Around the Hall: Bryant, Oladipo and more

Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall staff.

Can Thomas Bryant lead Indiana back to a Final Four? C.L. Brown of ESPN.com ponders the possibility:

They will all be fueled by the man in the middle. Bryant could potentially rival Zeller as the Hoosiers’ best big man in the post-Bob Knight era. Sure, he had a chance to leave IU after one season, as Noah Vonleh did in 2014 when he became the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft. Despite the new rules that would have allowed Bryant to work out with NBA teams and potentially be invited to the combine, he didn’t declare for the draft. He knew he wanted to return to school. Now it’s the Hoosiers faithful who can’t calm down thinking about Bryant’s potential impact.

Complex has a wide ranging interview with Victor Oladipo, which is a must read:

Are you feeling more like a vet now, a couple years in?

Shoot, I’m about to be in my fourth year in the NBA already, it’s crazy to think about. I feel like I just got here. I’ve been through a lot in my three years. A lot. A lot of different situations. Four different coaches in three years. Coming off the bench, being benched, starting, starting at the 1, starting at the 2. But it’s grown me into the man I am today, the player I am today. And it’s made me even mentally stronger than ever which is why I think the trade happened now. Because I think I’m more ready than I ever was.

ESPN.com has a campaign slogan for each of its preseason top 25 teams, including IU:

11. Indiana Hoosiers: “More Chances At The Basketball Ring”
It has been five months since a presidential candidate referred to a hoop as a “basketball ring” in a campaign appearance in the state of Indiana. Perhaps the wording was ill-advised, but let the record show the candidate had every reason to direct our attention toward said object. First, there is, of course, that certain movie scene. Second, the state’s flagship program, Indiana, indeed excels at creating shot opportunities at the rim. This excellence is by design, and Tom Crean is something of a master practitioner.

Five-star prospect Jaren Jackson is set to announce his college decision today and Brendan F. Quinn of MLive has a preview:

Still looking for its first 2017 recruiting pickup, Michigan State will learn of Jaren Jackson Jr.’s future intentions on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-10, five-star power forward from La Lumiere School in La Porte, Indiana, announced his final five schools on Wednesday, along with his intentions to declare his final choice on Thursday.

Jackson will decide between Michigan State, Purdue, Notre Dame, Georgetown and Maryland.

Indiana announced mini-series ticket packages, which are on-sale now:

Indiana University men’s basketball fans will have three options this year to purchase tickets to games that will take place while students are not on campus.

This year, six home games will be played during the Thanksgiving and semester break highlighted by the first three games of the Big Ten Conference season.

Fans may purchase the full six-game mini series package which includes contests against Liberty (Saturday, November 19, 7 p.m.), Delaware State (Monday, December 19, 8 p.m.), Austin Peay (Thursday, December 22, 7 p.m.), Nebraska (Wednesday, December 28, 7 p.m.), Wisconsin (Tuesday, January 3, 7 p.m.) and Illinois (Saturday, January 7, 5 p.m.).

Two three-game packages also will be on sale.  Mini series Plan A will include tickets to Liberty, Austin Peay and Wisconsin, while Plan B will include seats to Delaware State, Nebraska and Illinois.

Duke will close its practices this season to NBA scouts and instead hold two pro days, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical:

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is barring NBA teams from scouting his program’s practices this season – except for two pro days scheduled in October, league sources told The Vertical.

NBA executives were extended invitations to pro days on Oct. 19 and 25 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the second of which coincides with the opening night of the NBA regular season, Duke informed front offices on Tuesday.

“All other practices will be closed,” Duke told teams in an email.



POTB 141: ESPN’s John Gasaway on IU, Big Ten hoops

Podcast on the Brink is back for a new episode with host Jerod Morris of The Assembly Call. The show is available weekly and you can access a full archive of episodes here.

In this week’s edition of the show, Morris and Inside the Hall editor Alex Bozich are joined by John Gasaway, who covers college basketball for ESPN Insider.

Among the topics discussed:

· John’s ranking of Thomas Bryant as the No. 8 player in college basketball next season and what to expect in his sophomore season
· How to project the impact of OG Anunoby as a sophomore
· What Indiana’s offense will look like without Yogi Ferrell
· Can Indiana’s offense be elite with Thomas Bryant as the centerpiece and more emphasis on the frontcourt?
· Why Tom Crean should be viewing last year’s defensive performance as the floor for this team
· Is Indiana’s turnover problem solved? Why John is optimistic it might be.
· The overall strength of the Big Ten for the 2016-2017 season
· Teams that could make a significant leap in the league standings in 2016-2017
· Unbalanced scheduling and whether John believes it has a major impact on conference standings
· Whether IU fans should be encouraged by what Villanova did last season

Links mentioned:

· Who will be the stars of college basketball in 2016-2017? ($)
· Forecasting the Big Ten’s standings for 2016-17 ($)
· An in-depth look at Indiana’s offensive sets
· Great offense is an outcome, great shooting is an event

As always, feel free to drop the show a note at jerod@assemblycall.com.

