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Saturday, Feb. 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Indiana men’s basketball gears up for first conference clash against Maryland

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Heading into the 2023-24 season, Indiana men’s basketball was in a precarious spot. 

It lost two stars in Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino to the NBA along with a key cog in Race Thompson. The Hoosiers’ 5-1 start is nearly unblemished on the surface, but there have been glaring struggles in rebounding and defending the perimeter. 

Still, the team's resilience and penchant for late-game runs has been a particular bright spot in the eyes of head coach Mike Woodson.  

“That’s what’s been intriguing to me as a coach,” Woodson said Thursday morning. “We could have easily gone the other way. So that means a lot in terms of building a basketball team.” 

At 7 p.m. Friday night at Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers host Maryland (4-3) in their first conference matchup of the season. The Terrapins have endured some offensive woes this year, namely in a sluggish 40-point outing against Villanova University on Nov. 17. 

Here’s three things to look out for when Indiana and Maryland take the floor: 

Winning without the deep ball 

While 5-1, the Hoosiers have struggled to connect from beyond the arc. Through six games, Indiana is shooting just over 24% and making roughly three triples per game. Its opponents on the other hand have drained about 35% of their 3-pointers and converted nearly 10 an outing. 

The disparity is stark, but the Hoosiers have compensated with strong post scoring. Sophomore forwards Malik Reneau and Kel’el Ware have emerged as a reliable duo down low, with Ware leading the team in scoring with 17.7 points a game, and Reneau coming in just behind at 15.3. 

Ware notched 28 points on 12-13 shooting against Harvard University on Nov. 26, cementing himself as the team’s primary offensive option. Despite the lack of 3-point production, Woodson is content the team has found other ways to win. 

“Everybody puts so much on analytics,” Woodson said. “The bottom line is we’re sitting here with one loss, with some wins. Got a lot of work still on our hands. We hadn’t made the three-point shot, but we still are winning.” 

Like Indiana, Maryland struggles to effectively shoot the deep ball. The Terrapins have made a little over five triples a game at a 23.8% clip this season. However, senior guard Jahmir Young — the team’s leading scorer — and senior forward Donta Scott have had success from range. 

Young and Scott convert 34.1% and 34.5% of their threes, respectively, while boasting the two highest shooting volumes on the team. 

A familiar face 

Indiana will be greeted with a familiar face when Maryland senior forward Jordan Geronimo takes the floor. Geronimo — a former 4-star recruit out of high school — spent three seasons with the Hoosiers before transferring this offseason. 

The Newark, New Jersey, native was a consistent presence off the bench for Indiana. In the 2022-23 season, Geronimo averaged just over 4 points and two rebounds per game in 27 contests. 

Highly touted for his athleticism and energy, Geronimo was never able to fully establish himself as a reliable scoring option with Indiana. With the Terrapins this season, Geronimo has seen a slight uptick in usage. 

Geronimo has played at least 20 minutes in three games this season, and he’s posted double-digit points in the last two contests. Still, his efficiency has been lacking. Geronimo has shot 1-of-7 from beyond the arc this year and just over 65% from the charity stripe. 

Next man up” 

Against Harvard, senior point guard Xavier Johnson exited the first half with an ankle injury and didn’t return. The injury initially occurred against Wright State University on Nov. 16, and he was listed as questionable in the ensuing three contests. 

Johnson’s injury forced extended playing time for freshman guard Gape Cupps. Cupps played 21 minutes against the Crimson, scoring 2 points, hauling in three rebounds and dishing out three assists. 

With junior guard Trey Galloway and Cupps as the primary members of the backcourt, senior Anthony Leal came off the bench for his first action of the season. Leal totaled six minutes and brought considerable energy during his time on the floor. 

If Johnson can’t suit up against Maryland, Leal’s minutes will likely increase. Thursday morning, Woodson said he is still assessing Johnson’s status. 

“We’re still evaluating (Johnson) to see where he is,” Woodson said. “If he can’t play, it’s the next man up. That’s how it’s always been here.” 

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Press (@MattPress23) and columnist Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season.

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