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Youthful Hoosiers are getting it done

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For more on college basketball follow Pete DiPrimio on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

IU overcomes flaws, LIU Brooklyn

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 6:34 pm

BLOOMINGTON – So what do we make of Indiana?

Two games in and we know the Hoosiers are a shadow of their sweet-shooting, crisp-passing previous selves.

Is that reason for worry?

A cynic would say yes, but that misses the perspective that March execution rarely comes in mid-November.

IU sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell says no. He's on the inside, seeing the work being done and the youth that's doing it.

“I'm not concerned with it at all. This is just a growing process. These are shots that guys can knock down. In practice they knock them down all the time.

“Maybe it was just not our night. That's OK. We're going to get in the gym and get our shots up.”

IU (2-0) is mostly a freshman team, and as Kentucky found out last year with NIT misery, and then Tuesday night in a loss to Michigan State, even overwhelming talent doesn't always get it done when youth is a factor.

With six freshmen, IU must factor in youth with expectation.

Case in point: Tuesday night's 73-72 win over LIU Brooklyn.

“We're really trying to learn what it takes to have real success,” coach Tom Crean said. “Going through nights like this will help. It's invaluable to have a game where guys can get this kind of experience this early.”

Two games in and IU is just 8 for 34 from three-point range for the season. That's 23.5 percent. Last year the Hoosiers shot 40.3 percent beyond the arc.

“We'll get better as a team in shooting,” Crean said. “That will take some time.”

Two games in and we know the Hoosiers have 21 assists against 33 turnovers. There is zero chance that holds up against good teams that will punish with defense, size and athleticism as LIU Brooklyn and Chicago State could not.

“When you're playing as many young guys as we are, that's part of it,” Crean said. “They're going to make mistakes. But when the bodies are moving, the cutting is there and the screening and slipping are there, that's what they did a great job of.”

Two games in and we know the Hoosiers are tall, athletic and raw. Boy, are they raw.

They barely won Tuesday night despite facing a LIU Brooklyn team that was a shell of its NCAA tourney-making self, despite their Assembly Hall advantage and despite a huge edge in size and athleticism.

The offense rushed shots, baited by a packed-in LIU Brooklyn defense that dared it to shoot from the perimeter.

The Hoosiers dared, all right. They missed and missed until it looked a like a three-point ban was needed. They missed their final 16 three-pointers of the first half.

Still, IU won the winnable game. It won with crunch-time toughness and a big second-half dose of Will Sheehey.

Sheehey spent the first half in a shooting daze. He was 0 for 8 from the field, 0 for 6 from the three-point line. At that point, he was 0 for 7 from three-point range for the season.

Did that wreck his shooting confidence?

Did it cause Crean to shut him down?

Are you kidding?

Sheehey delivered.

He went 6 for 10 in the second half, 3 for 5 on three-pointers. He had 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.

He set a standard for the freshmen to follow, and they did.

“Down the road, this will be huge,” Crean said. “To have this happen in their second game will be paramount to their future. The bottom line is, they found a way to win.”

Chicago State and LIU Brooklyn are not the powerhouse teams that await in Big Ten play, or the offense-crushing Syracuse squad that looms at cavernous Carrier Dome in a couple of weeks.

The Hoosiers aren't ready for them now, but they may be when the time comes.

In the end, it's about doing what needs to be done. On Tuesday night, they did.

So what do we know about these Hoosiers?

For now, at least, flaws and all, they get it done.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Pete DiPrimio at pdiprimio@news-sentinel.com.