We know it’s early and that Indiana has a long way to go to prove its basketball struggles are over.
But the Hoosiers’ 2-0 start got an added boost when the Big Ten honored Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. Oladipo was Big Ten player of the week. Zeller was conference freshman of the week.
Yeah, it’s a big deal.
All Oladipo did was average 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, shoot 72.2 percent and leap over tall buildings in a single bound.
Okay, it only seemed that way given the way Oladipo elevated on some of the dunks he delivered against Stony Brook and Chattanooga.
But the sophomore guard is WAY more than a guy who jams. He plays the kind of defense that canwin championships, and that has benefited his scoring.
Last season as a freshman he averaged 7.6 points and 3.8 rebounds. Coach Tom Crean has praised Oladipo’s work ethic .
It’s paying off.
“His defensive presence is creating all the offense,” Crean said. “He’s worked very hard on his offensive game. There’s no question about that. He’s one of the absolute most diligent, time-spent-in-gym guys I’ve ever been around in my coaching life. But his defense has created that offense.
“He’s scored 37 points in these first two games while guarding the other team’s first- or second-best player every minute,” Crean said. “He’s getting to the foul line. And you see his first step. When he gets it right, he’s hard to contain.
“But it starts with his defense.”
Zeller has lived up to the early hype. He averaged 11.5 points , 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in the two victories. But it’s his poise and awareness that has made the biggest impact on the Hoosiers. He draws double teams that opens the court for his teammates.
“That’s how we got open buckets, how Jordan (Hulls) got easy threes and I got layups and dunks,” Oladipo said after the Chattanooga win. “There’s a reason why we recruited him. I’m glad he’s here.”
Basketball life will get tougher, starting Wednesday at Evansville. A Crean-coached IU team has only won one true road game, and that was two years ago at Penn State. It’s won just twice away from Assembly Hall. But this is a new team with new potential.
History will not repeat itself. On Wednesday, the Hoosiers get a chance to prove it.
Daniel Moore has busted his behind for what seems forever for little playing time. There’s a reason, of course. Other guys are better. The 5-10, 165-pound senior guard from Carmel would have thrived at a smaller school, but that wasn’t what his heart told him to do. He wanted to be a Hoosier, so he walked on for the opportunity.
Chattanooga provided the chance for him to thrive, and he did. He hustled his way to four rebounds and a steal in 13 minutes.
And for those into trivia, in the time he’s played this season, IU has outscored its opponents 42-13.
Does that mean Moore should start over Jordan Hulls?
Are you nuts?
It does mean he’s making a contribution and that somebody doing stats has a lot of free time on his/her hands.
“My main role it to try to provide a spark off the bench,” he said. “Hopefully I can get a couple of steals and deflections, do what I can on the defensive side.”
For the record, Moore averages 44.9 percent from the field, 34.6 percent from three-point range and 71.8 percent from the line for his career. He also has 107 assists against 93 turnovers.
Yeah. He can provide a spark.