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Posted on Wed. Aug. 13, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Better basketball through better chemistry for IU

Hoosiers roll past McGill 96-69

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So what do we make of Indiana's dominating 96-69 victory over McGill University?

It depends on if you view your water glass half filled or half empty.

An optimist would love the combination of strong offense (48 percent shooting, a ton of points) and solid defense (McGill shot just 38.8 percent) displayed in Tuesday's latest Canada trip performance.

A pessimist would fret over the 23 turnovers against 17 assists, which suggests the ball security problem that helped wreck last season has yet to be solved.

Here's the reality -- IU is a ridiculously young team, with eight newcomers and five freshman. It has only had a handful of full-team practices to gell, although a summer of workouts with coaches helped speed the development.

Plenty of work remains, but the hope is the chance to play five games in six August days -- IU is 3-1 in Canada with tonight's final game against the University of Quebec remaining -- will reap major in-season benefits.

“Our chemistry is getting better every game,” freshman guard James Blackmon said. “We are starting to understand our personnel, how they play and where they want the ball. Everything is getting better."

Perhaps, but if IU is still committing 23 turnovers in December, and beyond, you can forget about improving on last season's 17-15 disappointment.

But that's a worry for another time. The Hoosiers dramatically improved their defense after getting torched for 109 points Sunday against Ottawa. They gave up 85 to Carleton on Monday before getting stingy on Tuesday.

Coach Tom Crean recruited with the intent of improving the shooting and that has paid off. The Hoosiers have scored at least 95 points in every game against some of Canada's best college programs.

It would have been nice if the Hoosiers had solved forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea's visa problems. He didn't make the trip because of them.

Blackmon continues to show why he's considered one of the nation's top freshman shooters. He scored a team-leading 21 points while making 8-of-13 shots. The former Bishop Luers standout has averaged 20.0 points in his last three games. He also showed the perils of playing youth when he totaled no assists and four turnovers Tuesday night.

Expect that to improve as he develops.

Sophomore swingman Troy Williams was solid with 18 points and nine rebounds. Transfer guard Nick Zeisloft continued to show he's the real shooting deal with 15 points (he was 6-for-10 from the field, 3-for-5 from three-point range). He had 14 points with four three-pointers Monday against Carleton.

“He's a big contributor,” Blackmon said. “We definitely need him. He's leading us and being a vocal guy who brings us together in the huddle.”

Leadership was among the reasons why Crean brought Zeisloft in from Illinois State. He joined the team this summer.

“This was the same as last night … my teammates got me involved, found me when I was open and made the plays themselves when they were open,” Zeisloft said. “It comes down to us playing basketball, moving the ball. We succeed at a high level when we do so.”

As for the wear and tear of playing so many games in such a short time span, well, the Hoosiers have bigger worries.

“Fatigue isn't a factor for us,” Zeisloft said. “We can't let that hit us. We have gotten better each game. We are going to continue to carry that into (tonight's Quebec game) and learn from every game, quarter, minute and possession.”

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