Incoming class sees opportunity for early minutes

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With two starters graduating and two departing early for the 2013 NBA Draft, no Big Ten team will have more production and experience to replace next season than Indiana.

The Hoosiers lose four 1,000-point scorers in Christian Watford, Cody Zeller, Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo, and a key reserve in Remy Abell, who opted to transfer for his final two seasons.

Those five, along with Derek Elston, accounted for 72.1 percent of Indiana’s scoring and 65 percent of its rebounding.

If IU is to again compete for a Big Ten championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament, its six-man recruiting class, headlined by four ESPNU Top 100 recruits, will be a major factor. Rather than dwelling on who is leaving, the tone the incoming group is projecting this week at the Derby Festival Basketball Classic is one of opportunity for early minutes in what should be a fierce competition.

“It opens up spots for everyone on the team now,” Luke Fischer, who was recently named Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin, said Wednesday. “Fighting for playing time is going to be real tough for anyone coming in or staying.”

With Yogi Ferrell the projected starter at point guard and Will Sheehey, who Tom Crean has often called a “sixth starter,” also figuring to move into the lineup, up to three starting spots and other rotation spots will be up for grabs.

“I look at it like, the people who left, they could have helped us,” Stanford Robinson, who spent his senior season at Findlay Prep, said. “But at the same time, that’s good for me as well because it’s time for me to show people what I can do.”

The offseason development of both Robinson and Fischer, along with the size and versatility of five-star forward Noah Vonleh, could be paramount to next season’s success. The Hoosiers are short on ball handlers in the backcourt and also lack proven size on the front line.

Robinson, who has spent most of his prep career at the two-guard position, is preparing himself for college as a point guard and said he benefitted greatly from working alongside Washington signee and McDonald’s All-American Nigel Williams-Goss at Findlay.

“I’m only 6-3, so therefore I am going to be a point guard somewhere down the line,” he said. “Every day I’m just in the gym working on my ball handling and trying to be a primary point guard.”

Fischer, who has drawn comparisons to Zeller because of his size and build, said he has grown used to it, but is focused on being himself.

“It’s a good comparison and I don’t mind it at all,” he said. “But at the same time, I want to go out there and be my own player and not live in his shadow.”

Overall, each player in the class has the opportunity to bring something different to the program.

Collin Hartman has the ability to stretch the floor as a shooter, which is another area of need given the losses of Hulls, Watford and Oladipo. Troy Williams can be an energy guy who will have the capability of whipping the Assembly Hall crowd into a frenzy with his ability to finish. Robinson can also bring energy and a knack for getting to the rim. Vonleh is a matchup problem because of his size and ball handling. Fischer finishes well with both hands around the rim and runs the floor well. And Devin Davis never takes a play off and can guard multiple positions.

As a whole, it’s probably the most well-rounded class Crean has recruited to Bloomington over the past five years.

“Really we’re just coming in and trying to make as big of an impact as they [the guys who are leaving] did,” Williams said. “And if we can, an even bigger impact.”

  • Kenneth234

    Exactly right! Hollowell is a natural 3, and when you have a roster that has size in Fischer, Vonleh, Perea, and Jurkin, there is no reason to force a natural 3 to play extended minutes at the 4. Next year’s team has this distinct advantage over last year’s team because a player like Hollowell (Watford), will not have to play out of position and Indiana does not have to play small.

    Sheehey, or whomever is in at the 2 will simply not have to handle the ball all that much because Yogi will be the facilitator and main ball handler. Just about everyone else will be expected to be able to put the ball on the floor a little bit, but no one has to have incredible handles other than Yogi, and probably Robinson as his back up for this team to function effectively. But I do think we live and die with Yogi next season. He has to make a huge jump in order for this team to reach a high level of play. And the way things are shaping up in conference, it will not be an easy road to hull.

