiana Hoosiers’ kryptonite. No matter how good the Hoosiers were during a specific season, they’ve always had trouble with the Badgers, especially in the Kohl Center where IU has now lost 14 straight. For Indiana to consistently erase every Badger lead and have a chance at the end of regulation to win shows that the Hoosiers are close to breaking this streak. It could come as early as next season.
  2. The fact Indiana was so close to winning is even more incredible when you look at the boxscore. The Hoosiers committed 19 turnovers, fouled the Badgers 31 times, and missed more than a handful of shots near the rim. It wasn’t until that 19th turnover with three seconds left in overtime that one of the mistakes finally sealed Indiana’s defeat. There’s a certain mental toughness needed to hold up for that long and it seems the Hoosiers have that.
  3. Even though Indiana lost, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell’s performance has to be one of the best so far during this Big Ten season. It will definitely be brought up when it comes to awards season. The numbers say a lot (30 points, 5 of 6 from three-point range, 7 rebounds, 2 steals), but they still don’t due him justice. On a night where Ferrell moved pass three all-time great Hoosiers on the career scoring list (Christian Watford, Kent Benson, and Damon Bailey), Ferrell played like an all-time great as he not only hit big shot after big shot, but he also completely shut down opposing guard Bronson Koenig, who was averaging 14 points per game on the season, holding him to 4 points on 1 of 9 shooting.

The Negatives

  1. As great as it was to see the Hoosiers overcome their mistakes, that doesn’t change the fact that Indiana committed way too many mistakes. Some of the turnovers were because of great Wisconsin defense but the majority of them could have been avoided, including quite a few unforced turnovers. Ferrell is likely to have more turnovers than his teammates because he is the team’s main ball-handler, but four turnovers is still a bit high. Then there was the five by Thomas Bryant and the three by Troy Williams. A lot of things have changed over the course of the season, but the one problem that is still the same is the tendency to commit a lot of turnovers and I don’t know if there is a real solution.
  2. The Hoosiers have done a magnificent job improving their defensive play over the last two months. There were some questions about whether or not the defensive improvement would hold when games got more competitive. For the most part the defense did fine, but there were definitely a few old habits that reappeared. Early in the first half, quite a few Badgers were able to find easy driving lanes and get good shots around the basket. You might not have noticed because during those early drives a Hoosier defender was able to recover quick enough to contest it. However later in the game, when fatigue started creeping, the Badgers found passing and driving lanes to the basket, but this time the common result was a Hoosier foul. It’s still an improvement over the matador defense from a few months ago but the Hoosiers still need to continue getting better.
  3. It’s weird to look at a team who just scored 78 points against Wisconsin and say that the team had trouble scoring, but IU’s beautiful ball movement offense was reduced to Ferrell running isolation plays with a little bit of Bryant added into the mix. Williams was reckless with his shot attempts, only making 4 of 14, and the bench couldn’t find one offensive contributor as they scored a total of 8 points. The Hoosiers need to get more scoring out of their bench, because when they don’t is when Indiana really feels the loss of James Blackmon Jr. the most.

Bryant Emerges As Indiana Takes Down Creighton

Going into the season there was hope among the Hoosier faithful that freshman center Thomas Bryant could create an impact on this Indiana team similar to how Cody Zeller impacted the 2012 Hoosiers. So far, things are looking bright.

Bryant had his best game of the season as he helped the Hoosiers blow by the Creighton Bluejays 86-65. Bryant finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks as his emotion on the court made Assembly Hall really rock for the first time during the 2015-2016 season.

“I’ve always had that passion in me ever since I started playing in grade school”, said Bryant about the passion he brings to the court. “I wasn’t the most talented player, so I had to do something to separate myself from others, and the passion, the will to drive, and the will to play was the difference and I’ve always kept it with me.”

Bryant’s passion was one of the biggest selling points for Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean when he recruited Bryant.

“You knew that he had infectious energy”, said Crean, “and the more you watch him you see that he really is infectious to his teammates.”

