Indiana Basketball: Three Players who must step up the rest of the way for the Hoosiers.

Indiana needs these three players to take their game to the next level

Indiana's Trey Galloway (32) shoots during the Indiana versus Minnesota men's basketball game at Assembly Hall.
Indiana's Trey Galloway (32) shoots during the Indiana versus Minnesota men's basketball game at Assembly Hall. / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY
facebooktwitterreddit

It is imperative that Indiana basketball has its best players step up as the second half of the season heats up. The Hoosiers are right in the thick of the Big Ten regular season race, looking to be a high seed in the tournament. In order for those things to happen, Indiana has to win on the road.

Indiana's best players have to play like stars in order to get that first road win. The away opponents won't get any easier with losses already to Nebraska and Rutgers. Indiana needs continued growth from its frontcourt, the strength of the team. The backcourt needs to cut down the turnovers, defend the perimeter better, and make open shots.

As a team, Indiana must hit its free throws. Also, they have yet to put together a complete game. Who needs to take their game to the next level? Here are three players who need to step up in the second half of the season.

Guard Trey Galloway

Galloway has proven to be the best guard on the team. He can get to the basket, he's the most consistent shooter of the guards, and he's the best passer. While head coach Mike Woodson needs Xavier Johnson, CJ Gunn, and Gabe Cupps to play better, Galloway has proven capable of taking over a game.

Galloway, however, has also shown an ability to be a non-factor in games. He needs to find where the greatest need is during a game. Galloway is a good defender, and if that is how he influences a game then he should do that. When the Hoosiers need him to make plays offensively, he should find a way to do so.

What they don't need from Galloway is to be a non-factor. He needs to let the game come to him and find his niche.

Mackenzie Mgbako
Minnesota v Indiana / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

Forward Mackenzie Mgbako

There isn't a Hoosier fan anywhere in the world who hopes that Mackenzie's Mgbako's 19-point, four-reboundMackenzie performance in their win against Minnesota is a sign of things to come. He was the highest-rated recruit to Indiana in a long time (Kel'el Ware transferred from Oregon), and he needs to begin to fulfill his potential consistently.

Mgbako needs to put it together on the road. He was ineffective against Rutgers and non-existent against Nebraska. What Mgbako needs to figure out is when to be assertive and when to defer. He seems too nice and needs to be more aggressive. Mgbako can get his shot when he wants, get to the basket, and score at all three levels.

With that much ability, there's no way he should have games with five or six shots. He took five shots against Ohio State and nine shots against Nebraska. That should not happen. Mgbako must find himself in Woodson's offense and begin to flourish. Also, he needs to take open shots when he has them instead of passing.

There have been times when Kel'el Ware was doubled and passed it to Mgbako with an open lane. Instead of driving the lane and either forcing the opposing team to collapse the paint or giving him the basket, he'll pass. Mgbako needs to assert himself and take it to the basket.

Indiana Basketball
Indiana's Malik Reneau (5) shoots during the Indiana versus Minnesota men's basketball game at Simon Skjot Assembly Hall. / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY

Forward Malik Reneau

This spot could have easily gone to center Kel'el Ware. However, if Reneau continues to play as well as he's played in his last five games, that will open up opportunities for Ware and Mgbako. There are few players in college basketball who have improved from last season more than Reneau. He's gotten bigger and developed his perimeter game, while not losing his ability to score in the paint.

The frontcourt is the strength of this team. As they showed against Minnesota, when the men in the paint are cooking, they are difficult to beat. Reneau's development as a jump shooter will force teams to decide if they will stay in a zone or play man. He has shown the ability to score at all three levels.

Reneau needs to play better on the road. He didn't play poorly against Nebraska and Rutgers, but he was not a difference-maker in either of those games. Reneau didn't shoot well against the Cornhuskers and turned the ball over four times.

Reneau didn't play poorly against Rutgers, but there were opportunities for him to be aggressive during the game. Once he puts it together at home and on the road, Reneau will be Indiana's go-to player.