  • Walt

    Hard to believe but got a cold chill someplace when I heard that three players will be staying with Michigan. Hope I can say the same thing next season when they have finished. Got a question: the b-ball jerseys our freshmen have on, have not seen anything like that before. Are they jerseys or are they getting ready to eat spaghetti?

  • Kenneth234

    Your kidding about Sheehey’s ability to defend, right? I seem to remember him drawing hefty time matching up against Burke in the Michigan game. He can defend any position the team needs him to defend. Sure he is not going to shut players down, but that is a luxury that we should not be expecting, rather just be happy when we have a player who can defend at that level. Our best possible lineup is Sheehey playing the 2.

  • Kenneth234

    I almost completely agree with you, however, the one difference is that I think Will is the starting 2, and Hollowell is the starting 3. I think that gives this team the best chance to play at high level and match up against anyone in or out of conference. Now there may be some games in which we need to start or play smaller and that is a situation in which the starters can and probably should change, especially with a lack of returning starters from last season.

  • aHoopandaPrayer

    Any thoughts on what Troy’s natural position in college will be? How do you see CTC using him as a Freshman? The kid seems unbelievably versatile… but hard to know if outside shooting is consistent enough.

  • Kenneth234

    I get the feeling that Vonleh could be as big of an impact for the Hoosiers as Jarrod Jefferies was for his team. Has a very high basketball IQ, has impressive ball handling ability, and can do work on the glass.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    The only reason why I think CTC will go with the above lineup is his propensity to play “smaller” lineups. It seems like it’s just his thing to send out smaller lineups so I wouldn’t be surprised at all with the above lineup. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the best ball handler out of the three starts at the 2 position because that will be a weakness outside of Yogi next year. This year Will still looked very unsure handling the ball under pressure so I’m not sure he’ll be able to do it.

  • shknqk

    Lineup
    Yogi – Stan…. Marlin
    Sheehey – Austin
    Hollowell – Troy
    Noah – devin
    Fischer – hanner

    Yogi doesn’t need a strong ball handling guard alongside as Noah is his release valve in this line up, will can guard most sg ok.

    What I am struggling with is how the offense will flow with this line up. The wheel seems like it might be challenged with starters but hot with bench players stan, troy, devin, while the high pick devastating with yogi, Noah and Fischer with cash and slash willowell

  • Geoff_85

    I love Jeremy Hollowell, but he has got to play faster while also not turn the ball over if he wants to start. He was slowwww with the ball last year. Big Ten defenders will eat him alive if he continues to play that slow with the ball. He has every other tool you could want – he knocks down threes, he rebounds, he defends, he is downright sneaky getting to the ball, but he has got to speed it up with the ball, and I’m doing so, not turn it over. He is perfectly capable of making that improvement and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he improves.

  • Geoff_85

    All of those things had to be addressed to please the masses of IU fans, but you’re right, time to move on at this juncture.

  • Kenneth234

    Crean certainly went with a small lineup last year, but how much do you think that has to do with his actual preference rather than based on the roster he had in front of him and the individual players basketball styles? I think the small lineup was more of a product of having a returning starter in Jordan Hulls, along with a very quick Cody Zeller, a Watford who was dangerous trailing behind a break, an ultra athletic Victor, and a traditional pass first point guard who could play at a high speed as well.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Judging on his past at Marquette, he likes to recruit tons of small wings and guards and play small lineups. I remember one year he didn’t have a player taller than 6’8″ or 6’9″ and they were good, but I’m not sure you can win a championship like that nowadays?

  • BrierBrax

    thanks for not posting this on the forum. Man I wish I could see those dunks from Troy Williams

  • MillaRed

    Sheehey logged zero minutes at the two last season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/efoy.mcnaughton E Foy McNaughton

    I totally agree with your starters Evansville Hoosier. I see next season’s starters going one of two ways. The one you listed or, if Williams is simply too good to not start, then moving him into the line up and going slightly small with Yogi, Williams, Sheehey, Hollowell, & Vonleh. I doubt that happens – rather I expect Williams will be that “6th starter”.