He certainty was as James Blackmon Jr. scored a team-high 19 points and had seven rebounds while Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell yet again flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

“I’m a laid-back-type of guy, but when I see him like that, that makes me want to bring more energy to the game”, said Blackmon Jr. about the effect of having Bryant with him on the court. “I feel like we’ve had (passion) from guys, but Thomas brings it on a whole other level.”

Indiana (3-0) also showed its passion on the defensive end as they shut down a powerful Creighton offense. The Bluejays came into this game averaging 98 points a game and shooting 39.7% (25 of 63) from three-point range. The Hoosiers held them to 65 points and just 16.7% (3 of 18) from deep.

Creighton (2-1) was led by Maurice Watson Jr. who finished with a game-high 21 points. However, the Bluejays’ two leading scorers Isaiah Zierden and Cole Huff (averaging 19.5 and 14.5 points respectively) were held to a combined eight points on just 3 of 12 shooting from the floor.

The Hoosiers now have to pack their bags and fly to Hawaii to take part in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Their first game will be Monday against Wake Forest at 5pm eastern, noon local time.

Stats From The Boxscore:

  • Thomas Bryant is shooting 80% from the floor this season. That’s crazy enough but did you know he hasn’t missed a two-point field this season? He is 15 of 15 on two-point field goals and 1 of 5 on three-point field goals.
  • Bryant set many career-highs against Creighton including points (17), assists (2), steals (1), and blocks (4).
  • Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell has scored double-digit points and has had more than five rebounds and assists every game so far this season. Here are his game logs:
    • Eastern Illinois: 13 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists
    • Austin Peay: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists
    • Creighton: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists
  • Ferrell’s nine rebounds against the Bluejays are a career-high.
  • Ferrell (1,429 points) also passed Ray Tolbert (1,427) for 19th on IU’s all-time scoring list. Next up on the list are Walt Bellamy (1,441) and D.J. White (1,447).
  • Both James Blackmon Jr. and Nick Zeisloft are shooting above 50% from three-point range this season. Blackmon Jr. is shooting 55% (11 of 20) while Zeisloft is shooting 64.3% (9 of 14).
  • The Bluejays were averaging 10 offensive rebounds per game heading into their matchup with Indiana. The Hoosiers didn’t allow a single offensive rebound in the first half and only allowed eight the whole game.
  • The Hoosiers scored 51 points in the first half against Creighton, marking the third consecutive half with 50+ points. Unfortunately the Hoosiers only had 35 points in the second half, thus ending the streak.

Hoosiers’ Second Half Shooting Streak Puts Away Governors

The Indiana Hoosiers made 15 straight shots in the second half as they pulled away with a 102-76 win over the Austin Peay Governors.

The Hoosiers only led 51-39 at half and saw their lead cut to 57-46 with 16:06 left in the second half. However, the Hoosiers caught fire as they made their next 15 shots. By the time James Blackmon Jr. had his layup attempt blocked by Kenny Jones, there was only 3:16 left in the game and Indiana was up 95-68.

Here is a rundown of those 15 made baskets:

