Indiana Basketball: Maui Invitational shows peaks and valleys for Hoosiers

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Indiana basketball had an up and down Maui Invitational.

There was a lot of focus on change in the offseason by Indiana basketball coaches and players. Talks of a new offense emphasizing faster pace and running in transition were rampant, and Rob. Phinisee, Armaan Franklin, and Race Thompson all supposedly took leaps in the offseason.

The Hoosiers looked convincing in their opener against Tennessee Tech but the real question was if it would transfer to better competition. The answer, as of now, is both yes and no.

The defense in all three games, even the stinker against Texas, was absolutely phenomenal. The Hoosiers played tremendous team defense, forcing turnovers and stops. Providence scored nine field goals in the first half against IU and had nine turnovers. In the game against Stanford, top-10 recruit Zaire Williams shot 1-10 from the field after scoring 19 against Alabama in the Cardinal’s first game of the tournament.

On one side of the coin, Indiana’s showings against Providence and Stanford were both tremendous offensively. The ball movement was much improved, the pace was faster, and the Hoosiers’ scoring column was higher as a result.

The Stanford game particularly stood out because the Hoosiers had a clear game plan established almost halfway through the game: pound the ball in the post. Many times in the past, they would have performed lazy plays to set up an entry to the post that provides almost no threat to the defense.

Against Stanford, Indiana swung the ball around the perimeter with great speed, drove to the rim at the right times, and as a result, the post was often open and Stanford couldn’t stop it. They played an offense that game with more creativity than maybe any other I have seen under Archie Miller.

What sticks out about the Providence game three days later is how good Race Thompson was. He finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds on 8-12 shooting. If you had to guess which player on the court was getting preseason national player of the year nominations and didn’t know any better, you would have answered Thompson.