Listen in the audio player below, download the episode, subscribe via iTunes or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Five-star Billy Preston adds Indiana to list of finalists

Class of 2017 Oak Hill Academy (Va.) forward Billy Preston announced a revised list of finalists on Tuesday, which includes Indiana.

Joining Indiana on Preston’s list of finalists: Kansas, Maryland, North Carolina State and USC.

The 6-foot-10 power forward transferred to Oak Hill over the summer after playing at Advanced Prep International in Texas. Prior to that, Preston played at several high schools in California, where he’s from.

Preston is ranked the No. 12 player nationally in the 247Composite.



Deng Gak sets dates for four official visits, including Indiana

Class of 2017 Blair Academy (N.J.) and PSA Cardinals forward Deng Gak has a date set for his official visit to Indiana.

According to Pat Lawless of MADEHoops, Gak will be in Bloomington on the weekend of Oct. 14-16, which is homecoming weekend.

This year’s homecoming weekend will feature a dedication of the renovated Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall as well as a football game at Memorial Stadium against Nebraska.

Gak also has dates for official visits set with Miami (Sept. 23-25), Florida (Oct. 7-9) and Kansas from Oct. 21-23. Gak is also considering Duke.

At July’s Nike EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam, Gak averaged 4.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game. He’s ranked the No. 129 prospect nationally by the 247Composite and a four-star prospect.



Tip time, broadcast information announced for IU-Louisville

Indiana’s New Year’s Eve game against Louisville at Bankers Life Fieldhouse now has a tip time.

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced on Monday afternoon that the Hoosiers and Cardinals will tip at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.

All four of Indiana’s marquee non-conference games now have broadcast info and tip times set.

Indiana’s season opener with Kansas in Hawaii as a part of the Armed Forces Classic will tip at approximately 9 p.m. ET on ESPN on Nov. 11. The Big Ten-ACC Challenge showdown with at Assembly Hall with North Carolina will tip at 9 p.m. ET on Nov. 30 and will also be shown on ESPN.

And IU’s annual trip to the Crossroad Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse will be a 5 p.m. ET tip against Butler on Dec. 17. That contest will be shown on BTN.



Around the Hall: Crean on Izzo, top 100 NBA players, more

Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall staff.

Tom Izzo was inducted to the Naismith Hall of Fame over the weekend and Tom Crean wrote a piece on the Veritcal about what he’s learned from the Michigan State coach:

In those years together, there are so many lessons learned. Never once did Tom walk into the office after a victory and say to anyone, “We tricked them! We outsmarted them!” He never had that moment. Every day, he was hungry and determined and afraid we would lose every game. For everything he has done, Tom still acts surprised at his success. He’s never taken it for granted. He’s never eased back.

Something else that stays with me now at Indiana University: Tom Izzo never let the sun go down on a problem. He never let it wait until the morning. If there was an issue, he corrected it. If it meant bringing a player back in the middle of the night, he did it. If we had to stay in the office until 3 a.m., we stayed. He never went to sleep on an issue.

Sports Illustrated is ranking the top 100 NBA players for the 2016-2017 season and ranked Cody Zeller at No. 94 and Victor Oladipo at No. 74:

To be big, mobile, and active goes a long way in the modern NBA. Those underlying qualities alone make Zeller a helpful team defender—quick enough to cover the necessary ground and long enough to contest shots at the rim. Those strengths are mirrored, too, on offense through the speed of Zeller’s rolls and the strength of his finishes. Zeller doesn’t command the ball nor could he do all that much with it if he did. Most of his modest scoring comes by diving through open space and making himself available. Its an endeavor more of persistence than creativity, yet on balance it offers just the kind of dependable, straight-line action that many NBA offenses need. In lieu of the spectacular, Zeller operates fills a predictable lane with solid, two-way play.

Is free agency coming to college basketball? Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com examines the possibility:

Free agency could be coming to college sports.

Well, it wouldn’t exactly be free agency, according to the lawyer in charge of two cases that could become a game-changer in college athletics, one that would enable players to transfer without having to sit a year.

“Free transferring is more appropriate,” said Steve Berman, the managing partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and lead attorney of a case involving a pair of ex-college football players against the NCAA.

Illinois sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands will be out for eight weeks with a broken hand:

Ilinois sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands will miss eight weeks after breaking his right hand on Wednesday.

Coleman-Lands had surgery on Friday, according to a release sent Saturday by the school.

Illinois suffered a string of preseason injuries last season that stretched into the season and hampered the Illini for much of the year.  Coleman-Lands suffered a stress fracture in his left leg last July that caused him to miss much of the preseason.

