It’s almost here! It’s almost here! College basketball season returns!
Indiana basketball is going to be good? A Big Ten favorite you say?
Is this 2022 or 1992? Where are we? What are we doing? Have you seen them shoot?
Well, temper ye expectations folks. The #13 Indiana Hoosiers basketball team enters the 2022-2023 basketball season as a national (and local) favorite to win the Big Ten crown. It won’t be without its challenges though as a mean schedule sets Indiana up to run through a gauntlet of talented teams and programs. What will the future hold for this blue blood program? Let’s dig through and see what’s going on.
2021-2022 was quite a wild rollercoaster ride for first year head Coach Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers. Starting the year off 6-0, Indiana lost to a subpar Syracuse squad in double overtime in the ACC/Big Ten challenge. That next week they’d lose to Wisconsin at the Kohl Center after blowing a 22 point lead. They ended 2021 with a 10-2 record and 1-1 in conference play.
To begin 2022, the Hoosiers again shot themselves in the foot with a 61-58 loss at Penn State. Then Indiana rolled off 6 of their next 8 Big Ten games beating Ohio State and Purdue in the process. Then came the February backslide where Indiana lose 5 in a row including a game at Northwestern, a Wisconsin game where they led with less than 4 minutes left, and an overtime loss at Ohio State. They’d mildly recover to finish the season 2-2 from that moment on including last second losses against Rutgers and Purdue. Overall, they were 18-12 and 9-11 in conference play.
Squarely out of the NCAA tournament, Indiana needed to make some magic in the Big Ten tournament in order to secure a ticket to the big dance. For once, they indeed performed that magic, beating Michigan in their opening round game, besting Illinois in a tight game, and then they got Iowa-ed with a last second 3 to lose in the semi-finals. That would be enough to send the 20-12 Hoosiers to the NCAA tournament with a play-in game bid. In the play-in game, Indiana bested Wyoming to earn the true 12 seed and earned a trip out west to play Saint Mary’s. After playing 4 games in 6 days, Indiana would collapse at the starting line of the tournament and got slaughtered by Saint Mary’s in the opening round 82-53.
Rob Phinisee – G -> Cincinnati
Kristian Lander – G -> Western Kentucky
Parker Stewart – G -> UT Martin
Michael Durr – C -> UCF
Indiana does lose a couple of key minute departures. Rob Phinisee and Parker Stewart are the two transfers that jump off the page from a production standpoint. Phinisee being the Layfayette-McCutcheon guard essentially led the Hoosiers in the win over Purdue this year. At various points in his Indiana career, Rob looked to be taking strides and cementing himself as a key contributor. However, he could not stay healthy and thus was derailed from contributing consistently. He also lacked a consistent outside shot to amount to anything.
Parker Stewart was a starter for most of last year. The UT Martin transfer (to and from) was hailed as a 3 point specialist but did not necessarily contribute in a way that jumped off the stats page. While he did shoot a consistent percentage, his volume was not large enough to make much of a difference in most games.
Losing these these two guards along with former 5 star guard Kristian Lander (Western Kentucky) will leave the guards cupboard bare. Ironically, the guard position was the place Indiana desperately requires help at. 7’0” center Michael Durr (UCF) also leaves but he didn’t play a ton and sat out numerous games last season.
Key Returning Players
Trayce Jackson-Davis – F/C – Jr
18.1 PPG | 8.1 REB | 2.3 BLK | 32.3 MIN
Race Thompson – F/C – R-Sr
11.1 PPG | 7.5 REB | 28.5 MIN
Xavier Johnson – G – SR
12.1 PPG | 5.1 AST | 3.8 REB | 2.6 TO | 38.3% 3PT% | 27.7 MIN
I’ve only put 3 players here on purpose. Argue all you want, this engine does not go without these 3 guys all playing together. Lose one and it’s possible the train stops on the tracks. Beginning with Xavier Johnson, XJ took massive strides forward last season and by the end of the year was an all-conference caliber guard. In fact, I believe it’s a disgrace for Wisconsin to be picked to finish 9th and yet have 2 players preseason all conference. XJ is better than Hepburn or Wahl and I might even take him over Jalen Pickett. Shooting a whopping 38% from 3 point range as a non-volume shooter is great from your playmaker. He also averaged 12 points a game last season. He plays hard and tough and is going to be hard to handle as long as he can stop speeding down Walnut.
