Montreal rewind: Troy Williams

  • 08/18/2014 10:10 am in

Welcome to “Montreal rewind,” our player-by-player recap from Indiana’s five-game tour of Canada. Today: Troy Williams. Previously: Nick Zeisloft, Devin Davis

Plenty of storylines emerged over IU’s five-game tour of Montreal and Ottawa. Among them: IU’s improved ball movement, the perimeter shooting of Nick Zeisloft and the play of freshman guards James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson.

However, the most intriguing of all of them may have been the play of sophomore Troy Williams. In five games, the sophomore wing from Hampton (Va.) put up impressive numbers: 18.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals in 27.8 minutes per game.

It was a major swing from what Indiana fans saw out of Williams as a freshman. While effective at times, he was inconsistent and struggled with his shooting from the perimeter. In Canada, Williams laid off the perimeter shots and instead, focused on attacking off the dribble and scoring often off of baseline drives. Williams credited his health as a major reason for the improved play.

“Last year I had a hand injury – I always had my left hand bandaged,” he said. “Now that it is healed, it feels better. I have always been comfortable with the ball, I just couldn’t use both hands last year. Now that I have both back, it is much easier for me to handle the ball again.”

More important than the scoring, however, was the variety of ways in which Williams was able to impact the game.

He was the team’s second leading rebounder on the trip and with the prospect of playing minutes at the four a very real one, Indiana is going to need major production from Williams on the glass.

Additionally, his length and athleticism was disruptive at times as he collected six steals and six blocks on the trip. Following IU’s win over McGill, Tom Crean talked about the sophomore’s ability to play on both ends of the floor and how one end can translate to the other.

“I thought this was a good statistic for the guys to see – the two leading deflectors at halftime were also the two leading scorers,” Crean said. “The best facilitator of the game in the first half was Troy Williams; he was also the leading scorer and the leading deflector. The more they can learn that those things really, really do matter and they really do carry over – it doesn’t matter where you’re playing, when you’re playing or who you’re playing – it just matters that you do those things.”

Despite his strong play in Canada, there’s still plenty of room for growth for Williams before practice starts late next month.

“I’m going to work on more defense and more pick-and-roll situations,” he explained following IU’s win over UQAM. “I see that now I am in a lot of pick-and-roll situations. It has helped out a lot and I am making good decisions out of it but I still want to work on that more.”

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  • TroutyB

    If Troy can become a consistent defender and gain the ability to knock down an open jumper there is no doubt in my mind he will be a lottery pick when his time here is up. He has all the physical tools and just needs to put it all together.

  • Gregory Spera

    “Unconventional?” I must admit, that I thought the few people suggesting that Crean would play four guards with Williams at center were crazy. But it only took the FIRST exhibition game to prove them correct. I guess Crean stresses “versatility” with his players to the extreme. I think Troy is a monster All-B1G talent at the 3. Maybe even at the 4. The 5? Unless we ever see anything from Indiana’s very own International Man of Mystery, Hanner Mosquera-Perea, I am certainly willing to be surprised.

  • Outoftheloop

    Troy is showing signs of the development that we now associate with the IU players under Coach Crean! So did Devin Davis! So did Stan Robinson. So did Yogi last year. There can no longer be any rational debate about the ability of IU to develop players with it’s current program of teaching/coaching, strength, conditioning, access to Cook Hall, peer pressure, etc. However, the player has to do the work, with passion, with determination, and be willing to pay the price. That is part of the recruiting process. Coach Crean is very good in each of these areas. But not perfect, as Jeremy Hollowell demonstrates. But there are other areas to the head coach’s duties as well.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I’m with you man. However, with some of these lineups we should be able to outrun and out-shoot anyone in the country. We just won’t be able to out-rebound or defend the interior against anyone.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Hollowell was a big disappointment for me. He had the size, length and talent but his work ethic was almost non-existent and his attitude was even worse. He seemed more promising as a freshman and then just fell off the map last season. You could tell when he was trying in games too. With his size and skill set, that guy could’ve been a 2 and done type of player too.

