Indiana continues its non-conference schedule with another home game. This time hosting the Troy Trojans who are under new head coach Scott Cross. Indiana showed signs of improvement this week against the North Alabama Lions. Indiana still is young and needs to develop further into being a Tournament quality team, and fortunately there are more games before conference games starts next month.
Here’s how you can watch Indiana’s matchup against Troy and a quick scouting report.
How to Watch
|Who||Indiana Hoosiers vs. Troy Trojans|
|When||Saturday, November 16, 2019 / 8 PM ET|
|Where||Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall – Bloomington, Indiana|
|Tickets||Find the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek|
|Listen||IU Radio Network|
Getting to Know the Trojans
The Trojans are from the Division I Sun Belt Conference and have been members since 2005. They are under the leadership of first year head coach Scott Cross who previously coached in the Sun Belt Conference at UT-Arlington. Previous head coach, Phil Cunningham, was dismissed and is now an assistant coach at Western Kentucky after leading the Trojans to a 12-18 record last year with a 5-13 record in conference.
So far, Troy has taken a step back since last year where they were ranked No. 249 on Kenpom. Troy is currently ranked at 291 on Kenpom with an 0-2 record after losses to UAB and Chattanooga by a combined 7 points. The next matchup against the Hoosiers offers their toughest game to date for their team under their new head coach. Additionally, Scott Cross was named one of the top-five new hires according to CBBCentral.com and was named the 2017 SBC Coach of the Year.
Troy has rebuilding and rediscovering to do in this upcoming season. The majority of their offense last season has graduated including seniors Jordon Varnado, Alex Hicks, and BJ Miller. That trio accounted for over 47 points per game of production in conference play. Additionally, Javan Johnson, a sophomore, opted to transfer to Iowa State this off season. Currently, they are being led by junior Darian Adams with 16.0 ppg, 4.0 rebounds and 3 assists who also started in all 30 games last season.
In order to address the mass departure of graduates and transfers, they added three JUCO players on their roster JiTaurious Gordon, Khalyl Waters, and Nick Stampley. The most dangerous of the bunch is Gordon who has averaged 12.5 points thus far and 18.3 points last season for Eastern Florida State.
Troy has looked strong at times, especially early last game against Chattanooga, but they were unable to finish the game despite being up 12 at the half and leading 23-9 with 11:35 in the first half.
Despite their loss, they were able to out-rebound Chattanooga 47-37 and had great ball movement on their 17 assists for their 26 baskets. Arguably their biggest issue was their 6-19 free throw shooting which was their worst performance at home since December 15, 2005. Coach Cross acknowledged this deficiency post game and is surprised with the disappointing free throw shooting. He states it is likely due to feeling the pressure of the game and hopes to fix it as soon as possible. If the Trojans can fix some of their fundamentals, they could make a push for the Sun Belt Conference title.
The match up in Bloomington will be the first between the two programs. Troy has participated in two NCAA tournaments, but have lost in the First Round on both occasions. In 2003 they lost a South Region game to Xavier. Most recently in 2017, they lost to an East Region contest to Duke.
Of note, Indiana has faced head coach Scott Cross last season when he was the coach of UT Arlington. The Hoosiers hosted the Mavericks and won 78-64.
Projected Starting Lineups
|G: #12 Charles Norman||G: #1 Al Durham|
|G: #3 Darian Adams||G: #2 Armaan Franklin|
|G: #2 KJ Simon||F: #3 Justin Smith|
|F: #24 Nick Stampley||F: #4 Trayce Jackson-Davis|
|F: #10 Zay Williams||C: #50 Joey Brunk|
What To Watch For
1. Does the bench really exist for Indiana?
Coach Miller has wanted to focus on developing a deep team that is not reliant on a few key players and this team is starting to become that. Miller acknowledged post-game that with Devonte returning, they will have 11 players that they feel confident can compete.
Of note, the Hoosiers had all 10 players that touched the court play 13 or more minutes with a maximum of 29 from Al Durham. Five players reached double digit points on their win against North Alabama. This weekend, Troy would offer another great opportunity to test new lineups and to continue to develop their players prior to conference play.
An Indiana team that can confidently play any of their scholarship players will pay dividends later down the road. Sure, the Hoosiers may not be blowing out teams by 40 or 50 points like the current women’s team; however, players such as Armaan Franklin, Jerome Hunter, and Race Thompson are all getting valuable minutes that undoubtedly are going to prove to be useful once the injury bugs hit and when the team goes into conference play.
2. Finishing the games end-to-end
Despite the nearly 30 point victory over the Lions, the Hoosiers did not make it look easy early in the game. Their athleticism and depth made it difficult for the Lions to keep up late game but at one point, the Hoosiers only led 31-30 with six minutes left in the first half before pulling away.
This is not a major concern overall as Indiana could have put the foot on the gas earlier if they needed, but some early miscues allowed the Lions to stick around in the game too long for being a very mismatched game.
We asked this same question about the Hoosiers last season: Can Indiana find a way to start hot?
3. Establishing defensive pressure from the get-go
Coach Miller was not happy with the defensive performance last game. The Lions scored 7 times from 3-pt range in the first half on 10 attempts, but their second half performance was much better for the Hoosiers where Troy made 0-4 from 3-pt. Archie acknowledged this improvement, but state they need to continue to improve.
Troy could create similar problems especially from long range. Against Chattanooga, nearly half of their points came from 3s, but they did convert 38.5% of these attempts. A high-volume, shoot out approach to a vulnerable perimeter Hoosier defense may create problems if the Hoosiers don’t respond appropriately.
Indiana will need to play like they did in the second half against the Lions where they responded well to Archie’s concerns and fixed their defensive deficiencies. Of note, the Hoosiers created 22 turnovers and should continue to mount pressure on their opponents into poor passing and shooting decisions.
4. Getting the team used to winning
In Archie’s time at Indiana, he has yet to reach 4-0 with the Hoosiers. Previous seasons, Indiana has faced tougher early season opponents and lost (Arkansas, Seton Hall), but also they lost to easier, tune-up opponents (Indiana State 90-69).
As mentioned earlier, Archie appears to be developing a very deep roster that will create more consistency with their results and be less prone to success and failure based on injuries. Reaching a 4-0 or more mark will offer the Hoosiers a lot of confidence going into the remainder of the season.
5. Are free throws going to be this team’s modus operandi?
Shooting free throws would be important this season for a number of reasons. First, the Hoosiers still lack the overall shooting power relative to other teams. Second, the Hoosiers have added size, specifically in the paint.
Jackson-Davis heard loud and clear from Miller that he should expect trips to the free-throw line, given the way he handles the ball and his play style. This became evident last game against the Lions, where he took 15 free throws and converted 14 of them.
The team reached the stripe a total of 45 times and made 37 of the attempts for 82.2% percent. The 45 attempts was the most by Indiana since March 2017 and is a new identity for Archie’s team that has struggled in the past with responding from defensive pressure and free throws.
For the 2019-2020 Hoosiers, the most important metrics for this team may very well be free throw attempts and free throws converted.
Featured Photo: troytrojans.com