Men's Basketball

Q&A with Hoosiers beat writer Robby Howard of Indiana Daily Student

No. 4 Syracuse hosts Indiana in a Sweet 16 rematch on Tuesday night. The Daily Orange spoke with Robby Howard, the sports editor at the Indiana Daily Student about the game.

The Daily Orange: How has Indiana coped with the losses of Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford?

Robby Howard: Well, IU brought in a big freshman class, headlined by 6-foot-10 Noah Vonleh. Vonleh’s had a tremendous impact for the Hoosiers this season down low. He’s sort of replaced Cody Zeller as IU’s dominant post presence. He’s a monster rebounder. That’s the biggest part of his game. He can really, really rebound the basketball both offensively and defensively. If you don’t get a body on him he will hurt you.

The other big guy in the freshman class for IU is Troy Williams, who I personally think has the potential to be more athletic than Victor Oladipo. He’s 6-foot-7, and just has off the charts athletic ability. We see him attack the rim time and time again. His biggest area that he needs to improve on is shooting. He’s not a very good outside shooter and is still very inconsistent with handling the basketball. He’s made some plays this year that make you go ‘wow.’

The D.O.: How do you think Yogi has embraced the role of being a leader and stepped up as the main option?

R.H.: I think he definitely understands that he has the keys to this team now, that this is his team, essentially, along with Will Sheehey. We’ve really seen him step up as a scorer this year. He dropped 25 and 26 in back-to-back games, so he’s really stepped up his scoring ability. It’s not like this is coming out of nowhere. If you look at him as a high school player he had phenomenal scoring numbers. It’s just not what his job was last year. He had Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford and all those guys that are playing professional basketball now. He didn’t need to score the basketball; he just needed to distribute the basketball. This year, he’s embraced the role of a scorer and he’s really, really stepped up when he’s needed to. I think he’s handling it very well.

The D.O.: How’s the Indiana bench?

R.H.: Since it is a young team, it’s a young bench, but it is a really deep bench. You look at it right now, Stanford Robinson is coming off the bench. He’s a 6-foot-4 guard, who is another guy who has great athleticism for the Hoosiers. Collin Hartman has been used pretty effectively off the bench. He’s another freshman, and a guy who they want to be more of a sharpshooter, but he’s added a lot in terms of his hustle and energy, and stuff like that. Evan Gordon, who obviously has a lot of name recognition around here, because he’s Eric Gordon’s younger brother. He has brought more of a perimeter threat, a shooter and another slasher. Another guy, Hanner Mosquera- Perea, he’s 6-foot-9 and comes in at forward. He has a lot of, a lot of athletic ability. He’s very good at dunking the basketball.

The D.O.: Do you think Indiana has a shot to win the Big Ten?

R.H.: I don’t see them competing for the Big Ten crown, necessarily, because I think they’re not at that upper-level tier. I think they’re more of a mid-level Big Ten team. That’s not to take anything away from them; they’re a very talented basketball team, just not the elite level in the Big Ten. When you look at the Big Ten as a whole, it’s a very stacked conference, so there’s no fault to be a mid-level Big Ten team.


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