2017-18 Player Profile: Josh Newkirk

  • 11/02/2017 10:28 am in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ve transitioned from our look at other Big Ten programs to our player-by-player previews of the 2017-18 Indiana roster. Today, our profiles continue with a look at Josh Newkirk.

Entering his final year of eligibility after transferring from Pittsburgh following his sophomore campaign, senior Josh Newkirk is looking to build on his strong second half to his 2016-17 season.

Newkirk rehabbed his left knee throughout the 2015-16 season as he was forced to sit out due to transfer rules. When he returned to game action last season, it took him until around the midpoint of the conference season to regain his footing.

Through the first 22 games of Newkirk’s junior season, the 6-foot-1 guard reached double figures in the scoring column just five times and made 13 three-pointers.

Newkirk’s resurgence began in IU’s triple-overtime win over Penn State. He scored a career-high 27 points on 14 shots, including a 4-for-8 effort from long range. When the Hoosiers needed a bucket to force double overtime, it was Newkirk who came up with the game-tying layup.

That moment seemed to be a turning point for the veteran point guard. In the final 12 games of Indiana’s 2016-17 campaign, Newkirk scored in double figures eight-times and buried 21-of-48 triples (a 44 percent clip).

Both Newkirk and head coach Tom Crean credited assistant Tim Buckley for the guard’s improved shooting.

“Josh’s stuff was very correctable,” Crean said after the win over Penn State. “It was just a matter of getting in the gym and isolating some of that. He wasn’t getting good lift on his shot. He wasn’t — he has a tendency to hop into certain things. Hence the bunny picture back a month ago, right?”

One area where Newkirk must continue to progress is taking care of the basketball. Newkirk posted a turnover rate of 23.8 percent last season, the third highest on the team (per KenPom).

“(I need to be) more of a vocal leader, telling guys, putting guys in the right position to succeed, and just taking care of the ball,” Newkirk said in September at IU media day. “We had a lot of turnovers last year, so just making the right decisions, making the right play.”

Now playing under Archie Miller, Newkirk hopes to benefit from the coach’s experience as a collegiate point guard at North Carolina State.

“(Miller’s playing experience) relates a lot because he can actually get out there and show us different things, how he wants it done,” Newkirk said. “He’s real interactive with us on the court. So that means a lot. He played at the college level, so he can teach us a lot.”

In the exhibition with Marian University, Newkirk was given the starting nod, pouring in 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting and adding two rebounds, an assist, and a steal. Perhaps the most important stat, though, was his zero turnovers in 26 minutes.

Bottom line: Newkirk and fellow senior Robert Johnson will be relied on to be veteran leaders in the Hoosier backcourt. If the Hoosiers have a successful season, Newkirk’s playmaking ability and refined shooting will likely be key reasons why.

Quotable: “Josh has clearly established himself as a clearcut point guard. I think that everybody else on our team can play a couple spots. I think Josh is primarily a point guard. That position for us is essential in running the show. You’ve got to be able to push the ball, and you’ve got to have great tempo, but you also have to be able to play smart when you’re playing fast and be able to control it and playing with low turnovers,” Miller on Newkirk at IU media day.

PreviouslyJustin SmithClifton MooreAl Durham Jr., De’Ron Davis, Curtis JonesDevonte Green, Juwan Morgan, Zach McRoberts, Robert Johnson, Tim Priller, Freddie McSwain

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  • bball at nick’s

    Apparently a coach having played the game of basketball counts for something, LOL. I’m glad it counts for Josh. I’m also hoping that Rob will get his shooting touch figured out like Josh did. Rob will hush the critics with an improved shot.

  • Arch Puddington

    Josh is one of the players on whom our season will turn. If he can drive the action on offense while keeping turnovers low, shoot well, and defend well, our chances of going to the tournament will be much higher. He and DG have shown some early chemistry, and if those two BOTH perform at or near their best on a regular basis, we could be a good team. RJ and DD are obviously also key to our success, but so much starts with a good PG that Josh has a particularly important role to play. He finished strong last year and has looked good in the little bits we have seen so far this year, so I am quite hopeful.

  • Didn’t Crean and his coaches, at one time have RJ switch his shooting hand from right to left and then back again?

  • Tcuomo

    You’re thinking of Stan Robinson

  • bball at nick’s

    LOL, God forbid.

  • Ivan Renko

    i think you’re correct, but wasn’t it only on free throws?

  • iugradmark

    I think Josh is going to have a good year. He is athletic enough to pressure the ball and is clever enough to get his own shot at the end of the shot clock. He was in a pretty tough spot last year having to try and fill in for Yogi. He also seemed to struggle with the lack of structure in the offense and turned the ball over a lot trying to do things he just couldn’t do (again he wasn’t Yogi). I think being in Archie’s system and making less risky plays will pay off for him. Devonte is emerging as a ball handler and will take some of the pressure of of Josh to be the only real point on the team.

  • Tcuomo

    Yes just FT’s. I believe Sheehey was actually the one who made the suggestion. That experiment didn’t work out so well.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Maybe not a great idea, but to be fair, Stan was pretty bad at shooting (FT% never got over 62% for his career). Can’t blame them for trying something I guess.

  • Mr. Shep-dizzle

    If JN can start off like he finished last year, he will have a very good year and so will the team. I’ve stated before how I cringed watching him play so much in the beginning last year but by the end he was our most consistent player and carried the team a couple times. He can be a very good player.

  • TomJameson

    That was Stan Robinson, and it was a suggestion from one of the players. I guess Crean was okay with it because he didn’t stop it from happening. But the process of changing hands wasn’t Creans idea.

  • Jay Skibbe

    yep, its all called discipline , starting with the head coach !!! Newkirk could be a big time surprise in college basketball this year as a star !!! Consistency ?

  • That’s it, it was Stan. Somehow i remembered it as being RJ.

  • Bill Shomaker

    I agree. I will settle for a consistent shooting percentage, not necessarily a volume scorer. I like when he played fast, but still under control last year. Which admittedly, wasn’t enough of the time and will need to be most of the time in his final season to help move us up from a congested middle B1G team.

  • StudentHoosier

    Mamma that smile!

  • John D Murphy

    I think josh is going to have a terrific year and will set a standard for toughness and defense that our Archie era point guards will aspire to.

  • SCHoosier

    Shoot da 3 ball when you got it Josh!!! And..defend the heck out of whomever you are guarding. Leave the dribblin’ to somebody else.

  • Heck, for that matter, leave the dribbling in general to other teams.