  • Make #1 (15:30) – Max Bielfeldt’s missed three-pointer was the last missed shot by the Hoosiers before Indiana Coach Tom Crean started to empty the bench. It’s only appropriate that he also started the streak. Bielfeldt stole the ball right from Terrell Thompson and took it all the way to the basket for an easy layup.
  • Make #2 (14:37) – The next possession after a Governors turnover, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell made a layup.
  • Make #3 (13:28) – Sometimes Troy Williams can drive to the basket with reckless abandon and that’s what this play looked like before Williams adjusted mid-air and slammed home a reverse dunk.
  • Make #4 (12:58) – Blackmon Jr. got a steal and threw it up court to an open Williams who smashed another one through the rim.
  • Make #5 (12:06) – Making four layup/dunks in a row isn’t that impressive, but when you make four three-pointers in a row following those four layup/dunks, that is extremely impressive. Nick Zeisloft makes the first of those threes.
  • Make #6 (11:16) – Zeisloft also makes the second of those threes. It’s worth mentioning that prior to this he had to exit the game due to dislocating his finger. Seems he’s perfectly fine.
  • Make #7 (10:13) – Ferrell joins in on the fun as he adds a three of his own off of a Blackmon Jr. assist.
  • Make #8 (9:53) – Ferrell returns the favor as he sets up Blackmon Jr. for what would be his first made three-pointer of the streak.
  • Make #9 (9:16) – We’ve seen close range and deep range, so why not mid-range? Ferrell makes a jumper to extend the streak.
  • Make #10 (8:40) – Blackmon Jr. decides not to follow the pattern of four shots of the same type in a row and instead launches a three. It’s okay since he makes it.
  • Make #11 (8:16) – Blackmon Jr. dishes it out to Zeisloft who makes his fifth three-pointer of the night, three of which have come during this streak.
  • Make #12 (6:58) – Blackmon Jr. follows it up with his third made three during the streak. At this point everyone in the crowd is either aware of the streak or knows that something rare is happening.
  • Make #13 (6:27) – Thomas Bryant gets a nice pass from Williams that Bryant turns into an easy layup.
  • Make #14 (5:18) – This time Robert Johnson feeds the big man down low as Bryant makes another layup.
  • Make #15 (4:41) – A great pass from Blackmon Jr. leads to another Williams dunk, which would be the final make of the streak.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of 15 straight made shots,” said Coach Crean about the streak. “I know in the 2003 NCAA Tournament in the old RCA Dome my Marquette team made 10 straight in overtime against Missouri in the final 32, and I never thought I’d see that again. Different environment, different time of year, but 15 straight is still very impressive.”

Ferrell led the Hoosiers with 22 points and in the process passed Jimmy Rayl (1,401 points) and Kirk Hanston (1,406 points) to move into 20th place on IU’s all-time scoring list. He also led the team with nine assists and six rebounds.

Blackmon Jr. finished with 20 points and four assists. Zeisloft added 15 points while Williams added 14 points for the Hoosiers (2-0).

Austin Peay (0-2) was able to keep it close in the first half thanks to the fantastic play of Chris Horton. The senior forward finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks, leading the Governors in all four categories. Khalil Davis and John Murry added 16 and 14 points respectively.

The Hoosiers have one more test before they get to travel to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. They’ll face Creighton on Thursday at 7pm in Assembly Hall.

Stats From The Boxscore:

  • Troy Williams’ five assists were a career-high. He also added five rebounds, two steals, and a block.
  • Max Bielfeldt tied a career-high two steals in the Hoosiers previous game against the Panthers. This time he doubled his previous best as he caused four steals against the Governors.
  • Thomas Bryant made five of his six shot attempts making his shooting percentage for the season 90.0% (9 of 10).
  • Nick Zeisloft, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, and James Blackmon Jr. not only made a lot of threes, but they also did it by shooting effectively from deep. Zeisloft went 5 of 7, Ferrell went 4 of 5, and Blackmon Jr. went 4 of 6.
  • The Hoosiers made more three-pointers (16) than the Governors attempted (14).
  • Collin Hartman lost his starting spot to Bielfeldt but he still played very well, tying a career-high with three steals.
  • The Hoosiers and the Governors played a relatively clean game, only accumulating 30 combined fouls between the two teams. There were 48 combined fouls when Indiana played Eastern Illinois.
  • This is what happens when you make 15 shots in a row: Indiana shot 80.8% (21 of 26) from the floor in the second half, including 80.0% (8 of 10) from deep.

Indiana Shows Off Its Depth In Blowout Win Over The Panthers

Indiana’s offensive versatility was on full display as the Hoosiers beat the Eastern Illinois Panthers 88-49 to start off the school’s 116th basketball season with a win.

Six different Hoosiers, including two bench players, scored double-digit points as both the inside game and the outside game were clicking.

“We had a lot of guys play well,” said Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean after the game. “I saw very little let-up and we played a lot of different lineups, especially in the second half, and I was proud of our effort and really proud of their energy, proud of the way they have responded this week to getting better.”

James Blackmon Jr. led the Hoosiers with 17 points as he started the game hot hitting five of his seven first half shots. Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons, only scored 13 points on 12 shots but made up for it by grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out six assists. Troy Williams also added 12 points, eight rebounds, and two steals.

Freshman center Thomas Bryant showed that he was as good as advertised, falling one rebound short of a double-double (he had 11 points and nine rebounds). Bryant also made all four of his field goal attempts.

