2010-2011 Player Profile: Tom Pritchard

  • 10/20/2010 2:21 pm in

INDIANAPOLIS - DECEMBER 06:  Tom Pritchard #25 of the Indiana Hoosiers grabs a rebound against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase on December 6, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)It’s time for Inside the Hall’s player-by-player breakdown of the 2010-2011 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Tom Pritchard.

Ah, the curious case of Tom Pritchard. Ah, the cliche of using odd, catchy movie titles as ledes. Which one shall we talk about today?

I choose Pritchard. So let’s talk about Pritchard, the Ohio native whose career started so well but hasn’t really taken off since, at least not in the way we expected it would. I’ll throw out what is a rather shocking stat, brought to my attention by old friend Jordan Cohen during the production of our season preview magazine:

Over his first 16 career games, Pritchard had five double-doubles, including two in his first two, making him at that time the only Indiana freshman ever to accomplish that.

Number of double-doubles in the 46 games since? Zero. Not one. Never even broke double digits in rebounding last year. Pritchard committed 98 fouls last year, better than three per game, and fouled out four times. Both were team highs.

So why am I feeling upbeat about Tom Pritchard in 2010? Well, for a number of reasons.

First, without trying to be clever, Pritchard has little else to do but get better. With a few rare exceptions, (Purdue, Bryant, Howard) Pritchard looked various combinations of slow, sloppy and lacking confidence last year. As the pressure to perform turned up, his performances often seemed to get worse, until he was essentially relegated to a secondary role in the offense. And this from a kid many thought was a primary part of IU’s future down low.

Second, I’ve gotten to see Pritchard up close a couple of times this offseason, and he just looks like he’s in better shape. Much better. He looks slimmer and at the same time more muscular. We won’t pretend that an extra say, 8-10 pounds of playing weight were the difference between night and day last season, but when they’re not there and they used to be, there will be a discernible difference.

Third, while I don’t believe in chalking up a poor season to some unquantifiable cliche like a “sophomore slump,” I do believe in experience. Tom Pritchard has it. All the criticism, the struggles, often it helps a player to have to go through that, and learn the value of always improving.

Fourth, and consider this one most important, we shouldn’t forget that there was a time when Pritchard offered something we all really liked. He was tough down low, and Tom Crean loves to talk about his impressive footwork.

Well, you say, he has to learn to play without fouling. Yes he does. A lot of young frontcourt players do.

But he was supposed to be better with more help around him last year. To what help, exactly, were you referring? Christian Watford, who should barely have been playing post himself? Bobby Capobianco, whose problems with fouls were nearly as bad as Pritchard’s? Derek Elston, whose defensive deficiencies kept him from serious playing time until the end of the year?

More big bodies doesn’t automatically translate into a more balanced post. Pritchard, like Indiana as a whole, is in a much better position to thrive this year than last. And so perhaps he will.

Best-case scenario: Pritchard regains his old confidence and cuts down on the fouls, winning plenty of playing time and pushing Guy-Marc Michel at the five.

Worst-case scenario: He basically repeats last year, and a bigger, stronger Elston and a 7-foot-1 option in the post, Guy Marc-Michel, push him even further out of the rotation.

Previous Player Profiles: Jeremiah Rivers, Christian Watford, Verdell Jones, Maurice Creek, Derek Elston, Jordan Hulls, Guy-Marc Michel

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  • Zack Wallace

    Only one thing to say. Let us pray the best-case scenario ends up being right.

  • MillaRed

    I think TP played at too heavy a weight last year. It affected his balance and thus the fouls and general awkwardness ensued. Hopefully the better fit TP will have more bounce and get back to being a good rebounder.

    Early in his FR year, we posted him up as much as possible and he showed great footwork and a nice touch around the basket. It sure would be nice to see that as an option this season.

    Other than that he needs to pull up and take that 5-7 footer the opponents are willing to give him. And get the FT percentage up 10 points.

    TP can be a factor again. If he is we’ll win a few more games.

