Notebook: IU freshmen adjust to college conditioning

NV004Meeting with the media for the first time as part of the Indiana basketball team Friday afternoon, IU’s freshmen agreed on what aspect of the college basketball life had surprised them most.

“The conditioning,” Troy Williams simply put it.

Though they are only one week into their first fall semester, IU’s freshmen players have been on campus since early June, adjusting to the conditioning demands of the Indiana basketball program. And it wasn’t easy, especially under strength and conditioning coach Je’Ney Jackson.

“You find out you’re not in shape like you thought you was,” Williams said.

“It’s been pretty tough,” Devin Davis added. “You have to get your mind right for every workout. You can’t come in and just think you’re going to get by. You really have to push yourself.”

It hasn’t gone unnoticed. Each player said they feel as if they have significantly improved in both strength and speed since they arrived in Bloomington.

And at the Amar’e Stoudemire and LeBron James skills academies this summer, other players took notice of Noah Vonleh’s particular transformation, who has gone from 215 to 240 pounds.

“A lot of guys I played high school basketball and camps with were saying I got a lot bigger and a lot stronger, this and that,” Vonleh said. “I just feel like I’m continuing to get better.”

‘You can follow in their footsteps’

In late June, Indiana’s entire team, including the newcomers, watched from their locker room as former Hoosiers Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were selected in the top four of the NBA draft.

“We all saw the faces on Cody and Victor,” Davis said, “and we just realized how much hard work they put in to get to their dream.”

Now, only two months from the start of their freshman season, IU’s newcomers have seen how they can get to the next level from Bloomington: mainly, through a strong work ethic.

“After hearing everything about those guys and how great their work ethic was, it was passed down and all of us are expected to do that stuff now,” Luke Fischer said.

“When you hear about the great people that have been through here and you see how that work ethic helped them, you just want to do it yourself and get in their position, too,” Williams added. “Someone that you can follow in their footsteps.”

With that expectation and desire to learn, Stanford Robinson thinks it has created a team dynamic where everyone is helping each other become better players.

“Everyone is listening to everybody,” Robinson said. “If Troy was to tell Will Sheehey something on his game, like something he should change, Will Sheehey will take it into consideration and change it or talk to him and discuss things about that. That’s what’s special about our team: We all listen to one another.”

As far as if there’s any pressure following the team that was Big Ten champions and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and making sure there isn’t a dip in results, Robinson thought this team has the chance to live up to the past.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure, because coach Crean is teaching us the same thing he was teaching them last year,” Robinson said. “If we keep doing what they did, there has to be some kind of repeated result.”

Quotable“I definitely feel improvement. Sometimes, I just touch my arms to see how much bigger I got. If you ask (strength and conditioning) coach (Je’Ney) Jackson right now, I’ll walk around with my shirt off all the time, just because I feel like I’m that much bigger. He always tells me to put my shirt back on, that I still have a bird chest.” — Robinson

Other notes: Hartman has gained 15 pounds since he initially arrived in Bloomington, which he said has helped him become more confident defending against bigger players. … Vonleh attributed his weight-gain to eating more meals, drinking protein shakes and lifting weights. Now at 240 pounds, he arrived in Bloomington at 215, he said. …  Fischer said he’s been nicked up this summer (he didn’t go into specifics), but said he is now 100 percent. … When Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey were away from the team for the World University Games, Fischer said Austin Etherington stepped up as a team captain and led workouts.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Here’s hoping that local kid, Austin Etherington, breaks out like I expect him to this year! Here’s what I see out of him:

    1) During his short times on the floor he showed an above average ability to defend with his feet.

    2) He also shows a strong D1 level body and appears to be a good rebounder for a wing.

    3) His shot shows a lot of potential and if he gets consistent shots he could be the dead eye shooter we’re looking for this year!
    4) He’s seriously an above average athlete and I hope his knee injury didn’t steal that from him.

    5) He’s an upperclassman entering the year players seem to show big gains under Tom Crean.

    If I’m right IU’s season could be a lot better than expected because this team could really use all the upperclassman leadership they can get!

  • WisconHoosier

    “If Troy (told) Will Sheehey something on his game . . . (he) will take it into consideration and change it.”

    LOL. I’m not sure Will always takes Crean’s suggestions, let alone a freshman’s.

    And I doubt Crean calls them “suggestions.”

    This year will be fun. Can’t wait.

  • Snookafly

    I hope he beaks out too, but his biggest problems when he played came from looking lost. Hopefully, sitting and watching last year has given him a greater familiarity with the college game and a confidence to execute. His shooting did show a lot of promise and we could definitely use it this season.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Noah is going to become a national darling, just sayin’

  • John Temple

    If this team plays up to the level they are expressing in this article, IU could have a great season. It appears they are bonding and taking full advantage of their summer to get bigger and better. Etherington has obviously taken the next step, not just as a player but also as a leader. Go Hoosiers.

  • HoosierCruz

    love to hear that Vonleh got the freshman-25 before classes even started! 240 is no joke, he’s gonna battle down low with the best this year. Can’t wait to see the matchup with AJ Hammond.

  • Ya,mon.

    What a great team culture. It seems they take pride and satisfaction in their accomplishments. I wonder how JBJ would fit in.

  • baukev55

    Saw all the freshmen (and Yogi and Hanner) sitting together at the soccer game last night. Glad this team appears close. Much unlike pUKe players coming in with entourages.

  • HoosierTrav

    Yeah… I’ll believe that when I see it.

  • WisconHoosier

    I can just see Sheehey listening to a freshman with a serious look on his face, then saying “Why thank you, I deeply appreciate your insight and wisdom.”

    Then dunking on him the next 5 times down court.

  • http://www.babytown.com/ OceanArcher

    great shooter. solid muscle on his frame too. You can make an argument that anyone in NCAA D1 sports is an above-average athlete, but I wouldn’t consider AE an athletically better-than-average D1 BB player.

  • marcusgresham

    In what limited time Etherington has gotten, I was impressed with his rebounding. Is he ever going to lead the team? Probably not, but he had much more of a nose for the ball than I expected.

  • HoosierPat

    Last year was supposed to be “The Movement” but outside of Yogi and Hollowell we got next to nothing from the freshman class. I expect this year’s class to be better from top to bottom. These guys just seem more college ready and more mature. I think playing in Prep School definitely helped Troy, Stan, and Noah. Despite the majority of the roster being underclassmen, I expect a very successful season. Look out B1G, we’ve reloaded.

  • Mooks

    The 7’4″ wing span will definitely help him defend players who are taller than him.

  • N71

    Would have enjoyed watching Trevon Bluiett make the same adjustments next year as a freshman at IU but I certainly understand his decision. Going to UCLA, Southern California, the ladies, and playing for Ed Schilling again, that’s a solid option. Best of luck Trevon!

  • Big D

    All the improvements in the weight room for the Freshmen should be a good selling point to bring to Exum. “Join us for a year and let us help you.”

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