The Morning After: Your 2008-09 Indiana Hoosiers, I think

g12f4ei8.jpgIt goes without saying that the beginning of this Indiana basketball season is unlike those that have come before it. It is the second year in the last three that have seen IU with a brand new basketball coach, but even in Kelvin Sampson’s first year at the helm we had some idea of what was going on. We knew about D.J. White and Rod Wilmont (how I miss Rod and his 30-foot three-pointers) and Earl Calloway and the rest. This year? Not so much.

I’ll admit it: After about five minutes last night, I had to admit something to myself. I didn’t know who was who. It’s sad, I know, but I doubt that I’m alone here, and I hope it’s not too bold of me to admit it. It took me a second to figure out that Verdell Jones was No. 12, that that wasn’t Devan Dumes, that Dumes was the off-guard wearing No. 33, and who is that little dude with the Rip Hamilton facemask on? That’s not Finkelmeier, is it? And oh my God is that Tijan Jobe?! It took me a second to figure it all out, and it required me whipping out the laptop and keeping the roster handy. I’m not afraid to admit it.

Because of that, a lot of stuff blurred together, but plenty stuck out, too. Off we go, then:

THINGS TO BE SLIGHTLY, CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT:

Effort: This is going to be a theme all season, so let’s just get it out of the way early. This team is going to be very likable. They are going to play hard. They are going to have good attitudes. All of that. Even when they’re not playing with a good attitude it will seem that way, because you can’t have worse attitudes than last year’s team, and as long as Matt Roth doesn’t smoke a crack pipe at midcourt and punch a cheerleader in the face, pretty much anything will seem like an improvement. So after every game, the chorus will be the same: These guys sure play hard! Man, they sure seem to care! Bless their little hearts, huh? This is going to get incredibly annoying. But last night? It was true. They did play hard. And they did seem to actually care. Credit where it’s due, both to the team and to Tom Crean for getting them to buy in. The best basketball coaches are salesmen, and Tom Crean could sell me a ticket to Kelvin Sampson: The Broadway Musical. He’s done the same sales job on his team. Effort will not be a problem this year, at least not anytime soon.

Devan Dumes: When I hear Northwestern State, I immediately think “last-second shot over Iowa in the NCAA Tournament,” and then I get a big smile on my face. But after I think of that, I (perhaps wrongly) think of the stereotype of a mid-Major — scrappy, unathletic, hard-nosed, heavily reliant on three pointers. Northwestern State wasn’t really like that at all. They were just sort of bad, especially on defense, where they were genuinely awful in the full court press. So I don’t want to get too excited about Devan Dumes’ night. But it is encouraging, at the very least, to know that the team contains some semblance of offensive talent that can score when allowed to do so. Dumes’ night was like that — impressive, but not overly so. Just solid. But I’ll take solid if it puts the occasional point on the board.

Verdell Jones: I might actually be more excited about Jones than I am about Dumes. For whatever reason, I really like Jones’ game — he’s lanky, deliberate, he sort of glides around. His arms are long enough to make him play bigger than his listed size. Having that kind of athletic ability at the point is a real luxury … even if Verdell has a lot of things to figure out about the position. On a team with minimal size, um, everywhere, Jones is a boost. (He also had kind of a crazy line last night: 18 points, five assists, three blocks, three steals, three turnovers, 10-13 from the free-throw line. That’s like a mini-Josh Smith-on-the-Hawks line. I love it.)

Daniel Moore: It took about five minutes last night before the the friends I watched the game with were already calling him the second coming of Errek Suhr. Fortunately — and no disrespect to Suhr — but I think it’s clear Moore is a much, much better player. I’m sure I missed something, but I don’t know if I saw Moore make a truly bad decision all night. Despite his size deficit, he gets around people in the open floor. He can make open shots, and he’s a great passer. So maybe he’s not a point guard in the Big Ten, but you can do much, much worse coming off the bench than Moore. That’s a great walk-on right there.