  • Anonymous

    “Over his first 16 career games, Pritchard had five double-doubles, including two in his first two, making him at that time the only Indiana freshman ever to accomplish that.”

    I don’t remember who our first two opponents were…but maybe that had something to do with his ability to rack up dub/dubs in the first two. And 3 more over the next 14 games? As our only real option in the post, should anyone be surprised that he’s the first freshman to accomplish that feat? Reading too much into the stats and not seeing the forest through the trees.

  • GFDave

    He’s got to stay out of foul trouble. If he can do that then there is a chance that he can score points, grab rebounds, set the high screen for JerryCT (vbg) and defend the post.

  • coachv

    i agree with you, but he needs to extend his shooting range to 16′ to be a decent player to compensate for his lack of quickness.

  • MillaRed

    Actually you might be surprised.

    at Notre Dame 14 pt 6 reb
    Gonzaga 13 and 6
    at Iowa 11 and 3
    Michigan 9 and 9
    at Ohio St 16 and 11
    Penn St 12 and 5
    Minny 10 and 5

    They are not all double-doubles. But I think its safe to say if we got anything like the above out of TP this year we would be ecstatic. He put up good numbers against good teams his FR year.

  • stonaroni

    That would make JerryCT’s day. JerryCT would be reigning 3’s all night long and mixing in the pick n’ role featuring TP cutting down the lane to throw down the tomahawk dunk.

  • JerryCT

    All right you guys.

    I do not know which TP will begin the season and which TP will end the season but I have watched the first 1/2 season of our B10 games several times and in slo-mo.

    Here is short list of course as to why TP is critical to our season:

    1. Nobody on our team or any B10 opponent I watched can HELP & RECOVER like TP on the high ball screen ……… don’t believe me watch 1st UM game 2nd half from 12 minute mark and TP by himself stops Manny Harris and Sims on the pick 3 straight times and 5 of 6 in a row possessions. NOBODY. ( I hate to think of Hulls, Jones, Creek defending this w/o him )

    A good example of how bad it could be is watching Minn player Cobbs get a pick from Iverson on Jones and then eat up Elston on the layup. Bad defense from Jones and worse from the ‘help” player.

    2. His recognition of the shot clock and press both result in key screens to save the possessions

    3. He is a terrific body first rebounder ………. may not get the rebound but his man is not near it either.

    I could go on ………… as you all know ………… but I suggest we support this kid who does so much inside the game and w/o the ball to help us win

    ( did I mention running down Talor Battle from behind, after a Hulls to for a crucial block ? )

  • I think your profile picture should be salivating given the topic of this post.

  • Baseball Montgomery Buc

    How about the ITH plug from Dakich today. It shows that this is one of the best sites for college basketball news. As for Big Tom, he needs to go back and look at the game film from the Purdue game last year. If he can do that on a consistent basis, he will be all-big 10.

  • Bucky

    In the picture above, is there a mini-tramp that’s been photoshopped out?

    I see no other explanation for his being so high off the floor.

  • After I read this piece I thought to myself, “If TP had been near the same player in the PU game for the entire season, how many more games would we have won?” You figure the loss of Creek cost us at least a couple of games, and TP’s regression maybe another couple. That’s not much, but 14 wins looks better than 10.

  • Baseball Montgomery Buc

    I think he had a big time wake up call, as did all the players. The last couple years everybody was getting playing time because Crean had no other choice. Now there is a lot of pieces and competition at every spot, which should help everyone on the team. I wish I would of recorded that Purdue game, but your right if he plays like that the whole year, then we steal a couple wins. Going back to that specific game, he had a couple dunks and a MAMMOTH screen on Kramer which was awesome. All I want Big Tom to do this year is make layups, make free throws, rebound, solid defense, and the biggest of all: STAY OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE. He has to stay on the court for longer than 5 minutes.

  • Anonymous

    VO may have jumped over school children, but I once saw TP jump over 4 school buses, lengthwise.

    TP wanted to compete in the slam dunk competition at HH, but the rim was too low.

