Welcome to Stock Watch!
What is Stock Watch? Well, it’s fashioned after our weekly football postgame feature, Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down.
But there are only 12 games in a football regular season, and 31 in a basketball regular season. Our thumbs would come out of joint from all the flipping.
So instead, we’ll introduce this weekly feature on Indiana University basketball, Stock Watch. And I’ll attach my weekly Associated Press ballot to the bottom as well. Without further ado, our first Stock Watch of 2015-16:
• REBOUNDING: Eastern Illinois is hardly the toughest test Indiana will face on the boards, but a 51-17 rebounding edge — particularly since the Panthers shot just 17-of-50 from the field — is still impressive. So too is the fact that IU rebounded 63.6 percent of its misses, while posting a defensive rebounding percentage of .857, cleaning up at both ends. This was a team that had to be creative and disciplined about how it attacked the glass last year, just to avoid getting swept away. A replenished frontcourt is opening up new rebounding lanes and could make Indiana a tough team to beat on the boards.
• VERSATILITY: Customary fretting over the starting five has actually been absent early in the season, despite the fact that Tom Crean deployed two different lineups between his preseason games and the regular-season opener. In the exhibitions, Max Bielfeldt started for IU, while Collin Hartman took his place against Eastern Illinois. Robert Johnson might yet return to that rotation as well. It’s all credit to the versatility and adaptability a healthy Indiana will have this season. There are few lineups, if any, the Hoosiers don’t have the personnel to match.
• 3-POINT SHOOTING: Surprising to see, yes? Indiana shot just 33.3 percent (9-of-27) from behind the arc against the Panthers, and that’s after shooting just 35.6 percent in two exhibition games. That’s a far cry from the 40.6 percent the Hoosiers shot as a team last season, when they had to live from behind the 3-point line. Some of it is an offense still finding its legs, and you would back players like Nick Zeisloft (3-of-8 through two exhibitions and Eastern Illinois) and Hartman (0-of-5 in that same span), who has been injured, to come through. The Hoosiers will hope it’s just early season malaise.
• TURNOVERS: Ah, that old chestnut. Indiana substantially cut down on its turnover problems last season, only giving the ball away on 17.2 percent of possessions, the best number ever posted by a Crean-coached IU team. Eastern Illinois is just one game, but that number came in at 23.4 percent for the Hoosiers’ season opener. It will probably go down, and it needs to. Sloppiness with the ball will cancel out any good work done with that rebounding.
THIS WEEK’S AP BALLOT
Not much change here, beyond dropping Wisconsin and elevating Butler a few spots, because, I mean, 144 points. (Also, check out David Woods’ superb tie game in the video in that link. On. Point.)
1. UNC; 2. Kentucky; 3. Kansas.; 4. Maryland; 5. Virginia; 6. Duke; 7. Wichita State; 8. Iowa State; 9. Michigan State; 10. Indiana; 11. Villanova; 12. Gonzaga; 13. Oklahoma; 14. Arizona; 15. Baylor; 16. Cal; 17. Utah; 18. Notre Dame; 19. Cincinnati; 20. Vanderbilt; 21. Purdue; 22. Butler; 23. Oregon; 24. SMU; and 25. UConn.
Follow Star reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.