Tijan Jobe: Haha. Just kidding. Nothing to be optimistic about here.

THINGS THAT ARE BASICALLY AN UNMITIGATED DISASTER:

The Frontcourt: Speaking of Tijan Jobe, oh boy. The frontcourt. Where to start?

I don’t want to be too harsh, because Kyle Taber seems like a pretty cool dude. Relaxed guy. The kind of kid you’re hoping is your roommate when you move to school — plays video games, probably, not too rowdy, doesn’t do hard drugs in plain sight. (Everyone knows that kid freshman year. He is to be avoided; he won’t last the first semester.) So I think I like Kyle Taber as a person. But as a basketball player, as the captain of this team? Eesh.

Last year, Taber made a living off of one thing: playing opposite D.J. White. White would shoot it, and defenders would crash to him while Taber snuck in, grabbed a rebound, and either tipped it back in or passed to a guard and restarted the offense. He was perfect for that. But when Taber is the supposed to be your “best” big man, well, you’re going to get killed on the interior all season. Just murdered. And it already started last night.

For example: Northwestern State had 27 — 27! — offensive rebounds. Eight Northwestern players had at least two offensive rebounds each. Northwestern State had eight blocks, which doesn’t seem like that many, actually. I would have thought, oh, 30 or so? That’s how it felt, anyway.

As for the non-Taber members of the frontcourt: Tom Pritchard is like Kyle Taber, except left-handed. He might actually be a bit more talented, thank God, but he’s certainly not more athletic, or bigger; he just seems to know how to get the most of his limitations. And Tijan Jobe. Oh, Tijan. Tijan Tijan Tijan. God bless him. He looks incredibly interested in playing hard basketball, in rebounding, that sort of thing. That’s probably the nicest thing that can be said about his basketball ability right now.

THINGS WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT:

Pretty much everything else. But there’s IUPUI Tuesday night, and so goes the season. Another game, another batch of info to learn. And then? The Road to the Final Four. We’re going all the way! 1-0! WOOOO!

This could be a long season.

  • pacino

    I was very impressed with Pritchard. For a guy that is a freshman playing in his first game in Assembly Hall he didn't do too shabby. A double double is pretty dang impressive. Is he D.J. , NO but he can become a solid Big Ten player.

  • Hoosier_Hound

    I was really pleased with Pritchard too. He has that instinct to position and rotate himself where the ball can be passed to him and where he can rebound. He was much better in the first game of his college career than Taber is now in his senior season, so I think it's a poor comparison right there. If he keeps getting better, and he surely will, he'll be a solid post player.

    Dumes and Moore and my new favorite players though. I have to admit its partially because they were the two who most looked like they had played basketball before last night.

    Remember though, for nearly everyone out there it was there FIRST EVER college game and we still know next to nothing about them.

  • Hoosier_Hound

    Oh and there's Jobe, who is doubly pitiful because he is already a junior this year. It will take a Helen Keller miracle from him and Crean to make a Big Ten basketball player out of him.

  • Hoosier_Hound

    Oh and there's Jobe, who is doubly pitiful because he is already a junior this year. It will take a Helen Keller miracle from him and Crean to make a Big Ten basketball player out of him.

  • southsidehitmen

    I'm with you on Verdell Jones, I like his game but have one small concern. That concern is that he throws very soft passes. He's gotten away with it in the exhibitions and against Northwestern State, but against Big Ten teams he'll have far more turnovers if he doesn't get sharper when he dishes the rock.

    Pritchard is much more talented than Taber, I don't agree with that comparison at all. He's a true freshman and IU can't afford to keep him off the court because he's their only viable big man. If he put him with some other bigs in the next couple of years he has the potential to be an all-conference player.

  • southsidehitmen

    I'm with you on Verdell Jones, I like his game but have one small concern. That concern is that he throws very soft passes. He's gotten away with it in the exhibitions and against Northwestern State, but against Big Ten teams he'll have far more turnovers if he doesn't get sharper when he dishes the rock.

