An early look at the 2010-2011 backcourt

  • 07/01/2010 9:36 pm in

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 08:  Jeremiah Rivers #5 of the Indiana Hoosiers dribbles the ball against the Pitt Panthers during the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 8, 2009 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)It’s been a quiet couple of weeks from a news perspective, but that should change next week as the evaluation period begins Tuesday. I’ll be at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis on Tuesday and Wednesday and will probably head to the Kentucky Hoopfest in Louisville at some point on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

It’ll be a great opportunity to watch, interview and capture video of top prospects from across the country and observe which players the IU staff are tracking the closest.

With that said, let’s dive into an early look at some of the storylines to keep an eye on with next season’s backcourt:

+ Maurice Creek’s health: This might be the No. 1 storyline leading into next season. Creek’s horrific injury probably cost the Hoosiers at least a couple more wins in 2009-2010 (if not more) and also kept one of the best young players in the Big Ten from playing  in a conference game. Creek’s progress towards 100 percent, based on his comments on Twitter and updates from Tom Crean, seems to be steady. A healthy Creek in 2010-2011 gives Indiana something it lacked when the going got tough late in games: A player you can rely on for a critical basket.

+ How much will Jeremiah Rivers contribute? Prior to last season, The Herald-Times referred to Rivers as Indiana’s unquestioned leader. As the season played out, this characterization spoke more to the state of IU’s program than Rivers’ ability to lead. Rivers showed flashes of brilliance, but was inconsistent and often unreliable from the foul line. As IU’s lone senior, Rivers will enter next season as more of a question mark than a known commodity. If he plays to his skill-level, the potential is there for Rivers to make a positive impact.

+ Verdell continues to grow: As a sophomore, Jones posted an impressive 16.7 ppg in 18 conference games. His shooting percentage wasn’t great overall at just a shade under 40 percent, but Creek’s return should free up Verdell for better looks as opponents will no longer be able to key on him. The keys to Jones blossoming into an All-Big Ten level player are continuing to put on weight and adding upper body strength that will allow him to finish plays at the basket instead of relying primarily on the pull-up jumper.

+ Is Jordan Hulls ready to lead? The answer, from my perspective, is yes. Statistically speaking, Hulls won’t put up gaudy numbers. And no, his glaring offensive weakness — penetrating all the way to the basket — isn’t ideal for the dribble-drive offense Crean wants to employ. But nobody will outwork Hulls, he can knock down shots and his natural instinct to make intelligent decisions will make it next to impossible to keep him off the floor.

+ New kids on the block: Crean has already made it clear that he’s not interested in newcomers Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey biding their time in Bloomington before making a splash. Oladipo will help right away because he’s a high-level athlete that will defend and rebound from the guard position. Crean wants rebounding from his backcourt and Oladipo can provide it. Sheehey is a slasher that should fit well in the dribble-drive, is an above-average rebounder and can guard multiple positions.

+ Where will Matt Roth fit in? You can never have too many shooters, but for Roth to warrant serious clock, he’ll need to do more than simply spot up, right? Maybe, but maybe not. If Roth gets on a roll, it’ll be hard to keep him off the court. But in order to warrant consistent playing time, he’ll need to defend better than he did as a freshman and add a serviceable mid-range game to keep defenses honest.

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  • GFDave

    I agree that Capo came on last year and showed flashes of athleticism that I don't think Pritch can show. I think he will get minutes. I also think his competitive attitude and demeanor can help this team find an identity. I don't see him playing ahead of Elston or Watford. I hope GM-M is good enough to keep him on the pine (that's more a statement of what I think we need as a team than any problem I have with Capo.)

  • JerryCT

    I think we certainly are over-hyping Creek's ability …… but not his potential….. this is only natural for die hard fans.

    He played well against PITT but got killed on defense against Ole Miss , who had 3 good guards. We know he is a great shooter and maybe a good rebounder but to be a great player he would to show more dribble drive, more passing, more defense

  • JerryCT

    I think we certainly are over-hyping Creek's ability …… but not his potential….. this is only natural for die hard fans.