Iowa landed a pair of recruits this weekend in Luka Garza and Jack Nunge:

The University of Iowa basketball program entered the weekend with one basketball commitment for the class of 2017.

It ended the weekend with three.

Jack Nunge and Luka Garza, both 6-foot-10 and both rated as four-star prospects by some recruiting services, both said they will play for the Hawkeyes after visiting the campus over the weekend.



Indiana sets Hoosier Hysteria for Saturday, October 22

Hoosier Hysteria, Indiana’s annual opening practice that officially tips off the season, has been set for Saturday, October 22 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

The first day NCAA Division I schools can begin practicing this season is Friday, Sept. 30, which is six weeks before the start of the regular season on Friday, Nov. 11.

Admission to Hoosier Hysteria is free, but fans are encouraged to bring a canned food item and donate it to Hoosier Hills Food Bank.

According to a release from IU athletics, “fans can expect games, music, contests, prizes and an up-close look at the Hoosiers prior to the start of the season.”

Indiana will not have a home football game on the weekend of Hoosier Hysteria as the Hoosiers travel to Evanston for a meeting with Northwestern.

Hoosier Hysteria is typically a major recruiting weekend for Indiana. Further details on the event will be released at a later date.



An in-depth look at Indiana’s offensive sets

Zak Boisvert is the creator of PickAndPop.net and has served as an assistant coach at Iona, Farleigh Dickinson and Maine. Boisvert’s site and his YouTube channel are two of the most comprehensive resources out there for basketball junkies who want to get a closer look at the game. 

Inside the Hall recently spoke to Boisvert about the Indiana offense and more specifically, four videos he published last spring. The videos focus on four different offensive series that Tom Crean runs in Bloomington: Weak motion, Chin series, late shock clock and flow ball screen.

What follows are notes and quotes from our conversation with Boisvert along with some of his material to give fans a better understanding of what makes the Indiana offense one of the nation’s best:

It’s no secret that Indiana’s offense was one of the nation’s best last season. But what made the Hoosiers elite?

There are several key statistical areas where Indiana excelled that made the Hoosiers nearly impossible to slow down when their execution was crisp.

Start with shot selection. Indiana was one of only four teams in the country that had 40+ percent of their shot attempts come in the paint and 40+ percent of their shot attempts from behind the 3-point line. It was a rare sight to see an Indiana player launch a long two.

At the rim, Indiana shot 41.2 percent, which was 53rd nationally. The Hoosiers shot 41.6 percent on 3s, which was fourth in the country. The Hoosiers also took 31.7 percent of their shot attempts in transition, which was 21st in the country. And Indiana pounded the offensive glass to rebound 37.2 percent of their missed shots, which was 15th in the country.

Add it all up and you have the Big Ten’s second best offense and the sixth best adjusted offensive efficiency in the land. Several of those numbers are what Boisvert says drew him into taking a deeper dive into the Indiana offense.

“I’m an X’s and O’s nut,” Boisvert told Inside the Hall. “I want to make my site a resource for coaches to learn, but it’s a very sophisticated, comprehensive site. Within that, I think I have a sophisticated knowledge base.

“I’ve been watching coach Crean going back to his days at Marquette. I just think he’s an offensive innovator and I think some of the things he was doing at Indiana this past season were extremely innovative. I think college basketball at times can be very similar. Teams are running the same stuff, teams are running the same set of plays. And what I saw was that Crean is doing things that no one else is doing. That piqued my interest right away.”

We’ll start with the motion weak sets:

“Particularly, the flow ball screens and motion weak, those are things he’s doing schematically that are just different than other coaches in the country,” Boisvert explained. “That’s why I put him very near the top in terms of X’s and O’s. I don’t think there are many better. He’s somewhere in the top five in my opinion.”

“For motion weak, it’s a concept that Gregg Popovich brought to the NBA in late 1990’s, maybe early 2000’s. And it’s caught on throughout the NBA. It’s a trickle down sport. It starts in the NBA and it trickles down to the NCAA. That concept is simply the point guard hitting the guy on the ball side and then cutting through. So anything with that concept starts a motion weak series. And that series is run throughout the country. When I was watching Indiana, I said, ‘wow, they’re doing some really cool stuff.’ It starts with what everyone else does, but they’re doing different things out of it that no one else is doing.”

“With late shot clock, it’s a time where a lot of teams do the same things,” Boisvert said. “They set high ball screens, teams are running the same things, isolating their best player and trying to attack. I’m watching Indiana and they’re not doing that. They’re doing different things out of it. Again, innovation and things you’re not seeing very much.”

“One of the things when I watch their chin stuff, the things they’re doing different in terms of putting players in different spots,” Boisvert said. “In layman’s terms, I think one thing that encompasses all of these videos, and this is where he’s best at, is that a lot of people would have a player like Yogi Ferrell and they would have him come down the court and they’d have him dribble to a spot, call out a ball screen and they’d run him into a pick-and-roll.

