Zeisloft working to diversify his game

  • 07/20/2015 11:05 am in

As his first full offseason as a member of the Indiana basketball program moves along, there are differences in the surroundings for redshirt senior Nick Zeisloft.

Strength and conditioning coach Je’Ney Jackson, who departed earlier this year for the University of Kansas, has been replaced by Lyonel Anderson. Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Devin Davis are no longer with the program following dismissals in May. And there are five newcomers, including McDonald’s All-American Thomas Bryant.

But perhaps the most important change is that, unlike last year when both Zeisloft and Emmitt Holt were late arrivals into the offseason program, the Hoosiers have had a full roster nearly all summer.

The exception, of course, is James Blackmon Jr., who is recovering from recent knee surgery. The offseason continuity, according to Zeisloft, has its benefits.

“Open gym this summer is more competitive compared to last summer and fall,” he said last week. “Last year, we didn’t really know each other, so we didn’t get after it. Now, we get after it and we don’t really care about feelings anymore, which is better for us. We’re all best friends at the end of the day and great teammates. But when it’s open gym time, you don’t want to lose a series, to say the least.”

For Zeisloft, a rare graduate transfer who arrived with two years to play rather than one, the focus this offseason has been on making himself more well-rounded.

As a redshirt junior, the 6-foot-4 native of LaGrange, Illinois, was one of the nation’s top shooters.

He posted an offensive rating of 139.1, the second best figure in the country. His effective field goal percentage was 67.4, thanks mostly to a 45 percent mark behind the 3-point line. And his turnover rate of just 10 percent was the best among IU’s rotation regulars.

This season, however, Zeisloft wants to be able to contribute in more ways.

“I wouldn’t call it ‘branching out’ so much as I would call it improving, and being able to do more with what you work on every day,” he said. “I’m not just shooting every day, I’m working on driving, shot fakes, getting to the rim, my mid-range game, drawing fouls, and posting up every day. I’m not trying to stick with what I’ve done before. I’m looking to improve every day.”

Two of the primary areas of focus for Zeisloft are attempting to find ways to get to the foul line more – he shot just 17 free throws last season – as well as becoming a better defender.

“I’m working on ball screens, making plays for others, and drawing fouls so that I can get to the free throw line,” Zeisloft said. “Drawing fouls is a big key with coach (Crean). Defensively, guarding the best guys that I can—James (Blackmon Jr.), Troy (Williams), Collin (Hartman), Yogi (Ferrell) and Rob (Johnson). I’m even working against the bigs. Thomas is strong down there. Sometimes, you get switched to guarding him in open gym, and it’s pretty tough.”

One benefit Indiana doesn’t have this summer that it enjoyed last offseason was its foreign trip to Canada. The Hoosiers had 10 practices leading up to that trip and then played five games over a six-day span in Montreal and Ottawa.

The absence of that opportunity, however, doesn’t have Zeisloft any less bullish on this year’s team, which figures to start out in the top 15 in the preseason as seven of the team’s top eight scorers return.

“I would say (there’s) more camaraderie, more understanding of what guys are going to be on the court, more timing,” Zeisloft explained. “We had a lot of new guys come in last year and we didn’t have the months of the summer to work together. This summer we’ve had everybody here the whole time and it’s been great.

“Whether it’s open gym or individuals or just seeing how guys tick in the weight room and in different conditioning drills. You know how to communicate with one another and work with one another already at this point instead of Emmitt coming in in September and us just trying to get our feet wet with him and then school starts.”

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  • David Macer

    Love hearing all this !! Less than 3 months to Midnight Madness !!

  • hoosier93

    Let’s hope he truly improves that D. Guys like Kyle Korner abs JJ Redick have been able to do it at the NBA level. Id how Z could do it at the collegiate level.

  • Arch Puddington

    I’m an unabashed fan of Nick Zeisloft. I believe he brings much more to the team that great shooting, which would be plenty on its own. His defense is a liability, and I don’t think he is likely to become the next Aaron Craft or Victor Oladipo no matter how hard he works. But here’s the thing: he doesn’t have to be. Most games come to do just a handful of possessions — a critical stop or two, a timely basket, a turnover, etc. If all Zeisloft does is improve enough to have two or three additional quality defensive possessions per game, just enough to keep a man out of the lane, force a poor shot, clog a passing lane, or create a turnover, it will be meaningful. I believe he has that in him, and if his teammates all make that same improvement, it will translate into more wins.

