An early look at the 2015-2016 frontcourt

  • 09/03/2015 11:33 am in

With the official start of practice a little less than a month away, the 2015-2016 season is on the horizon. We’ll have comprehensive player-by-player previews later this fall, but here’s an early look at some of the storylines to keep an eye on with this season’s frontcourt:

· Significant turnover hampers depth: When Indiana landed a commitment from McDonald’s All-American Thomas Bryant in April, the Hoosier looked set to have a much improved and much deeper frontcourt assembled for the 2015-2016 season.

At the time, the addition of Bryant meant that guys like Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Devin Davis (if healthy) and Emmitt Holt could play rotation minutes and provide quality depth. That forecast was short lived as Davis and Mosquera-Perea were dismissed from the program in early May. Those dismissals led Indiana to pursue, and ultimately land, Michigan graduate transfer Max Bielfeldt. But the frontcourt depth took another hit earlier this week when Holt was dismissed from the program.

On paper, the combination of Bryant and Bielfeldt should be an improvement over Mosquera-Perea and Holt. However, the fact remains that Indiana no longer has three players that were likely to be rotation players had they kept themselves in line off the court. The Hoosiers are now going to need freshman Juwan Morgan to step up and play right away. Collin Hartman could find himself playing the four more often than originally anticipated. The dismissals are not a doomsday scenario, but Indiana can’t afford any further setbacks.

· Can Bryant live up to expectations? He certainly doesn’t need to be a savior, but there are significant expectations for Bryant as he begins his college career. The Rochester native is the fifth McDonald’s All-American Tom Crean has recruited to Bloomington. Shortly after his commitment, Bryant made it clear he felt he was the piece missing for the program to take the next step forward.

Indiana’s backcourt will be among the best in the country, but is Bryant ready to anchor the paint? There will be an adjustment period as there is for any freshman, but Bryant has the chance to make the Hoosiers a contender both in the Big Ten and nationally.

At 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, Bryant will be an instant upgrade over anything Indiana had last season up front. His motor has never been a question, his skills with the ball are underrated and he should help prevent the layup line that IU fans had to witness several times last season inside Assembly Hall.

· Bielfeldt brings experience, Morgan must step up: It’s rare that a player transfers within a conference, but that’s exactly what happened when Max Bielfeldt opted to play his final season for Indiana.

Michigan opted to go with its younger players and let Bielfeldt walk despite still having a scholarship open. After a career in Ann Arbor where he battled injuries, he appears to be healthy and could be a good complementary piece to pair with Bryant. At 6-foot-8, the Illinois native has plenty of experience playing in the Big Ten.

With Holt gone, Morgan will likely find himself stepping into a bigger role in his first season. A top 100 recruit according to the 247Composite, the 6-foot-7 forward won the most improved player award in his final Nike EYBL season. He definitely needs to continue putting on muscle, but he’s active around the basket and can block shots. Morgan said earlier in the spring that he prides himself on doing the little things on the court and his chance to carry out that role may come sooner than originally expected.

· Versatility should help diversify lineups: Despite Crean’s comments last week that IU’s 3-guard lineups could become more situational this season, the loss of another frontcourt player could make it more difficult to put traditional lineups on the floor.

The good news is that Hartman, Bielfeldt and Morgan are all skilled enough with the ball to play alongside Bryant. Last season, Crean wasn’t comfortable enough to play Holt and Mosquera-Perea together, which pretty much locked Troy Williams into the majority of his minutes at the four.

The outlook on this mix of players, at least in this author’s view, is it should give Crean more flexibility. Sticking with the three guards plus Williams and Bryant as the primary lineup is possible, but Hartman and Bielfeldt are also potential starters at the four, which would slide Williams to the three and move a guard to the bench.

Filed to:

  • Ole Man

    Don’t know why you’re so down on Holt (because he had a beer?), but Morgan’s reach is 6’9, while Holt’s was at least 7’3 (and I think that maybe short). Holt could motor; had put on wt up to around 230-235; had a mid-range jumper.
    Sorry, not gonna happen for Morgan against Holt right now.
    Max can play short stretches as backup center if Bryant is in trouble. But you’re wrong. You will see Collin at center and Troy at the four, all too many times this season.

  • TomJameson

    I saw a clip of an interview, which showed some of his highlights as well, and the interview itself was really impressive. He didn’t seem self-centered at all. Seemed team oriented, confident in his offense and his shooting, but considered his defense as more important. These are things that seem pretty important to me. I just hope he can get in there and show us something this year, and not be a flop.

  • Ole Man

    Yep; I’m afraid we’re going to see Collin back at center with Troy at the four all too often this year.
    He’s gone, but I really saw Holt, with his mobility and weight gain and wing span giving us quality backup minutes at center.

