BLOOMINGTON | So no column tonight. I am robbed — devoid, even — of meaningful candor with regard to Night of the Living Red. Or, more specifically, you and I would both probably prefer we just throw some info out there and hit Halloween weekend in force.
So that’s what we’ll do.
- First off, yes, Cody Zeller was there. Hanner Perea was too, as was Austin Etherington. No Yogi Ferrell, but the weekend is young, and he’s shown a penchant for IU football games this fall.
- Talking to Cody and Co. was off limits per NCAA recruiting rules (Which make no sense by the way. Thanks NCAA.) so we didn’t get to chat him up. Got a lot of chat questions trying to gauge Cody’s state of mind, level of enjoyment, etc. A pretty good crowd turned out, and the scrimmage was actually quite entertaining as scrimmages go, but Zeller has been in this process literally for years at this point. He wasn’t going to see something earth-shattering at Indiana he’s never seen before. He looked like a kid taking it in, enjoying himself and hanging out with friends. So in all honesty, I wouldn’t waste too many worry lines on his demeanor.
- On to the scrimmage. Christian Watford led all scorers with 24 points, and looked really good in isolation when plays broke down. One problem with that was that the Crimson team, made up of more likely starters than the Cream, had some troubles offensively. Watford said afterward that the Cream guys were overplaying their Crimson brethren some, knowing their plays, but that they needed to be more careful offensively. The Crimson turned the ball over 17 times to the Cream’s 11.
- Guy-Marc Michel is not Tijan Jobe, and he’s not Bawa Muniru. Big man is strong, can control his body at both ends of the floor and looked confident offensively. Both Crean and Michel said afterward that Michel’s level of conditioning has improved immensely since his arrival in Bloomington, and they were pleased it showed Friday. Michel should and will get minutes, and to be honest, in a rather weak Big Ten at the center position, I’m having a hard time coming up with too many guys who can match Michel physically if he plays like he did Friday. Dallas Lauderdale comes to mind, but the list is short. Not saying he’s a double-double average kind of guy, just that his pure size will be hard to match if he plays like that.
- Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo both impressed for the white team. Easy to see why Crean has been pushing them to fight for minutes. Crean was disappointed that neither really hit the offensive boards, since that’s generally been regarded as a strength for both from their position. But overall, the kids looked good.
- Maurice Creek, statistically, looked like a guy who’s spent the last 10 months recovering from a devastating knee injury, shooting 2-of-8. Maurice Creek, physically, looked miles and miles better running, shooting and just generally moving around on the court than he did two weeks ago at Hoosier Hysteria. Obviously, it will take him awhile to recover his rhythm, but if Friday night is evidence, he’ll be ready for Indiana’s first game against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 12.
- It wasn’t all pretty, and it wasn’t all healthy. Creek is still on his way back. Verdell Jones sat out with the ankle sprain that’s had him sidelined almost a week now. Derek Elston was back on the court and shot 5-of-7, although Crean admitted his timing is still a little bit off after missing time to various maladies. Tom Pritchard’s left hand was either in a cast or heavily bandaged (couldn’t quite tell what exact material was on the hand) and Jeremiah Rivers had to sit out because of a concussion. Watford also went down hard during the scrimmage and banged up his ribs. Had an ice pack on after the game, but said it wasn’t anything major. Nothing catastrophic, but the injuries seem to be an unfortunate theme during Indiana’s preseason.
- Can’t get out of here without talking about Daniel Moore, who was easily the player of the scrimmage. Finished with 18 points and five assists, and four steals to boot. He ran the Cream offense efficiently and calmly, made some pretty nice shots, and mostly just gave his team the veteran presence that, at times, it looked like Jordan Hulls couldn’t for the Crimson. Not predicting that Moore starts or anything, but he looked good, at times very good. Mostly, he looked like a guy whose been in this offense for two full years now, and has a level of knowledge and experience that make him what he was tonight: comfortable and reliable. His play also sort of exemplified his team’s: They played like guys who know they probably aren’t starters as of right now, and they were playing like they want to be starters.
All in all, probably a good night. But what we didn’t see, obviously, is much more important to the program now, and in the future, than what we did. Happy Halloween folks.