Roster turnover aids Hoosiers on and off the court

  • 10/17/2014 11:43 am in

After losing a lottery pick, a senior who scored more than 1,000 career points and several players via transfer, Indiana is going to look much different this winter.

And given that 60 percent of the roster is new and the Hoosiers are without a true post presence, much of the team’s offense is going to originate on the perimeter.

But change isn’t always a bad thing and in IU’s case, the roster turnover should allow Crean to avoid situations like last season when he was forced to put guys on the floor who couldn’t shoot or score with any consistency.

“Very few times do people (in the Big Ten) put players on the court that can’t make shots or aren’t bringing something to the table,” Crean said yesterday at Big Ten media day in Rosemont, Illinois. “There’s very few places to hide a guy.”

With guys like Austin Etherington, Evan Gordon and Jeremy Hollowell being replaced by James Blackmon Jr., Nick Zeisloft and Robert Johnson, the Hoosiers shouldn’t run into many scenarios where they won’t have a capable and confident shooter on the floor to go along with Yogi Ferrell, a first team all-Big Ten selection in the preseason.

Blackmon Jr. and Johnson can both shoot and handle the ball, while Zeisloft showed a confident stroke in IU’s August trip to Montreal along with a strong basketball IQ.

Those three newcomers should allow Indiana to produce much better floor spacing than a season ago when Etherington, Gordon and Hollowell combined to make just 13 three-pointers in 18 conference games.

It should also benefit sophomore Stanford Robinson, who attacked the basket relentlessly as a freshman and got to the line as well as any Hoosier. With shooters on the perimeter, any dead ends Robinson hits on his way to the basket could lead to kick outs for open shots.

“With the type of shooters we have, it’s going to be a big-time help spacing wise,” Johnson said after Monday’s practice. “It’s going to open the court up and make us real hard to guard because you’ve got to guard a lot of guys that can shoot and put the ball on the floor.”

Ferrell, who compared playing with IU’s newcomers to his days at Park Tudor when he was surrounded by shooters and even his freshman season with Jordan Hulls, hopes the changes lead to better camaraderie on the floor, something that wasn’t always present last season.

“Some games (last season) the connection was there, some games it wasn’t,” he explained at Big Ten media day. “This season, we’ve got to have that connection every game.”

The connection, of course, starts off the court and seems to be off to a more promising start than it was a season ago when Ferrell, along with Will Sheehey, were in Russia for almost a month in the summer with USA Basketball while the rest of the roster remained in Bloomington.

“We couldn’t even be with the team (last summer) and try to get accustomed to the guys that just came in,” Ferrell said. “So this summer I got to spend the whole summer with them and I think we’ve definitely used that to our advantage.”

This past summer also included the foreign trip to Canada that allowed for 10 practices and five exhibition games. Ferrell also on Thursday said that the upperclassmen are living together on campus this season, a change from previous years when they lived off campus.

The early result seems to be a group that is enjoying being around each other more than last year’s both on and off the court.

“I kind of feel like this year’s team likes each other a lot more,” Ferrell said yesterday. “I don’t know why, maybe it’s that we’re all kind of the same age. That could be the thing. We can all kind of relate to each other and when we get out there, we just have fun and want to play with each other. That’s the main thing.”

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  • HoosierGrampy

    A back injury to to Ted Kitchel in the 1982-83 season quite probably cost IU a title as did Alan Henderson’s knee tear in the 1992-93 season. RMK didn’t always aggressively recruit players after the 93-94 season, and IU’s performances in the conference and NCAAs suffered a lot. In fact his last 6 teams exited either in the 1st or 2d round and didn’t finish higher than a tie for 2d in 95-96.

  • Snookafly

    Whoa– Now who’s altering facts to fit his narrative? When did I ever say guys don’t “develop under CTC?” I just think he gets way more credit in that area than he deserves at times. Examples: Watford was the #4 SF in his class, Jordy had to start for four years straight, Zeller looked stagnant in his second season, and Will had no consistency as a senior. For that matter, what about all the players like Verdell, Elston, or Jeremiah Rivers?

    Besides, how do you know that Will was given “exactly
    the same suggestions?” They aren’t the same player; they don’t even play the same position. Vic was focused on becoming an NBA PG which requires a specific skill set– Will not so much. Will even said he was told to focus on what he already did well and not try to leave his comfort zone too much. Crean only talked about working on improving his knowledge and court leadership.

    You sight Will’s ability to be the “3rd leading scorer
    on the USA U19 team, ahead of multiple future NBA players.” Besides the fact that it wasn’t even a U19 FIBA tournament– it was the World University Games– it was the best he looked playing all year and it was under a different coach. I can’t honestly say the gains he made wouldn’t have happened under a someone else. I think Will’s work ethic and our roster holes had as much to
    do with his success as CTC’s acumen.