  • CreanFaithful

    I’m still not confident we will see those lineups very often. None of the teams in Canada were starting any bigger lineups than ours, plus we were without our 2 bigs. Our lineups basically mirrored the Canadian teams.

  • Hardwood83

    I agree, it was absence of Hanner & April and the competition that dicatated those line-ups.
    I’d like to see how Yogi, JBJ, Troy, Davis & Hanner look on the floor together. Of course, I’m a traditionalist.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I imagine we’ll see some of that lineup (and if recent history is an indicator, we’ll see a little bit of a whole bunch of lineups). It’s simplistic to say “put the five best on the floor” (and I don’t know who the five best are going to be come November) but if our backcourt is the major strength I perceive it to be, I don’t want there to be much time when we only have two guards on the floor (particularly if Nick Zeisloft continues the stellar play he showed in Canada).

  • CreamandCrimson

    We don’t tend to unanimously agree on very many things in these comments (which is usually a good thing) but I think we can all agree that we are very excited about the development of Troy Williams.

    He has the potential to be a tremendous player and I think his play in Canada showed that he’s putting in the work to reach his potential.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Are you serious about outrunning/out-shooting “anyone” in the country based upon what we saw in these videos? You might want to re-visit your optimism after taking a cursory look at what UK, Louisville, Arizona, Duke, Wisconsin, Michigan, the Suckeyes, Villanova, Florida, Illinois, Iowa and perhaps Texas will be bringing to the table this year. 1st team to zone us OR play tight man-to-man will test exactly how well we shoot–let alone out-shoot–an opponent. None of the Canadian teams had a quality big man like Zeller, Vonleh, Kaminki, Paine, Embid, etc. to test our interior game and regardless of how well HMP/April play,they will be hard-pressed to duplicate the defensive presence Vonleh added to last year’s team.
    Said before that I believe Troy Williams will be the key factor to whatever success our Hoosiers have this year. He has the versatility to be a major match-up problem for anyone, and the facts that he’s healthy and learning to play within himself will only elevate his game. Believe Max Hoetzel and Devin Davis will also be solid contributors this year if they get on the floor for some decent playing time. The upcoming season certainly looks a lot better than last year…but in reality there are some serious question marks/deficiencies which our opponents will always be trying to exploit. How well CTC responds/adjusts also remains a big unknown.

  • IUBizmark

    I share your enthusiasm, but I’m not as convinced that there can be NO rational debate regarding player development. IU has done a great job in this area, but not every player has panned out. HMP hasn’t so far, neither did Hollowell and Etherington. For me, it’s early. I’m hopeful we’ll see similar results from this crew come November.

    Crean has the doubters right where he wants them…low projections and plenty of talent with which to over-achieve.

  • SCHoosier

    Not sure how u out run and shoot someone if you are no competitive on the boards? For me..Troy helps us if his defense is seriously improved.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Yes, I am serious about being one of the fastest and best shooting teams in the country. It’s not a secret that we have a bunch of shooters and our guys are definitely used to running. I may have exaggerated a little but I stand by what I said. The majority of our losses this season will be because we get dominated in the paint or we turn the ball over WAY too many times. We won’t lose very many (if any) due to poor shooting.

  • Hoosier Hall

    We will have to remain COMPETITIVE on the boards, but we won’t out-rebound very many teams. If we are shooting in the high 50’s to 60 percent range, that will get us over the hump in several games. Last season, we dominated the glass more often than not and still lost the game because of horrible decision making and missed shots.

  • Kyl470

    I’ll apologize for the long post in advance, but I hope this helps explain why I think people (myself included) might be getting to worked up over the small line up.

    Two years ago when IU played against OSU at OSU they had Jordan Hulls guard Sam Thompson. For those who don’t remember Sam Thompson he was very similar to Troy. He was 6’7″ and could jump out of the gym and had several highlight dunks in his career. On paper that match up would look like something that OSU could exploit every time down the court, but they didn’t. Thompson didn’t really do anything other than his statistical average even with Hulls guarding him. The reason being that Thompson wasn’t a featured part of OSU’s offense. They ran it through DeShaun Thomas as the primary scorer with Lenzell Smith Jr. and Craft and the secondary options. They didn’t deviate from their primary offense to exploit that match up.

