2013-2014 ITH season preview: Northwestern Wildcats


With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Northwestern Wildcats.

Change is afoot in Evanston.

Bill Carmody’s 12-year run of Princeton offense and gimmick zone defense is gone. In comes 39-year-old Chris Collins fresh off a 13-year run as a Duke assistant. It’s a switch that arrives during an emerging time for Northwestern athletics.

Pat Fitzgerald has a bonafide Top 25 football program going. An ambitious $250 million athletics facility on the shores of Lake Michigan has been approved. Though this multi-purpose facility is more football-focused, it’s been said the basketball team will eventually get their own upgrades down the line.

So while Collins won’t have new facilities to sell quite yet, the turnover at the top and a chance to join something new seems to already be paying off in the recruiting world.

Chicagoan and St. Rita hoops star Vic Law gave Collins a verbal commitment in July. Law’s No. 70 ranking in the class of 2014 makes him Northwestern’s first top-75 recruit since Evan Eschmeyer in 1993. Time will tell whether such a recruitment will have a snowball effect or not, but it’s a strong start for a coach and program on a quest for relevance and a first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.

Law won’t hit campus until next year. And what Northwestern has in its arsenal heading into this season might again mean it’ll be without a ticket to the Big Dance. With the coaching switch, promising incoming freshman point guard Jaren Sina decided to move on to Seton Hall. (Tom Crean and the Indiana program also showed interest in Sina after his de-commitment from Northwestern.)


2013-2014 ITH season preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers


With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

In its first two seasons in the Big Ten, Nebraska has found itself at the bottom of the conference standings with a combined 8-13 record at home. The Cornhuskers have a change in scenery in Lincoln, now. Literally.

Nebraska will debut its new 15,147-seat Pinnacle Bank Arena this season, which has head coach Tim Miles excited for the future of Cornhusker basketball. In his first season at the helm in 2012-13, Miles led his team to a 15-18 record (5-13 Big Ten) and was able to pull off a late-season upset over Minnesota and a Big Ten tournament win over Purdue. Heading into this season, though, Nebraska lost two of its three leading scorers — 6-foot-5 Dylan Talley and 6-foot-10 Brandon Ubel — to graduation.

Leading the team will be senior Ray Gallegos, who made the jump from averaging 2.8 points per game in 2011-12 to 12.5 points in 2012-13. The guard from Salt Lake City was the Cornhuskers’ second-leading scorer last season and played the most out of anyone on the team: a total of 1,237 minutes, an average of 37.5 minutes per game. It’s not a stretch, by any means, to expect Gallegos to be on the court for much of Nebraska’s season, especially during their Big Ten portion of the schedule.

One of the most talked-about additions to Nebraska’s roster for this season, though, comes from a player outside the United States. 6-foot-3 point guard Tai Webster, a freshman from Auckland, New Zealand, enters the mix as a true freshman and a recruiting coup for Miles. Webster comes in with New Zealand national team experience from the age of 17, and he was ranked the No. 115 prospect in the 2013 class, according to 247Sports.com. Inside the Hall and UM Hoops also selected Webster as the 25th-best Big Ten player heading into this season.


Recruiting notebook: Okonoboh gets first look at IU


Several class of 2014 prospects being recruited by Indiana will be making official visits this weekend and our latest recruiting notebook takes a look at those campus trips as well as other notes from the first week of the fall recruiting period:

· Goodluck Okonoboh, one of IU’s top targets in the 2014 class, will make his first official visit this weekend and Bloomington is the destination. The Hoosiers have long been considered one of the favorites to land Okonoboh and getting him on campus is the next logical step in making that happen. It’s been well documented, but the relationship between Okonoboh and current IU freshman Noah Vonleh is a very good one and this weekend provides Okonoboh the opportunity for his first up close look at the Indiana campus.

· Lourawls Nairn hosted Tom Crean for an in-home visit earlier in the weekend, but the major development for Nairn this week was the addition of Michigan State to his list of three finalists. Nairn had been considering a final three of Indiana, Minnesota and Oklahoma, but the Spartans are making a late push with Tyler Ulis seemingly headed to Kentucky. Nairn will be in East Lansing this weekend and then Indiana will host him for an official visit next weekend.

