Indiana junior forward Troy Williams is known for his high-flying rim assaults and he’s also the Big Ten’s returning leading rebounder. So Williams winning the dunk contest at Saturday night’s Hoosier Hysteria came as little surprise, as Williams effortlessly threw down some slams to impress the home crowd.
But it was the junior’s improved perimeter shooting that had Assembly Hall buzzing. The 6-foot-7 Williams also won the event’s 3-point contest, despite coming into the event with 12 career triples in two seasons. Here’s video of his improved perimeter stroke in winning the contest.
It remains to be seen if Williams winning this 3-point contest is a fluke, but his perimeter shot certainly does look more consistent. Shooting at game speed is dramatically different than taking balls off a rack, but if Williams can space the floor even a little bit more for Indiana it makes a potent offense that much more dangerous.
(H/T: Inside the Hall)
Indiana forward Troy Williams to return for junior season
Expected to be an improved team in 2015-16, Indiana received a nice boost Wednesday afternoon. Forward Troy Williams, has decided to return to school for his junior season, announcing the news on his Instagram page. According to multiple outlets, Williams came to his decision after consulting with both Indiana head coach Tom Crean and uncle Boo Williams.
This is an important piece of news for the Hoosiers, who are still awaiting NBA Draft decisions from guards Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr.
Williams led the Hoosiers in rebounding and was their third-leading scorer in 2014-15, averaging 13.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest. Williams started 28 of the 32 games he played in, shooting better than 54 percent from the field and reaching double figures in scoring in 20 contests.
His return means that Indiana will have the front court depth it lacked in 2014-15, with Williams being joined by Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Emmitt Holt as returnees and two quality prospects in Thomas Bryant, Juwan Morgan and O.G. Anunoby entering the program as well.
You think college basketball is unwatchable this year? Turn on an Indiana game
And, unless your rooting allegiances lie in Kentucky or some other Big Ten college town, I find it very hard to believe that you won’t feel the same way if you watch the Hoosiers play. Here’s what they do: they push the ball, they spread the floor offensively, they let their quartet of talented perimeter weapons make plays and they fire up threes at will.
When those threes are going down, you’ll have nights like Thursday night, where the No. 23 Hoosiers went 15-for-22 from three, hit 60.0 percent of their field goals and blew out No. 13 Maryland on a night where the Terps shot better than 50 percent from the field and hit 10-for-20 from deep.
In a season where everyone is complaining about how unwatchable college basketball is, the Hoosiers are the collegiate version of the Golden State Warriors. They’re not quite as dominant — Yogi Ferrell is a stud, but Steph Curry he ain’t — but they are now 15-4 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten, which is tied for first in the conference with Wisconsin.
And here’s the scary thing: they may have just found a way to get better. Hanner Mosquera-Perea, one of just two true big men on Indiana’s roster and their starting center, got injured after their blowout loss at Michigan State. That was thought to be a major blow to the Indiana season, but what it’s done is make them even more difficult to guard. Now, instead of having a center that wasn’t all that good of a shot-blocker or a rebounder letting defenses clog up the lane, the Hoosiers are using Colin Hartman — a 6-foot-8 flamethrower — to open things up even more.
It might be for the best. Yeah, Indiana will take a hit on the defensive end of the floor, but they weren’t stopping anyone anyway. They entered Thursday night ranked 197th in defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom. If you’re going to be a bad defensive team, one that needs to score a ton of points to beat good teams, you might as well have your most unguardable team on the floor at all times. Since Perea got hurt, Indiana has gone 35-for-68 from three. That’s 51.4 percent.
Indiana is going to have some off-nights, but when they’re on, they’re going to be able to play with anyone in the country.
Georgetown overcame a 10-point halftime deficit. Indiana (more like Yogi Ferrell) scored seven points in the last 90 seconds of regulation to force overtime.
But in the extra frame, the Georgetown duo of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Joshua Smith were too much for the Hoosiers, as the Hoyas picked up an important 91-87 win on Saturday afternoon inside Madison Square Garden in one of the best games of the season.
For the Hoyas, this was a great way to end the non-conference portion of their schedule, as they hope to see similar results when they return to The Garden in March. Georgetown has the makings of a top-25 team, though, didn’t have the resume to match. In the Battle 4 Atlantis, Georgetown topped an injury-plagued Florida team, and took Wisconsin to the wire, only to lose by three. The Hoyas also hosted Kansas earlier this month, but suffered a five-point loss.
At different points of the game, both teams showed why they’ll both be tough outs in their respective conferences.
After being plagued by three fouls in the first half, Smith scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half and overtime, grabbing six boards (five offensive) and recorded two steals. He gave Georgetown the inside presence Indiana couldn’t handle.
In the first half, the Hoosiers opened up a double-digit lead thanks to 3-point shooting from Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr. The two guards combined for six of Indiana’s seven 3-pointers. The Hoosiers would score 26 of their 40 first half points off 3-point attempts, as Georgetown fouled two 3-point shooters, resulting in five points from the free throw line. Georgetown held dig itself into a whole, missing way too many point-blank shots.
Troy Williams had a great showing, especially in the second half, making plays for teammates, crashing the glass and hustling for 50/50 balls.
