Notebook: Hoosiers looking for expanded role from Devin Davis

  • 08/13/2014 8:14 am in

With Indiana’s current lack of an effective big man on its trip to Montreal, the Hoosiers are looking for someone to step in and fill that role. Cue rising sophomore Devin Davis.

In the Hoosiers’ first game of their Canada tour, Davis grabbed 16 rebounds. Against Carleton on Monday, he scored 13 points and recorded six rebounds. The 6-foot-7 rising sophomore started in Indiana’s 96-69 win over McGill University on Tuesday night, as well, scoring seven points but earning just three rebounds in 22 minutes of action.

Following last night’s contest, Indiana coach Tom Crean shared optimism about Davis for this upcoming season.

“I think he has worked hard at it but there is a lot of room for him to work even harder and develop,” Crean said. “I thought tonight was his best game, offensively, although last night was his best game `intent-wise’. What he wants to erase is having 16 rebounds in 19 minutes the first night and then three rebounds in 22 minutes the next night. Those are the inconsistencies that he wants to erase.”

During his freshman year this past season for the Hoosiers, Davis held a minor role behind the likes of Noah Vonleh, Jeremy Hollowell, Austin Etherington and Will Sheehey, averaging just 2.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game.

But with the departures of several Hoosiers big men, including Vonleh, Hollowell, Peter Jurkin and Jeff Howard, the team has been left with a lack of post presence. Davis has filled that void during the Canadian tour, thus far, and despite his smaller size he has made up for it through his versatility.

And heading into this upcoming season, the Hoosiers will look for that same impact as the team continues to mold together.

“He was a big, big part of our opening last night and the things that we did there,” Crean said. “He got to the other side of the rim tonight. He scored in the low post and took his time. He is rebounding the ball better and we are putting him in pick-and-rolls. Those are the things that he should be able to do for us.

“The versatility isn’t just for the guys that play in the back court, the guys in the front court have to be versatile as well and Devin is a big part of that.”

Crean calls ball movement ‘a strength’

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between this season’s Hoosiers squad compared to last season is the newfound shooting ability. In Indiana’s first four games in Canada, the team has had no worse than a 48 percent field goal percentage.

The early results have Crean optimistic heading into this season that ball movement — which was an issue during the 2013-14 campaign — might not be an issue anymore as his players continue to learn their defined roles.

“We’re learning, there’s no question about it,” Crean said. “Ball movement is going to be a strength of this team because there’s a respect level there. You don’t have guys trying to prove they can do things that they can’t do. We’re trying to get better at things we’re not as good at, but we’re not trying to prove we can do things and to me, that’s one of the keys.”

Crean has been especially pleased with the ball movement during his team’s Canada trip, noting that the shortened shot clock the Hoosiers are playing with has forced the offense to simplify, and in turn, make better plays. As he noted, the team has been forced to realize that offense can’t start “with Yogi Ferrell moving the ball — it’s got to start with everybody.”

“I wouldn’t trade the 24-second clock for the knowledge that we’re getting,” Crean said. “The more they continue to move the ball at a simple rate, the simpler they are with making that next pass — making what’s there.”

Hoosiers record 23 turnovers in Tuesday’s win

One of the biggest issues Indiana dealt with last season was its turnover problem. The Hoosiers ranked No. 330 in the nation with a 21.8 turnover percentage. And on Tuesday, turnovers were once again an issue for the Hoosiers.

Despite its 27-point win over McGill, the team turned the ball over 23 times on just 10 McGill steals, compared to just 12 turnovers the night prior. But following Tuesday’s game, Crean said he knew where the team went wrong.

“Too many of those turnovers tonight were unforced because we just didn’t keep the game simple,” he said. “Last night we didn’t have that many and we kept the game simple. That’s all part of it and we’ll get to that point. We’ll understand how to play simple basketball.”

Of course, Tuesday’s game also was Indiana’s fourth in five days. And throughout the trip, the Hoosiers — and their opponents — have played at a fast pace, as each game has used a 24-second shot clock due to FIBA rules.

But the variety of game experience has allowed Crean to make important observations on how to cut down on the recurring turnover issue this season. And when the Hoosiers begin NCAA play this season, they will have an extra 11 seconds to deal with, as well, even if they might not utilize it.

“The one thing the teams do here is they’re really attacking the ball, they’re attacking the rebounds and they really try to run up and take the ball from you,” Crean said. “That’s some stuff we really have to learn. We have to be more aggressive with the ball, we have to get our head up on the dribble, we have to throw the ball out ahead.”

