Indiana couldn’t have asked for a better start to its season as it escaped Xavier with a big-time road win on Friday, then blew out Miami (Ohio) on Sunday night. The pair of wins in only a three-day span helped keep the Hoosiers’ undefeated 4-0 record intact.
While there isn’t a ton to learn from Indiana’s 86-56 win over the Redhawks at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, it showed that Mike Woodson’s Squad is capable of Bouncing back after in a short time-frame after an emotional road win. More importantly, star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis’ early run of dominance continued, while freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino continued to work through some struggles, which was amplified a bit more as junior guard Trey Galloway was unavailable to play due to injury.
With that, here are four takeaways from Indiana’s big second week, capped off with its 30-point win over Miami (Ohio).
Trayce Jackson-Davis looks as dominant as ever
A Consensus preseason All-American was always going to have plenty of hype surrounding him this season, but what senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis has done over the first four games can be summed up in one word: Dominant.
Jackson-Davis has seemingly taken his game to another level this season, and Friday’s win at Xavier was a prime example of his evolving skillset. Jackson-Davis played nearly the entire game, logging 37 minutes and finishing with a game-high 30 points, six rebounds and three blocks. He also shot 13-of-16 from the field against one of the better frontcourts in the Nation — Xavier’s Zach Freemantle and Jack Nunge.
One of the reasons for Jackson-Davis’ early success is his improved ability to work out of double teams and traps. Of course, whenever the 6-foot-9 rim-runner is on the court, opposing defenses are quick to focus on him, especially with traps. This season, however, Jackson-Davis has shown a high-level ability to stay composed and find an open teammate when those double teams do come his way.
“I feel like, because he’s such a willing passer, it’s pretty easy for him to make reads out of those traps,” Tamar Bates said. “And for him, having guys who can shoot the ball and make shots, I mean, he trusts us to obviously pass it, and obviously, if he reposts, we’ll get it back to him. But he does a great job of finding us when we’re open.
“We’re fortunate to have him down there just because he brings so much attention to himself. So, he’s executing at a high level right now, and that’s what we expect, especially from him being in our senior leader. So, he’s doing a great job of playing out of double teams.”
Despite the added attention sent Jackson-Davis’ way, Indiana’s use of him is Noticeably different this year, too. While in past seasons Jackson-Davis was mostly used as a back-to-the-basket scorer, this season, he’s had more freedom to face-up and use his quickness to get past post defenders. Against Xavier, much of Jackson-Davis’ production came from face-up moves, even out to the 3-point line.
At this point, at least what we’ve seen from opponents trying to defend Jackson-Davis this season, there may not be any simple answer to slowing down the potential Big Ten Player of the Year. And if he continues to show good court vision and passing ability, that is a daunting matchup for most teams against Indiana.
“He’s had enough opportunities at it, and it’s something that we go over every day, based on where we think teams are going to trap him,” Woodson said. “Tonight, or the last two games, [the traps] came from the big or big to big. And he’s starting to figure it out and get the ball into the right areas where we can play offense. I mean, it comes out when he’s doubled, and sometimes he’s able to beat the double team with his Offensive play.
“So he’s playing pretty good right now for us. We got to keep him playing at the high level.”
Jalen Hood-Schifino working through early struggles
Plenty of expectations engulfed freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino this preseason, but so far, he’s had to battle through some early-season shooting struggles.
Following a tough shooting night against Xavier in which Hood-Schifino shot just 1-of-9 from the field, he attempted to break that slump against Miami with a 5-of-12 shooting performance. While neither of those shooting marks are overly impressive, it shows Hood-Schifino’s willingness to continue shooting even if his shots aren’t falling at a high rate.
Hood-Schifino isn’t necessarily a volume scorer at his core, but many of the shots he’s attempted — and missed — have been open looks or within the flow of the offense. So it’s not as if Hood-Schifino isn’t putting himself in good spots to score, just that his shots aren’t falling right now, a struggle he’ll have to work through in the coming days.
“I mean, he puts the work in. It’s one of those things where it may not — we’ve all been through it as players — you put the work in, and sometimes it doesn’t show right when you want it to,” Miller Kopp said. “… It’s going to come, and the dude works his butt off. So don’t worry about that.”
But shooting and scoring isn’t Hood-Schifino’s only impact on the floor, which makes his recent shooting struggles a bit easier to overlook. Not only is he one of Indiana’s lead ball-handlers — he leads IU with 18 total assists — he’s also often tasked with running Indiana’s second unit and heading the defensive charge.
So while Hood-Schifino might not be the dynamic scorer that some might’ve expected early on, his impact in other areas remains a major boost for the Hoosiers.
“Jalen, he was 5-for-12 (shooting from the field), I mean, I don’t think that’s too bad. He made some shots tonight, had good looks,” Woodson said. “It’s just the other things that he does on the floor on defense, he rebounds, he assists, he runs our ballclub. So, and he’s a freshman. So I’m not concerned about the shot-making. We scored 80 points tonight or 80-some points. We’re averaging 90 points. So I mean, again, Jalen will be there when it counts. He’s capable of making big shots, so that’s not a big concern.”
Short turnaround preparing IU for tournament-like schedule
If there was any concern that Indiana might suffer a hangover from its gusty win at Xavier, Sunday’s blowout win over Miami certainly quelled those notions. Although the Hoosiers took several minutes to settle into the game and assert their dominance, IU eventually found its groove and made relatively easy work out of the Redhawks.
The short turnaround for Indiana isn’t a coincidence, though, as the Hoosiers will have several more games with few off-days in between this season, including this week when Indiana plays on Wednesday and Friday. The way Indiana’s schedule is set up, according to Woodson, is strategic and supposed to simulate a tournament-like slate.
“It’s good because the preparation is huge,” Kopp said. “The short turnaround is — you see it in the NCAA tournament, you see the Big Ten tournament, so it’s good to have it now kind of early in the season, even for the young guys to experience that. And the importance of locking in and having a good game, like against Xavier, then coming back, learning from it, moving on, then coming into a new game, it’s big.”
For Sunday being Indiana’s first experience this season at a short turnaround, Woodson said he was pleased with how the Hoosiers responded.
“Well, I thought it was a great job on our part in handling the short, short days to get prepared for this game,” Woodson said. “The way the schedule is set up, it’s set up like playing in a tournament, which I think is good for us. Every two, three days we’re playing a ball game. We’ll get a break here and there, but , hey, that’s what the schedule is, man. And I’ve just got to get these guys up and ready to play each and every time we step out on the floor.”
Trey Galloway injury update
Indiana junior guard Trey Galloway was not available to play Sunday against Miami due to an apparent injury, which was later confirmed by Woodson after the game.
“We didn’t play Gallo tonight. He got banged up in the game before or he would have been in the rotation,” Woodson said.
Galloway played a key role in Indiana’s road win over Xavier on Friday night, logging 22 minutes off the bench and tallying four assists. It didn’t appear that Galloway was injured at any specific point in the game, but it’s possible he played through the injury until he was able to be evaluated after the game.
The positive news is that although Galloway was in street clothes against Miami, he appeared to be walking around fine without any obvious signs of an injury. Woodson further backed up the encouraging outlook during his postgame press conference.
“As far as Gallo, he’s just banged up, twisted his knee the other night at Xavier,” Woodson added. “And we’re just being cautious to make sure he’s okay.”
So it appears Galloway should be back on the court in short order, assuming the injury doesn’t flare up in the coming days. Obviously, Galloway is a key part of Indiana’s bench unit and backcourt depth, and with the North Carolina game Looming in less than 10 days, Galloway’s availability will be crucial.