Suddenly, we’re talking about Indiana’s depth at guard, and how reliable it is less than three weeks from the start of the season. And so when we talk about Matt Roth, we need to frame the conversation thusly.
Roth certainly has a chance to win some playing time, with Verdell Jones tweaking an ankle and Maurice Creek still taking a wisely cautious approach to his return from a knee injury. The problem with Roth is that the questions in need of answering won’t have any until we see him in game action.
Statistics don’t tell us anything we don’t already know: Roth is a blistering 3-point shooter when he’s hot, and still one of the best in the league when he’s a touch off. Thad Matta probably still has the occasional night sweat about the flood of threes Roth dropped on Ohio State in 2009.
The problem is that Roth hasn’t played in a game since November of last year, thanks to an ankle injury suffered early in the Hoosiers’ trip to Puerto Rico. That had the double-edged effect of robbing Roth of a year of development and not allowing him to try and prove that the deficiencies he said he had improved upon were indeed behind him.
In his freshman season, Roth was often a defensive liability, often outmatched athletically. He was also quite one-dimensional on offense, and without the ability to drive into the lane and draw contact, his excellent free-throw shooting rarely got put on display.
Again, it was believed Roth had improved in some of these areas last season, and while it was too small a sample size to get an accurate measurement, he absolutely looked like a more rounded player before his season was cut short.
The foot is now fine, according to Roth, although he also picked up a concussion during the preseason, which also shouldn’t be an issue. But Indiana will need Roth to stay healthy, at least initially.
The bottom line: Roth will absolutely get his chance, with Creek still not 100 percent and Jones recovering from an ankle injury. If he is the more well-rounded player he believes he is, then he should get some minutes in the Indiana rotation. If he’s not much more than a streaky 3-point shooter, then his playing time will reflect that, as well.
Quotable: “Obviously, I’ve gotten a lot stronger and I feel a lot quicker coming back from this injury. My doctors and my trainers did a great job with making sure I did all of my rehab and all of my strength and rehabilitation and stuff like that. I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing a fun style of basketball and making sure the fans are just as energetic watching us play as they are when we’re winning. It’s going to be a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to getting out there.” – Matt Roth