Sports Column

SMITH: Hoosiers, Pacers update


The Pacers and Hoosiers are both halfway through their seasons, and if you’re a fan of both teams, you’re probably excited about one and confused about the other.  Here’s a mid-season update on each team.

Pacers, 26-15

With 41 games played and 41 to go, the Indiana Pacers continue to impress the NBA world. A 52-win pace without Victor Oladipo? That should gain the respect of anyone who knows the game.  And with their star set to return in less than two weeks, the potential is clearly there for this to be a special season.

They’ve won three straight road games to even their away record at 10-10. They’re just a few games behind the No. 2 and 3 seeds in the Eastern Conference. And they still don’t believe they’ve reached their potential yet.

“We haven’t played our best basketball,” coach Nate McMillan said.  “We’re not complete yet. There’s a lot of basketball to play. Once we get healthy, we’ll see where we are.”

The players don’t believe there will be any issues when Oladipo returns.

“I don’t think it will be a problem at all,” said Domantas Sabonis. “We have a simple system that everybody believes in. Victor will definitely help us.”

At the halfway point in the season, the Pacers are sixth in the league in assists (25.9), tied for first in fewest turnovers per game (12.9), fifth in 3-point percentage (36.7%), and ninth in defensive rating (106.4).

After hosting Minnesota on Friday, they will head out west for a long road-trip.  If they can survive that trip by winning two or three games, they’ll put themselves in a nice position for the stretch run.

Hoosiers, 13-4 (3-3)

After a big win at home over Ohio State last Saturday, the Indiana Hoosiers were hoping to take that momentum on the road.  But as we’ve seen over the last several years, the team in crimson is often a different team than the one in cream. Rutgers is a solid team that might go dancing this March, but it was still a frustrating loss for Indiana. 

Scoring continues to be a problem for this group, and it would help if somebody, anybody, could hit an outside shot.   It’s 2020, and the game of basketball has evolved into an outside shooting contest on most nights. And somehow, the Indiana Hoosiers didn’t make a 3-point shot until five minutes left in the entire game.

It’s year three of the Archie Miller era, and his teams continue to shoot 31% or worse from behind the arc. They currently rank outside the top 300 in college basketball in 3-point shooting. And no, that’s not a typo.

The Big Ten Schedule is brutal. Every game will be a war. This team will probably continue to surprise you with big wins followed by lousy losses. Despite the atrocious shooting, it’s not all doom and gloom for this group. If the season ended today, they’d be a tournament team. They have two nice wins and don’t have any “bad” losses.  The question is, can they do enough through a crazy conference schedule to get themselves back in the tournament? Fans want to see better basketball, in wins or in losses. It’s getting more challenging for the fan base to stay patient, but that’s what they’ll need to be with this group – with the hopes of a nice run still coming.

Tyler Smith covers the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Hoosier basketball for Indy Sports Legends. Smith is also the youth pastor at New Hope Christian Church, and the varsity girls’ basketball coach at Crawfordsville High School.


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