The Inside the Hall Mailbag: October 10

The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall) and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can. 

@MShlyank writes: Looks like we can go with many different lineups for many different situations. What’s our biggest weakness?

Alex Bozich: There’s no doubt this will be the deepest team Tom Crean has assembled during his time in Bloomington. And you’re right, the lineup possibilities seem endless with this group. If Crean wants to go big, he could hypothetically play a lineup with Cody Zeller, Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo on the court all at once. Or if he wants shooters, there’s no shortage on the roster.

The biggest weakness is Indiana’s defense. Yes, it improved substantially last season. The Hoosiers shored up their fouling epidemic from the 2010-2011 season and guarded the 3-point line better. But there’s still plenty of work to do. Indiana barely cracked the top 200 nationally in 3-point percentage defense, their defensive rebounding wasn’t great and it struggled to create turnovers.

It’s clear this team has the pieces to once again be elite offensively, but teams that win national championships defend at a high level. That’s one reason Crean has made it clear to his team how different their NCAA Tournament seeding could have been last season had they gotten a few more stops in key situations and won a few more regular season games. It’ll be interesting to see what strategies are deployed to improve ball pressure and clean up the defensive glass better. Indiana will win a lot of games because their offense is arguably the best in the country, but the defense is what will ultimately decide how far this group goes in March.

Richard Charles writes: Are Zeller, Oladipo, and Watford the only guys on the current roster that have what it takes to make it to the NBA? What kind of players do you think each will be in the big show?

Ryan Corazza: No. I think you can extend that list to include Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell, too. (One other Hoosier that could get an NBA sniff? Will Sheehey.) The NBA game continues to put a premium on above-the-rim athleticism, size and length. Mosquera-Perea has all that and then some. But his skills are raw. If he develops and improves his game during his tenure as a Hoosier, he has a chance to make an impact at the next level. Yogi’s height may limit just how high he goes in the draft — if his game ascends to a level where he’s in consideration — but there are enough 6-footish guards in the league now and that have been selected in recent years for it not to be a dealbreaker. Hollowell has the tools; it will depend on how he develops during his college career.

As far as Zeller, Watford and Oladipo are concerned, Zeller’s ceiling is highest. I won’t go so far as to call him an All-Star caliber player yet, but he certainly projects to be a meaningful starter in the league at present. His passing ability out of the post brings Pau Gasol to mind. Watford, for now, is a second round pick at best. He’s also your classic tweener between the 3 and 4 at the next level, which doesn’t help things. And with there only being so many roster spots available — let alone rotation minutes — he may struggle to see the floor as a rookie, which could limit his opportunities going forward. (Second round picks traditionally have a hard time sticking in the league for long.) But time will tell on this sort of speculation.

Oladipo has the motor, athletic ability and defensive prowess. If he develops a jumper and continues to show he can get to the rim like few else, his chances of getting drafted increase. Like Watford, projecting just what type of player Oladipo could be in the NBA is tough because he’s not a lottery lock like Zeller. But it’s not out of the question Oladipo could contribute off the bench in an energy scoring role without giving up much on the defensive end if he continues to improve and gets in the right system if drafted.

@Earnest_0 writes: With the recent high out-of-state interest in IU, will in-state recruits still play a key role in the future of IU’s program?

Alex Bozich: In state recruits will continue to play a key role in the future of IU’s program. The talent in the state is good enough to compete at a high level year in and year out. But I think sometimes fans can get too caught up in the belief that it’s always better to take an Indiana kid.

A prime example was the 2010 recruiting class. After Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey committed, there were some who wondered why Indiana hadn’t recruited the state harder for that class. Looking back on that situation now and comparing some of the available players from the state to Oladipo and Sheehey, it’s clear the staff made the correct decision in their pursuit of both players.

Moving forward, I think you’ll continue to see a mix of the top players from Indiana with some national recruits sprinkled in. As the program continues to become more appealing to top players from around the country, Indiana should and will pursue many of those kids because that’s what’s necessary to compete at the highest level of college basketball.

@PNorris11 writes: What role do you see Maurice Creek playing for this year’s team?

Justin Albers: That seems to be the question everyone wants answered. Obviously, it will depend a lot on his health. Creek has yet to prove he can remain healthy for an entire season so, fair or not, that will always enter the conversation.