    I bring that game up because when looking at the rosters of the Big 10 competition other than Wisconsin and Purdue none of the other teams appear to have a low post player who is going to be a primary scoring option. So when teams play IU are they going to run a completely different offense and force the ball to post players just because IU is playing small? Are they going to ask guys who normally don’t handle the scoring load to take over for the game?

    As long as this team can collectively rebound as a team on defense and not give up easy second chance points I don’t see them having issues with post defense. Again that’s not because I think HMP and Davis are shut down defenders I just think our competition lacks post scorers.

  • ForeverIU

    The buzz out there is for high projections though, don’t you think? Many on ITH and Twitter hoping for top 3 in the Big Ten, including me.

  • Gregory Spera

    “Hoping?” OK. I will go as far as “hoping.” Dreaming, maybe. Praying, even. Expecting? Not so much.

  • ForeverIU

    My point is that the projections are not low, and therefore hard to argue that CTC has contributed to keeping expectations low, but I see your point.

  • Joe Pop

    i would much rather have a team whose strength is shooting and guard play versus rebounding. In reality, how many rebounds is having Hanner or Devin in the game instead of Noah going to cost us?? At the most 3?? This will be easily made up with the shooting improvement versus last year’s guys (Hollowell and AE both under 25% from three). Troy played a lot of four last year too and rebounded really well. I don’t think we are going to be as bad a rebounding team as people think.

  • ForeverIU

    In your previous comment Bizmark you said “doubters”, so I didn’t think you meant ITH & Co., lol. In any case the ITH prediction in the mailbag was dated August 4, before Canada. I don’t want to speak for our “beloved ITH staff,” but I bet post-Canada they would put us now in second tier in the Big Ten. I would rather believe that than, for example, Jeff Goodman’s early prediction of #43.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Agreed. I think we could have at least 4 guys shooting 40% or better from outside. I’ll take that over what we had last season. Plus, I don’t think Hanner is going to disappoint like everyone is afraid he will. Will he be all B10? No, but I believe he will hold his own and have a few nice highlights this year.

  • HoosierGrampy

    I admire your optimism but cannot share it for a couple salient reasons: 1). I cannot recall 1 successful team that played its entire season without experiencing at least one game in which its offense disappeared, i.e. shot less than 30% or so for a game. Even our beloved ’76 champs had a couple suck wad games, but their “D” kept them in every game. If CTC decides to try to live by the 3 or die by the 3 will you be at the funeral? IU has 6 players who have NEVER played against the talent they’ll find on the power teams in the B1G. To expect or even suggest that these players will shoot in the 50-60% range is at best absurd if not ridiculous…they didn’t approach that number against any of the teams in Canada, and competition will get tougher for our crew, not easier.
    2). Many of the teams IU faces this year will be more experienced regarding playing at BOTH ends of the court. Learning how to defend a position/player is at least as time-consuming and involved as learning how to be effective on offense. CTC’s teams have not really shown any degree of excellence or consistency in this area since his arrival. Hell, most of the players cannot even switch, talk to each other or fight through picks or screens–let alone block out or position themselves to rebound without fouling or getting juked. This team will be interesting to follow and several players will step it up and surprise us fans. There will be some smiles, but a couple tears are going to fall as well…reality sucks.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Dude, you are either severely depressed about last season or you are some kind of troll. The negativity is ridiculous. I wasn’t talking about 50-60% three point shooting, I was talking about eFG%. So, yes, we did shoot in that range on the Canada trip. Matter of fact, I believe our average was close to or right around 60 eFG%.

  • IUBizmark

    I am confident this team will over-achieve. By that I mean that they’ll at least make the tournament, since most didn’t project us to do even that. They have a puncher’s chance to go to the Sweet 16, though I’m not banking on it.
    Hopefully ITH will update their preseason projections and we shall see where they place us.

  • Outoftheloop

    IU and Iowa deserve the second tier!

