I’ve been waiting to write this column.
I wanted to wait until I saw it against a half-decent opponent.
On Thursday night, in an 86-65 win against Creighton, I saw how this IU offense could be one to remember. It has the potential to be special.
Maybe the nail-in-the-coffin moment came when freshman center Thomas Bryant hit a 3-pointer.
I spent most of last season as the Indiana Daily Student sports editor. Much of what I saw from IU last year was on newsroom computer screens and through box scores. It was one of the best offenses in the nation, but I couldn’t quite sit here and tell everyone about it.
On Thursday night and in the games before it, the offense had moments of near invincibility. Like the stretch of 15 consecutive made field goals against Austin Peay, IU has stretches of time where you assume even the silliest Troy Williams layup or the most absurd Yogi Ferrell fadeaway is going in.
Then again, what makes the offense so beautiful is it is rarely forced to take such difficult shots. The weapons in the arsenal are endless, and the spacing never ends.
“I just feel like everybody on our team can bring scoring, shooting,” sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. said. “I don’t think there’s one guy on our team who can’t shoot.”
There’s Ferrell, a senior, running the show and having the ability to pull up or drive inside as well as any point guard in the nation.
There’s the guard trio of senior Nick Zeisloft and sophomores Blackmon and Rob Johnson that provides plenty of skills as well as the shooting range which most teams would envy. Johnson is likely the fourth-best shooter on this team, and he would probably be starting at shooting guard on the majority of other Big Ten teams.
Williams, a junior forward, is one of the more explosive wings in the nation and is having success lately with back door cuts that result in riveting dunks. He absolutely needs to work on decision making and controlling the ball, but this offense excels the most when he plays off the ball.
All of these pieces were here last year, though.
Maybe the most important addition to the offense was Bryant. He is the most commanding and skilled IU post player since Cody Zeller. His range of moves down low is the icing on the cake, but it is his general size and presence that helps open things up for the skilled offensive players surrounding him.
Oh, and he made that 3-pointer.
Senior forward Max Bielfeldt might be the last weapon on the offensive totem pole in the top eight players in the rotation. That’s a solid last weapon. He attempts 3-pointers and isn’t far from making more of them. He had a fluid post turnaround jumper that went in without touching the rim.
These guys also seem to feed off each other, as seen by Monday’s 15-shot streak. For example, Bryant doesn’t just ignite the crowd. Blackmon, who described himself as a laid back guy, said he gets more energy when Bryant’s passion takes over.
The team isn’t perfect. There could be moments in Maui next week when fans will want to pull their hair out at the defensive issues. The turnovers were under control in the first half, but the problem reemerged with 13 in the second half.
But, man, this offense could be a work of art. All of the foundational pieces return from last year. It adds big men that make it more complete.
It’s going to be fun.