But if Creek can stay healthy, he could be an important piece for this team. He’s not going to start, but he could be a useful shooter off
the bench that can spread the floor and also occasionally create off the dribble. I see him having a little more than a Matt Roth role from last year simply because he’s more than just a shooter. While it’s true that Creek’s primary job on this year’s team will be to knock down open perimeter shots, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could get to the basket, draw defenders and either score or kick it out. I would think Creek will get somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 minutes per game.

Brian Workman writes: How well is Jurkin coming along and how much time should we expect to see him on the floor cause I think he could really be a force blocking shots and rebounding and will he play any with CZ on the floor?

Alex Bozich: Everyone I’ve talked to believes Peter Jurkin has really done a solid job since arriving on campus in June. At last week’s media challenge we didn’t get a chance to see him in any live action, but he was out on the court at one point working on some moves around the basket and was really finishing nicely. He also looked much stronger in his upper body since I last saw him a couple of summers ago on the AAU circuit.

Derek Elston, one of Jurkin’s mentors this season, was very complimentary in his assessment of his work ethic and said his hands have really improved over the summer. As far as potential playing time goes, much of that will depend on how ready he is to contribute at a high level once the games begin. In previous years, he’s probably a guy who would have been thrown out there quite a bit just because Indiana wasn’t very deep up front. This year, his role is likely going to be determined by whether or not he can do the two things you mentioned: rebound and block shots. If he can, he has a chance to make the rotation. If not, he’s going to learn in practice and also get some experience in the non-conference portion of the season.

  • ScoopGeoff

    It’s not hard to project Dipo… Dipo = Tony Allen

  • Hoosier_DC

    He reminds me of Luol Deng

  • Hoosier_DC

    HP and PJ have the ideal situation. They can be mentored and play against the best center in college basketball. Cody not only has the athleticism but also the basketball IQ (and non-basketball IQ). If these guys can even learn a fraction of what Cody knows…

  • http://www.insidethehall.com/ Alex Bozich

    Until you have a bad shooting night and don’t have defense to fall back on.

  • Hoosier_DC
  • Hoosier_DC

    Or have an amazing shooting night and still lose because you can’t defend. See IU v UK in the sweet 16

  • ScoopGeoff

    Whaaaat? Thats funny. Deng is a 6’9″ small forward who can shoot the NBA 3 and is known for his mid-range game.

    Allen is a 6’4″ shooting guard who is a poor perimeter shooter, who’s role is as a defensive stopper and disruptive force.

  • http://www.facebook.com/geoff.chenoweth Geoff Chenoweth

    Defense is crucial in those tough grind it out B1G games, especially on the road. Especially when you’re ranked #1 and have a target on your back.

    The defensive stats from last year are misleading. Our starting 5 was solid, especially when Sheehey replaced Jones. We had major problems when our starters came out because we simply didn’t have the size, strength and skills to compete when they weren’t out there. That has been addressed – our bench is full of starters.

    I’m a homer, but I truly think this team has no weaknesses. No concerns with the defense moving into the 2012 – 2013 season. Go Hoosiers!

  • ScoopGeoff

    Maybe, but it’s hard to tell how much of that was just being the most polished offensive weapon on a really bad team. Someone has to take shots and score.

    I’m not saying he wasn’t good. I’m just saying we don’t know. The thing that is certainly in his favor is that his scoring didn’t come from elite athleticism, so if he is 90% back to his freshman athleticism he should be able to be pretty damn effective. That 10% will more than be made up for in intangibles and veteran guile.

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    Alex – as always a nice synopsis. I only would differ that Mo if he returns to form is an NBA prospect and will have a major impact…but there are a lot of Ifs…He has to be the most motivated player on the team considering the set backs he had…I see his upside as being as high as anybody on the team other than Cody. He is the rock that this season depends on….

  • ScoopGeoff

    God I hate most basketball highlight videos. Can they give us any more worthless slowmo? Why do I have to watch a guy walk at half speed 20 feet so he can do a slomo chest bump with a teammate after a lucky shot? And you just showed me the play, why do I have to see the entire clip again at a snail’s pace?

    Just terrible.

  • IUMIKE1

    Plus a lot of a team’s highest % shots are usually created by good D. The better the D, the higher number of easy shots which of coarse makes the chances of the end result being a victory and one that isn’t won on a last second shot. Those easy shots created by good D can a lot of times turn around a bad shooting night and be just enough to get a team over the hump and win a game that looked to be in question.

  • ScoopGeoff

    You’re saying Cody is the rock… Not Mo, right?

