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OPINION: IU faces its first test with Florida State



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Senior Devonte Green scores against Louisiana State University in the first half of the game Nov. 25 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Green made three out of five three pointers. Anna Tiplick Buy Photos

So far this season, IU has been like that kid in your class that never shows up except for when there’s a class participation assignment. The Hoosiers show up and get credit, but it’s hard to tell if they have actually learned anything so far.

Well, now it’s time for the Hoosiers to take their first test when they play Florida State University on Tuesday.

Is IU 7-0 to start the season? Yes. Has the Hoosiers’ performances in those games inspired a lot of confidence? At times yes, but they have also scared the living daylights out of people at others.

Coming into this season, IU’s biggest question mark was thought to be its offense and who would be able to step up after the departures of Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan. Surprisingly, the offense has been one of the few consistent aspects of the Hoosiers game.

Senior guard Devonte Green has been as good as advertised in his new role as the go-to scorer for IU, but it’s been the supporting cast that’s been most impressive.

Freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis has better than many expected — even as Indiana Mr. Basketball — leading the Hoosiers in scoring with 15.6 points-per-game and 9.6 rebounds-per-game.

Junior forward Justin Smith seems to have finally made the jump IU fans have been waiting for. Smith has been able to use his size and athleticism to dominate on both sides of the court, it may have been against lesser opponents, but it’s still been impressive. He has also been able to stretch the court as he’s shooting 36.4% from beyond the arc.

In the backcourt, sophomore Rob Phinisee and junior Al Durham have been the rocks the Hoosiers have needed providing a calming presence both facilitating on offense and playing shutdown defense.

Defensively however, the Hoosiers have been suspect throughout their “gauntlet” of a non-conference schedule.

Indiana ranks 35th in adjusted defense according to KenPom. That ranking seems fine until you realize the best offense IU has played against was South Dakota State University, which ranks 67th in adjusted offense.

The worst offense IU has played is the University of North Alabama, which is the 302-ranked offense in the country. The same North Alabama that tore apart the Hoosiers defense with wide open threes and easy dribble-drives in the first half of that game.

But the honeymoon period is over for IU.

As FSU rolls into town, it marks the beginning of the schedule in which the Hoosiers must execute at a high level for 40 minutes.

IU won’t be able to play bully-ball anymore against its opponents and find success by just being bigger, stronger and flat out better than its opponents.

FSU already has two top-25 wins against the University of Florida and the University of Tennessee, and the Seminoles’ lone loss was an opening night ACC loss to the University of Pittsburgh.

FSU boasts one of the top defenses in the country — ranked-third according to KenPom — and will be a good indicator of how IU will fare against the stout defenses in the Big Ten this season.

IU opted to fill its nonconference schedule with cupcake matchups that allowed its young team to become familiar with each other and grow. Now it’s time to see if the Hoosiers can take that confidence boost and ace their first test.

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