· Devin Robinson begins his official visits this weekend with a trip to Oklahoma State, the first of five scheduled trips. Robinson hosted Oklahoma State for an in-home visit on Monday and Crean and Kenny Johnson were in on Tuesday. His other three finalists are expected in next week. Indiana landed the most ideal timing for an official visit of any of the finalists as Robinson will be on campus for Hoosier Hysteria weekend.


Indiana to play pair of exhibitions at Assembly Hall


Indiana completed its 2013-2014 schedule on Thursday evening when the program announced a pair of exhibition games that will be played at Assembly Hall.

Here are the complete details, per a release from media relations:

Indiana University men’s basketball coach Tom Crean has announced that the Hoosiers will host the University of Southern Indiana at 7 p.m., Saturday, October 26, and Hillsdale (Michigan) College at 7 p.m., Monday, November 4 in exhibition games.

The 2013-14 season marks the ninth campaign that the Hoosiers have opened the season with exhibition games against non-Division I schools. IU is 14-0 in those games and have played schools from the state of Indiana on nine occasions.

“I think the more you can involve institutions from the area during the exhibition season, the stronger it makes both programs,” said Crean. “Our goal in scheduling our exhibition games is to find programs that will best prepare us for the upcoming season and both these teams will do that. “

USI was 23-8 last year and is a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, while Hillsdale was 17-10 a year ago and competes in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

2013-2014 ITH season preview: Penn State Nittany Lions


With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we tip off our look at the Big Ten with the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Penn State may have taken a step back last season from a wins and losses perspective, but the rebuilding effort being led by Pat Chambers continues to move along at a program with little historical success on the hardwood.

If there is such a thing as a competitive two-win Big Ten team, Penn State fit the bill a season ago. The Nittany Lions struggled to find their footing after losing Tim Frazier to a torn Achilles’ tendon, but finished the conference slate with a home win over eventual national runner-up Michigan and a win at Northwestern. Penn State also played Wisconsin to a narrow 66-63 loss to close the regular season at the Bryce Jordan Center.

With Frazier back in the rotation to go along with D.J. Newbill, Penn State boasts one of the league’s best backcourts. Frazier was a first team All-Big Ten selection back in 2011-2012 and while he’s never been particularly efficient, he posted a ridiculous assist rate of 45.2 (second nationally) while also averaging 18.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game in his last full season.

Newbill, a junior, had a breakout season in Frazier’s absence as he became the go-to scorer and used 30.9 percent of Penn State’s possessions, the highest usage among Big Ten players. He’s the team’s leading returning scorer at 16.3 points per game and also drew 5.8 fouls per 40 minutes last season.

Penn State’s backcourt depth took a hit when Jermaine Marshall opted to leave the program, but transfer Allen Roberts should help soften some of the blow of losing Marshall. Roberts, who averaged 12.3 points last season at Miami (OH) and is eligible immediately, will battle John Johnson, a transfer from Pittsburgh who will be eligible the second semester, and freshmen Graham Woodward and Geno Thorpe for minutes.


2015 guard Aaron Jordan discusses his recruitment

091113cxAaron Jordan has learned just how long and frustrating the recruiting process can be.

A class of 2015 shooting guard from Plainfield, Ill., Jordan has gained major interest from colleges, including Indiana, in recent months as his stock rises. According to the 247 Composite, he is the No. 63 recruit and No. 13 shooting guard in the class.

But to him, that heightened level of interest hasn’t made his recruitment any easier.

“At first it was overwhelming, but then as things calmed down and slowed down, I got my feet under me,” Jordan told Inside the Hall Tuesday night. “Especially when you start early, you don’t know what to do. Sometimes you want to go ahead and make a decision, but you just want to keep waiting because there’s all these other opportunities out there.

“You have to keep your head on straight, keep your focus and get to your main goal, and if there’s other people supporting you, you’ll be able to do that.”

In recent months, Jordan has added offers from Illinois, Wisconsin, Tulsa, Creighton, Butler, Xavier, San Jose State and Illinois State, among others.

