2011-2012 Player Profile: Cody Zeller

  • 10/17/2011 9:17 am in

It’s time for Inside the Hall’s player-by-player breakdown of the 2011-2012 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Cody Zeller.

Easy.

It’s a word that seems to follow Cody Zeller around.

He’ll make things easier for his teammates; he makes it look easy on the court with his fundamentally sound game; he’s at ease in front of the media, cracking jokes about cookie-eating contests at Hoosier Hysteria.

There is the other side, though. Is it all really this simple? Are the expectations placed on this freshman too grand? Is anointing him the savior of Indiana basketball before he’s played a game taking it too far, too soon?

That’s all to be revealed in due time.

But on the verge of his first season in Bloomington, there’s little denying Zeller is special. On Saturday, he was the best player on the court. He’s bulked up this summer. He does so many things well — rebounding and scoring and defending and running the floor — that he’s destined to make an immediate impact as a member of the starting lineup on a team that’s setting up to get out on the break and go. Indiana’s frontcourt has been void of a true scoring threat in the Tom Crean era, and Zeller figures to fill that hole. And for a defense that struggled in 2010-11, his addition as the anchor in the middle should help.

The Washington native’s poise and maturity at this stage of his basketball career also sets him apart from the freshman pack, traits that should suit him well once the Big Ten season hits in late December.

Zeller’s talent combined with a group of juniors led by Jordan Hulls — one that appears to have established more leadership, accountability and foundation for a true program and culture this offseason — has the potential to vault the Hoosiers out of the Big Ten basement and become a team that can make some noise.

Best-case: The McDonald’s All-American does his thing and does it well, and is a big part of why the Hoosiers finish on the right side of .500 for the first time in the Crean era.

Worst-case: Zeller takes his lumps during the Big Ten season, and has trouble adjusting to the speed of college basketball at times.

Quotable: “He’s the most mentally focused kid I’ve ever recruited and is a very underrated athlete. I see a young man that has mental toughness that is not normal. I see a young man that has an endurance and a will about him that is going to pay dividends at Indiana for many years after that.” — Crean in early August.

Previously: Jordan Hulls, Will Sheehey, Verdell Jones III

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  • BFBlog

    Um, yes. Lots of those execs ARE foolish, and they and their accountants get sued for fraud

  • Anonymous

    Neither TP or CW averaged 6 boards a game last year. TP didn’t even average 4! The good teams in the B10 rebound as a team and that’s where I think CZ is going to have difficulty as guys push him, go over his back, etc. as he’s the one left manning the boards for IU. He’s going to need some support. Now, maybe WS, VO, RA and VJIII come into this season and decide they are also going to crash the boards hard…..if that happens then I think you’ll see CZ averaging over 8rpg easy but so far none of those guys have shown the willingness to rebound and it might cause CZ to wear down as the season progresses.

  • MillaRed

    If Cody does nothing otherwise, he is going to help this team rebound. He is near 7 feet and can move and that we haven’t had in decades. All will benefit. Pushing around etc it happens. But I expect Cody to get Mickey D all-american respect from time to time. I think this “oh my Cody is going to get shoved into the stands” mentality is a bit too much. He will be just fine.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that he’ll be fine, for a Freshman, but he won’t get more than eight boards a game. The IU frontline is weak/thin, CZ is going to help but he’s going to need some help of his own, too.

  • Rhino2125

    Really?!?!  You think that CW deserves credit for being our best and most consistent rebounder…I have to say I disagree with that.  Looking at rpg and positioning I can’t stop thinking about VO, especially with the work in the off season I wouldn’t be surprised to see him tally up several double doubles this year and averaging 6-8 rpg.  Then throw WS in there as well and I think he could snag 5-7 rpg for us as well.  Just not quite sure I would praise CWat for his rebounding prowess…No doubt we NEED him to lead this team with Jordy this year through actions and vocally on the court.  I read a comment a day or two ago about how we are developing “ranks” within our program now and I truly believe that.  Our younger guys will be looking to Cwat, JH, VJ, and Pritch for leadership and we need to have ENERGY this year on the floor and get excited about basketball again…

  • Plane1972

    I get what you’re saying, but he had 9 rpg last year.

  • Anonymous

    Pritch did a lot of that when the game was already over in the first half.  You guys need to reel in your expectations of Tom Pritchard.  Good player, not great.  He is a role player.

  • MillaRed

    I would be very happy with 8 boards a game. Hope you are right.

  • Anonymous

    I think CZ ends up in Mike Davis territory this season at around 7 rpg. 

    CW led the team in rebounds last season, it’s a statistic, it happened. He rebounded as a freshman, too, he might have even led the team. I already stated that VO and WS need to, and can, help on the boards as it will take a team effort. Thus far, at the collegiate level, CW is the only player on the roster that has shown the ability to rebound consistently.

  • Fifefan

    No way we are sub-500 this year.

  • Anonymous

    Not to be last in the B10 every year. How much less do you want?

  • Huge difference here. The ’09 class joined a bunch walk-ons and a weak ’08 class. One class doesn’t make a team, never has and never will. Even UK in ’09 wouldn’t have been nearly as good without Patrick Patterson as an upperclassmen. 

    CZ, and the rest of his class, are joining a team. They’re joining an experienced ’08 class, a junior Watford-Hulls-Elston who have been around the block and the ’10 class which seems to be “diamond in the rough”. 

    That’s the difference, we now have a TEAM, not just one class. 

  • Other than Base, I don’t think anyone thinks we’ll be over .500 just because CZ is here. CZ will part of it, but it’s also because we now have experience for the first time, because Hulls will hopefully be the PG, because VO and Sheehey have reportedly improved a lot, because Watford should be one of the best players in the conference, because Elston should be healthy. 

    There’s a lot more going on than just Cody Zeller. He’ll be a big part of it, but not the entire thing. 

  • Brklynhoosier

    Why’s it all or nothing?  If we keep making progress, we get there.  Otherwise — otherwise it’s just a lot of huffing and puffing.  We’ve had a few super-rough years, and we’re all sick of it.   But it’s not like we’re going to suddenly win the B1G either.  We’ll be better this year.  That’s a good thing, no?  Demanding more than that — doing it while going all negative over Cody and what he brings to this program — seems… I’m searching for words… well, a little over-the-top.

  • Anonymous

    There is very little doubt that Zeller, Watford and Hulls are the stars
    of this team. If any one of the three can become a top 5 All-Big 10
    player, this will be a good (20+ win) season. Vic and Will are the next
    best players and have to get 22-25 minutes/game on the floor each.
    Elston and Pritchard have to do it on the floor, “being 6’9” is no
    longer good enough. Derek could be great, but can he develop the mental
    side of his talent? Verdell can show that he is the senior leader that
    we have desperately needed for the last three years. If he can accept
    lesser “billing” but play great, then this can be a special season.
    Austin and Remy have to bring it all and bring it hard every second on
    the floor. They each have some real talent that Indiana has sorely
    needed. I hope that Matt Roth hits 50% of his 3’s because if he can’t
    Danny Moore might. Danny does a lot of good things in short stretches.
    No more excuses now for Coach Crean, it is win NOW time! We miss and
    love you Mo Creek and want to see you play again at 100%! GO IU!