  • BigAl24

    I would like to take this chance to say that I believe it is embarrassing that there has been no articles about Nate Ritchie’s departure from the team and retirement from college basketball. I mean, when HMP gets booted off the team for a continued record of drug use and bad decision-making, everybody on here comes to his defense and says “Best of luck wherever he goes” or “This kid will always be a hoosier in my heart”
    Are you kidding me? If Hoosier basketball is such a strong family like that, why doesn’t Nate get the respect that he deserves? So what he didn’t make a huge contribution to our team? Neither did Priller, and I guarantee if he stopped playing basketball, there would be an article about it and all you would support him. Since there is no article about NR, I’ll just give him his proper acknowledgement myself.
    Nate was a good student, a good teammate, and brought a lot of versatility to the team. A 6-7 forward who could shoot lights out, and bring Assembly to its feet with electrifying dunks, his potential was never reached due to a lack of cuement of CTC. We were terrible last year on defense, and NR would have solved every one of our problems and would probably be a starter this year had CTC realized that. Oh well. The best of luck to Nate and his future endeavors.

  • Josh O’Brien

    Who are you, Nate’s dad? To say that a walk-on would have solved all our problems on defense is completely laughable. Way to take the opportunity for another dig on Crean, though. Bravo.

  • hoosier93

    There was an article about Jeremiah April.

  • OhioHoosier

    While it is nice to recognize him and I do believe he deserves that (if the school has not officially announced it yet, that may have something to do with it), the last three or four sentences were absurd. Was he going to start over Troy? RJ? JBJ? I mean come on, that is comical. Solve every one of our problems??? With all due respect, he was nowhere near strong enough to do that on the defensive end last year.
    Recognize him? Absolutely. But a starter and a defensive standout? Far-fetched for this season and especially last.

  • BigAl24

    I would like to restate some of my comments. This (the reason I posted my comment) isn’t about how I feel about Nate’s playing ability. It’s about Nate. I feel very strongly about Nate’s playing potential, and I understand if others don’t. I can see why people would disagree, and that’s fine. But I think we can all agree that regardless of what type of player you think he is, he deserves to be recognized. This wasn’t meant to be about Nate’s scouting report and my beliefs about him, and for that I apologize to Nate, the Ritchie family, CTC, and Hoosier Nation. But undoubtedly, he deserves a recognition for his retirement.
    God bless you, Nate.

  • Arch Puddington

    The problem, BigAl, is that ITH is a privately owned web business that draws its support by posting things of interest to IU basketball fans, not a branch of the IU Athletic office with some obligation to honor or acknowledge IU athletes. Nate may be a truly wonderful guy, but he did not have a meaningful presence in the minds of most fans. I follow the team closely, and I would not recognize him if I saw him on the street. (That is NOT an insult; he wouldn’t recognize me, either). The point is that ITH has no obligation to write about a walk-on who played for one year and had essentially no impact on the court. There are lots of people who contribute to IU basketball without public acclaim — team managers, for example, who put in all the same hours as the players, including participating in drills — and neither ITH nor any other media outlet is at fault for not writing about them.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    “Was a good student”

    I am pretty sure Nate is still alive and still a student at IU. I do not know about his grades but it was mentioned in the forum that he stepped away from hoops to focus on academics.

    Keep in mind BigAl that if NR wanted or wants to keep playing ball he still has plenty of eligibility left. *Pretty sure that walking on one year at IU does not give Tom Crean lifetime rights to have him as a player.* So to blame Crean or anything to that nature really does not make any sense.

    The fact that it has taken you until now and in the comment section of a Nick Z article to bring this *travesty* to light makes me wonder about the validity of this post.

    Nate was loved and appreciated by countless Indiana fans for his contributions and achievements as a Hoosier.

  • Bill Graham

    Well maybe those people who don’t get that “public acclaim” should. Nate was a great player who should have played. Heck he won the dunk contest and could shoot the 3… why didn’t he get a shot?
    Furthermore this falls on CTC. CTC has horrible retention. Its guys like Nate and Max that need development play. And if things don’t change…Nate wont be the only one leaving. We will be reading articles about O.G.’s transfer next year or even Juwan. CTC has to give development mins. Its not tourney-threatening to throw a Nate Ritchie in with 3 or 4 other starters for a couple mins here and there.
    Lastly, ITH has to do a better job with stuff like this. You guys are awesome and I check the site daily. But this guy was a part of the team and deserves a respectful article. Its not too late.

  • BigAl24

    Are you really questioning my devotion to Indiana basketball? Where did that even come from? I waited as long as I did because I was hoping that maybe I would see an article posted about it, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I mean no disrespect to Nate, CTC, or Hoosier Nation. How dare you, sir.