    I’m not going to have a lot of faith in HP until he shows us something. Maybe he will show us something over the summer. I expect the other significant players off the bench will actually be Stan & DD. Stan will be able to play both 1 & 2, DD will be able to guard anyone.

    Given the work ethic of Yogi & Sheehey, I expect that will rub off on Hollowell in a similar fashion that Jordan and Victor’s work ethic rubbed of on Watford. Watford was not a great shooter until his junior year.
    It’s fun to guess about the future…

  • Andrew

    That was when Mike Davis was the coach. DJ White’s freshman year. It was only a few players, and only lasted a few games.

  • Dagwoods

    I distinctively remember Luke mentioning that the coaches at IU measured him when he had his first unofficial visit and he was 6’10″ then (as a junior).

  • Kenneth234

    That was last year, we were very guard heavy, already had a point guard playing the 2, and when Hulls wasn’t, then either Vic, Remy, or Creek was playing a typical 2 role. Will can play the 2, it is not much different than the 3 in our system. Sheehey can defend the position adequately enough to play the 2, and on the offensive end he can still work without the ball and play his game. Yet, he could even take a smaller defender in the post and take advantage of that aspect as well.

    However, in general, I do not think that it matters all that much. Sheehey will see plenty of minutes next season, and other than Yogi, and perhaps Vonleh and Fischer the rest of the team will be splitting a big chunk of time. We seem to have a lot of versatility within the lineup and a lot of different ways to floor a team.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Let’s not forget that one of those freshmen (McGary) didn’t start until late in the season. He was out of shape and looked lost until at least January. I’m not saying you can’t start 3 freshmen but we are going to have be patient through some growing pains.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Who are you talking about?

  • CreamandCrimson

    1. Luke Fischer was measured at 6’10″ by Indiana’s training staff on his unofficial visit to IU so I’m going with 6’10″.

    2. We have a true shooting guard committed in the 2014 class. James Blackmon Jr. is an elite scorer who has played shooting guard his entire life.

    3. Noah Vonleh struggled at the foul line in the McDonald’s All-American game, I don’t know if that means he is definitely “woeful” at FTs. We’ll see how he shoots them in college. That being said, I think that’s a legitimate concern. Watford was tremendous at the line. Hulls was really good. Victor was good and Cody was very good for a 7-footer. Will is probably going to be about 70%. Yogi should be in the 80′s. Hopefully Fischer can knock them down, it’s a valuable luxury to have your big fella hitting FT’s.

  • CreamandCrimson

    McGary and Robinson III are staying, Burke and Hardaway Jr. are headed to the NBA. Who was third guy you are talking about?

    They will be good. In my opinion, Michigan and Michigan State (unless Payne leaves) are a cut above everyone else in the conference next season. I think we’ll be good but we won’t be back to Big Ten title contention until 2014, we’ll see though.

  • hoosier1158

    Yep, you’re right. That was the 04 – 05 season.

  • Ole Man

    Thanks, Cream; particularly on 1 & 2. Makes me feel a whole lot better!

  • marcusgresham

    But which is closer to accurate? Is Troy 6’6″ and Devin 6’5″, is Troy 6’8 and Devin 6’7″ or are they maybe 6’4″ & 6’3″? lol
    (I was the one who, after standing near him, said Vic was closer to 6’2″ than 6’5″.)

  • http://twitter.com/neergyelir Riley Green

    oh ok, so that’s devin davis in the middle right?

  • CreamandCrimson

    From left to right: Stan Robinson, Troy William, Devin Davis, Collin Hartman, Luke Fischer.

  • Gunman Jones

    agreed

  • Gunman Jones

    that is bs, they should et them wear headbands

  • Gunman Jones

    yep too early

  • Basketball fan

    Colin Hartman is the future of IUBB!

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