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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

OPINION: IU men's basketball finally shooting competently is huge, no matter who it’s against

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Truly, there’s nothing quite like an early season matchup with a severely outmatched team to shake off rust. 

There was little doubt whether IU would win prior to its 87-52 drubbing of the University of North Alabama, but its path to victory was uncertain.

Of all the ways the Hoosiers could have beaten the Lions, racking up 39 points off 3-pointers was hardly in the conversation as a favorite. . 

Between No. 13 University of Texas and No. 20 Florida State University, IU has faced no shortage of top-flight competition. However, no adversary has tested the Hoosiers as much as their own offense.  

Instead of dribbling aimlessly until sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis broke free, IU actually dabbled with passing to find open looks. Sure, not every shot fell, but evolution takes time.

Much like the theoretical monkey at a typewriter who eventually writes "Hamlet" by accident, the Hoosiers will inevitably stumble into becoming a consistent offense if they keep moving the ball and taking clean shots.

Freshman guard Trey Galloway sparked IU’s offense in the first half, attacking the paint and refusing to settle when he had an opportunity to score. Galloway finished with 11 points, while fellow freshman guard Khristian Lander sank a pair of 3-pointers and tallied 10 points total. 

One growing pain the Hoosiers experienced trying to spread the floor was turnovers, of which IU committed 18. There were only five purple jerseys on the court at a given moment, but at least one of them seemed to always be in the Hoosiers’ passing lane. 

I may never fully understand the disparity in discipline between IU’s turnover-prone offense and its defense which seldom commits an unforced error or foolish penalty. Not since having unexpected substitute teachers in high school have I seen a group of young people go from intently focused to completely lawless so quickly. 

In my time at IU, I’ve become keenly familiar with the sound the rims at Assembly Hall make when a long-range shot clangs off one of them. Today, I was serenaded with the pleasant tones of leather swishing through cotton and nylon. 

The Hoosiers shot 13-33 from beyond the arc, five of which came courtesy of sophomore guard Armaan Franklin, who logged a career-high 19 points with five assists and three steals.

Franklin has averaged just shy of nine points each contest, but emerging as a clear costar for Jackson-Davis is a key step for IU. More importantly, a reliable outside shooter would give teeth to a Hoosier offense that has essentially had to bite its opponents with nothing but its gums.  

Meanwhile, Jackson-Davis contributed 15 points thanks in no small part to his frequent visits to the charity stripe. Jackson-Davis doesn’t have to count on free throws to put up impressive numbers, but if he ever wants to chase school scoring records he might consider enrolling in a drama class to sell fouls. 

Defensively, the Hoosiers didn’t let off the gas pedal, netting 10 steals and seven blocks while holding the Lions to 33% shooting. 

Say what you will about the myriad frustrations that come with watching IU basketball, but it’s often worth it simply to see Jackson-Davis swat the ball into the bleachers. 

Obviously, Big Ten opponents won’t afford IU nearly as many open shots or flounder on offense simply because the Hoosiers are bigger and stronger. Nevertheless, a win like this is reason for optimism in Bloomington. 

IU’s schedule only gets tougher from here on out, but the hoop doesn’t get any smaller. As for today, the rim welcomed the Hoosiers back home to Assembly Hall with its steel arms wide open.

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