  • IMSKRONG

    Yes.. we can get the ball inbounds. The best coaches will score off inbounds plays.

  • IMSKRONG

    Excuses. Reality = he sucked

  • IUMIKE1

    He can use, “thin” and “young” all he wants, in whatever setting it is that he’s answering questions at, but it’s like I said at the end of last season, that isn’t going to cut it this season. He should not be allowed use those to legitimize subpar results this upcoming season or expect to be allowed to use excuses like those as a heat resistant barrier between him and a red hot seat anymore. To repeat myself even further, starting next season I don’t want to hear the same ole same ole, he has had more than enough time to have his style of play instituted and with the players of his choosing, from one end of the bench to the other. Don’t want to hear the, well so and so transferred, or so and so left for the draft earlier than most thought, or so and so didn’t develop like most thought he would, no, no, no, don’t wanna hear it, he is getting paid over 3 mill a year to be able to see beyond those types of things and have contingency plans in place for when those kind of things inevitably happen, because they will. He shouldn’t need to have a rocket scientist on staff to know that those kind of things happening isn’t some weird anomaly that rarely ever happens. IMHO the only legitimate excuse for another subpar season will be simultaneous injuries to multiple key players and after the questionable decision with EH, I have to say that I’ll be looking at even that kind of scenario with an inquisitive eye. After a poor performance I don’t want to hear interview or presser questions having answers where ifs and buts, or thin and young are the main theme anymore. Needless to say I’m very much on the fence with TC and his employment, and the last time I was talking about the head coach at IU and being on the fence about his employment that head coach was, He who’s name shall not be spoken. Oddly enough, it was no one other than Tom Crean himself that I was talking to, about being on said fence. I really, really hope being up on that fence turns out to be a whole lot different this time.

  • IUMIKE1

    I think it’s a big mistake on TC’s part this year if, in the cupcake games and any other early season games where the game has been decided with several minutes left, he doesn’t give JM and OG every minute he can. They neeed to play some before the game is decided, and after the game is decided they need to play until the final horn sounds. In the past he has seemed to leave the big minute players in for an extended amount of time after the game has clearly been decided.

  • IUMIKE1

    I hope you are right about the lunch thing, but I think there’s just as good a chance that you’re wrong, or at least at the beginning of the season. How well he does may very well end up being a big factor in how well we do as a team, especially come conference time.

  • IUMIKE1

    Well put.

  • calbert40

    You may be right on PU. I’m skeptical of how it will work, though. Forget about comparing IU’s roster to their’s. Compare UM to them. Beilein is going to have them push the tempo offensively and spread them out on the floor to take advantage of their quickness compared to PU’s size. Defensively, they will clog the lane…maybe run a 2-3. I’m sure that PU will be good this year, but I don’t believe that they will finish in the Top 3 in the B1G this year. But when they win, it will be 60-55, as you suggest.

    I don’t believe that their roster as currently constructed is conducive to winning league championships…or more. You have to be able to score points. Basically, PU is the 180 of IU: tall, slow, excellent defensively and challenged offensively. Now that we have a big who can compete with Hammons and Haas, I’m interested to see how we match-up this year.

  • IUMIKE1

    Ab so freakin’ loot lee agree !

  • calbert40

    I certainly don’t believe that he is a scrub. I like Juwan, and I think he will be a solid player for us. I do believe that he will struggle to make the rotation UNLESS Crean goes 9-10 deep (which he has shown a willingness to do in the past).

    If Crean goes with an 8 man rotation, where do you see Juwan filling in? Whose minutes will he take? Max, a senior? Collin, a junior who stretches the D? I hope you are right, and he comes in and forces Crean to play him 20 minutes a game immediately. That would be fantastic, but I think until he proves himself in practice and in the games, he will struggle to find meaningful minutes ahead of some of the other guys at that position.

  • IUMIKE1

    Really, you just had to say injury free season didn’t you. You know the rule, you never put the hex on things that important by saying stuff like that.

  • calbert40

    Crean’s offensive system works exceedingly well, actually. Over the last four years, our AdjO rankings were 9th, 127th, 3rd and 4th respectively. The year we were 127th in the country, we didn’t have shooters, and strong outside shooters are key to Crean’s spread offensive system. Without them, they really struggled.

    His offensive system spreads you out, beats you on the dribble drive and kicks out to shooters once the defense collapses. The reason they haven’t won as much as we may have liked over the years has been shoddy D…not the O.

  • IUMIKE1

    Yep.

  • IUMIKE1

    Depends on what kind of a team defense ranking you call average. Myself, I’d say for a team defensive ranking to be legitimately average it would have to ranked around 50 or 60.

  • IUMIKE1

    Several people have said that JM was one of the five in the car with EH and TB. I haven’t read that anywhere myself, but supposedly it stated that he and HMP were both in the car on the police report and that HMP was the one driving. If, if, that is true than his off court behavior is not as sterling as what we may think.