  • Outoftheloop

    Unfortunately KY is a different breed altogether. How can you have 6 of the best “Big’s” in college basketball, and now Wills is looking good too! Everyone else is fighting for 2nd, including IU.

  • ForeverIU

    I read a piece by Darren Scarberry at Next Up Recruits that calls him a “terror on the defensive boards” and writes that “his defensive awareness is off the charts.” Not sure how much to put into this piece … but thought I’d share what I read.

  • ForeverIU

    It is hard to imagine that a team that stresses defensive intensity and deflections to almost obsessive levels (good obsessive) is not performing decently in the defensive areas you mention.

  • HoosierGrampy

    FYI, I’m not a troll nor am I depressed about last season. (I was disappointed, though) I am a long-time follower of IU hoops. You might want to be a bit more judicious in your haste to label someone w/whom there is a difference of opinion. You may consider some of my recent comments as being ridiculously negative. I just don’t happen to be able to buy into all the hype you and some others post on here regarding CTC’s “outstanding player development accomplishments (4 total 1st round picks in the NBA in how many years???), his acumen on the recruiting trail, his insightful substitution patterns, his innovative in-game adjustments, and his enthusiastic mannerisms on the sidelines”. I simply don’t think our $3 million man is capable of achieving more for IU than he already has. I want to be wrong, but the best indicator of IU’s future is to look at its recent past.
    YOU were the one who mentioned the 50-60% shooting range (in a reply to SCHoosier). You said nothing about the eFG%, but I understood what you meant. As info, the Miami Heat logged an NBA-best of 55.24% and the SA Spurs logged 53.06%. No surprise who made the NBA Finals using this as the ultimate metric. Creighton logged an NCAA-best of 58.2%, but McDermott couldn’t carry the entire team. Based upon what I saw in the Canadian videos, there was a general lack of good team defense–not one team featured a lock-down stopper…or his name was never mentioned if there was one or more. I bet even Martha the Mop Lady could have shot over 40% on the trip. Do you really think that BIG coaches are simply going to sit back and let these guys shoot w/o contesting or challenging the shots more actively/aggressively than the teams up North did? You talk like these 6 new men are the next best thing to the 2d coming…and they may be, but they are also young men who’ve NEVER played against BIG-caliber players. They will struggle from time to time and game to game; as long as they strive to be the best they can be, I’ll be OK.

  • HoosierGrampy

    I lived in Lexington from 1985-2010…the worst 25 years of my life. I grew to despise the Big Blue Nation and most of its obnoxious fan base. Had a neighbor who used to literally get sick when UK lost a game. (I hope Trey Lyles finds a really comfortable spot on the bench because I don’t see him getting starter’s minutes this year.) Anyhow, Coach Cal has been able to assemble a team which on paper may be as good–if not better–than the 1990-91 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels…and they were one of the great teams in NCAA history right up to the game against Duke in the Finals.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Rick Pitino was the 1st coach I remember using the term deflection to gauge a player’s defensive activity/inactivity. The term has no universally accepted definition, but here is what the term means to CTC: Crean was asked about deflections by a fan on his radio show on Monday night a couple years ago. Crean said that if a player gets even a finger tip on the basketball on defense, that’s a deflection. It doesn’t matter if the offense keeps the ball or not. Even if a pass is tipped and ends up in the opponent’s hands, it’s still a deflection. It’s also a deflection, of course, if the ball is knocked out of bounds and stays with the opponent.
    While CTC may stress defensive intensity in pre/post-game talks, many times it was the lack of intensity rather than its presence that sealed IU’s chance for success in games. I believe the mere fact that this year’s team seems to like being with each other on and off the court is HUGE. Hopefully it will translate into a strong desire to talk on the court and do all those other little things which constitute good “D”…it’s a mindset that very few of today’s players have or want to acquire. Having 6 players who’ve never faced B1G-level talent before, there will be occasional lapses, but if the overall focus and effort are expended, this could be a very interesting season for us! I hope so!!