Priller gaining more experience

After not playing during Monday’s win over Carleton, 6-foot-9 freshman Tim Priller played 15 minutes in the Hoosiers’ 96-69 win over McGill, scoring eight points on 3-of-3 field goals and 2-of-2 3-point attempts.

Following the game, Priller said he knew he would have to earn his minutes on this year’s team. But he also noted the most important thing he needs to work on is not his scoring.

“I definitely have to earn my minutes, it is not just a given thing,” he said. “I think I need to rebound, that is probably the biggest thing for me that I need to work on.”

The second-tallest player on Indiana’s roster at the moment, Priller did not record a single rebound on Tuesday. But the Richland (Texas) High graduate was not disheartened. In fact, he said he is even more motivated now as he continues to get better and looks to make an impact as a true freshman.

“I definitely need to get better – everyone needs to get better – but I need to get better at some things,” he said. “My teammates are really helping me out. There is no negativity on the team and they are really just pushing me to do better and help them out as well.”

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  • OhioHoosier

    T-Prill doing his thing. Maybe a fan favorite in a couple of years

  • Banner6

    Really like Davis and felt like he deserved so much more PT last season. He averaged 8.8 mpg to JH’s 18.3 mpg last year and unlike JH, he played like he wanted to be on the floor. I think we’ll see this kid continue to get better and better throughout the year!

  • Brad

    I’m not really concerned with the turnovers at this point. They looked pretty gassed last night, especially in the second half. Four games in five days will wear you out physically and mentally. This team has a better basketball IQ than last year’s team, so I think they’ll get it figured out.

  • SCHoosier

    TC outlined DD’s role very well. The kid is undersized for that role he needs to be able to knock down FT’s..because he is going to get fouled. Love Priller’s shot..but he gets pushed around under the bucket..and has quickness issues. Kid could be a baller by the time he’s a Jr. TC has called Priller a “situational” player. End of half possessions..and zone defenses are made to order for Mr. Tim..he can flat fill it up. Get stronger and quicker Tim..Hoosiers can use you.

  • marcusgresham

    You kind of said what I was going to say. This (or even next year,) may not totally be Priller’s time to shine, but he comes in with two things that are invaluable–a shot and height.
    He isn’t rebounding well because he isn’t very strong. We knew that coming in because we heard from him, his high school coach, Crean, etc., that strength would be the most important thing for him to improve.
    As for quickness, that can be improved a bit. He may never win a track meet, but neither did Larry Joe Bird.

  • Hardwood83

    I think so too. A lot of the bad stats (TO’s, poor shooting) last year boil down to B-ball IQ. That was a dumb team making dumb mistakes. I am encouraged that the returnees and new guys have made progress there.

  • ForeverIU

    I hope it was fatigue, although it didn’t look like it on some of those turnovers. Plus, it was hot as hell indoors from what I understand, maybe that contributed. It’s still hard to fathom 23 turnovers, but it’s a new day. Onward.

  • Snookafly

    Devin Davis will be on of the most valuable players on this team. The guy is a workhorse, and his height will be the only thing limiting his ability to put up big numbers come the season. I like Priller, but he is not ready for the B1G. He was winded last night, and he risks getting stripped with his lack of strength in the paint. He was confident enough to shoot on open looks though which is good. That seems basic, but as we’ve seen it is apparently not uncommon from our recruited “shooters.” I’m surprised how little shooting I’ve seen from Max, come to think of it.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I’ve heard/read very little about Max on this trip. I know he didn’t play against Carleton and I don’t think he got significant minutes last night. I’m not concerned about it at all but I didn’t think he’d be a key part of the rotation this season and nothing on this trip has pushed me to change my mind. I think he’ll develop really nicely because he’s got some bounce, a good shot and is, by all accounts, a diligent worker, I just don’t think he’s quite ready to play a big role this season (and that should be okay).