    Pritchard is much more talented than Taber, I don't agree with that comparison at all. He's a true freshman and IU can't afford to keep him off the court because he's their only viable big man. If he put him with some other bigs in the next couple of years he has the potential to be an all-conference player.

  • flahoosier

    I thought they did exactly what they should have, it was a good win. I think Dumes will be able to score consistently. Funny, I had the opposite feeling on Jones, until looking at his line I didn't realize he played that well. He needs to work on dribble for sure. You are exactly right about Taber and Pritchard they act related. Pretty much stiffs, and Jobe, I hope he plays just for the hilarity of it. I was expecting him to be very skinny for some reason, moves like he is made of stone. Nick Williams reminds me of Ron Artest. Will score more hopefully. I agree with the Moore/Suhr comparison too, Moore is much better. Overall they will have to rebound much better and dribble better but a good first performance

  • cooper

    I thought they did exactly what they should have, it was a good win. I think Dumes will be able to score consistently. Funny, I had the opposite feeling on Jones, until looking at his line I didn't realize he played that well. He needs to work on dribble for sure. You are exactly right about Taber and Pritchard they act related. Pretty much stiffs, and Jobe, I hope he plays just for the hilarity of it. I was expecting him to be very skinny for some reason, moves like he is made of stone. Nick Williams reminds me of Ron Artest. Will score more hopefully. I agree with the Moore/Suhr comparison too, Moore is much better. Overall they will have to rebound much better and dribble better but a good first performance

  • BTOWN40

    I am going to have to change my user-name until Jobe graduates.(he wears of all the numbers he could choose from nbr 40, I doubt he can live up to that number)..good effort from the kid, but the bball skills are very very raw.
    Daniel Moore impressed me the most, he struck me as very solid dribbler with a high basketball IQ.
    Verdell Jones looked ok, but needs to work on his passing, dribbling, and decesion making, hopefully that will come with maturity.
    Devan Dumes..SOLID
    Nick Williams didn't seem to be as athletic as I thought he would, especially for an Alabama state player of the year in high school.
    Overall I was pleased with the effort from the team, coach, and fans…GO IU
    now to search for a new name

  • BTOWN40

    I am going to have to change my user-name until Jobe graduates.(he wears of all the numbers he could choose from nbr 40, I doubt he can live up to that number)..good effort from the kid, but the bball skills are very very raw.
    Daniel Moore impressed me the most, he struck me as very solid dribbler with a high basketball IQ.
    Verdell Jones looked ok, but needs to work on his passing, dribbling, and decesion making, hopefully that will come with maturity.
    Devan Dumes..SOLID
    Nick Williams didn't seem to be as athletic as I thought he would, especially for an Alabama state player of the year in high school.
    Overall I was pleased with the effort from the team, coach, and fans…GO IU
    now to search for a new name

  • outanames

    I don't think one can make too many predictions about how good someone is or isn't going to be this year. To put it mildly, we will be outmanned at least 90% of the time this year and that will wear on us eventually. I think this year is all about getting ready for next year and I can see us making some big leaps forward when we have a bigger and better talented group of players. I think Rivers will play alot next year as will Watford and Creek. Add Dumes and give Jones a year of college experience and one can easily see IU being a player in the Big-10 with the bigs we have coming in next year. Rebounding will not be a weakness next year. This year, we can only hope for the best. Win the games we should and steal a few we shouldn't.

  • outanames

    I don't think one can make too many predictions about how good someone is or isn't going to be this year. To put it mildly, we will be outmanned at least 90% of the time this year and that will wear on us eventually. I think this year is all about getting ready for next year and I can see us making some big leaps forward when we have a bigger and better talented group of players. I think Rivers will play alot next year as will Watford and Creek. Add Dumes and give Jones a year of college experience and one can easily see IU being a player in the Big-10 with the bigs we have coming in next year. Rebounding will not be a weakness next year. This year, we can only hope for the best. Win the games we should and steal a few we shouldn't.