    He played well against PITT but got killed on defense against Ole Miss , who had 3 good guards. We know he is a great shooter and maybe a good rebounder but to be a great player he would to show more dribble drive, more passing, more defense

  • JerryCT

    Completely agree Wish. He also went 8 of 10 from the line in the last several games.

    As for playing w/o the ball ……. I would really like to see him post up his man when Hulls is at the wing because I believe Hulls can get him the ball down there. According to Marcusgresham he should be wide open ……………

  • JerryCT

    Completely agree Wish. He also went 8 of 10 from the line in the last several games.

    As for playing w/o the ball ……. I would really like to see him post up his man when Hulls is at the wing because I believe Hulls can get him the ball down there. According to Marcusgresham he should be wide open ……………

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    I agree Kelin. The jump a player can and often does make between his freshman and sophomore year can be the biggest improvement in his college career. I remember a good Alan Henderson as a freshman that helped Cheaney take the Hoosiers to the final four but the next season as a sophomore he was easily as valuable as Cheaney and a dominant player and I still believe RMK would have had another championship if Henderson hadn't have gone down with the knee injury!!!

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, Mo Creek aside due to the injury, players like Elston, Watford, Capo, and Hulls should realistically make big improvements in their games this year, as did VJ3 last season. Usually, players catch up to the speed of the game a great deal after their freshman year and add strength and size to their game. I remember the natural strength I gained between my freshman and sophomore years and the power that came with it at the plate. It just sort of happened over the summer. All of the sudden when I went back for fall ball I was stronger, could bench and squat more, and just felt stronger. That 's likely with some of these guys. Hopefully we see a much improved DE, JH, Capo, and CW and I think Mo Creek is good enough to remain a force even though he lost a lot of that opportunity to get stronger and better. Most guys don't go the way of TP as far as aggression and strength go between their first and second seasons and I expect to see a lot more stamina, strength, and speed on the floor at the start of the season.

    I'm holding out hope that these guys really surprise a lot of us and win 18-20 games because of that added maturity, strength, etc. It's not unheard of!

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    I agree Kelin. The jump a player can and often does make between his freshman and sophomore year can be the biggest improvement in his college career. I remember a good Alan Henderson as a freshman that helped Cheaney take the Hoosiers to the final four but the next season as a sophomore he was easily as valuable as Cheaney and a dominant player and I still believe RMK would have had another championship if Henderson hadn't have gone down with the knee injury!!!

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, Mo Creek aside due to the injury, players like Elston, Watford, Capo, and Hulls should realistically make big improvements in their games this year, as did VJ3 last season. Usually, players catch up to the speed of the game a great deal after their freshman year and add strength and size to their game. I remember the natural strength I gained between my freshman and sophomore years and the power that came with it at the plate. It just sort of happened over the summer. All of the sudden when I went back for fall ball I was stronger, could bench and squat more, and just felt stronger. That 's likely with some of these guys. Hopefully we see a much improved DE, JH, Capo, and CW and I think Mo Creek is good enough to remain a force even though he lost a lot of that opportunity to get stronger and better. Most guys don't go the way of TP as far as aggression and strength go between their first and second seasons and I expect to see a lot more stamina, strength, and speed on the floor at the start of the season.

    I'm holding out hope that these guys really surprise a lot of us and win 18-20 games because of that added maturity, strength, etc. It's not unheard of!

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    Yeah man . . . he waived off coach once and I watched him just walk by him to the bench on two occasions when CTC was trying to talk to him, plus I saw numerous times when he ripped teammates after he had committed a couple straight turnovers like it was their fault he dribbled the ball of his foot! He never seemed to take responsibility for his play and would whine and pout when he would make bad decisions. I think he was the epitome of bad attitude and bad leadership.

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    Yeah man . . . he waived off coach once and I watched him just walk by him to the bench on two occasions when CTC was trying to talk to him, plus I saw numerous times when he ripped teammates after he had committed a couple straight turnovers like it was their fault he dribbled the ball of his foot! He never seemed to take responsibility for his play and would whine and pout when he would make bad decisions. I think he was the epitome of bad attitude and bad leadership.

