Indiana had an up-and-down season last year and missed both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT. Turnovers and a lack of perimeter shooting were major factors in that.
But another potential factor was the team's chemistry. There were groups of guys on the team that were close, but not everybody was. Losing leaders like Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls and others will do that to a team.
Now, though, the players insist that is different. The season is still more than two months away, but the Hoosiers insist they have already developed a great chemistry with one another.
“Off the court, anyone can hang out with anyone,” sophomore Troy Williams said on the team's foreign trip to Canada. “I can hang out with Stan (Robinson) and Devin (Davis) one day and then the next day I could hang out with Jeremiah (April) and Tim (Priller). We all get along with each other so well.”
Added freshman guard Robert Johnson: “I think it is coming along really good. From day one, whenever we went out and did different things, we always did it as a team. From what they tell me, last year it wasn’t always like that, so from that standpoint it is good and it has helped bring us together even more.”
During the team's five-game, six-day trip to Montreal, Indiana coach Tom Crean took away the players' phones during bus trips and at other times to force them to talk to and interact with one another.
It's early, certainly, but it's a great sign that the Hoosiers are such a tight-knit group already. Now, how will they respond to the adversity they are going to face during the season? That remains to be seen.
"We take the phones once we're in [the arena] and we don't give them back until we get back to the hotel," Crean said. "It's just great listening to them talk, laugh. There was a boom box back there last night. That's the stuff that's good. They won't remember every phone call and text and tweet that they missed, but they will remember those conversations that they had at the back of the bus. Everybody that comes back, that's the stuff they remember, the stuff most of us never get to see."