  • Bucky

    Chuck Norris wanted to play for IU, but knew he couldn’t beat TP.

  • Jm23

    Can anyone tell me why TP was in the dunk contest? I think most of us have a better vertical. But seriously this is a make or break year for TP. He can either reinsert himself back into the starting rotation up or be forgotten on the bench behind DE, Bobby C, and Guy Marc-Michel. Offensively TP needs to develop a 5-8 jumper, have quicker post moves and set screens to free up shooters. But where TP can make the biggest impact is by rebounding and playing good post defense (needs to cut back on the fouls) I am one of the people that has been tough on TP but want to see the kid do well. However if he doesn’t someone has to step up. P.S. I hope Pritchard’s mom doesn’t read our posts and get mad again.

  • Nice work with the stats Milla; I was surprised.

  • Anonymous

    Optical illusion. Never hurts to have your own photographer that knows all the little tricks.

    All jokes aside there isn’t a single player on this team that could not have done something that will help the team this coming season. Soon it will be obvious who has or has not improved in what areas and by how much during the offseason. Like we needed one more reason for the season to get underway. LOL

  • Well I hope you’re mostly positive assessment proves correct.

    What I’m reading as you profile the players is that there is an awful lot of variance and UNKNOWNs about the upcoming year performance. One might be led to believe that if each of these young players has improved, overcome their weak spots, that we will have some post-season.

  • Well I hope you’re mostly positive assessment proves correct.

    What I’m reading as you profile the players is that there is an awful lot of variance and UNKNOWNs about the upcoming year performance. One might be led to believe that if each of these young players has improved, overcome their weak spots, that we will have some post-season.

  • Well I hope you’re mostly positive assessment proves correct.

    What I’m reading as you profile the players is that there is an awful lot of variance and UNKNOWNs about the upcoming year performance. One might be led to believe that if each of these young players has improved, overcome their weak spots, that we will have some post-season.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Jerry. Pritchard is a role player, and that’s what he should be to this team. And I think that he can be a good role player. My hope and belief is that he’ll settle into that this year. His Freshman year, he was called upon to do more than that. It seemed like last year he was trying to figure out what his role was. Best case scenario for Pritchard is 25 minutes a game, 8 boards, 8 points, solid defensive presence in the post and tons of screens.

    Can anyone comment on his abilities as a passer? I honestly have not paid that much attention to it.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that avoiding the fouls will determine whether he can be successful in other areas. The difference from last year and his freshman year could be as simple as the added weight made him just a step slower getting into position on screens or his defensive stance. He looks lighter on his feet again so if that gets him in position on time he could certainly be a contributor again.

  • jerry – great synopsis. TP basically does what a nose guard in football does. All the grunt work it takes for a team to win. If he can develop a Kramer like motor (sorry for the PUke ref), add in his experience then he should be a valuable asset for CTC. Should lead to a few more BT wins and move us into the 5-6 slot….if that happens I will go to the dogs and post my st bernard for my avatar….

  • JerryCT

    He is a good passer but mostly with his left hand. His best passing skill is his recognition of where the ball needs to go and then unloading it immediatley.

  • JerryCT

    Your are right on the mark. I always watch games at least twice …. the first time I mostly follow the ball like everyone else.

    The second time I watch I try to figure out “why” a player scored or got scored on in the context of all 10 players so I am not watching the ball but trying to learn the “story” of the game.

    For example ‘how did TP shut out Sampson3 with no FG’s and 0 rebounds in the first half while getting 5 rebounds and pts of his own ?

    As a result I have come to appreciate TP because he does more different things than any other player.

