Notebook: Vonleh adjusts to life as a Hoosier

NV001Ever since Noah Vonleh arrived on campus on May 29, the Indiana coaching staff has raved about the incoming freshman’s work ethic. Assistant coach Kenny Johnson went as far as to say Vonleh would move a cot into Cook Hall and sleep there if he could.

On Tuesday afternoon, Vonleh addressed the media for the first time as a Hoosier. The 6-foot-9 forward said he’s gained 20 pounds in the month and a half he’s been in Bloomington because of the team’s intense weight lifting workouts.

“I wasn’t used to that at prep school, so that was a big adjustment,” Vonleh said of the weight lifting. “I put on a lot of weight and am getting stronger.

“I just like to be in the gym all the time, getting better, getting my shot better because I’m going to be playing against a lot of guys that are a lot older than me next year.”

Vonleh recently participated in the LeBron James Skills Academy camp in Las Vegas as a college counselor. He was the youngest college player there (he’s 17 years old), but he managed to hold his own against some of the nation’s top talent.

“I went in there and worked hard,” Vonleh said. “I was talking a lot because a lot of the guys there weren’t really talking. [ESPN's] Jay Bilas came up to me. He said, ‘Your leadership and talking can become a great strength if you keep working on it.'”

Vonleh and Bilas had an extended conversation in which Bilas told Vonleh to continue to work on staying low in the post, making his moves quick, and becoming more decisive when making a move.

Vonleh said he took those suggestions to heart and has worked on improving in those areas since he’s returned to the team.

“He’s a real good player,” sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell said of Vonleh. “The biggest thing I’ve seen is that he’s willing to learn, he’s always wanting to improve his game, he’s coachable and just how hard he works day in and day out in practice. He’s always going to go hard and he’s always going to give it his best.”

Etherington not 100 percent, but close

Junior guard Austin Etherington isn’t yet back to full contact after fracturing his patella last December, but he continues to make progress in his rehabilitation.

Etherington said Tuesday he has been playing 1-on-1 and 2-on-2, and likely will be able to return to 5-on-5 participation after the team takes a break following the second summer school session next week.

Etherington has dealt with a major knee injury before, so the rehab process has been a bit smoother this time around.

“I feel pretty good. My knee’s feeling really good,” Etherington said. “I’d say the biggest thing is just the mindset. Once you’ve been through it, the big thing is just the mindset and being able to go out there and not worry about your knee. That’s something I have been better with. The first time I took a charge in workouts, it was one of the first steps in getting through the mindset because I knew that I could do it again and then not have to worry about my knee.”

Even though he wasn’t able to make an on-court impact for the Hoosiers after his injury, Etherington made the most of his circumstances. He hit the weight room hard and tested out as the strongest guy in the team at the end of the season.

Where have they gotten better?

· Jeremy Hollowell: “I think one-on-one scoring, my shooting and my ball handling have come on a lot,” he said. “I’ve been in the gym quite a bit this summer, definitely more than last year, so I know what to expect. Last season was a blur, it went by pretty fast, so just day in and day out, I’ve been working hard just trying to improve every aspect of my game.”

· Hanner Mosquera-Perea: “I feel like I have made a lot of improvement. I’m trying to step up because I’m going to have to do a lot of things for our team next year. I’ve been working really hard and I’ve been getting a lot better.”

Mosquera-Perea pointed to his timing on his jump shot as one major area he’s made a jump. That’s consistent with what we’ve heard throughout the offseason on him. The coaching staff said recently that Mosquera-Perea has been shooting the ball better, and Etherington echoed those sentiments on Tuesday.

“He’s putting in a lot more time,” Etherington said. “He’s working on his shot and everything he knows he needs to work on. After going through a year, you start to realize the things you need to do to improve and get on the court. I think Hanner has learned a lot. He’s been shooting the ball really well.”

· The freshman class: “They’re very athletic,” Etherington said. “Just them coming in has added so much athleticism to our team. Coach [Tom Crean] is always wanting us to be a fast break team and push the ball and there’s no better recruits than the guys we’ve got coming in to be able to do that.”

  • Evansville Hoosier

    Vonleh adding 20 pounds of muscle is insane.

  • B-TOWNdawgs

    Holy smokes- I just realized that I’m the same age as Noah… It’s amazing how mature he is at such a young age. And physically mature too!

  • HoosierTrav

    This team will be much better than expected. We will take our lumps but I think we make a run in the tournament. I really think Hollowell is going to explode this year. He’s extremely skilled. Last season did him no justice. Noah will be a beast, as we all expect. Troy Williams wont be able to be kept off the court bc he does so many things exceptionally well. He’s an above average passer, world class athlete, great defender, and his shot is improving. There are a few of these guys who we will be needing to add more room, in the Cook Hall showcasing shelves. Right next to Cody and Victor. Lets hope the list goes as follows……Victor, Cody, Exum, Vonleh, Williams, Hollowell, Ferrell, Blackmon Jr., ?????

  • 5_Banners

    Whats funny is that IU will be a lot more deep than they were last year. When IU goes to the bench this year, there won’t be a big drop off.

  • Igotthecrabsfromyouthenishaved

    Get a room. ;)
    It will be good to have him on the team this year, but the added weight and strength is quite common… and at times cumbersome for someone at such a young age. Use Yogi as an example. He put on so much strength/weight last year that he actually slowed down and needed most of the season in order to adjust to the new weight with regards to his shooting touch and floor management. The weight is important, but the body will need a little time to adjust to it. Let’s hope it can happen before the Big Ten season.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I tend to agree with you but….we were pretty sure that depth was going to be a big-time strength last season as well. Optimistically, I want to believe Austin Etherington and Collin Hartman are both going to be lights out shooters off the bench, I want to believe Hanner is going to be a major force, I want to believe Stan, Devin and Troy are all ready to contribute, I want to believe Evan is going to be a major addition in the backcourt, the list goes on. Like I said, I like our depth on paper but I loved it last year as well.