  • Kelin Blab

    There was a certain person on this blog who trumpted the praises of one daniel moore…I know it is only one game but the kid played well. I really like pritchard too, he is more built up than I thought. Dumes is a steal……..

  • Kelin Blab

    There was a certain person on this blog who trumpted the praises of one daniel moore…I know it is only one game but the kid played well. I really like pritchard too, he is more built up than I thought. Dumes is a steal……..

  • BornRed

    As a student, I'm commenting after seeing the team on the court 3 times now. Pritchard is weak. He lacks the strength to effectively finish inside and consistently rebound the ball and has way too many shots blocked by smaller guys. In a typical year, he would contribute a solid 10 – 12 minutes off the bench as a freshman.

    Daniel Moore has the best basketball IQ on the team. He plays smart and is solid. My biggest fear with him is that he will not be able to drive to the basket against decent competition.

    Story and Williams have shown some promise, but look like they are trying to do too much at this point. I think they will look better once they are more comfortable in the offense.

    Finkelmeier scares me. He is uncomfortable with the ball and will be so ineffective offensely that we are in trouble if he ends up playing significant minutes.

    Overall, our guard play should inprove as the year goes on, but we will be in bad shape underneath all year. Jobe is nothing more than a warm body at this point, and Taber and Pritch aren't much of a scoring threat. Interior defense is atrocious and will be the biggest obstacle to overcome this year.

  • BornRed

    As a student, I'm commenting after seeing the team on the court 3 times now. Pritchard is weak. He lacks the strength to effectively finish inside and consistently rebound the ball and has way too many shots blocked by smaller guys. In a typical year, he would contribute a solid 10 – 12 minutes off the bench as a freshman.

    Daniel Moore has the best basketball IQ on the team. He plays smart and is solid. My biggest fear with him is that he will not be able to drive to the basket against decent competition.

    Story and Williams have shown some promise, but look like they are trying to do too much at this point. I think they will look better once they are more comfortable in the offense.

    Finkelmeier scares me. He is uncomfortable with the ball and will be so ineffective offensely that we are in trouble if he ends up playing significant minutes.

    Overall, our guard play should inprove as the year goes on, but we will be in bad shape underneath all year. Jobe is nothing more than a warm body at this point, and Taber and Pritch aren't much of a scoring threat. Interior defense is atrocious and will be the biggest obstacle to overcome this year.

  • BornRed

    Pritchard is more talented, but is not much more effective at this point. He is more of a threat to score, but he is not athletic or strong enough to really be counted on at this point in his career. Big Ten postmen will eat him up. He would be much more effective as a sidekick than the man down low. There just is not much of a presence in the post this year.

  • BornRed

    Pritchard is more talented, but is not much more effective at this point. He is more of a threat to score, but he is not athletic or strong enough to really be counted on at this point in his career. Big Ten postmen will eat him up. He would be much more effective as a sidekick than the man down low. There just is not much of a presence in the post this year.

  • outanames

    As the competition gets tougher, I think you'll see more of an eight-man rotation with the seven scholarship players and Moore getting the majority of the playing time. If matchups allow, Finkelmeier may see time as well. Jobe will be only a spot player in the forseeable future. The others will be rewarded with pt if and when possible. You're pretty much spot on with your current assessments. I do think Pritchard will blossom into a pretty good 4 in the not too distant future. Taking the ball to the basket will not be a strong point for this team when playing the better teams. Maybe we'll be a little like a Butler team this year, however it will be difficult with the lack of experience..

