Indiana Hoosiers Must Do a Better Job Getting Noah Vonleh the Ball

By Eric Smith
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis, IN- The Indiana Hoosiers are desperately trying to make a run at making the NCAA Tournament. They’re currently 13-7 overall and 3-4 in league play. If they want to do so, they need to do a better job of feeding the ball to freshman forward Noah Vonleh.

The 18-year old is one of the most talented players on the IU roster as he and sophomore point guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell are the two most valuable players on this team.

The biggest problem, though, is Vonleh hasn’t gotten many touches over the past few games.

Indiana has struggled to run plays to get Vonleh the ball, and when they do he’s not in a very good position. I’d like to see the Hoosiers get Vonleh the ball deeper in the post and also near the perimeter in isolation.

There’s arguably no one as athletic as Vonleh to be defending him. The freshman can shoot outside the lane very well as he has a very good three-point shot. He’s 7-for-9 from long range over the past five games and has shown to be a matchup nightmare for the opposition when used correctly.

Then when he extends the defense out, he has the tools to dribble drive to the bucket. That causes him to get to the line a lot due to his defender not being able to stay in front of him. Along with his athletic ability around the rim, this has made him a very prolific scorer when given the opportunity.

So, with all of those tools, why hasn’t he been getting many touches lately?

Vonleh has only seven shot attempts in the last three halves. He had one shot in the final 20 minutes against Michigan State last Tuesday and was 2-for-6 against Illinois on Sunday.

Indiana did get him 15 shots in the loss to Northwestern, but the game before that he only had five in the upset win over Wisconsin and only three attempts in the game’s final 35 minutes as he hit two quick threes in that game.

It’s not just the shot attempts that are down; it’s also his free-throw attempts.

After starting Big 10 play out 18-for-22 from the line, he’s a combined 5-for-8 in the last four games combined. In fact, in three of those four games he’s a combined 0-for-1.

That’s inexcusable for such a dynamic player.

Luckily, Vonleh has stayed humble and made his presence known on the defensive end as he has double-digit rebounds in each of the last three games and seven blocks in the last four games combined.

Now Indiana needs to get Vonleh the ball more consistently as he can be the best freshman in the league if they can get him going on both offense and defense. Their season rides on it.

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