However, maybe the most impressive performance came from the Hoosiers’ second unit. The Indiana bench accounted for 35 points, including 12 from Robert Johnson and 11 from Max Bielfeldt. In addition to the points, Johnson added three assists while Bielfeldt added eight rebounds.

“I’m just pretty much keeping the same mind-set as I had when I was starting,” said Johnson, who started all but one game last year. “Just trying to come in the game and do whatever needs to be done to impact the game.”

Indiana (1-0) dominated in the post, outscoring the Panthers 42-20 in the paint as well as outrebounding them 51-17. Of those 51 rebounds, 21 of them came on the offensive end and led to 26 second chance points.

“It’s very disheartening for your team when you have guys trying to block out and get guys off the boards and you don’t get it done,” said Eastern Illinois Head Coach Jay Spoonhour. “It seemed like they scored on every second-chance opportunity.”

Eastern Illinois (0-1) was led in scoring by A.J. Riley, who had 13 points along with a team-high five rebounds. Trae Anderson also added 12 points for the Panthers.

The Hoosiers will get to relax the rest of the weekend as they will face their next test on Monday when the Austin Peay Governers come to Assembly Hall.

Stats From The Boxscore:

  • Ferrell extended his streak of consecutive games with a made three-pointer to 66 games. It is the longest such streak currently in the NCAA.
  • The five starters for the Hoosiers had exactly twice as many rebounds as the entire Panthers team (34-17).
  • The Hoosiers’ two big men (Bryant and Bielfeldt) made all seven of their field goal attempts and went 8 of 10 from the free throw line.
  • Bielfeldt tied a career-high with two steals.
  • Indiana actually had one more turnover than the Panthers (16-15), but the Hoosiers still scored more points off turnovers, scoring 25 to Eastern Illinois’ 18.
  • The Panthers hit four three-pointers over the course of the game, while the Hoosiers hit at least four three-pointers in each half.
  • O.G. Anunoby also had a great first game, scoring six points. He also led the Hoosiers in blocks (2) and tied for the most steals (2).
  • Nick Zeisloft didn’t score but he did have a perfect assist-to-turnover ratio. Ziesloft had three assists and zero turnovers in 18 minutes of play. He was one of three Hoosiers without a turnover in the the game and the only one who played more than five minutes.
  • Indiana held Eastern Illinois to 49 points, which marks the fewest points the Hoosiers have allowed in a season opener since 1988. That year Indiana held Illinois State to just 48 points.

Hoosiers In The NCAA: Ferrell’s Evolution at IU and Season Award Predictions

NOTE: After the success of Hoosiers In The NBA, I decided to take it one step further and cover the current Hoosiers wearing the candy stripe pants. Most of my posts regarding Hoosiers In The NCAA will be game recaps but I will have the occasional feature story. Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNCAA:


It’s funny how things come full circle.

Going into the 2012-2013 season, freshman point guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell came from Park Tudor to join an already loaded roster in Bloomington. The Indiana Hoosiers were returning four starters from the previous season, when they had made a surprise run to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. As one of the highest ranked high school point guards in the nation, Ferrell earned the fifth starting spot and thus became the starting point guard of the Hoosiers.

Given the talent around him, Ferrell’s role was relatively simple: help set up the other scorers. Ferrell did just that as he led the team with 4.1 assists per game. In addition to his passing, Ferrell proved to be a great scorer even on a roster filled with scorers. Ferrell managed to score 7.6 points a game and even on a few occasions, such as the Georgetown game that season, take over at the end and hit the big shot. The 2013 Hoosiers finished the season earning the school’s first outright Big Ten title since the days of Calbert Cheaney (back during the 1993 season).

Things drastically changed after that first season as Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls graduated while Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo declared for the NBA draft and were selected in the first five picks.

Over the next two seasons, the Hoosiers sported very young teams relying mostly on underclassmen. As the only returning starter during his sophomore season, Ferrell made the transition from a support role to a lead role and has never had to look back, averaging 17.3 points per game during his sophomore season and then going on to score 16.3 points per game during his junior season.