    I share your concern when it come to the TO’s, probably not to the point that you do, but I still have some concern regardless of the factors that some feel like are contributing to, IMHO, the excessive amount. The fact that we had a very nice number against Carleton just makes me remember that last year we had some games where we held the number of TO’s down as well, but those games was not reflective of our season overall. I think some are hoping / using the power of positive thinking when it come to this part of our game. Anyone that says that they are not the least bit worried about it are trying to wish it away, trying to put a positive spin on it, I don’t know pick your point, but if it doesn’t concern them the least bit than they see this in a completely different way than you and I. Maybe it’s just me not being able to get that particular nightmare like stat from last year out of my head and it’s making me paranoid that it’s still with us. Possible exorcism ? May need a retreat to the monastery with MillaNun before I’ll be able to get past this. lol

  • ForeverIU

    LOL, you just gave me goosebumps. I was going to post something, but it wouldn’t have been as good as your explanation. Anyway, here is what I was going to post:

    I think we will continue to see high turnovers throughout the season. We will probably compensate with higher scoring and forcing more turnovers from opposing teams. If we keep winning, no one will care much (except maybe me, lol!, and now IUMIKE). I’m sort of resigned to it, and anything better will be a bonus.

  • Outoftheloop

    We could have seen some of this “improved” Devin Davis if Coach Crean had just given Devin more playing time last season!

  • Outoftheloop

    Max played 8 minutes against Carleton, took no shots, with 3 rebounds, 2 fouls and 0 TO’s. For the 4 games he is 6/17 FG, 2/7 3-point, 10 rebounds, 16 total points, 2A/6TO, in 45 minutes, Tim Priller is 5/7 FG, 3/3 3-point, 4 rebounds, 13 total points, 1A/3TO, in 29 minutes.

  • Outoftheloop

    At 6’7-6’8, with his strength and athletic skills, Devin Davis is NOT undersized for a college #4! He is almost exactly the same as Dawson at MSU!

  • Outoftheloop

    But Larry did have a 2 inch vertical (LOL)! It is basketball! If you can hit the shot against anyone, you can become very good!


    We may win several games where we also have a, ” higher than should be number of TO’s “, I guess is one way to put it, but I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t bite us on our collective a$$ sooner or later. Something also tells me that it will be in, what will turn out to be, a very key game and in way to where we can pretty much point to the number of TO’s as the biggest reason that we lost.

  • Outoftheloop

    I am concerned about the TO’s right now! They killed us last year and having under 10 each game has to be a top priority! For all of the nonsense about Crean not being strong at X’s and O’s (he is as good as any college coach ( the MI victory and the WI victory last year) except Coach K), his tolerance for extremely high TO numbers is his greatest coaching weakness!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    “My teammates are really helping me out. There is no negativity on the team…”

    This is a huge statement.

  • Outoftheloop


  • ForeverIU

    Yeah, that stood out to me too.

  • Brad

    It’s August, and they played five games in six days. Relax.

    There is absolutely no way this young of a team will average less than 10 turnovers a game. That being said, obviously they can’t average 30 or whatever it was last year. One of the big problems if you watch is their desire to make the highlight play instead of the smart play. Trying to dribble through three guys, trying to fit a pass into an impossible window, etc. My guess is Crean is harping on that, but they will have to experience it to get it.

    It kills me that so many people are concerned already. Climb down off the ledge. A team that has never played together before went 4-1 on the trip, and would have been 5-0 had the team not hit 18 threes (which will never happen again this season). I would say it was a positive trip all around.

  • Corey M

    He definitely has a lot more upside than Priller. Seems like so many people on ITH are way too high on TP. He is tall and yes he can hit 3’s but unfortunately he will never have the athleticism or quickness to hang with BIG10 caliber players. People get mad when I post this but I am not trying to bash the kid, just think people are getting way too hyped up on him because he can hit a 3 and is tall. Max on the other hand has enough athleticism and overall basketball skill to develop into a very solid player. Too bad we didn’t get a chance to see what J April can bring to the table on this trip north of the border..

  • skotchie

    I really like DD’s upside, the next AJ Moye only bigger.

  • ForeverIU

    CTC put so much into Hollowel, and what a sad ending. Imagine if he’d invested in Devin. Oh well, I guess hindsight is 20/20.

  • Snookafly

    Agree– not trying to put him down, but he just does not look like an athlete out there.

  • Snookafly

    He’ll probably spend more time at the 5.

  • David Macer

    Priller’s last sentence says it all. You gotta think that last year’s team had some problems in this area.

  • David Macer

    That particular team was unconscious that night. Perhaps our close-outs weren’t good enough, but that can only explain part of that number.

    BTW, saw that the twitter-verse went all aflutter with Crean hate because we lost to a Canadian team. Was happy to see little or no gloom and doom on ITH !!!

  • VAHoosier

    Yeah. And Crean’s statement that “[y]ou don’t have guys trying to prove they can do things that they can’t do” is perhaps telling. Have to think that is a subtle reference to some things happening last year.