Race Thompson is next on this 3 headed Ghidorah. Race has been around the block on this program. He consistently does the dirty work and is the single most underrated player in the conference. He took steps towards expanding his game to the 3 point line last season shooting 27% from 3 and averaging 11 points per game. He also hauled in 7.5 boards a game and just did a ton of dirty work from bodying forwards to taking charges and making great assists around the rim. He finished with authority and is just an overall tough nosed player.
Trayce Jackson-Davis rounds out this attack. The 4th year junior comes in as the preseason player of the year in the Big Ten by the writers. He averaged 18 points a game last season and collected 8 rebounds a game as well. There’s not a ton I’m going to say about Trayce that hasn’t been said already or by someone else, so I’ll just say he’s the major stat collector for this roster and is undisputedly the best player on the team.
New to the Roster
Jalen Hood-Schifino – G - Fr
Malik Reneau – F – Fr
We’ll turn to the new additions now. The two who are likely competing for minutes this season are Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik Reneau. Hood Schifino has been mentioned as the crown jewel of this recruiting class and is in the mix to replace Parker Stewart in the starting lineup. Both recruits come from prep powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida and were both 5 star recruits on various sites and services. I’m not going to speculate how much playing time these two will get or how well they’ll translate to the college game. I do expect both of these guys to make impacts at various points in the year.
The other two recruits for the period were CJ Gunn and Kaleb Banks. CJ Gunn is a 6’6” 3 point specialist guard out of Indianapolis (Lawrence North) and Kaleb Banks is a 6’7” wing out of Hampton, Georgia (Fayette County). I don’t expect much out of these two this season, but again I don’t know what Coach Woodson has planned for them.
Tamar Bates – G – So
3.9 PPG | 29.8% 3PT% | 14.5 MIN
Miller Kopp – F/G – Sr
6 PPG | 36.1 % 3PT% | 25.1 MIN
Trey Galloway – F/G – So
5.5 PPG | 21.3% 3PT% | 20.8 MIN
Jordan Geronimo – F – So
4.4 PPG | 31% 3PT% | 12.6 MIN
Logan Duncomb – C – So
.7 PPG | 9 GP | 2.2 MIN
This remaining crew will be discussed together because I’m not going to pretend I know who’s going to do what. Tamar Bates was a highly rated recruit Mike Woodson picked up after he got hired. After some family issues in the middle of the year, Tamar seemingly lost the momentum he was gaining and really wasn’t a factor all year despite getting a lot of good minutes. He’s a kid that could take a Keegan Murray step forward, but simply solidifying as a scoring threat would be ideal for him.
Miller Kopp also is someone who needs improvement from last year. While not bad statistically, Kopp just simply doesn’t shoot enough 3’s to be effective and lacks the courage to make big plays down the stretch (see missing free throws and his fight with Dave Portnoy). If anyone in the starting lineup from last year is on the bubble of 1st and 2nd team, it’s him.
Trey Galloway was a very large impact player last season. He affects the game defensively and made several great plays last year. He broke his wrist in the Gavitt Games and sat out around a month. His offensive skills need work and he is a terrible shooter. He makes great plays going towards the rim but presents no threat from deep, which is a problem for the Hoosiers.
Jordan Geronimo is just a freak of nature at forward. Perhaps undersized, he is very athletic and has a ton of upside. He still needs development but his shooting has come a long way and he’s very active on the boards. If he can morph into a stretch 4 or come up with the handles to play the 3, he could be a very dangerous player this season.