  • outanames

    As the competition gets tougher, I think you'll see more of an eight-man rotation with the seven scholarship players and Moore getting the majority of the playing time. If matchups allow, Finkelmeier may see time as well. Jobe will be only a spot player in the forseeable future. The others will be rewarded with pt if and when possible. You're pretty much spot on with your current assessments. I do think Pritchard will blossom into a pretty good 4 in the not too distant future. Taking the ball to the basket will not be a strong point for this team when playing the better teams. Maybe we'll be a little like a Butler team this year, however it will be difficult with the lack of experience..

  • dale11

    Not to knit pick…but “Tom Pritchard is like Kyle Taber, except left-handed.” Taber is also left handed.

  • dale11

    Not to knit pick…but “Tom Pritchard is like Kyle Taber, except left-handed.” Taber is also left handed.

  • student

    After seeing us feebly attempt to rebound against NWSU, I realized that we're really going to struggle against teams with pure athletes like Michigan. Initially I thought we were going to be good enough fundamentally to challenge athletic teams, but now….. Not so much.

    I keep telling myself that Tijan Jobe is a scholarship athlete at IU, and I still can't believe it.

    Oh and how awesome are our walk-on Carmel guards with matching facemasks?

  • student

    After seeing us feebly attempt to rebound against NWSU, I realized that we're really going to struggle against teams with pure athletes like Michigan. Initially I thought we were going to be good enough fundamentally to challenge athletic teams, but now….. Not so much.

    I keep telling myself that Tijan Jobe is a scholarship athlete at IU, and I still can't believe it.

    Oh and how awesome are our walk-on Carmel guards with matching facemasks?

  • http://mouthpiecesports.com/blog Eamonn

    Haha, a very good point. Still shaking off the rust this early in the season.

    In general, I don't mean to be so tough on Pritchard. He's clearly more talented than Taber. I guess that against a small team, I was hoping for a lot more from a guy who is going to be playing a lot against the Big Ten's best big men.

  • http://mouthpiecesports.com/blog Eamonn

    Haha, a very good point. Still shaking off the rust this early in the season.

    In general, I don't mean to be so tough on Pritchard. He's clearly more talented than Taber. I guess that against a small team, I was hoping for a lot more from a guy who is going to be playing a lot against the Big Ten's best big men.

  • JerryCT

    Looks like IUPUI is about as young as we are and get their points from wing players. Its going to be a great test for Story, WIlliams, Taber, Pritchard , jones to see if we can defend while out working them to a W.

  • JerryCT

    Looks like IUPUI is about as young as we are and get their points from wing players. Its going to be a great test for Story, WIlliams, Taber, Pritchard , jones to see if we can defend while out working them to a W.

  • http://matthewjenks.blogspot.com/ Matt_J

    I'm also not ashamed to say that I had no idea who was who on the floor. I could pick out Jobe, but after that, I had no idea.

    I think the BTN should have had tags floating over the players heads, kind of like FOX and ESPN do when they're covering NASCAR races. Would have helped me figuring things out.

    Good write-up, though. I had a lot of the same thoughts, myself. Even though the team looks…passable…at best, I still love it because basketball season is finally here!

  • http://matthewjenks.blogspot.com/ Matt_J

    I'm also not ashamed to say that I had no idea who was who on the floor. I could pick out Jobe, but after that, I had no idea.

    I think the BTN should have had tags floating over the players heads, kind of like FOX and ESPN do when they're covering NASCAR races. Would have helped me figuring things out.

    Good write-up, though. I had a lot of the same thoughts, myself. Even though the team looks…passable…at best, I still love it because basketball season is finally here!

  • http://matthewjenks.blogspot.com/ Matt_J

    I'm also not ashamed to say that I had no idea who was who on the floor. I could pick out Jobe, but after that, I had no idea.

    I think the BTN should have had tags floating over the players heads, kind of like FOX and ESPN do when they're covering NASCAR races. Would have helped me figuring things out.

    Good write-up, though. I had a lot of the same thoughts, myself. Even though the team looks…passable…at best, I still love it because basketball season is finally here!

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