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    I agree with Howard man! I have a connection there at Westfield that said he was a real talent and actually really athletic and did anyone else see him dominate Hammons during their sectional game? I think that was the best move CTC has made since being hired as coach! He landed a kid that could have easily been a four star recruit if he had grown a little sooner and developed a little sooner as a walk-on!

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    I agree with Howard man! I have a connection there at Westfield that said he was a real talent and actually really athletic and did anyone else see him dominate Hammons during their sectional game? I think that was the best move CTC has made since being hired as coach! He landed a kid that could have easily been a four star recruit if he had grown a little sooner and developed a little sooner as a walk-on!

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    Cali”payoff” will take pUKe down and I can't freaking wait!!! I will rejoice and celebrate that day and I don't even care if he gets in trouble for it! Yes, I hope he does, just because he deserves to ethically speaking, but he can go coach out in the Pac10 or something because he will never win the big one and even if he does, it'll be vacated anyway!

  • Plane1972

    With all due respect, this Rivers-going-off banter is lunacy. The guy has shown no evidence of having the ability to do that. His lack of sound decision-making, inability to knock-down jumpers, and general lack of confidence outside of driving the lane, make him a liability. Being a strong defender is his best attribute (a respectable attribute, at that) and the primary reason he still sees the court, but he will not get the run of the court next year that he had this season – too many suitable alternatives. I also think benching Doc Rivers' kid was, and will remain, a tough thing for the coaching staff to do.

  • IUMIKE1

    Kelin: Concerning JR, after thinking about it (way more than he probably deserves) I am wondering if maybe he didn't take full advantage of his time between GTWN and actually playing at IU because he seen his situation as that he was not treated fairly while on the team at GTWN and / or the coaches just didn't know what they were doing. This may have led him to think all he needed to do was transfer and show them what a mistake they had made with him. Which in turn led him to believe, and yet once again in error, that all he had to do was show up at IU and throw on his jersey. This in reality only served to reinforce in people's minds that his playing time at GTWN was what it should have been. That alone should be enough motivation for him to ” get it together” over the summer. He shouldn't need additional things to motivate him after the season he had but if so that should be more than enough. I think we will all see real quick if this, along with his attitude was remedied over the summer. I am like you though I get a feeling in my gut that it has not been fixed or at least not to the point that it needs to be. Please prove me wrong JR and if you do I will be more than happy to apoligize to you profusely because him getting his game to where we all thought it would and should be last year will go a really long way in helping us make a vast improvement over last year IMO.

  • johnny

    Yes Rivers can get in the lane anytime he wants too………….Problems are:
    1. forces up a terrible dipsy doo shot
    2. gets so far in the lane and gets in the air, tries to pass it, turns it over and blames it on someone else.
    3. cannot make good decisions in the lane
    enough said

  • marcusgresham

    Nah, not quite WIDE open. The block's about a 6-foot shot. They'd have picked him up about 4 or 5 feet outside of that.

    I hope you're right. I hope he has a great year, but I'm not too confident that he's going to magically find a jump shot over the summer when he's had 22 years to develop one—and a friggin' NBA coach at home to teach him.

  • IUMIKE1

    Don't forget the double pump, switch hands, try to make it to the other side of the rim part of his getting into the lane move that, not suprisingly, usually ended with him missing badly or throwing a pass to where there wasn't anybody standing. And that is but only one of the of the things he has got to not do next year if he doesn't want to spend time picking splinters out of his you know what.

  • marcusgresham

    The maddening thing is that he has two distinct advantages—-physical ability (strong, quick, good leaper,) and he's a coach's son. I think that's what is so upsetting to everyone; he has everything in his favor to be phenomenal, but he, well, isn't.

  • IUFAN87

    Any way we can get another interview with Crean man that really pumped me up we need once a month or so on here…You all give Roth a little break he is a pretty dang good player no NBA material but a 4 yr player for indiana and was a little slow his freshman year but you will see him grow he will be a DJ White type of playmaker by the time he leaves. Everytime he steps on the court you will feel the energy rise

  • Jamesrey28

    Wow I didn't see him waive off coach, apologies to Kelin, if he did that he can sit from now until eternity. It would be bad enough if he was a star, but the dude had 12 games where he scored 4 points or less averaging 28 minutes a game…..pathetic. Doc Rivers spoke to the team at half time in at least one game and was a presence around the team last year, I hope coach doesn't feel any added pressure to get him playing time because of this.