Logan Duncomb is the last member of this list of players I suspect can influence games. The 6’10” center from Cincinnati didn’t get much play last year only appearing in 9 games. The goal here is that he’s evolved enough to fill that Michael Durr role from last season and can give Indiana a hand in games where giants roam the floor (Purdue, lookin’ at you). Other than playing in those games, I do not look for him to contribute much more.
It is quite reasonable for anyone to expect the Hoosiers to win more than 12 Big Ten games this season and compete for a Big Ten title. I believe that the most games the Hoosiers can win in the Big Ten is 16 and the fewest is 12, which secures them a winning season in the Big Ten for the first time since 2016 (the longest active drought). Past that, I think they get 8-9 non-conference wins and finish the season between 22-26 wins. I also think that #13 rank is fool’s gold and that Indiana deserves to be in the lower twenties instead. In fact, I think all the B1G teams need shifted ten spot back. Anyways I don’t think that they’ll be in the conversation for national championship aspirations due to their shooting, but asking for a Sweet 16 appearance I don’t think is unreasonable. In fact, given the schedule it may be a bit unfair to peg them at anything above 14 conference wins but we’ll give Mike Woodson and his crew the benefit of the doubt because I’m writing this and I don’t care what you people think.
It’s quite unreasonable for anyone to think this team will be in a true national title contention position this season. Simply, the shooting is not there and the guard play is not there. They are a good team because of the strength of the inside, but you won’t win titles playing like it’s 2005. Also, anyone who thinks that this team will fall on its face and finish in the bottom of the Big Ten hasn’t been watching the active rosters of the other teams. Everyone but Indiana and perhaps Michigan a little got gutted in the offseason.
Also, anyone who thinks Indiana is going to win more than 16 conference games is a moron.
Anyone who thinks Indiana is going undefeated is a moron.
This is the best Indiana team since 2016, but I’d still take the 2016 team over this one. And if they aren’t as good as that team, you can bet there may be some bumps in the road this year.
From Our Writer’s Room
Kind of...: Indiana being B1G favorites is kind of like Wisconsin football being favored to win the West every year, but with even less recent precedent. Make sense as a default pick this year, but if we were having a draft, I wouldn’t pick them first, and I’d be hoping it was a snake draft and I got picks #2 and #3. That said, Indiana just looked better in several ways last year (though not necessarily at any point from February onward), and the league is pretty down this year. Indiana’s last title (2016) came in a similar year, so why not? More than most B1G teams, their nonconference really could set the tone. UNC, Arizona (neutral site) and @Kansas is ambitious. Any of those wins could help hold a good seed. But lose them all, and/or lose @Xavier, and they’re behind the eight ball right away. Honestly, I’ll be surprised if they finish any higher than 4th or if the get an NCAA seed higher than 6th. If that counts as a successful season, I’ll leave up to IU fans (so, I guess not).
HWAHSQB: I just don’t get it. Indiana is returning an experienced core that has finished 10th, 10th, and 9th in the B1G the last three years. TJD and Race and Xavier Johnson have made one NCAA tournament and failed to make it out of the first round. This team is the favorite? Hood Schifino is a real talent, but he’s not the shooter they need. A guard who can get into the lane is less valuable when TJD and Thompson are clogging things up down low. I just don’t see the three point shooting they need to space the floor. I know the B1G is down, but if I was in Kind of’s draft, I’m taking Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan all before Indiana for sure and I’d give OSU and Iowa a good hard look. I think Indiana is a middling team in a mediocre B1G, probably good enough to make the tourney, but certainly not going to make noise there.
Indiana begins this season with a bit of hype. Unfortunately that hype is mostly because the Big Ten is WIDE open this year and Indiana managed to hold on to the most talent. This team has massive deficiencies on offense that need addressed. AKA, they need to shoot the 3 better than they did last year...and the year before....and pretty much since before Archie Miller took over. If they’re able to work those kinks out, then they’ll be a consistent top 20 team this season. If not, they could very well be staring at a disappointing year full of “coulda been” and “shoulda been” moments while watching the second round of the tournament from the plane again.
Indiana begins their season on November 7th at home against Morehead State. Gametime is 7:00 PM EST.