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How to Reach the Final Four, From a Hoosier Who Knows

Former IU guard Ryan Tapak muses on the 2012 team's outlook.

As the season begins Friday at Assembly Hall, not only are fans excited, but so are former players. With so many talented and experienced athletes on this year's squad, look for IU to try a lot of different lineups early in the season. Here are a few things that I and my fellow former Hoosiers talk about when we're discussing how far this team can go:

First is the defense. When you add talented freshmen to a roster, one of the biggest challenges is teaching them to slow down the game. For a new college player, the hardest adjustment is on the defensive end of the floor. Not only staying in front of your man, but making sure all of the correct rotations are in place. That was the key to our 2002 Final Four team.

Health is another concern. This team goes all out, all the time ... which can translate to being banged up during games and also in practice, so it’s harder to train at your top level. Keeping Watford and Sheehey healthy is going to be very important because of the depth and experience they provide.

The offensive end of the floor will look great most of the time. There will be times, though, that Yogi will try to do too much. That’s part of being young and being very talented.

The thing that really excites me is that this group truly is a team. And they know how to act on and off the court. That was something that Fife, Odle, Hornsby, and the other upperclassmen taught me was critical my freshman year. Go Hoosiers!