  • Bill Graham

    Regardless any player that is departing deserves an article or some sort of ITH acknowledgement.

  • Josh O’Brien

    I don’t really agree. If IU put out a press release they could post it, but other than that why would they bother? Alex runs this site as a for-profit business. And that business is based on page views. I doubt I would read a summary of his career and stats if they bothered with an article. That’s not meant to be disrespectful, just how it is.

  • IU has not released anything about Ritchie no longer being a part of the program. If they had, we would have posted something about it.

  • Bill Graham

    Fair enough, but to those of us who read every article and want to be completely informed it doesn’t look good.

  • Hoosier Hall

    As Alex stated above, the university has not released anything regarding this matter. We definitely do not want ITH to end up like one of those crap news sites that tries to be first in every story by releasing inaccurate information based on rumors and hearsay.

  • Bill Graham

    Fair enough Alex. Does ITH plan on some sort of acknowledgement if/once the official release is out? This isn’t a dig on you…the site is great! Just a die hard who wants to be informed.

  • Bill Graham

    Ya. I gotta agree with Al on this on. You have a good post…but I think you took it a bit far when you questioned Al’s loyalty man. Lets keep it civil though fellas. UK fans bicker with each other about loyalty on their site. We’re classier than that.

  • Bill Graham

    agreed. Check my response to Alex. I’m not bashing ITH that’s blasphemous.


    You’re right in that there should have been at least something acknowledging him as having been a part of the IU bball team, walk on or not, and I too wish him well in any and all future endeavors. Having said that, I’m hoping that you stating that he would have been the answer to all of our defensive problems this coming season is just a result of you feeling like a really good kid got unjustly dissed.

  • TomJameson

    Nobody was questioning anyone elses loyalty. The timing was pretty suspect for sure, and the hijacking of a Nick Z article was also. But I too think BigAl is coming on pretty strong with his accusations against CTC and … well it sounded like everyone in the free world … LOL

    Everyone lighten up. If we want to give kudos to somebody let’s go with the managers who put in more work than most anybody in their pursuit of helping with the program.

  • SilentBob

    Well just because you can win a dunk a contest doesn’t mean your a great finisher in game. And just because you can hit a three in practice doesn’t mean you can in game. Zeller won the three point contest, he doesn’t shoot threes in games. I mean you can criticize Crean left and right but he isn’t going to do anything that he doesn’t think will be beneficial to the team. You got 13 scholarship players, all who arguably better than Nate and have higher ceilings, and a handful of walks…. Your not going to satisfy everyone. A few minutes here and a few minutes there take away from Emmitt Holt and Emmitt looks to be in for a great season.

    And personally I think the whole retention thing is mildly overblown. I agree with some of it, but not all. Max got some minutes. Minutes that would have been better used on Emmitt in my opinion but hey I don’t get everything I want. But simply put Max was in a position block. I doubt anyone though Collin would recover like he did and he is just a year older than Max. He is a four year player who is more talented with a similar skill set. Then you throw players like Emmitt and Troy in there. Plus two logical signing in Juwan and OG (who I truly believe has the most potential of all of them) to help bolster front court depth…. I believe it was a decision in the best interest of both parties.

    Btw I don’t think OG and Juwan are going anywhere. They both are good students from what I hear and seem to fit in tremendously well. There will be a lot of minutes up for grabs with graduations and possible NBA departures.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Said nothing about loyalty. I kinda wonder if BigAl has any ties to NR because of the time that went by. Again I said nothing about loyalty. In fact I can see he is a very passionate person.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    To answer your question, no I was not questioning your devotion. In fact I can see you are very devoted. I just felt this was odd timing for this discussion.

    Also, since you like to discuss IU hoops and you are indeed very devoted, I encourage you to join the forum if you haven’t. It’s a great place that always has live discussion!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Nice post Tom, and I agree on the managers. An article or two a year about our unsung heroes would be a good piece.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    BTW you guys had a great idea about covering the support staff so I passed it along.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I was going on what was mentioned in the forum. Since he was not on scholarship I wasn’t sure if the school would say either way if he left the team.

  • According to what I’ve read, he did not leave IU. He just chose to concentrate on his studies rather than play ball. Not sure how much press a walk on should get, if he just chose another career path.. I guess you can pick on anything you want, but that is my take on it. I liked him also, bit it really appeared, he wasn’t good enough and was not going to get much, if any pt anyhow. So what’s the beef about?