Now in his senior season, Ferrell finds himself on another loaded roster with many different players who can score the ball very well. However, that isn’t the only similarity between the two teams. For the first time since Ferrell’s freshman season, the Hoosiers also have a collection of talent from every grade level, instead of a team of underclassmen. In 2013, the Hoosiers started two seniors (Hulls and Watford), a junior (Oladipo), a sophomore (Zeller) and a freshman (Ferrell) for the majority of the season. Now as we enter this season, the Hoosiers boast starting-caliber players who are seniors (Ferrell), juniors (Troy Williams), sophomores (James Blackmon Jr.), and freshmen (Thomas Bryant).

However, the biggest difference is Ferrell. No longer is he the underclassmen whose job was to help the upperclassmen. He is now the upperclassman and the team leader. With career number such as 1,379 points, 438 assists, and 193 made threes, Ferrell has an opportunity this season to place his name near the top of Indiana’s record books. Not bad for a player whose first job was just pass the ball.


Award Predictions:

All-Big Ten Team:

  • Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell – 1st team
  • Troy Williams – 1st team
  • James Blackmon Jr. – 2nd team
  • Thomas Bryant – 3rd team

All-Big Ten Freshman Team:

  • Thomas Bryant – 1st team

All-American Tean:

  • Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell – 2nd team
  • Troy Williams – 3rd team

Freshmen All-American Team:

  • Thomas Bryant – 2nd team

Big Ten Individual Award Finalists:

(I don’t predict any Hoosier will win one of the individual awards this season so instead I’ll write down who I think have a chance at being a finalist for the award)

  • Big Ten Player of the Year – Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, Troy Williams
  • Big Ten Freshman of the Year – Thomas Bryant
  • Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year – Robert Johnson, Nick Zeisloft
  • Big Ten Coach of the Year – Tom Crean

Future Hoosiers In The NCAA: Indiana receives commit from De’Ron Davis

Just like how parents sometimes let their children open one gift on Christmas Eve, the Hoosiers received a gift on the eve of their season when top 50 recruit De’Ron Davis committed to Indiana. Davis is a 6-8 power forward from Overland High School in Aurora, Colorado and was deciding between Indiana and Mississippi State. Davis is the second four-star recruit for Indiana’s 2016 recruiting class, the other being shooting guard Curtis Jones out of Huntington Prep in Highland Springs, Virginia. The 2016 class also includes three-star Crown Point-native Grant Gelon, who plays shooting guard but is also capable of playing small forward.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Over-Analyzing A Small Sample Size

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA.

We’re not even a full week into the NBA season and there are already so many things I could write about. However, there will be plenty of time this season to discuss Victor Oladipo’s continued improvement and his role as a leader in Orlando, Eric Gordon’s hopeful resurgence, Noah Vonleh’s quest to improve in Portland, and Cody Zeller’s ever-changing role in Charlotte. Instead, since it is really early in the season and each players’ stats are based off of a very small sample size, let’s take a look at some of the more eye-opening stats and predict whether these will be continuing trends or just numbers from a random string of games.

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Golden State (L 111-95): 14 points (5-17 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 4 turnovers, personal foul, 33 minutes.

@ Portland (L 112-94): 20 points (6-13 FG)(5-7 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, turnover, personal foul, 41 minutes.

Vs Golden State (L 134-120): 9 points (3-11 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 5 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Last season it took until his 16th game for Gordon to score 20 or more points. This year Gordon scored 20 points in his second game of the season. Now it should be noted that last year was an anomaly as Gordon had the worst start to his career before turning things around after he came back from his shoulder injury. In addition, Gordon currently has a lot of offensive responsibility with Tyreke Evans currently out. So if I was to predict whether or not Gordon keeps up his current scoring pace (14.3 points a game) I would lean towards saying yes. In fact I see Gordon averaging between 15-16 points during Evans absence. Gordon has had a rough shooting start, hitting only 14 of his 41 shots (34.1%), but I look for that to improve, increasing his point totals. However when Evans returns I see Gordon averaging around 12-13 points a game like he did last season. Add both together and I think Gordon will end up keeping his 14 points a game trend.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Vs Washington (L 88-87): 17 points (7-20 FG)(2-2 FT), 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

Vs Oklahoma City (L 139-136 2OT): 21 points (8-27 FG)(2-2 FT), 13 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, block, 5 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 51 minutes.