Smith-Rivera scored 24 of his game-high 29 after halftime and Aaron Bowen had a career-high 20 off the bench. Ferrell was one of three IU players to go over 20 with a team-high 27. Williams had 23 and Blackmon added 22.
On Christmas Eve, Indiana sophomore forward Devin Davis worked out with teammates Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams in an empty high school gymnasium.
The video was captured by Davis’ father, Devin Davis Sr. The 15-second clip, showing the three going through dribbling and shooting drills serves as another step in Davis’ recovery after he was struck by a car — driven by teammate Emmitt Holt — in the early hours of Nov. 1.
Last week, Indiana head coach Tom Crean announced that Davis was scheduled to return to school next semester, and while he will be enrolled in classes, his return with the team remains unclear.
“What’s most important is that he heals properly, that he knows it’s here when he gets back and he can get back to being a student,” Crean said at the time, according to the Indianapolis Star. “We would certainly anticipate him being back in school (in the spring).
“We just want to be set for whatever the doctors feel is the best situation. We’re getting closer to that. …
“Every injury’s hard. This is completely different, because you’re dealing with the brain.”
Indiana returns to its non-conference schedule on Saturday at noon against Georgetown. The game will be played at Madison Square Garden.
Marquette may have found their season’s savior. Through the first eight games of the year, the Golden Eagles were 4-4, having lost to Nebraska-Omaha at home, barely hung on to beat NJIT and got pushed around by Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. That was before Deonte Burton transferred out of the program. It looked pretty safe to say that Steve Wojciechowski’s first season in Milwaukee would be full-on rebuilding mode. It was bad enough that I had started just ignoring Marquette games when they popped up on the channel guide.
And then Luke Fischer got eligible.
The 6-foot-11 transfer from Indiana played his first game of the season against Arizona State last week, and he put on a show, finishing with 19 points, nine boards and five blocks. To follow that up, Fischer posted 22 points against Alabama A&M. In his two games this season, Fischer is shooting 17-for-19 from the floor, which, if you can’t tell, is pretty good. Will this turn the Golden Eagles into an NCAA tournament team? It’s probably too early to tell. But Fischer fills a gaping hope in Wojo’s lineup, which makes Marquette markedly better.
THE ALL-THEY-WERE-GOOD-TOO TEAM
Terry Rozier, Louisville: Rozier scored 26 of his game-high 32 points after Montrezl Harrell was ejected on Saturday, ensuring that the Cardinals would not have their unbeaten season ended by Western Kentucky.
Troy Williams, Indiana: Williams played his best game as a Hoosier on Saturday, going for 22 points, 11 boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks in a win over Butler.
JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova: Pinkston had 25 points and 10 boards, making a number of huge plays down the stretch as Villanova erased a 14-point second half deficit in an overtime win over Syracuse.
Rayvonte Rice, Illinois: Rice made sure Braggin’ Rights remained in Illinois, hitting this game-winning three to beat Missouri. He finished with 19 points.
Snoop White, Ole Miss: White scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half as Ole Miss came from 17 down to beat a good Coastal Carolina team. The win keep Ole Miss from playing for an NIT bid in the SEC.
Juwan Staten, West Virginia: A preseason all-american, Staten had his best game of the young season on Saturday, going for 24 points (on 10-for-17 shooting), six assists and two steals as WVU beat N.C. State in NYC.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Washington Huskies
If anyone thought that struggling against Eastern Washington somehow proved that the Huskies weren’t “for real”, they squashed that theory on Saturday when they knocked off Oklahoma in Las Vegas, 69-67. Washington was up by as much as 20 in the first half, surviving late with a couple of critical defensive stops.
I don’t know if I’m ready to say that Washington is the second-best team in the Pac-12, not as long as Utah is still playing like a top 15 team. But the Huskies aren’t all that far behind. It starts with Robert Upshaw, a seven-footer that comes off the bench yet averages 4.5 blocks in less than 20 minutes per game. He changes to tone of what Washington can do on the defensive side of the ball. Throw in Nigel Williams-Goss, one of the nation’s most underrated point guard, and Andrew Andrews, and you have what may be Lorenzo Romar’s best team since the 2009 that featured Isaiah Thomas, Quincy Pondexter and Jon Brockman.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
Virginia: The Cavs took care of a pretty good Cleveland State team during the week before absolutely embarrassing Harvard on Sunday, beating them 76-27 and setting an NCAA record by allowing just one field goal in the first half.
Kentucky: The Wildcats had a better first half against UCLA than Virginia did against Harvard, jumping out to a 24-0 lead and heading into the break up 41-7 en route to an 83-44 win.
North Carolina: Marcus Paige still hasn’t busted out of his funk, but Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks are playing well, and Joel Berry is getting better, too. The Tar Heels won at UNC-Greensboro and knocked off Ohio State this week.
SMU: The Mustangs got two huge results this week: they won at Michigan, and they got Markus Kennedy back from his suspension.
Notre Dame: The Irish made a statement on Saturday. They beat Purdue 94-63, and they did it despite the fact that Jerian Grant was 3-for-13 from the floor.
SET YOUR DVR
No. 5 Wisconsin at Cal, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
Stanford at No. 9 Texas, Tue. 7:00 p.m.
Georgetown vs. Indiana, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (NYC)
No. 1 Kentucky at No. 4 Louisville, Sat. 2:00 p.m.