For three different Hoosiers, three different sets of expectations

  • 10/16/2010 1:13 am in

BLOOMINGTON — They came, as they always do, from all over the state, to see 16 college-age basketball players. They found a recovering record-setter, a 95-percent star and a 7-foot-1 giant born closer to Brazil than to Bloomington.

Hoosier Hysteria — we’re going to refrain from calling it Midnight Madness, because as I type the first words in this column it is 11:15 — is so often defined by optimism and hope.

For Matt Roth, Guy-Marc Michel and Maurice Creek, Friday offered one combined stage to prove three individual things.

Much of the focus of IU basketball fans Friday, at least based on the enthusiasm behind the applause he got from the crowd, was onĀ  Creek, and his left knee. Creek’s rehabilitation has been a popular topic in the offseason, and coming into this night’s festivities, all appeared on schedule. Tom Crean said afterward that’s where Indiana left it, as well.

“You don’t just pick up from where you left off. He’s still going through a very strenuous rehab,” Crean said afterward. “I just don’t want to rush it too quick for him.”

Creek came down the stairs of the south bleachers, through the students’ section, apparently favoring that left knee, if only slightly. During warm-ups and layup drills, while his teammates spun and moved nimbly with the ball, Creek often chose to shoot spot-up jumpers.

He did not participate in the scrimmage at the end of the night.

“Me coming back from a tough injury is perfect right now. I’m walking, shooting and working out in the gym,” Creek said, describing himself as “about 95 percent.”

“It’s gonna take some time to get to 100, but I feel real good about myself.”

Both coach and player were confident that Creek will be good to go once the season begins in just less than a month.

While Creek worked quietly, Matt Roth was trying to prove himself all over again. The best 3-point shooter in Illinois history came into last season hoping to show off improved athleticism and defense. Instead, he was saddled with a season-ending injury after just two games, and Friday night might have felt like something of a forgotten man.

If anyone needed a refresher course, Roth reminded them quickly what he can do with the ball in his hands, winning the 3-point shooting contest over Creek, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls. But Roth also looked, in brief opportunities, like the defensive player he hoped he would be last year, making a pair of nice plays in the scrimmage.

“I really just had to take a negative situation in my life and get some positives out of it,” Roth told reporters of last season.

Where Creek had injury, and Roth lost time, Michel was simply fighting suspicion. Relatively unknown prior to arriving this summer from Northern Idaho Junior College, Michel’s length inside was a welcome addition to a team that has lacked a true center in Tom Crean’s first two years.

But the 7-foot-1 post from Martinique, he of the 7-foot-8 wingspan, was still fighting perception, after two long, athletic centers came and went without much more than a passing impact on the program. Tijan Jobe and Bawa Muniru were beloved by fans, and by all accounts, they worked hard. But in the statistical columns that mattered, they offered little.

And so, presented with another foreign center without a deep history in the game — Michel only began playing basketball at 16 — IU fans had a right to their skepticism. Some of what they saw Friday night ought to have eased their minds.

Michel wasn’t a world-beater, not that anyone expected that of him. But he looked comfortable and fluid in the post, something never really achieved by either Muniru or Jobe. He showed impressive control for a player his size, and an attractive hook shot that, if it can be employed regularly, would be awfully hard to stop.

“He really, really wants to be good,” Crean said of Michel. “He’s got the good feel, he’s got the jump hook, and we want to continue to develop that. We’ve got to get him tighter in every area of his game.”

Throughout the course of any college basketball offseason, questions build up about personnel, about rotations, about storylines and strengths and weaknesses. Some of those questions have begun to meet answers. It’s basketball season again.

Filed to:

  • Yogi Kelin Zeller

    Wow, I remember that guy too…..he was part of the 40 minutes of hell…

  • Yogi Kelin Zeller

    Wow, I remember that guy too…..he was part of the 40 minutes of hell…

  • Bryan – agree.with the 10 cent knee reference. ACL ruptures are freak accidents – quick stop and pop. It can happen to the best conditioned athletes anytime. Really liked this kids play and will miss watching him. Not a Hoosier but personified Indiana basketball. He did the things I hope CZ brings to the table for IU in the future…..we could use someone like this.

  • I’m sad that Hummel got hurt — I wanted us to beat PUke at their best — so I don’t derive any joy from his injury.

    I don’t think any IU fan wants to see PUke in a Final Four game. EVER. If you want to see PUke in the Final Four, then you’re a Boilermaker. FYI: There are plenty of other B10 teams that can do well (and have had better success) in the tourney to make up for PUke.

