Committee approach key to adjusting to life without Yogi

  • 10/14/2016 10:30 am in

WASHINGTON – Indiana will look much different in the backcourt this season.

For the first time since the 2011-2012 season, someone other than Yogi Ferrell will be the primary ball handler.

But will the Hoosiers have one player who commands the position or will it be more of a “by committee” approach? At Thursday’s Big Ten media day at the Marriott Wardman Park, Tom Crean and IU players talked as if the latter is the more likely scenario.

“I don’t think this will be a team that you’d look at and say ‘Ok, it’s going to be one guy that’s setting the offense, one guy that’s getting us into the shot clock,'” Crean said at a roundtable session with reporters. “To me, the point guard position is the one that gets the ball on a made basket, gets the ball up the court the best through the drive or through the pass, can get to the basket, can make a pull-up, can play in the ball screen, can create for somebody else quickly, especially the trail position, and can make 3s. And so, it’s getting a team of guys that can get as good as they can at that.”

On paper, it appears the Hoosiers have the personnel to accomplish what Crean has laid out, even without one guy carrying the majority of the responsibility that Ferrell did.

Guard depth was a problem at times last season after James Blackmon Jr. went down with a knee injury and when Robert Johnson suffered an ankle injury late in the season.

Depth could actually be a strength this year with both Blackmon Jr. and Johnson at full strength, the addition of Pitt transfer Josh Newkirk and the arrival of freshman guards Devonte Green and Curtis Jones.

“I don’t think there has to be one guy because we have a lot of guys who can run the show on any play,” Blackmon Jr. said. “There’s a lot of guys who can get the rebound and push it out themselves. We have a lot of concepts. Guys know concepts and know how to move without the ball.”

The ball movement piece is a key ingredient for Indiana’s offensive success.

Only once in the last five seasons have the Hoosiers finished with an offense ranked outside the top eight nationally, according to Much of that success has come as a result of ball movement, spacing and perimeter shooting.

“Ball movement is the key, having five players that can move the ball, that can score,” Crean said. “I think with a team like this, the guys who are considered inside guys are pretty good away from the basket and the guards are pretty good around the rim. That’s the key.”

Beyond Ferrell’s numbers, many of his teammates will also have to adjust to being on the floor without him in their Indiana careers.

For Blackmon Jr. and Johnson, who have started alongside Ferrell their first two seasons, it will be an adjustment.

“I think we’re going to have to raise our level (of play) for the other things that he (Yogi) brought like the defense and leadership,” Johnson explained. “I think that’s where everybody is going to have to focus a lot.”

The presence of a player like Ferrell isn’t easy for any team to replace.

Thumb through this year’s record book for the program and Ferrell’s name is at the top of the list for both assists and games played.

“The biggest thing you miss about him is the feeling that he’s there,” Crean said. “There was a presence of Yogi. It all goes under that umbrella: the talent, the toughness, the durability, the playmaking, that spirit that he had.

“And with that comes a lot of confidence from your teammates that he’s there. They’ve got to get that from each other now. I don’t think you look at one guy and say, he’ll take care of it.”

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  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    Top 8 offense in 4 of the 5 last seasons…not bad.

  • Stromboli

    Yeah impressive stat! I can’t wait to see how the year goes. Maybe the return of the ’53 Hurryin’ Hoosiers.

  • J Thomas

    Not about this article, but I see Waters is trending towards IU but so is Wilkes. Can we get both of them with the 3 guys we have already picked up?

  • Yes.

  • Arch Puddington

    Don’t know how it will work, but MAN if it did…..with the players we are likely to have back next year and even the year after, those two push us into some elite company.

  • TomJameson

    If those two wanted to come, things would work out.

  • inLinE6

    Without a national champ, that means nothing to hardcore hoosiers. LOL.

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    Agreed with all of the comments above. If both of those guys wanted to come, then we would make room.

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    i know…we are trending in the right direction though..

  • iubase

    I still think you need to have one point guard that you can count on. Newkirk hopefully knows the system well enough and can be that person. It is Ok to do it by committee but having someone you can count on in tough situation is critical to overall success – especially in March. RJ can also play this role and certainly others are capable ball handlers – but those pieces fit much better if you have a solid quick pure PG. The rest of the team is solid and I like our chances this yr.

    Hoping for an elite 8….

  • Justin Beard

    It’s a good sign to hear D. Green has the most deflections!

  • dwdkc

    Yes and hopefully Josh is a good FT shooter. RJ and OG have to pick up their game there. JBJ is lights out, and you want the ball in his hands when the other team wants to foul, but the others will have to come through also.

  • Steve Shoda

    JBJ just needs to stay healthy and he will be an offensive force for IU!