Indiana Daily Student

Key takeaways from No. 13 Indiana men’s basketball exhibitions going into the regular season

Freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino shoots a three Nov. 3, 2022 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. The Hoosiers beat St Francis 104-59.
Freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino shoots a three Nov. 3, 2022 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. The Hoosiers beat St Francis 104-59.

The No. 13-ranked Indiana men’s basketball team will take on Morehead State University in its regular season opener Monday night, but head coach Mike Woodson’s squad already has two unofficial victories under its belt. With exhibition wins against Marian University and the University of Saint Francis, there are high expectations for this 2022-23 Hoosier roster. It can be tempting to draw unreasonable conclusions based on two blowouts, but there are still some important points to note from the preseason performances heading into the regular season play. 

Indiana’s freshmen are legit 

Should it really come as a shock that two top-25 high school prospects can compete at the collegiate level? Probably not, but Indiana basketball hasn’t seen a lot of young talent in recent years. Aside from the consistent performances of veteran forwards Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson, Freshmen guard Jalen Hood-Schifino and forward Malik Reneau have already breathed a newfound life into the Hoosier program. 

Reneau shined in his debut against Marian, rounding out the starting lineup in lieu of an injured Jackson-Davis. He scored 14 points and grabbed 11 boards in just 18 minutes of play and put up 15 and eight against Saint Francis. Reneau proved in both exhibitions that he’ll need to be double or triple teamed in order for opponents to put up an equal fight with the 6-feet 9-inches, 230 lbs body down low. 

Hood-Schifino took his turn in the spotlight against Saint Francis as well, scoring 15 points on 75% shooting while dishing out five assists. The freshman has already solidified himself as one of the team’s flashiest playmakers --- his pull-up mid-range jumpers and ability to thread the needle with his post players in the two-man game only strengthen Hood-Schifino's case to leave Bloomington for the NBA after a single season. 

Indiana’s defense was aggressive but scrambled 

In 2021-22, Indiana was one of the best defensive teams in both the Big Ten and the whole country. On Oct. 29 against Marian, the Hoosiers picked up right where they left off. 

The Eagles’ 42 points were surpassed by the Hoosiers’ 48 rebounds, 22 of which fell into the hands of Reneau and sophomore center Logan Duncomb en route to two double-doubles. With the return of Jackson-Davis on Nov. 3, Indiana totaled 12 blocks, and four different players swatted two each. 

While the stat sheets look good, that doesn’t mean the on-court execution always did. Many of Marian’s points came from 3-pointers as a result of miscommunications or faulty rotations by the Indiana defense. Against Saint Francis, graduate student guard Xavier Johnson got into foul trouble with four in 15 minutes of play, and Indiana’s overambitious block party led to 13 Cougar free throws. 

The athleticism and energy were right where they needed to be, but in order to succeed against top-25 opponents, Indiana will need to clean up its defensive act. 

The outcomes were a shock to no one

The Hoosiers won their first game 78-42 and their second 104-59. Jackson-Davis hushed any concerns behind his minor injury with a 19-point and 9-rebound performance in 21 minutes against the Cougars, including a few convincing dunks. Graduate students Thompson and guard Miller Kopp combined for an impressive 6-7 from beyond the 3-point line, and Indiana as a whole shot 58.5% from the field over the two exhibitions.  

Although Marian and Saint Francis weren’t Division-I opponents, Indiana’s matchup with Morehead State shouldn’t yield a much different outcome. The Eagles lost their top-three leading scorers from last season to graduation or the transfer portal after finishing third in the Ohio Valley Conference.  

Still, Morehead State was picked as the favorite to win the OVC this year, and senior guard Mark Freeman was selected to the preseason all-conference team. Indiana shouldn’t enter the contest expecting to win by 40-plus points, but compared to future nonconference foes like No. 1 University of North Carolina, No. 5 University of Kansas and No. 17 University of Arizona, Morehead State makes for a far less menacing opponent. 

The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and will be broadcast on BTN+. 

Follow reporters Evan Gerike (@EvanGerike) and Emma Pawlitz (@emmapawlitz) and columnist Bradley Hohulin (@BradleyHohulin) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season. 
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