Indiana basketball could not be off to a better start. The Hoosiers blew out Mississippi Valley State in the season opener, 116-65. They followed that up with a 19-point win against Texas Southern, and they took out No. 22 Southern Methodist at home in a very close match-up. With this great start to the season, let’s take a look at some of the early trends.
James Balckmon Jr. has made a statement in his first games as a Hoosier. In his first three games, JBJ is averaging 23.3 PPG, shooting 57-percent from the field, 89-percent from the free-throw line, and 61-percent from three. His points-per-game average puts him at T-16th in the nation. He’s also third on the team in rebounds. If that’s not the best way to start your college career, I don’t know what is. Now it is going to be tough to maintain those numbers throughout the season, but if Indiana wants any chance to succeed this year, they’re going to ask a lot from Blackmon Jr.
Nick Zeisloft, the junior transfer out of Illinois State, has been more than what we can ask for. Due to the suspensions of Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, and Emmitt Holt, Zeisloft was thrust into the starting lineup, and he has played great. Although he is only playing 24 minutes a game he is making the most of it, averaging almost 11 PPG, while shooting 69-percent from the field and 61-percent from three. Over the course of the season, you could see Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson make their way into the starting lineup pushing Zeisloft to the bench, but should that happen, you can expect that he will be one of the first off the bench, igniting that spark for the Hoosiers.
You can’t forget about Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell. He hasn’t put up the eye-popping numbers of James Blackmon Jr. or Nick Zeisloft, but the Hoosiers don’t need him to do just that. We need him to just be the Yogi Ferrell that has played very efficiently his first two seasons in Bloomington, and he is doing just that. He is getting 16.0 PPG, just over 6.0 APG, while shooting 45% from the field and 43% from three. If JBJ wasn’t playing the way he is playing and Nick Zeisloft wasn’t shooting how he is shooting, Ferrell would be the talk of the team. But like I said, he doesn’t need to be Superman for Indiana. Yogi is a guy who can be atop the Big Ten in assists, and I don’t see why that shouldn’t be his goal. He is definitely going to maintain that scoring average throughout the season, but IU is going to need someone to pass the ball and guide the offense, and that is what Yogi Ferrell is going to continue to do.
As a whole, Indiana is playing spectacular. The Hoosiers are shooting 53-percent from the field and 46-percent from three while scoring 91 points-per-game. That puts them at T-16th in the nation in points-per-game, T-18th in 3-point percentage, and 24th in field goal percentage. Considering that there are over 200 teams in Division I, that’s not a bad place for the Hoosiers to be. Yes, it’s only three games into the season. Yes, two of the teams they have played are not so great. But don’t take that away from the Hoosiers. They are playing incredible basketball right now, and if they can maintain this pace throughout the non-conference schedule, there is no reason that Indiana shouldn’t get top-25 recognition.
Follow Griffin on Twitter @griff_berg