  • Outoftheloop

    You needed a DH rule and a Porto-let. Put the kid in the Porto-let, pull him out to bat, then put him back in until his next at bat!

  • Outoftheloop

    I don't think starting minutes are important at all. Minutes are important. Guy at C but only 20 min/game in the preseason unless he is playing great. Creek at SG but only 20 min/game in the preseason until he is totally healthy and strong. Watford at SF try for only 20 min/game in preseason but more to get the win. Elston at PF try for only 20 min/game in preseason but more to get the win. Jones at PG try for only 20 min/game in preseason but more to get the win. Capo and Pritchard split 20 min/game for Guy at C. Rivers, Sheehey and Oladipo as a group to press on defense, fast break on offense, and run the opponents out of the gym, as a group 15 min/game, but reward them if they play well. Roth 5 min in the first half and 5 min in the second for a “heat check”. He has to get off 2 shots in the 5 min and if he hits both keep him in until he is below 50%. That makes 195 out of 200 min. Obviously these are rough guidelines, not fixed time frames. You have to win the game and adjust to what is going on.

  • Outoftheloop

    I forgot Hulls as the first sub 20 min/game at PG, and more if he is hot from 3 pt range and/or good at running the offense.

  • Outoftheloop

    I agree, but when IU is getting pushed around and really physically dominated, Danny Moore is our only really tough guy to do battle. Not with cheep shots like Dumas, just “in-your-face-I-am-here-try-to swing-your-elbows-through-me-I-am-not-moving” defense. There will be a game or two when we need him!

  • Outoftheloop

    I said that and was called an idiot and told that no one agreed with me. I still say that 18-20 wins is DOABLE! Go Aceman!

  • jayrig5

    You and Aceman have different opinions. He's holding out hope for 18-20 wins. You said if they didn't win 20 (and 12 in the Big Ten) than it was a failed season and Crean should go. And no one called you an idiot (to my knowledge. I definitely didn't, I just said it wasn't reasonable.) All this talk of progression is nice, and it very well may help win a few games in the non-conference that IU didn't win last season, but a lot of the Big Ten returns a lot of key players, and everyone coming back on all those teams can say the same thing about their players.

  • marcusgresham

    I see 18 on the threshold of best-case scenario with one caveat: if this team can win about 16 and qualify for a (non-Big Dance) post-season tournament, I could see them picking up a couple or three wins there and getting near 20.

  • Outoftheloop

    You are not even CLOSE to the truth! I said that if we did not win 20 it would not be a successful season (by successful I mean making the NCAA tourney). I said that if we won 15 or more it would not be a bad season (I would consider making the NIT OK but not really successful, unless we win the NIT, but to do that we would need to win 20 by the seasons end). I have NEVER said that Coach Crean had to go. In fact I gave the stats months ago on Baylor and laid out a 7 year plan. You are confused.

  • Outoftheloop

    If they do well in any post season event they will be 18-20 plus wins. I agree. All wins during the season count, including the post season.

  • jayrig5

    Seriously man. This is your exact quote. I copied and pasted.

    “We should be competitive in EVERY game! The training wheels are off. IU needs to win 20 games in 2010-11.”

  • Outoftheloop

    So now you admit your misrepresentation. Thanks, I appreciate that! At no time did I say: “You said if they didn't win 20 (and 12 in the Big Ten) than it was a failed season and Crean should go.” I did say “We should be competitive in EVERY game! The training wheels are off. IU needs to win 20 games in 2010-11.” Then, in response to your post I repeated my opinion in similar words:”I said that if we did not win 20 it would not be a successful season (by successful I mean making the NCAA tourney). I said that if we won 15 or more it would not be a bad season (I would consider making the NIT OK but not really successful, unless we win the NIT, but to do that we would need to win 20 by the seasons end). I have NEVER said that Coach Crean had to go.” Thanks for setting the record straight.