Is it time to shake up the Indiana basketball starting lineup?
I think it is.
Indiana has played 15 games and the Hoosiers have employed the same starting lineup in 14 of them.
Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey, Troy Williams and Noah Vonleh have started all 15 games. The only exception was when Jeff Howard started in place of Jeremy Hollowell against Evansville.
And coming off the bench, Hollowell scored a season-high 18 points.
When you have Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell, I can see keeping the same starting lineup in place every game. You’re getting production from every spot on the floor.
But with this group, it’s just not the same thing.
I have no doubt that a player like Williams as incredible upside potential. We saw it against the University of Washington in Madison Square Garden. But other times it just seems like the game needs to slow down for Williams. He’s always in a hurry. His eyes get big whenever there looks like a play could develop that could be a SportsCenter moment but he doesn’t seem to have the same urgency for the routine plays.
And I really believe Hollowell can help this basketball team. I think he can use his size to help out on the glass and I think he could be a contributor on the front line, too, if he takes it to the basket hard every time. But until he proves he can consistently knock down the outside jumper, he needs to only shoot perimeter shots within the flow of the offense.
The point that needs to be made here is that there is open competition for spots in that starting lineup and for getting additional minutes. The point needs to be pounded home that how hard you work in practice can carry over to getting minutes in the games.
And maybe that is exactly what’s happening and that’s why Williams and Hollowell continue to start. The reality at IU is that media do not attend practice so there’s no real way of knowing for sure. If that is indeed the case though, the performance you’re getting when the lights go on is not nearly the same as you’re getting in practice.
At least, I wouldn’t think that was the case.
This isn’t about second-guessing the coaching staff. That’s not my place. I’m an informed observer. I get that. But my observation after watching this team play 15 games is that it’s time for a shake up.
And there would be no better time than Saturday at Penn State as the Hoosiers are trying to win for the first time in Big Ten play after opening conference play at 0-2. This is a big game for the Hoosiers and perhaps a shakeup could give Indiana the boost it is lacking.
Who would I start instead? I would think Stanford Robinson could go in place of Williams and Devin Davis in place of Hollowell. I know Howard has been getting consideration, too, but I would like to see what Davis might do in a starting role.
Now maybe this coaching staff believes that it’s more important to keep that continuity and continue to start the same group with every Big Ten game.
But my own observation is simply that the use of the bench as a motivator could potentially really help this Indiana basketball team down the road.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch