The Hoosiers won't begin year two of the Tom Crean era for another six weeks, but I want to present my theme for the season.
One word: Finish.
The Hoosiers had a 10-point halftime lead against Lipscomb before losing by five. They were up as many as 20 in the second half against Michigan, before losing in overtime, and had a lead with less than four minutes to go at Penn State before being outscored 6-1 to end the game.
Is it clear yet? The Hoosiers had trouble putting teams away last season. They had trouble playing with a lead and in seemingly every situation demanding a clutch play, no IU player was to be found.
Crean will have nine non-freshmen on the team this year, which is a boat load of experience compared to what he had at the start of last season. I expect team growth, experience and improvement will go a long way toward fixing the clutch problem. The question is will it translate into more than six wins?
Just looking at the schedule, I could see 16 or 17 wins this season, maybe more if the ball bounces the right way. It will depend on the strength of the Big Ten conference this year and whether teams like Kentucky, which has a new coach, and Maryland, which is coming off a sub-par year, play at a level most fans expect.
Bottom line, I'm expecting the Hoosiers to take an adult stride forward this year, not a baby step. And I think that is what Crean is expecting as well.