    1. he calls plays and directs traffic
    2. he sees the shot clock and the press and reacts first to get us out of trouble
    3. sets picks
    4. seals inside
    5. skip passes to the wing
    6. Help & recover D like no one else

    I will make you a deal . If we finish 4 or higher I will switch my Clumber to your St Bernard

  • Outoftheloop

    I hope that Tom has a terrific season! He needs it and IU needs him. IMHO he needs to: 1) play with aggressive energy every second on the court, 2) hit 65% of his FT’s, 3) work on an 7-15 foot shot, 4) rebound, rebound, rebound, 5) play smart and with confidence. We have seen him accomplish 1), 4) and 5) in games during some stretches. The shooting we have never seen, but he has now had 2 full years out of HS ball to work on 2) and 3). I am not really concerned too much about the fouls-but I hate repeated stupid fouls. Give Tom the minutes that he has earned in practice and in the games, and if he fouls out we have other options which might even be better (such as Elston, Capo, Guy, Howard who might hit FT’s at the end of the game!). For Indiana to reach 19-11 this season (my prediction) we will need for Tom to be a tough, smart, experienced, aggressive 6’9 guy around the basket!

  • Outoftheloop

    I love that stats. These were directly on point!

  • Outoftheloop

    I really do not care if he fouls out of every game as long as while he is playing he is smart, tough, aggressive, rebounding, screening, blocking out, defending, hitting 65% of his FT’s and working hard. There is no NEED to save him for later in the game, we now have other options with some real advantages over Tom in Elston, Guy, Capo and Howard. Play Tom with 3 fouls, play him with 4 fouls. He will learn that once you hit 5 fouls you sit at the FAR end of the bench feeling helpless and letting your teammates down!

  • Outoftheloop

    Jerry would you consider a name change to: JerryTPCT? Every player NEEDS a stalwart defender! TP has at least one. And Jerry knows a thing or two!

  • Outoftheloop

    You are right that there are many unknowns and much depends upon individual improvement. But look at the quality of the players at IU during these last 2 seasons and now this season: 1) 2008-09 we had 4 players, each a very green freshman-Jones, Pritchard, Roth and Nick Williams; 2) 2009-10 we lost Roth and Creek to season ending injuries, we had 2 sophomores-Jones and Pritchard, plus 4 green freshmen-Watford, Elston, Hulls and Capo, plus Rivers; 3) 2010-11 we have 12 quality players with experience, with scoring abilities, with 3-point shooting marksmanship, with size and strength, with amazing athletic abilities, etc. Let’s play ball!

  • Outoftheloop

    You are right that there are many unknowns and much depends upon individual improvement. But look at the quality of the players at IU during these last 2 seasons and now this season: 1) 2008-09 we had 4 players, each a very green freshman-Jones, Pritchard, Roth and Nick Williams; 2) 2009-10 we lost Roth and Creek to season ending injuries, we had 2 sophomores-Jones and Pritchard, plus 4 green freshmen-Watford, Elston, Hulls and Capo, plus Rivers; 3) 2010-11 we have 12 quality players with experience, with scoring abilities, with 3-point shooting marksmanship, with size and strength, with amazing athletic abilities, etc. Let’s play ball!

  • Baseball Montgomery Buc

    That will help, no doubt. But the biggest thing for Big Tom is that the guards have to be able to keep the opposing teams guards in front of them. When your man gets around you and goes to the basket, that causes the big men to come help and most likely they are going to foul someone. Jordan Hulls, VJIII, Creek, etc. have to do a better job of staying in front of their man.

  • I hope I lose….

  • GoshenHoosier

    My impression, albeit without going back and watching game film, is that most of TP’s foul trouble last year came as he rotated to help his teammates who got beat on drives, not as he guarded his man one-on-one. If this impression is true, then better perimeter defense would reduce the number of times TP felt he had to help, which would keep him on the floor in more comfortable positions.

    Can anyone corroborate?

  • HoosierNshaker

    Just a warning on Tom Pritchard…

    Saw him at Dunkin Donuts this year and that will probably be the only thing he dunks this year! I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was a “sophomore slump” but fact of the matter is I saw an extreme lack of effort and motivation at times last year. He was the only one of CTC’s players that you could visually tell when he cared about the game and when he did not. Hopefully he turns it around but maybe this Ohio boy doesn’t have the heart of a Hoosier.