  • IMSKRONG

    The last two years we are what? 37-29. Is it working? No. It isnt working. The two years before? 56-16. So which way worked? Playing off the position or just throwing out players? Talking about records over two years… Think about this… Kentucky fired Billy Gillespie after going 40-27. And we can’t do anything after a coach goes 37-29?

  • IMSKRONG

    What matters? Winning. You can have the #8 offense in the nation… if you go 20-14 did your system work? No. You can have a Top 50 defense but if you go 17-15 did your system work? No. So does the system he has used work the last 2 years? No.

  • IUMIKE1

    Better hold off on making a conclusive judgment about JM being a solid guy off the court, just got through reading where, not only was he in the car with them, but he was the one driving no less. Very curious if anything was handed out to him, like strike one, or did EH take it on the chin so that “TC’s freshman” could get by with just doing some running & JM skate totally free. I’m not saying that TB & JM should have been punished or punished more, just don’t think it’s right that they got nothing or next to nothing and EH got the other extreme.

  • TomJameson

    I know Mike, I even thought of that at the time I was writing it, but I did it anyway. Well, at least now we all have somebody to blame! lol

  • TomJameson

    I agree with you. I understand why he does it (more time for the starters to play together … practice some things … etc…), but I personally think it is more of a benefit to get those freshmen some quality minutes. 5 minutes at a time, if they go in they should get 5 sequential minutes if possible. To me that would be ideal.

  • TomJameson

    Hahaha … I really do get a chuckle at your posts, really.

    Reality = your negativity sucks
    Reality = you think you know everything
    Reality = you prove all the time you know next to nothing

    Have a great Labor Day weekend … seriously mean that.

  • TomJameson

    Selective memory man … IU scores off of inbounds plays. LOL

  • TomJameson

    I hope not. I think TB for the most part, Max for the major backup minutes, and Juwan thrown into the fire when needed. And before you talk about him being a freshman, yes he is, but then again so was Holt last year and he did fine with the minutes he got.

    I definitely agree that EH was going to be a monster this year. Wherever he goes, somebody is going to get a very good player.

    I just want to watch some IU BB. I think I’m going back to some links and watch a past big game for IU.

  • Ole Man

    This should be printed and published on every IU fan page!
    Holt will be used as an excuse and its Creans fault and mistake that he is gone!

  • calbert40

    It takes balance, no doubt, but when we lose, it isn’t because of Crean’s offensive scheme. We are one of the best offensive teams in the country. Three top 10 national finished in the last four years. You really can’t argue with the results on that side of the ball.

  • calbert40

    We didn’t lose because of the offense, though. We lost, because our D was terrible. If that D gets tightened up to a reasonable level (think 50-75) and we continue to play offensively as we have (and we return everybody is add an AA post player) this has the potential to be a great season.

    If we go 20-14 this year, I’ll concede the point, but I doubt that happens.

  • calbert40

    My assessment of that roster is that we had two PGs playing alongside one another in Yogi and Jordy…and both could shoot. We had Vic playing a wing alongside CWat, and Cody was a post player who could run the floor with most perimeter players. That team was certainly not a traditional 1,2,3,4 and 5.

  • IMSKRONG

    No but they into the descriptions. Yogi obviously struggled a little his frosh year. You can try and save your argument but it is moot because you’re helping me. Either way Crean was successful with certain players only. It was the same at Marquette. You can try and play Watford as a wrong but he spent a good amount of time in the post. Watford is your traditional stretch 4. Good size and a great shooter. That team was set up well. Crean doesn’t haven’t that now. A reason he can’t adjust.

  • dwdkc

    I’m not buying the addition by subtraction, and I don’t see a freshman other than Bryant coming in and being better than Holt was going to be. However Biefeldt is a very different player than Hartman, and he might very well give us the same kind of lift as Hartman did, no way of knowing yet. Guy hasn’t been fully healthy until now. For that matter same with Hartman, look forward to see him take another step forward with good health.

  • calbert40

    I stand by my argument…and back it up with stats as opposed to narrative.

    What is a “stretch 4?” A tall forward who can play on the perimeter, aka…a wing. This is devolving into a semantic debate.

    Those teams were excellent because they a) scored a ton of points and b) stopped peoe from scoring. Last year’s team did the former exceptionally well, but not the latter. If we can stop people this year, this team could be on par with those other two. If we don’t, we won’t, but it will not be because of a poorly constructed offensive scheme or system.

  • Darrell Allen

    You know something, you are truly a negative pain in the backside! Your dogmatic posts sound like such a know-it-all and are typically condescending in general. You never have anything good to say about CTC and very little positive to ever say about IU’s players, team and basketball program! You paid your bucks to get on this site to state your opinions, but you should have heeded your grandmother’s advice when she told you that, if you couldn’t find anything good to say, then you should keep it to yourself! Go Hoosiers! Can’t wait for the season to start!