  • Snookafly

    WHAT!?!? Oh, it’s on, Forever! LOL.
    Actually, thanks. That’s a pretty nice thing to say.

  • Outoftheloop

    Come on, you can read what I wrote: “If Indiana makes it this year, then 3 Sweet Sixteens in any 4 year period is the definition of a top basketball program! If IU does not achieve this, then the AD has to be concerned.” Let’s have an “honest” debate, not one where we intentionally misstate our opponents statements to sound “cute”!

  • Outoftheloop

    Apparently you did not understand the situation for the first three years. Do some reading. Since then, the next three years, Indiana is 2 Sweet Sixteens in those 3 years. Last year was bad. This year has not been played yet! No one likes Indiana Basketball to be “mediocre”! But so far there is no proof (something more objective than pre-season media and blog speculations) that it is. Perhaps in April 2015 we will have some proof either way.

  • Outoftheloop

    Thanks for the good info. It is very hard to argue with Brad’s reasoned (his forte) appraisal.

  • Outoftheloop

    Not many coaches keep Michael Jordan on the bench when he can help you win games and keep that fat pay-check! No one has transferred from IU who has a pro career, except for Mo, and his situation was very unique. Remy probably hurt his chances for a pro career. If you don’t think that you can earn playing time against Stan, Troy, James, Robert and Max, what pro team will want you?

  • IUMIKE1

    The selection committee is not going to take a team that finishes 9th or 10th in our conference this coming year, or any other year more than likely, and thus that kind of finish equates to not getting a tournament bid. When I came up with what I felt like was a make or break season, coaching wise, I took into account that there was now 14 teams and still feel like it is not over the top to expect a better finish than 9th or 10th. That may make me appear to not be a Crean supporter, but I am, and like I said, I believe he will do a good enough job for there not to have to be a discussion about if a 9th or 10th place finish saves his job.

  • b_side

    Wouldn’t say it’s likely, but there are too many variables at play to say whether 9th is good enough.

    – How much separation is there from the top 5 vs. the bottom 4 teams?
    – What’s our record vs. Lville, Pitt, SMU and Gtown?
    – How many B1G tourney games will we win despite the 9th place?

    And most importantly, how many mid-majors have upsets in their conference tourney, thus impacting the amount of at-large bubble teams?

  • IUMIKE1

    I think most would say that the state of IU’s program when Crean took over and the state of Duke’s program when K took over were not exactly worlds apart when it came to how easy it was going to be to make them into a contender. I’m also sure that most knowledgeable bball fans would say that in recruiting it’s easier to sell, up and coming, than it is, “used to be”. The success and tradition at IU you say that Crean had to build on was for the most part negated by how it had performed, maybe “not” performed is a better way of putting it, since before most of Crean’s recruiting targets were even born. With IU’s program looking like the aftermath of a nuclear explosion and Duke’s program just not known as a powerhouse program yet,yea, I’d say that that isn’t a silly comparison at all, but rather a pretty valid one instead.

  • TomJameson

    I said might help … and really, nobody knows the future. Not very many held out hope for Hulls either, but he found a spot. And again, not really talking about a jordan type player. Lol. All it could take is a year or two of development on the floor, not on the bench.

  • TomJameson

    My point is that transferring and starting for another team is MUCH better exposure than sitting on the bench cheering for IU. come to IU, get 2 years of development, transfer to a mid-major and showcase the talents you have. Also not talking extreme talents like Jordan, don’t know where that came from. lol 2 years playing can develop your talent, where 2 years riding the pine really just can’t, and nobody can tell the future. A transfer may be just a chance, but it’s a better chance than not trying at all.

  • cooper

    Pitino rebuilt UL and UK and calipari built Memp and UK. Hell Alford is making UCLA better

  • cooper

    Ok I’ll give you that. I just don’t see Sweet 16 this year and at some point we have to do more

  • IUMIKE1

    Pitinio “rebuilt” UL ? and I won’t go into the many ways that makes it easier to take over at pUKe, I think they are well documented. Calislimy “rebuilt” pUKe ? Rebuilt them from what ? As far as Alford is concerned, him making UCLA better is open to interpretation I guess cause I haven’t seen them going to any final fours or being crowned national champions under him. Sounds like the simplest thing for you to do, seeing things the way you do, is pick one of the four other schools you mentioned and follow them. Not gonna argue this point with you any further cause you obviously have your mind made up that it is a way that most of us don’t.