Indiana Basketball: Statistical Approach To IUBB’s Biggest Issues


Currently Indiana basketball finds itself at a crossroad in regards to the 2015-2016 campaign.  After the biggest win of the season over Iowa around a week ago, Indiana finds itself looking for answers again after a Valentine’s Day massacre in East Lansing.

While the Indiana offense ranks among the top 25 in the country, it still could use some adjustments to reduce turnovers.

Yogi Ferrell leads the Hoosiers playing 85% of the team’s minutes.  Second on the team is Troy Williams, who plays 63.1% of minutes. That drop off alone is a huge difference. But looking a bit deeper shows that Yogi is touching the ball on 24.7% of possessions. 28.5% of those possessions result in an assist (leading the team) while 18.3% of his touches end up being turnovers.  While you’d like turnovers to go down, Yogi is clearly the cog that makes the machine that is the Indiana offense go and in the grand scheme of things turnovers are going to happen no matter how good the players are.

Now looking at Troy, he plays 63% of minutes played and is being used 26.1% of the time. Simple math shows while being played less than Yogi he is still being used more relative to their minutes played. Basically Troy is the main ball handler when he is in the game which may be the Hoosiers biggest problem.  Of his possessions used, Troy Williams is turning the ball over 24% of the time, second on the team behind the slightly used Juwan Morgan. Troy is also third on the team in assist rate, assisting on 14% of his touches.  The startling part of this is that Troy is almost has an assist to turnover ratio of 2:3. Even if the ratio was flipped it still isn’t where you want one of your best players to be.

Indiana needs to address how it is using its players to maximize the team as a whole.  Any Indiana fan can tell you that when Troy Williams has the ball the instant response is “No,No,No,No,No…” and every now and then that ends with a “Yes”, mainly due to his out of control, fast paced style. Troy has won plenty of games for IU when playing at a high level, but when Indiana struggles you can for the most part look at the box score and notice Troy had a bad game.

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Troy Williams has the chance to be an incredible player at the college and pro level.  But at this time he still shows the inability to harness all of his energy while still playing at an effective level.  For this Indiana team to be successful, they need to use him for what he is. He is a dynamic cutting wing who can out run anyone in the country, and Indiana should get him looks off of screens and back door cuts. His shooting percentages are up, so getting him in situations to catch and shoot the three ball could prove to see a bump in his scoring along with an added threat on the outside, which should open up cutting, passing and driving lanes while making it easier to get the ball to Thomas Bryant in good positioning.

Reducing Williams’ touches will mean an increase for other players. The only player who should see a drastic increase in touches should be Yogi. It may seem that Yogi is already leading the team in touches, but whenever both Troy and Yogi are in the game it is Troy taking the ball up and making the first move for the offense. Odds are if you take every time Troy took the ball up to this point in the season and replaced it with Yogi, IU may have a better record and would likely be a more consistent offense.  The closest player IU has in regards to assist to turnover ratio of 1:1 ratio outside of Yogi Ferrell is Robert Johnson and more touches should equate to more assists per turnover even though the turnover rate would only be slightly reduced.

The classic mantra “less is more” applies perfectly to the usage of Troy Williams. He needs to be good for Indiana to be good, but in order for him to be good he needs to be playing more of a true wing as opposed to being used as a point forward.