  • HoosierGrampy

    The cupboard isn’t exactly bare in Champaign, either.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I’ll apologize if I offended you but make no mistake, there was no need to label you. You did that already with the negativity in your posts. Also, I did not mention anything about CTC or his “player development, recruiting acumen” or anything else about CTC for that matter. Again, I wasn’t trying to label you, I was just addressing what I was reading in your posts.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I’ve never heard of Next Up Recruits or of Darren Scarberry but it’s nice to know that someone who has presumably seen quite a bit of Holt thinks he excels at the two things we’ll need most from him (or any other frontcourt player)…rebounding and rim-protection. If he decides to come to IU, I’ll be happy to have him and I’ll hope he can bolster the frontcourt in the areas you mentioned.

  • ForeverIU

    Sorry, it’s actually Daren, not Darren. I hadn’t heard of him either.

  • Rie

    Meh, you can take a guy based on potential, but at some point they will either improve, hit their ceiling or just not be as good as advertised. The physical and mental limitations of a player should not be reflected back on the recruiter or coaching staff.

    To your point, I have to agree that there is definitely a debate to be had on player development. With Jeremy’s mentality and Etherington’s lack of confidence and physical shortcomings, I think it is safe to put their lack of development on them; however, Hanner is a perfect case as to why the debate is acceptable. He has the size and athleticism to achieve great things, but is still shaky in his general basketball IQ (positioning/timing/fouling). Big men do take a lot longer to develop than guards, so his lack of in-game experience makes it hard to gauge his progress, but we do know there is more there.

    I think the best case to be made is that Crean and IU have the expertise and tools to develop any player to their highest potential; the question is whether or not the player wants to put the amount of time and work in necessary to allow themselves to take a big jump.

  • IUBizmark

    For the sake of discussion, because it’s the off season, who would you move out of the second tier?

  • deebo

    TRO-LA-DI-PO

  • INUnivHoosier

    Thanks for sharing. I never really thought about it that way.

  • BT

    Hate to be Nellie Negative but if Glenn Robinson III could go pro after last year, all it’s going to take is a few good games from Williams this season for scouts to be all over him. He’s got all the NBA tools, fortunately or unfortunately.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I’d prefer 3rd Tier. Low expectations seem to motivate CTC teams.

  • HoosierGrampy

    I was not offended by anything you said or label you put on me. The simple fact that you seem inclined to consider any counterpoint to your comments as “negativity” says a lot about your mindset regarding this team and CTC. Fair enough. I just don’t happen to believe that he is capable of taking this team or any other IU group to an elite level. You look at my comments as negativity; I think of them as being closely linked to reality. Keep you Pom Poms handy and enjoy the upcoming season as best you can!

  • mark

    The big story of the upcoming B10 season will be Wisconsin. I think they might go undefeated. Really. They’re head and shoulders above every other 10 team. Wouldn’t be so if only NV had stayed …. sigh. Heck, Kaminsky is mre NBA ready than NV.

  • mark

    It’s likely about depth and physicality. Imagine that HMP and/or DD get in foul trouble or injured. Who do we have inside? Priller, April and Hoetzel don’t have much muscle yet, and will get abused down low. To me it makes perfect sense. CTC sees that those 3 guys just aren’t ready for the B10 yet and that we desperately need rebounding and interior D.

  • Snookafly

    I can’t thumb it up, but I agree. The thought of what their team can do already has me sick to my stomach.

  • Outoftheloop

    None. And I agree that IL should be there as well. The B1G race is WI at #1 and a real dog fight for every other position. I am not sold on MSU, MI and Oh St being great this year. They each lost their “team” from last season. So they slip to the second tier with NE, IU, IL, IA, Maryland and MN. This season will be full of opportunity and heartbreak for these teams in the second tier!

  • Outoftheloop

    I disagree. Hollowell is not really athletic, no explosive jump off of the floor, no ability to “kill” the dunk over “Bigs”, to soar on a block and change the game (all of which Devin Davis does have). So he was as good as his shot making. At under 40%, he was not a prospect for the league.

  • Outoftheloop

    Coach Crean stresses guard and wing team rebounding. This new group is ideal for that approach, with all of these athletes in those positions.

  • NateMH

    Thanks for being a sensible voice on here, I watched CTC give away multiple games last year & I’d bet he’ll do it again this year