Indiana Basketball: Three big questions about this year’s Hoosier squad

Indiana basketball, Joey Brunk, Rob Phinisee. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Indiana basketball, Joey Brunk, Rob Phinisee. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Jerome Hunter, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Armaan Franklin, indiana Basketball
Jerome Hunter, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Armaan Franklin, Indiana Basketball. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

More questions about Indiana Basketball

Who is the second option?

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Indiana’s best player is Trayce Jackson-Davis. Jackson-Davis has a chance to put up one of the most memorable individual seasons in recent memory for the Hoosiers.

However, Jackson-Davis’s sidekick position is currently vacant. Who will be the Robin on this team? Al Durham is a candidate, as are Race Thompson, Rob Phinisee, Joey Brunk, and even Jerome Hunter.

Players have praised Thompson and Phinisee for being vocal leaders this offseason, and there is the chance one of them could take the leap and become IU’s clear-cut second option.

If I had to bet money on a second-fiddle to Jackson-Davis, I’d pick Durham because of his experience and proven ability. Still, I’m not certain we will end this season saying Durham is the second-best player on the roster. A dark horse candidate for this spot is Hunter given his talent and improved confidence.

Someone needs to step up and be the second option. There are plenty of candidates, but the real guy for the job has yet to be determined.

Will the defense continue at a high level?

It’s hard to remember things about basketball from February and March, but before the season shut down, Indiana had begun to play tremendous defense. They had finally started to play the type of gritty defense that Archie Miller prioritizes in his coaching.

The downside to having more offensive firepower this season is that there is less defensive firepower. Justin Smith, for all his flaws, was a great defender when he was locked in. Smith is now gone, and it remains to be seen who can fill that void. Hunter has a lot of promise on defense but is inexperienced and undoubtedly a downgrade from Smith on that side of the ball.

If the Hoosiers can pick up where they left off on defense, then they have a good chance to finish in the top five of the Big Ten. If they regress, then they could be a middling team. We will have to see what team we get on the first game of the season because anything can be expected at this point.