  • Ole Man

    What’s that? The wind blowing again? Must be. Allen’s got his mouth open again.
    Projecting his own behavior and personality disorders onto others, as usual.

  • IMSKRONG

    All you want to do is think about what happens on the offensive end. There are two sides to basketball. How can you have Cal ert in your name and get brainwashed into thinking what Crean does is good? I know for a fact the real Calbert wouldn’t have agreed. There are 5 positions on the floor. No 3. 5. 5. 5. 5. Crean did his best when he had those 5 on the floor. What do we have now? You want to use your system? We had 2 PG’s then. Now we have one. We had two wings then now we have 3. And a post. That isn’t basketball. That’s just being forced to throw what you have on the floor. It was an exception because of our personnel. Not a rule.

  • Dmoe

    Hey Coach I see your points in same ways. And your he does have to get in there and prove he belongs in the game. However as I express before a lot of people come on here with a very low BB IQ. Soon as TB came on board it’s like JM can’t be the difference maker. I’ve watched him play the thing that sets him apart is that his versatility Speaks for him

  • calbert40

    Every post I have made on this post has mentioned our defensive issues. The thrust of the argument was about our offense, because you questioned the system. I used actual stats to prove that was incorrect, and you chose to ignore them.

    so far as the rest of your post, I couldn’t disagree more. Your view of basketball is very traditional, which is fine, but I think there is more than one way to run a system.

  • IMSKRONG

    I questioned the system. That’s includes everything. We can have the #8 offense but if we go 20-14 then it’s a fail. It means nothing.

  • calbert40

    Our defense was historically terrible for our program last season. No arguments. If you look at the AdjD numbers from the previous 3 seasons, it wasn’t really that bad. It wasn’t great, but not as bad as it was made out to be.

    Last year, Wisky nearly won a national title with a fantastic offense, and the #53 AdjD unit. I think adding a post player like Bryant who can play better D in the paint can only help. Also, I hope the perimeter players worked on that all summer.

    If we struggle this year, then I think it is open season, but I believe we are going to have an exciting year with this roster running Crean’s system

  • IMSKRONG

    It may be “exciting” but it isn’t a system built to win a championship. Same with Wisconsin and Virginia

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    Although I mostly think yogi is ok, i’ve got to lean towards imshrunk on this one. yogi is, at best, average defensively. And often he lacks the effort to block out, or offer help D. I agree he had a few inspired defensive minutes throughout the season. As a result, he is a key to success this season. He’s a key because if he can noticeably improve, IU’s W-L record should improve. If he plays like last year, his better plays are gonna be offset by mediocre to inattentive/poor plays.

    I do have a question: Why does everyone think that it was strategic for yogi to guard a center last year? I always thought it happened mostly because yogi is so easy to pick, which forces IU’s big onto yogi’s man and yogi onto a center. I never thought it was a called play from the bench, just a defensive inability on the part of our PG. If he could get over/under a pick, then no reason to switch.

  • Mr. Mitchell

    Painter sucks. Haas suck. Hammond sucks. Terrible comparison. Use final four teams for comparison at least.

    It doesn’t take a relationship long to know if it’s working or not. Crean ceiling is the sweet 16. They give rings for that.

  • Dmoe

    So here we have another Morgan doubter. So what will u say when he steps up to the challenge Olé Man? And your wrong about there reach as well.

  • Ole Man

    If I’m wrong about the reach, post it.
    And it’s not about doubting Morgan. It’s about assessing the situation if Morgan and Holt went head-to-head today and making the proper analysis.

  • bvillehoosier

    I saw where he was in the car…daggone it guys…

  • bvillehoosier

    Point taken. I’m not necessarily “down” on Holt but I think Morgan will be/could be a MUCH better player this year for us than Holt was last year or would’ve been this year…Holt averaged like 3 pts a game it’s not like he was a superstar although I agree he had potential. I hope you’re wrong about collin and troy at the 4 and 5 again…for my sanity’s sake I hope you’re wrong…

  • bvillehoosier

    Well I woudn’t wanna take a pay cut so I guess I’ll take your advice….and we’ll see about that….the way some on here talk, yourself included, you’d think Emmitt could’ve gone pro last year!

    I heard draft analysts are saying that if he has a decent year at Indian Hills junior college he could potentially be an early 2nd round pick…maybe even late 1st round…the market for an undersized, non-athletic center who averaged 3 pts a game is stronger than I’d think, evidently

  • Ole Man

    I think this season will test the sanity of many Hoosier fans! We’ll see too many short lineups again. Hope I’m wrong, but foul calls haven’t gone IU’s way in the past few seasons.