Yahoo! picks IU sixth in Big Ten, Zeller top newcomer

  • 09/13/2011 9:51 am in

The Dagger Big Ten Preview: Projections and five storylines to watch

3. Will Tom Crean’s recruiting success translate into wins?

Indiana’s roster was so threadbare in the wake of Kelvin Sampson’s scandal-tainted tenure that success-starved Hoosiers fans have shown great patience during Tom Crean’s tenure despite three losing seasons. That patience will start to wear thin, however, if the deeper, more experienced Hoosiers don’t return to the NCAA tournament in Crean’s fourth season.

With impact recruit Cody Zeller joining returning star Christian Watford in the frontcourt and a versatile backcourt highlighted by athletic senior Verdell Jones, Indiana has the personnel to improve dramatically on last year’s finish. The Hoosiers won’t contend for a Big Ten title until their highly touted 2012 recruiting class arrives, but 20 wins and a top-six finish in league aren’t unreasonable goals.

The X-factor for Indiana will be the play of Maurice Creek, a 6-foot-5 junior whose first two seasons have been cut short by season-ending knee injuries. Updates on Creek’s progress have been scarce, but if he could regain some semblance of the form he showed as a freshman when he lit up Kentucky for 31 points, that could alter the course of Indiana’s season and increase the chances the Hoosiers play deep into March.

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  • InTheMtns

     I’m not a doctor, haven’t played one on TV and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Thus, I don’t know anything about Mo’s knees, and I know that I don’t. I’m waiting to see what we see. I think one of the reasons that so many are predicting that he won’t have the ability to get back is because last year we kept hearing from various sources that he was 65% back, 75%, then 85 to 90% and getting better everyday. But when we saw him on the court, he looked like he was maybe 35% back, looked like he was in pain and he was painful to watch. He also looked like an accident waiting to happen and then unfortunately it did. Maybe the pessimism comes from not wanting to be disappointed again and from not wanting to see Mo in pain again.  I’m with you, Banners – I wish the armchair docs would feel less of a need to forecast Mo’s future.
     

  • InTheMtns

     I’m not a doctor, haven’t played one on TV and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Thus, I don’t know anything about Mo’s knees, and I know that I don’t. I’m waiting to see what we see. I think one of the reasons that so many are predicting that he won’t have the ability to get back is because last year we kept hearing from various sources that he was 65% back, 75%, then 85 to 90% and getting better everyday. But when we saw him on the court, he looked like he was maybe 35% back, looked like he was in pain and he was painful to watch. He also looked like an accident waiting to happen and then unfortunately it did. Maybe the pessimism comes from not wanting to be disappointed again and from not wanting to see Mo in pain again.  I’m with you, Banners – I wish the armchair docs would feel less of a need to forecast Mo’s future.
     

  • Plane1972

    You had me until you said, “Butler did not have much more talent on the floor last year than we did.”

    I see what you’re trying to say about Stevens, and agree wholeheartedly, but it’s pretty hard to contest that Nored, Mack and Howard were not better than Hulls, VJ3 and Pritchard, respectively, last year. Even their role guys outperformed our guys (Marshall, Vanzant, and Butcher). Watford is probably the only guy I would say was better talent-wise than his counterpart on Butler.

    Not trying to pick a fight. Just an observation.

  • Anonymous

    Watched the players in pick-up games last weekend. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Mo play. He was there wearing a brace. Had obviously played. Would liked to have seen how much his mobility has improved.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Yes, talking to another IU fan the other day, he said the same exact thing.  He said his biggest concern with IU is that CTC’s players haven’t really seemed to get better from year to year.  He pointed out a couple exceptions (Hulls and Watford offensively) but on a whole, he was right when he said guys were basically the same and making the same mistakes, especially defensively.

    I hope that CTC is ready to prove naysayers wrong and show that the team as well as individual players have gotten better!

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I for one am not a doctor but have studied sports medicine a bit and it’s simple to just compare one player to another.  There’s been a couple athletes in the past couple years who have suffered this injury, the most obvious being Blake Griffin.  Griffin is a freak of nature but he’s definitely showed ZERO ill effects from the broken knee cap so it’s reasonable to say that Mo may eventually get back to normal Mo.  It’s not like an ACL injury which still zaps a little bit of a players athletic ability after.  Hopefully Mo is ready.  I loved watching him play the first half of his freshman year because he had such a great energy and swagger.  I just want to see him get that ‘swag’ back!

  • Anonymous

    Greatest band ever, but he’s gotta use red paint instead of black.

    And better yet, if he wears the boots he’ll be 7’4″!

  • Anonymous

    That adjective was the first thing that jumped out at me as ridiculous.  “20 wins” was a close second.  I hope he’s right and I’m not, but I think that’s a helluva stretch.

  • Anonymous

    But that’s just Brad Stephens’ natural demeanor.  Same for Crean.  I’ll settle for him just being himself.  I’d assume when the talent level increases and he doesn’t feel compelled to “will” them to succeed he’ll probably mellow out.

    I’m kind of there with you on the hot streaks, though.

  • Anonymous

    But take Jeremiah Rivers from his first year to his second—several of us (me included,) wouldn’t have minded if he never saw the floor after his first season here but then he accepted the role CTC gave him and was solid in it.

  • Anonymous

    The good thing about his injury is that it wasn’t ligament/tendon damage, it was bone, which generally heals stronger than it was prior to the injury.

    What scares me is that it was bone on both accounts.  Does that mean it was a coincidence?  Was it excess stress put on the second one to compensate for weakness in the leg from the first one?  Is it an indicator of some “condition”?  I’m hoping that it’s the first one, and if so then all that really needed to happen was to regain (and I’m hesitant to put the “re” on that word given their spindly appearance,) muscle in the legs and he’ll be just fine.

  • Anonymous

    Whether you saw him or not I’d take this as encouraging because I don’t think there’s any way in the world they’d let him on the floor in any kind of unsupervised manner like a pick up game if they weren’t confident that he’s fine.

  • MillaRed

    My friends are constantly ripping CTC for his sideline demeanor. If you are not an IU fan, it can be a little, well, crazy looking.

    I’m with Xel, Coach needs to chill out a little. He looks like his head is going to explode.

  • MillaRed

    I would also add the fact we have players that just did not have high ceilings. Who was our highest rated recruit? Watford? He certainly showed improvement but has a lot to work on. But……….these are underclassmen.

    If we are seeing the same mistakes out of Verdell, Pritch, CWat etc this year I think we can start scratching our heads. But to say there has been a lack of improvement with lowly ranked, mostly underclassmen is a little unfair.

  • Plane1972

    The guy’s got a 2-liter of Diet Coke swimming in him at all times. That would make anyone a little jittery.

  • InTheMtns

    I loved watching him, too. Especially, as you said, the swagger – it just filled you with confidence that something good was about to happen. He’s shown a lot of courage and commitment during his injuries and rehabs. Here’s to hoping we see the swagger again.