    I mean most people aren’t considering Mo when they pick us #1… Just clarifying, sorry if I’m an idiot.

  • ScoopGeoff

    Wow, that is next level thinking Mike! I like it.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    i’m not sure if his body will ever be able to withstand 82 games in the nba, but i’m sure glad he’s along for the ride these next two seasons. i think he’s going to play a major role and can wait to see him back out there!

  • WhatsUpKnight

    i think that hits the nail right on the head without a solid d, you’re vulnerable on any given night against any given team. and that’s a scary thought come march.

  • ScoopGeoff

    Actually… You got me thinking. There is a better comparison than Tony Allen.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rezOgWv3F-A&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  • Wright Harney

    I love these mailbag features. I really just love everything this site does actually.

  • Wright Harney

    I love these mailbag features. I really just love everything this site does actually.

  • jacobdetroy

    I agree, and if he’s a true 6’7″ that will make him that much more appealing.His elite athleticism is not always akin to his skin pigmentation.

  • Mel Piepho

    I don’t see any talk about how Crean is planning on styling IU’s defense this year after a couple of champion Louisville teams coached my Crumb (sp?). I’m not an expert, but it’s a very aggresive style which can be attempted by teams with a strong bench. I guess this is due to the players wearing out or fouling too much. Crean even had Crumb visit IU this summer for advice and consultation. I guess time will tell.

  • catronhoosier

    haha very true plus he has a very very good pull up jumper. id say its the best on the team because he can always simply elevate over his defender to shoot it.

  • catronhoosier

    I know this has been discussed in previous mailbags but with our depth and our much improved athleticism and quickness I hope to see much more on ball pressure and even more press. If we can have a top 50 defense we will be as close to unbeatable as a team can be. Offensively we can score from every spot on the floor. i mean look at it on any given night any of our top 6 guys can go for 25 points. I hate saying this but Id like to see our defense more like Purdues from back when they had moore and johnson. They pressured the ball very well and all around team defense was terrific. pressuring the ball leads to turnovers and forced shots and passes. this would also help our rebounding

  • MillaRed

    When you have athletes like Vic, Yogi, Will, Remy, Cody and CWat on the floor most of the time there really is no reason at all we can’t lock someone down. It’s a mentality. The extra strength and conditioning helps. And look no further than the 40 free throws Kentucky shot in the tourney to remind them how important it is on a Final Four run. We can get it done. Just have to stay on task and stay in their ears! Defense wins championships! Period!

  • Andrew

    Just what I was thinking. Even if Mo is healthy, 10 min/game seems like the best case scenario. Very realistic minute distribution…as you know they go “quicker” than it seems. Easy to say so and so gets 15 and so and so gets 30 and then before you know it you’re at 250 total. Zeller will be around 30 (28 last year) so right there that’s 5 less for someone else. My guess is Elston might not even average 10 (12 last year). Pritch averaged 10 last year; Hanner will scoop those up, and he might eat into Elston’s as well. And then there’s Jurkin. If he can contribute, even a little, that really changes the dynamic of the team, and would further cut into DE’s playing time.

  • marcusgresham

    I’d like to see it at some time like Arkansas in the Nolan Richardson days.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    defense is the weakness of this team but it should improve with virtually everyone back, D will be the key to a deep run in march.

  • http://twitter.com/btown1056 brian workman

    Where they will make up minutes is Hulls only playing maybe 15 minutes per game.

  • iufan4life10

    We were #64 in adjD last season. If we are going to make a deep run in March and April the defense will have to get down in the teens.

  • unclekerfuffle

    Nick:IIRC, the grab-and-slap type of “defense” you describe was introduced to big time college basketball by Pitino during his stint at pUKe. Go back and watch some of the old film and see if it’s not very similar to what we saw in the VCU game.

  • IUGRADUATE

    “It’s way too early to start projecting Sheehey as” a not-NBAer….He will get better and better.

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    Cody is the rock. Sorry that was confusing. The team needed a stud inside and Cody is clearly that…the pieces are in place for a good run. Right now we have Will and Mo who are 6’4″ or taller, have good 3 point range, athletic ability to get to the rim, and can create their own shot. This is important to prevent double teams on Cody. That is why Mo could play an important role. Although Will and possibly VO (if he gains confidence in his 3 pt shot) can do this as well but they don’t have the sweet stroke Mo has….All of this is simply window dressing for Cody – and the season depends on him. The rock.

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