  • Anonymous

    Another reason I love Mo Creek: Waka Flocka intro song

  • 11th and Done (Dunn)

    does anyone know why bobby had to dunk for watford? i hope he didn’t get hurt.
    guy looks really promising. he worked the hook twice.
    sheehey had better dunks than VO.
    watfords five pointers were awesome, ctc needs to run some plays to get him open for that shot. ha.
    i am positive that VO will be one of my favorite all time hoosiers by his senior year. (make room calbert, damon, and d.j.)
    please for the love of pete, no more nintendo wii competitions. that really sucked the life out of the place.

  • Dmglotz

    nothing against Sheehey because he is very athletic but Victor could have easily performed Will’s dunks. i dont believe Will could have performed VO’s dunks.

  • 11th and Done (Dunn)

    i’m not saying he’s a better dunker, but it was supposed to be a contest. we didn’t really get to VO’s full arsenal.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Clinton, did you get that autograph from Nover too? Nice chatting with you Friday night.

  • Anonymous

    I think Watford was just tired from the 3 point competition. And totally agree about the wii competition.

  • HoosierClinton

    Nate,

    Good chatting with you too man. And no I wasn’t able to get the Nover autograph. I was happy with Damon and Landon Turner though.

  • IU_Fan_99

    Alex, I took this photo at HH. Besides Yogi & Austin in the front row, what other recruits did I accidentally catch in this photo? I did not recognized anyone else… Thanks!

    http://twitpic.com/2yrxo6

  • Trevon Bluiett is next to Yogi in the green and Trey Lyles is on the left of Bluiett.

  • IU_Fan_99

    thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I had a blast at Hoosier Hysteria. Hit up Yogi’s for a few drinks afterward with friends and talked about good times from back in college. I still think we need to get a bunch of ITHers together for a game this year.

    First, Coach Jack and her team brought a lot of energy with them and I seriously believe they helped get some crowd excitement generated, even though everyone was there to see the guys. They could teach the guys a thing or two about dancing. Ha!

    Initial impressions were this…

    VJ III still has that smooth 10-12 foot pull up jumper. I love that shot. I expect it to go in everytime. Just stay away from too many 3 pointers. Curious to see his handles and if he’ll play any PG.

    VO is a great athlete and will bring an unbelievable amount of energy to the court every day.

    Matt Roth is for real. If he isn’t contributing, something is wrong. He looked bigger, stronger, quicker, and more agile than I remember. If he can provide servicable defense, he’ll be on the court.

    Hulls is the 2nd best shooter on the team and he never misses from up top. Enough said. Quick release which helps with his lack of height. I hope he plays with more confidence all year and we’ll be fine with him running the show.

    Elston is a beast. A freaking beast.

    Bobby C. – Will be a solid contributor. Nothing fancy. Needs to make his FTs.

    Watford will never be THE go-to-guy, but he’s a heck of a nice second or third option.

    Sheehey has more skills than I thought. He should get some PT. I liked my first glimpse of him.

    Mo Creek is still not ready. I don’t know exactly what 95% means, but we’re not going to see him at his best for a good portion of the season, if we see him at all early on.

    Guy-Marc is not nearly as raw as Bawa/Tijan. I don’t even know if I could saw he’s raw at all. For one, he’s every bit 7’1″. Holy cow he’s a big dude. He can contribute. He moved well on defense, seems to understand what he’s doing on the court, is quicker than I expected and is good enough offensively to make people respect him. He’s a little awkward with the ball in his hands, but he just needs to get offensive boards and finish close to the hoop. He’s not a star, but he’ll fill his role nicely, I think. I see no reason why he couldn’t start.

    Rivers – Eh. He definitely decided to fly under the radar. We’ll see if he can be a change of pace guy for us.

    Pritchard is still Pritchard. He’s like the Cubs…a lovable loser.

    Howard – the walk on, is about as good as a walk-on can get. Rather than your typical 5-nothing guards or undersized forwards, he’s big at 6’8″, should be a good practice player, and he could actually help when he’s on the court, too, if our other big men get into foul trouble.

    I think we’ll see an early lineup of the following:

    Jordan Hulls (third option)
    Verdell Jones (first option)
    Chritian Watford (second option)
    Derek Elston (fourth option)
    Guy-Marc Michel (fifth option)

    Bench:
    Tom Pritchard (first big off bench)
    Bobby Capobianco (second big off bench)
    Matt Roth (first guard off bench for offense)
    Victor Oladipo (first guard off bench for defense)
    Jeremiah Rivers (third guard off bench – change of pace energy guard)
    Will Sheehey (third or fourth guard off bench)
    Jeff Howard (third big off the bench – needed when guys are in foul trouble or late in 1st half to prevent foul trouble)

    Wait and See:
    Maurice Creek (a few minutes a game early on)

  • Bracy2

    Its hard to believe anything Crean says about the big guy when repeatedly he said Jobe was the most improved player he had seen, then start Pritchard and Jobe would be lucky to see 5 minutes.