Yesterday, via our dear friends at the Hoosier Scoop, we got a clearer picture of Matt Roth’s progress from his foot injury. We know the boot is off; he even was shooting around a bit before the Iowa game.
Some quotes from coach Tom Crean on his radio show last evening:
We’re getting closer to decision time,” Crean said on his radio show Monday night. “He’s ahead of schedule, what that totally means, we’re getting closer to finding out.”
“We’d really like him back,” Crean said. “And the thing about Matt is not only can he shoot it, but Matt moves the basketball. When that ball stops, and that thought gets out ‘lets see if I have a play before I make the next pass.’ That’s the stuff we’ve gotta go through, and it drives me nuts.”
If you remember back when the injury occurred in Puerto Rico, Crean did indicate that if Roth was still unable to play in February, the team wouldn’t bring him back aboard; instead they’d apply for a medical hardship and give Roth another year of eligibility.
We’re about at the breaking point here: Roth may be ahead of schedule, but if he’s still not good to go very soon, it’s likely he won’t play this season.
But let’s not reach that conclusion just yet. Let’s talk about where Roth fits in with this current incarnation of the Hoosiers. Roth is certainly no NBA talent, but he’s also a guy that can hit the outside shot like few others on this team. When he’s hot, he’s hot. It takes some serious shooting talent to be able to knock down nine threes — tied for an IU record — as a freshman. So where I see him fitting in sans Mo Creek is another option for IU in the corners or out on the wings to knock down treys. Think of him as a Jordan Hulls type, except without the point guard skills. I’m not sure his presence in Crean’s system allows this Hoosiers team another win or two, but who knows: when IU failed to hit a three against Iowa, a hot Roth could have been there to keep it closer at the end of that game. And if Crean is pointing out his passing value as well, he’d probably see some decent minutes off the bench this season.
If I had my druthers, I’d say it’s probably best to get Roth a redshirt season here, and use his shooting prowess down the road when IU is battling to get in the NCAA Tournament. No reason to rush him back now. Though, this decision could muddy up the scholarship situation at some point down the road.
So what say you ITH’ers? Would you want a bump from Matt Roth in the back half of the Big Ten season? Or would you prefer him not to burn a year of eligibility?