But he has also received interest from Indiana, and he has spoken with associate head coach Tim Buckley on multiple occasions. Jordan told Inside the Hall he has never been to IU, but will make his first unofficial visit to the Bloomington campus on Oct. 4, for Hoosier Hysteria.

“I don’t really know the school much because they haven’t offered me yet, but just how the coach talks about it, he says they’re a really good program and they work well with the kids,” Jordan said. “I’ve heard nothing but good things.”

Though many colleges have taken note of Jordan’s performance on the court, he has raised many coaches’ eyebrows through his performance in the classroom.

Going into his junior year of high school, Jordan has maintained a 4.5 GPA.


Robert Johnson to announce decision on Sept. 20


Class of 2014 combo guard Robert Johnson has set a date to announce his college decision.

As first reported by Paul Biancardi of ESPN.com, Johnson will pick from one of his four finalists and end his recruitment on Friday, Sept. 20. Johnson confirmed the date of the announcement in a text on Tuesday evening to Inside the Hall.

Johnson, who has already taken official visits to Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina, has an official visit to Florida State scheduled for this weekend.

According to the Twitter account of the Benedictine (Va.) guard, Tom Crean had an in-home visit with Johnson on Monday and North Carolina coach Roy Williams conducted an in-home visit on Tuesday.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett watched Johnson, who is rated the No. 80 prospect nationally in the 247Composite, work out at his high school on Monday and Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton was in on Tuesday morning.

“I have some of the classiest and most passionate coaches in college basketball recruiting me,” Johnson said on Twitter late Tuesday night.

Johnson played AAU for Boo Williams, the uncle of Indiana freshman Troy Williams.

The fall recruiting period, which began on Monday, saw Indiana coaches travel to see Johnson and Devin Robinson, who plays at the Christchurch School in Virginia, over the first two days.


Open thread: Predict Indiana’s regular season record

This contest is sponsored by Underground Printing. Visit them in Bloomington on Kirkwood or at UGPIUAPPAREL.com.

Thanks to our friends at Underground Printing, we’re back with another contest for the 2013-2014 season.

Your task? Predict Indiana’s regular season record for 2013-2014. There are 13 non-conference games. 18 Big Ten games. A total of 31 games to consider.

The schedule, for those who wish to give it a closer look before locking in your prediction, is here.

At stake, aside from bragging rights, is $50 to spend either in store or online with our friends at Underground Printing.

Here’s how it’ll work: This thread will remain open until the end of October. Your guesses will then be locked in on November 1 and following the Michigan game next March, we’ll revisit the comments and pull out all of the correct guesses. Everyone that gets the regular season record correct will then be entered into a drawing for the prize.

Feel free to provide an explanation with your prediction, but please post the final record it as the first part of your comment. It makes for easier record keeping. Also, one entry per person, please.

Big Ten’s Top 25 Players: 5-1


With the official start of practice less than three weeks away, Inside the Hall and UM Hoops have partnered to bring you a preseason breakdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2013-2014 season.

Our selection process involved much deliberation to arrive at a list that we hope will provide plenty of reaction and debate. The series will be broken into five parts (25-2120-1615-1110-6) and our final installment of players 5-1 is available below:

5. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan (6-foot-6, wing, sophomore)
33.6 mpg, 11 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.0 spg, 61.1 eFG percentage

Robinson could be the first players picked from the Big Ten player in next year’s NBA Draft but he is fifth on our list because so much of his NBA value is based on potential. Robinson was the 10th most efficient offensive player in the country, and most efficient player in the Big Ten last season. At times his offense came so easy that it was taken for granted. He makes the game look simple because of his raw athleticism and the smooth nature of his game, but he averaged 11 points and five rebounds per game as a freshman on a team that made the Final Four. He did have the luxury of the nation’s best point guard setting him up and the majority of his production came from residual action. Two-thirds of his made field goals were assisted but Robinson still deserves credit for finishing whatever opportunities were presented to him.

Trey Burke is gone this season which means Robinson will have to prove that he can create his own offense. John Beilein emphasizes that it will be important for his future lottery pick to learn the difference between “running a play and being a player”. His list for off-season improvements starts with improving his 3-point consistency (just 31 percent in Big Ten games) and developing a dribble-drive game from the wing.