“And what is so good about coach Crean is the way that, rather than have his best player attack a set defense, there’s a ton of movement early in the possession and then the ball gets back to Yogi and he’s attacking off of that. Rather than starting the possession with trying to get Yogi into the action, there’s a lot of movement, the defense moves, the ball moves from side to side and then all of the sudden Ferrell is getting it back and maybe that ball screen is coming out. And now all of the sudden, he has his best player attacking a defense that isn’t set, a defense that’s been moved with ball movement, player movement and screening actions.”

“That’s something I see particularly in the chin, particularly in the motion weak and particularly in the flow ball screen video. He’s doing it at a level better than any coach in the country.”

“They have an extremely large playbook in comparison to other teams,” Boisvert explained. “I can’t necessarily say they have the largest, but they have an immense playbook and it speaks to Crean’s offensive mastery. He’s one of the better X’s and O’s guys in the country.”

Additional resources: Motion weak diagrams, Flow ball screen diagrams, late shot clock diagrams and chin series diagrams.



Indiana picked to finish sixth in Big Ten by Lindy’s Sports

We recently shared preseason projections from the Athlon Sports college basketball preview, which was bullish on Indiana for the 2016-2017.

The second preseason college magazine preview magazine out this fall, published by Lindy’s Sports, is not as high on the Hoosiers. (Last year, Lindy’s ranked Indiana No. 4 in the preseason.)

Here are some notes on Indiana and the Big Ten at-large from the annual publication.

· Lindy’s ranks the top 25 players at all five positions nationally and two IU players are featured. James Blackmon Jr. is ranked the third best shooting guard and Thomas Bryant is the nation’s No. 2 center.

· In terms of frontcourts nationally, Indiana is ranked the eighth best behind Duke, Wisconsin, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, Purdue and Kansas.

· Lindy’s ranks its top 40 teams nationally and Indiana is the lowest ranked of the six Big Ten teams mentioned. Wisconsin is No. 6, Michigan State is No. 11, Purdue is No. 12, Ohio State is No. 29, Maryland is No. 37 and Indiana is No. 38.

· Here’s the brief blurb explaining IU’s national ranking: “There’s talent on hand, but good luck replacing Yogi.”

· The publication predicts the order of finish in the Big Ten as follows: Wisconsin, Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa, Penn State, Nebraska, Minnesota and Rutgers.

· On its preseason all-conference team, both Blackmon Jr. and Bryant are first team. The other first team members are Maryland’s Melo Trimble, Iowa’s Peter Jok and Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes.

· De’Ron Davis is regarded as the best incoming rebounder and the league’s best “signing coup.” Grant Gelon and Curtis Jones are mentioned in the recruiting/newcomers section as the best incoming shooters.

· 2016 NCAA tournament predictions for Big Ten teams are as follows: Wisconsin (Elite Eight), Michigan State (Sweet Sixteen), Purdue (Sweet Sixteen), Ohio State (Round of 32), Maryland (Round of 32) and Indiana (one and done).

· Indiana’s incoming recruiting class is regarded as the 13th best nationally.

· The Big Ten is ranked as the third best conference in the country behind the ACC and Pac 12.



Armed Forces Classic moved to accommodate larger crowd

Indiana’s regular season opener against Kansas, which will be played in Honolulu, Hawaii, will not be played at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as originally scheduled.

ESPN announced on Thursday afternoon that the Armed Forces Classic, which also includes Arizona vs. Michigan State, will be played at the Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

According to the announcement, the venue change is being made to “provide basketball fans of both the military and the community an opportunity to see the games up close.”

The Stan Sheriff Center is a 10,300 seat arena.

The Armed Forces Classic is taking place on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11.

Arizona and Michigan State will tip at 7 p.m. ET (2 p.m. local time) followed by Indiana and Kansas at approximately 9 p.m. ET (4 p.m. local time).

Both games will be televised by ESPN. This is the first time the Armed Forces Classic will be played in Hawaii. Previous locations for the event have included Ramstein, Germany in 2012 (Connecticut vs. Michigan State), Pyongtaek, South Korea in 2013 (Georgetown vs. Oregon), Aguadilla, Puerto Rico in 2014 (Louisville vs. Minnesota) and Okinawa, Japan in 2015 (Gonzaga vs. Pittsburgh).

“ESPN is honored to continue the tradition of the Armed Forces Classic,” Clint Overby, ESPN vice president of events, said in a release. “We celebrate the men and women of the Navy in Hawaii as well as those who serve around the world. We are excited to stage the event in conjunction with the leadership at Pearl Harbor and feel that the basketball venue at the Stan Sheriff Center provides a great backdrop for these great teams.”