Rosemont, Ill. — Only one starter remains from last year’s Indiana squad that fell to Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen: Sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell.
And it’s a loss that fueled his summer, one that’s seen him improve across the board.
“I don’t think there’s any question that the way the season ended at Syracuse, and the way that they played him — especially off ball screens and in the zone — has helped propel him to making points,” said Tom Crean on the podium. “In the sense of: He’s going to become a better shooter off the dribble, he’s going to become a better shooter off the catch, he’s going to become even better off the ball screen. His shooting has improved tremendously. There’s been nobody that has come in that gets paid to evaluate that hasn’t made a comment about his improvement — especially on the offensive side.”
In a later breakout session, Crean admitted he never really gets over a disappointing loss like IU’s in last season’s Sweet Sixteen, but that it also can’t deter the program going forward.
“I”m not over losing in 2002 to Tulsa in St. Louis, I’m not over losing to Kansas in the Final Four,” said Crean. “I don’t think you ever get over it, but you don’t let it knock you away from getting better. And the one thing you don’t let it do is define the whole deal.”
When Ferrell had a chance to speak about the matter, he said it indeed motivated him this summer.
“That last game motivated me a lot,” said Ferrell. “It motivated me in the fact that that feeling that I had at the end of that last game, I never want to have that feeling again. So I definitely took this past offseason and used it to my advantage to get better, but I know others guys did as well.”
Hollowell’s multi-positional role
When Jeremy Hollowell entered Saturday’s exhibition win against Southern Indiana, he assumed the point guard position. It’s a role he didn’t play in 2012-2013.
“Coach Crean has challenged me at that position,” said Hollowell, who also spoke of his increased confidence on the court as he begins his sophomore campaign.
But Hollowell, as well as Crean, believe his sophomore season is shaping up to be one where he’ll play a versatile role.
“Time will tell,” said Hollowell of his point guard role. “Me and coach Crean have talked about it; he feels like I’m our next best option for running the point right now. He tried it out first game; I think he liked it. But I think you’re going to see me pretty much 1 through 4 at any time. We’re still trying to figure it out. We got another exhibition game, so it’ll be interesting to see.”
Said Crean: “He’s multi-positional right now. I think of all the players on our team, he might be the most multi-positional.”
Beyond the arc
The Hoosiers finished last season as the fourth best 3-point shooting in the nation (40.3 percent). But gone are efficient sharpshooters Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford.
And while Yogi Ferrell is the early leader to chip in beyond the arc after splashing six 3-pointers against Southern Indiana and Crean calling him “our most consistent and highest percentage 3-point shooter in practice”, it sounds as if several Hoosiers are looking to try and fill the gap.
“Last year we were leading in 3-point shooting and we definitely don’t want to give that away,” said Ferrell. “A lot of guys like myself, Jeremy, Will, Evan, Stan, we’re all just getting extra shots up after practice.”
Sheehey put it this way: “Our 3-point shooting hasn’t been as good as last year. We lost a lot of shooters, obviously. But I think as a collective unit we’ll continue to make 3s. I don’t think it’ll be one or two guys necessarily.”
“As a team, we’re all working on our shot,” said Hollowell.