@ Chicago (L 92-87): 13 points (5-13 FG)(1-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, personal foul, 39 minutes.

Oladipo had five double-digit rebounding games before coming into this season so I think it is safe to say that he won’t continue averaging nine rebounds a game. Of course, five to six is still a very realistic goal when you consider that the Magic don’t have a great rebounder outside of Nikola Vucevic. What I am more focused on is Oladipo’s very slow shooting start. Both Oladipo’s overall and three-point field goal percentage are the worse it has ever been after his first three games (33.3% FG and 25.0% 3FG). What’s even more concerning is that he has also taken the most shots he has ever taken in his first three games (60), which just compounds the issue. I know Oladipo has the ability to turn this around but I fear that if he doesn’t do it soon he may lose the lead scoring role in the offense that he has worked so hard to achieve. Head Coach Scott Skiles will still play Oladipo no matter what, but if Oladipo doesn’t turn his shooting around his 17.9 points a game last year might end up remaining his career-high.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Vs New Orleans (W 112-94): 2 points (1-4 FG), turnover, 2 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

@ Phoenix (L 110-92): 2 points (1-2 FG), 6 rebounds, assist, block, 2 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

Vs Phoenix (L 101-90): 0 points (0-1 FG), 4 rebounds, assist, 6 minutes.

Of all the Hoosiers, Vonleh’s stats are the hardest to decipher because there aren’t many to analyze. Despite playing a career-high 13.7 minutes per game, we are still seeing the same old stat totals we are accustomed to seeing (good rebounding numbers and nothing else). It is still very early and Vonleh is still trying to fit in with the Trail Blazers, who he has only been with for a couple of months, but it has been a slight disappointment to not see any clear improvement right away after such a promising summer-league performance. I think we will start seeing a noticeable improvement but it looks like it will take a little longer than expected.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Miami (L 104-94): 7 points (2-4 FG)(3-4 FT), 12 rebounds, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ Atlanta (L 97-94): 5 points (2-5 FG)(1-1 FT), 2 rebounds, steal, 3 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

Vs Atlanta (L 94-92): 6 points (3-6 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, block, turnover, 23 minutes.

Some of Zeller’s stats have been so up and down that they end up looking rather normal (for example Zeller had 12 rebounds in his first game and then had only 2 rebounds in his second game), but there are two stats that look rather interesting when you consider his expectations coming into this season. While he had quite a few steals in college (1.19 per game at IU), Zeller has never really generated them during his time in the NBA. Yet he has had steal in each of his first three games, marking only the third time in his NBA career he has had a steal in three consecutive games. Meanwhile Zeller went from being an improving passing big man to having only one assist in three games. Zeller’s role as first big man off the bench means that his stats are going to differ the most on a game-to-game basis in comparison to other former Hoosiers because his job for the team will change depending on the situation. However, with Zeller being the only above-average defender on the team with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out, the improvement in steals may be here to stay. As for the decrease in assists, I think that will balance out. He made too much progress last season in that area to revert back.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 14.3ppg, 3.3rpg, 3.0apg, 1.00spg, 1.7tpg, 2.3fpg, 34.1% FG, 33.3% 3FG, 81.8% FT, 32.7mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 17.0ppg, 9.0rpg, 5.7apg, 2.33spg, 1.33bpg, 2.0tpg, 2.7fpg, 33.3% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 83.3% FT, 42.0mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 1.3ppg, 3.3rpg, 0.7apg, 0.33bpg, 0.3tpg, 1.3fpg, 28.6% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 13.7mpg.

Cody Zeller: 6.0ppg, 6.3rpg, 0.3apg, 1.00spg, 0.33bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.7fpg, 46.7% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 80.0% FT, 23.3mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: How Noah Vonleh Fits In Portland

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course doing this is completely optional but is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:

Welcome to part 2 of the inaugural edition of Hoosiers In The NBA! If you missed part 1, which detailed how the 2015 NBA Draft affected teams that currently have former Hoosiers on the roster, you can click here to read about it. Unlike prior editions this one will be structured a little bit differently than usual as we are only focusing on one Hoosier, Noah Vonleh. These will take a more traditional column approach and will be announced ahead of time usually on my regular Monday column. Without further ado, let’s dive into Vonleh’s new situation and try gauge how it will work out:

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written Wednesday night so a couple of things have changed since then, such as some players having signed with other teams.)