  • Gregory Spera

    Unfortunately, one of the reasons there won’t be a “big drop off” when IU goes to the bench, is that we won’t have two All-American, top 4 NBA draft picks starting for us this year.

  • Hardwood83

    That is fair to say. IU lost skill and experience, gained length & athleticism.

  • 5_Banners

    Yea, I agree with you. I’m hoping its for real this season.

  • 5_Banners

    very true. Obviously, the starters won’t be as strong this year, but hoping the bench can be more productive.

  • Ole Man

    Hope you’re right banners; but we were hearing and saying the same thing last year.
    So, once burned, twice shy.

  • Diana Poncar

    20 lbs in less than 2 months?! Geez. Getting super excited to see what this kid can do!

  • HoosierTrav

    I think they will be. The frosh wont be playing behind 2 proven seniors, 2 Juniors (2nd Pick in NBA Draft & B1G 6th Man Of the Year), and the #4 Pick in the NBA Draft. I think the time will have to be distributed pretty evenly, which in turn should build each guys confidence.

  • Miamihoosier

    If by “very deep” bench we mean we are going to play 9 or 10 guys more than 10 minutes, it’s not a good thing. Look at our team for the World University Games. Mass substitutions are never productive. If we are still debating who the starters should be after 5 or 6 games, it’s a bad sign. Last year we knew who the 6 best players were, and it wasn’t close. You have to have that for cohesion, and to truly get better as the year goes on. As long as we are playing 9 or 10, it means we only have 3 or 4 guys who have separated themselves, and that Coach is still looking to find out who the other 3 are gonna be. Ferrell, Sheehey, and Vonleh are out of the equation, we know they are the 3 best players on the team….past that though, there is a middle group of 5, where among, Fischer, Perrea, Hollowell, Williams, and Gordon we really need 2 or 3 to be clearly better. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone could pop up out of the guys I haven’t mentioned as well, I just think each of them have certain disadvantages that will make it challenging. The unknown is creating so much anticipation for this upcoming season, I just hope the answer to who our best players are isn’t still an unknown by the time the Big Ten starts.

  • SCHoosier

    Truth be told I think the staff could ink in a starting line up end of August. The really great thing is that every player has a chance to improve his position between now and then. I think you’ll hear the always positive T Crean talk about having 7-8 starters..I think we’ll see multiple rotations while playing the cupcakes..but if you really want to find out what the coaches are thinking…see who starts that game against ‘Cuse. No way TC wants to be embarrassed two games in a row by those guys..so his best guys will get the most minutes…repping the B-10 in the challenge game.

  • SCHoosier

    U make a good point..last year we were the second ranked offensive team in the country..won’t come close to that this year. Last year our defense improved..I think this years team can get very good very quickly on the defense end. Last year’s team had trouble executing in the half court against some teams..this years team will likely face the same problem given their youth. Formula for success..play D..hit the boards..turn the other guys over and use our athletes in a transition game. The shooting will evolve..D can be there every day. I hope NV is taking FT lessons cause that kid ought to live at the line if properly used.

  • Ole Man

    Good points. Would love to see this team dedicated to defensive play from the get-go. That will certainly help our offense as well.
    Also, think we have to have five guys crashing the boards this time. Aside from Vonleh, we won’t have the weight inside that we need. Plus, I honestly believe this group can crash the boards and still get back on D most of the time.
    Excellent thought on the FT line. Hope they’re all working there.

  • semohoosier

    I think there is more uncertainty on the out come of this season because of the loss of experienced players but also believe there is a chance of having a great year.Meaning our incoming players have to live up to there potential and other players like Perea and Hollowell have to make big improvements which according to reports is happening.Do love what i am seeing can hardly wait but i guess i have to

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Whoa! How’d you guys get to the future and take a pic of him in NBA form?

    Ok, jokes aside: Does the guy look solid or what? OMG, THAT is what I envision when I think “NBA build”.

  • TomEke

    Usually, I am slow to use the “well-mannered” or “good kid” lines talking about an athlete, but I ran into Noah at the library while on the way to print a paper two nights ago. Description of our encounter.

    I was about ten feet behind him, he opened the tenth street door and waited two seconds to hold it for me. He got the next one for me also. I told him thanks, and he said you’re welcome. He looked confused, and proceeded to ask if I could “please show him where he could pick up his books”. I was confused and asked if he had meant to go to TIS or IUBstore, but he said the coaches had dropped him here. I showed him to the help desk, and they more readily answered his request. He told me thank you for my help before speaking with them more about how to pick up his materials.

    As a student, encounters with athletes are often simply a wave or a ‘sup’, but this one really stands out from any other time I have ran into an athlete. I used to get paid as a valet to be this courteous, and I was genuinely impressed after such a simple encounter when Noah said and did all these things my Grandma used to say were simply the “right thing” to do or “polite”. First impressions matter especially for athletes since they are constantly under the spot light. Kudos to Noah for having such great manners, and kudos to Crean for finding another great kid to represent our program.

  • IUMIKE1

    Yep, echo…echo….echo

  • IUMIKE1

    Great to hear that instead of certain people just saying a player is this or that, when they’re really aren’t, the athlete actually is the way he has been portrayed by the people around him. Thanks for sharing this.

  • HoosierCruz

    ^ true that ^

  • VerdellJonesIV

    If he gained 20 pounds in one month I can guarantee you he did not gain 100% muscle. It is very typical of players to make massive gains in the offseason since they cut out a lot of their cardio and try to eat everything in sight, but this will not be his playing weight. He will lose a lot of this weight once preseason conditioning starts.

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