  • And there you have it.. Bill graham’s shot at Crean.. Why didn’t you just come out and nail him right up front. That way we could all recognize this string of comments by you, for what it is…

  • So does Alex actually owe you the information as to what his intention is, once of ever anything is released on the status of Nate Ritchie? I would think that would depend a lot on what that news is.. wouldn’t you? My we are really delving into something which is in reality a pretty trivial topic, wouldn’t you think???

  • twoturntables

    This just got awkward….

  • At the Quarries

    I suppose it’s his way of giving consumer feedback to Alex.

  • TomJameson

    I’m a big fan too Arch. I like his attitude and devotion to the team. He doesn’t slack on his personal skills or work habits, but that’s how to best help the team. I think he’ll up his performance this year, as I think all the Hoosiers will. It would be just sick if he improved his 3-pt percentage!!

  • Chappy Dan

    Nicky Z. RULEZ!!!!!!

  • Bk39

    Had to go back and read the article , yep Nick not Nate
    Nick not Nate is awesome, I love his aggressiveness even when it backfires like his lunge for the ball against butler when they rolled the ball to keep the clock from moving. Nick not Nate brings an aggressiveness and toughness to the team. Hoping he can play better D and can get more min. Whenever he shoots, I think it’s going in, I love that. Hope you shine this year Nick.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Going to IU for a tour with my Wife and kids,,(15,15 and 14 years old) I cannot wait! I haven’t been back to the campus since 1997. August 3rd is the tour and staying overnight Aug 2. If any of you are there Aug 2,,,,,beers on me!!!!!

  • marcusgresham

    They may end up classmates of my daughter. She’s also 15, so between the two of us we may contribute three graduates (and a ton of money) to the IU Class of ’22.

  • kaponya44

    You guys pretty much nailed what i want to see and what I like about Nick..We are fortunate he came in with 2 seasons left,and if he improves the rest of his game even close to the way he did with his shooting he is that much more dangerous..Nick is the guy defenses often lost focusing on the other scorers…Big mistake to lose Nick..

  • kaponya44

    I hope you are being humorous since you have me laughing here…I just don’t know if you intended it as a one liner implying April was like a walk on .That’s how I took it ,sorry . 😉 Lol If so hats off to you.

  • TomJameson

    Hahaha … with that kind of commitment, I’m not sure either of you can afford beers for all!! LOL

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    I deserved that reply. Good one.

  • I guess that must be it. It never ceases to amaze me though, the empowerment some guys feel, when they pay a few bucks to get on an internet sports blog..

  • Gosh I wish they still had the ‘down vote’. Do you honestly feel Nate Ritchie, a walk on guy who hardly ever saw the floor in game action, as a Freshman walk on… was going to be the answer to our defensive woes?.. What planet are you from?

  • Bill Graham

    You are categorizing and oversimplifying my comments. I raised several completely different points with transitions to separate them. First is the issue of Nate leaving: if its official then we need an article…if its not then we need one when it is. Second: I feel Nate should have had more playing time. Third: CTC has horrible retention. I’m not a Crean basher, and if you don’t believe that then research my comments you will find both positives and negatives about him. However, when you lose over 15 Hoosiers in 4 years (not due to graduation) that might signal an issue.

  • Bill Graham

    I have better things to do than to repeatedly target a fellow hoosier’s posts. I like you Ken love this site and enjoy being informed. Have a nice day.


    I think that should be my question Ken, hopefully you meant to reply to BigAl24, and not me, if not…. Please point out the part in my reply to BigAl24 where I said ANYTHING like that. As far as what planet I’m from, if you read my comment again I think that you will see that I am from the planet that has a really hard time believing anyone could honestly think he was the answer to our defensive shortcomings and was asking if him possibly being so upset had clouded his judgment to the point that he would think something like that. I was just trying to convey to him that I didn’t see how that was possible without jumping down his throat or saying that his comment was a good example of why the ” down vote ” should be brought back. You jump too quick and too hard sometimes dude.

  • Bill Graham

    Fair enough Bob. A well thought out response. I agree with Max being in a position block but im still not completely sold on Juwan and O.G.’s permanence. They too might be a position block (at least this year).

  • SilentBob

    Perhaps for Juwan. I’m really high on OG so I’m naturally biased on this. But yea I don’t see neither getting much court time this year, but I’m not sure they think they will either. Next year however I think they will start to get into that rotation. Like most I think Troy is gone after this year. OG will have a good as shot as anyone on capitalizing on that. Not saying he starts his sophomore year, but he will will be a key contributor in my mind. Heck his defensive prowess might be hard to keep him off the court this year.

  • Jeremy Jackson

    he is not listed on the roster for the upcoming year on ITH…