Things in Portland are in flux. After two seasons of being legit title contenders in the brutal western conference, the Trail Blazers might be thinking that their window has closed at least for their current group of players. The trade that brought Vonleh to Portland, and sent Nicolas Batum to the Charlotte Hornets, was the first domino. Now with LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, and Arron Afflalo all free agents and all garnering interest from other teams, there is a real possibility that next season’s Blazers will be radically different from the team of the past two seasons.

Now could some or maybe all of them return to Rip City? Probably unlikely considering the moves the Blazers have or are on the verge of making. In addition to trading for Vonleh, the Blazers have also acquired Gerald Henderson (part of the same trade as Vonleh), Mason Plumlee and Pat Connaughton via trade. They’ve also already signed small forward Al-Farouq Aminu to a four-year $30 million contract. Add in the fact that Portland is close to giving their young and promising point guard Damian Lillard the max contract and it’s quite easy to see that the Blazers are looking to the future.

All of this sounds really promising for Vonleh, who is looking for a chance to bounce back after a lost rookie season. Vonleh spent most of last year sitting at the end of the bench, only getting to see the court if the game was a blowout. Hornets Coach Steve Clifford called Vonleh “too raw” to be on the court. Yet his most-developed skills (rebounding and three-point shooting) were so valuable that the Hornets had to have him on the roster when their big men started getting injured one after another. I know at times last season it sounded like I was criticizing the Hornets for their usage of Vonleh but the reality is they were forced due to unfortunate circumstances. If Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams, and Cody Zeller never got injured, Vonleh would have played 30 minutes a night in the NBA D-League getting valuable playing time and developing his in-game skills. Sometimes you’re drafted into the wrong situation and what you need is a do-over. Portland is Vonleh’s do-over.

What’s most exciting about Vonleh being a Blazer is him partnering up with Lillard in the pick-and-roll game. Lillard is an awesome pick-and-roll ball-handler, being able to drive and shoot threes at a high level. This versatility matches Vonleh’s, who has a decent post game and a developing jump shot. Lillard’s also able to accurately find the screener while drawing in two defenders, making Vonleh’s three-point attempts become uncontested or his layup attempts easy buckets. Vonleh could also form a good inside-out combo with Plumlee down on the block. One switch on the baseline and Vonleh has a slow-footed center trying to close out on three-point attempt or Plumlee can bully a smaller defender to the basket.

However, while the path to the starting power forward position looks clear now, there are many obstacles ahead and by the time the season starts we may see Vonleh as the backup. If there is one free agent from the four I listed that Portland really wants to return, it’s Aldridge. Not only do they want Aldridge back, they want to pair him with free agent Greg Monroe. Monroe visited the Blazers Wednesday and by all accounts the meeting went well. General Manager Neil Olshey’s plan seems to be a front court of Monroe and Aldridge with Plumlee and Vonleh as their respective backups. Honestly, if Vonleh has to play backup this season it might be for the best. Vonleh will be just 20 years-old by the start of the season, and getting to learn behind Aldridge and/or Monroe could be called a best-case scenario.

The problem is the potential logjam in the front court if this happens, particularly Meyers Leonard. Leonard, who will be entering his fourth year removed from Illinois, is also a former lottery pick who has slowly developed his game and has become a serviceable backup big man. Fairly similar to the situation in Charlotte when Clifford had to decide between Vonleh and Zeller, Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts will potentially have to decide between Vonleh’s upside and Lenoard’s stableness.

Overall I think being traded to Portland was really good for Vonleh. Sure there may be potential obstacles but Vonleh will love playing under Stotts, who loves to have his players constantly moving around. Add in the fact that he and Lillard make an excellent pick-and-roll combo and the sky is the limit for Vonleh as he is now in a situation that can showcase his true talent.