Below, some selected quotes from Verdell Jones, Will Sheehey and Jordan Hulls from Big Ten Media Day.
On Cody Zeller: “Having Cody’s going to help all of us because he’s going to be a presence that’s going to command a double-team every time. If you don’t double-team him he’s going to score, if you do double-team him, guys like Will, me and Jordy will get open shots so it’s going to help the whole team.”
And later, on Zeller: “The biggest thing is knowing that we have a 7-footer inside who’s a scoring presence. We had Tom [Pritchard] and Derek [Elston] last year who can score but didn’t look to score. And having a scoring presence like Cody in there going to really help our team — just feeding the post, cutting; he’s a good passer, too, so just reading him and playing from there.”
On defense: “I think it’s improved tremendously. Especially me, I feel like if your jumper’s not falling you can always play defense and that’s something that the coaches have harped on me about and something I’ve been keeping in mind every day in practice and every time we play.”
And later, on defense: “I think our defense has created a lot of offense for us right now. We’re really pressuring the ball, getting turnovers on each other. You’re not going to play good on offense every single day, but if your defense is still there, you’re always going to be in the game so I think that’s the biggest thing everyone’s keying on right now.”
On his chance to finish in the Top 15 scorers of all-time in Indiana history: “It’s pretty cool. But I think my biggest goal this year is to get to the tournament. That’s something I haven’t experienced, I haven’t got a chance to taste yet. That’s what I want to do.”
Men’s basketball coaches will be free to contact recruits without many of the current restrictions under a new recruiting model for the sport adopted by the Division I Board of Directors Thursday.
Coaches will be allowed to send unlimited phone calls and text messages to men’s basketball recruits. The deregulation extends to social media, starting June 15 after a recruit’s sophomore year. Private messages on social networks also will be deregulated. Public messages through social networks will continue to be prohibited because of the rule preventing institutions from publicizing their recruiting efforts.
The Board believed that allowing earlier and more frequent contact between coaches and recruits will help build stronger relationships and reduce some of the influence of third parties on the recruiting process.
The new model, recommended after a year of study by the Leadership Council, also restores two weekends of recruiting at nonscholastic events in April and trims the summer recruiting period to three four-day periods in July.
Below are some selected quotes from Tom Crean’s breakout session at Big Ten Media Day.
On the difficulty of building back up the program heading into this season: “There’s no gauge for it. When you start over — and I mean start over with a brand new team and the league is already pretty good … everybody thinks “Well, you’re starting at zero.” No you’re really not. You’re starting somewhere in the negative number because everybody else is already pretty good. It’s not like you can catch up because they’re moving forward. If everybody starts at zero, then it makes sense. But nobody did. So there’s no gauge on that. We haven’t been deep enough, we haven’t had enough depth, we certainly haven’t been talented enough at this point overall to withstand injuries. And so when you lose some key contributors on your team and you go to the bench, our guys have to do more than they’re capable of doing at that point in their game and in their career — you’re asking a lot of them. Hopefully that’s going to help us. Verdell Jones, I don’t think was being recruited by too many people early on to come in and do anything other than redshirt — maybe other people were telling him something different — but when you’re 162 pounds and 6-5, you’re probably going to redshirt. Well [he now] went over the 1,000-point marker for us as a junior in one of the first games. You just hope that those types of things continue to move forward.”
On whether the team is tougher/more mature: “They look tougher. They’re tougher against one another. Toughness really comes down to when you’re down five with three minutes to go and you got to figure out a way to win on the road — that’s real toughness and we have not been that group yet. That’s the sustainable toughness that you want to have after you’ve built it up day after day by going through different things. This team needs to have some success … We never were able to build on the momentum of the Michigan win or the Illinois win like we would have wanted.”
Indiana coach Tom Crean took the podium today at the Crown Plaza O’Hare in Chicago at the Big Ten’s annual media day. The video of Crean’s presser is above or you can listen to the complete audio of Crean’s comments in the embedded media player below:
A full transcript is available after the jump.
It’s time for Inside the Hall’s player-by-player breakdown of the 2011-2012 Indiana Hoosiers. Today, we conclude the series with Derek Elston.
It’s the first title that comes to mind for Derek Elston in his rapidly-approaching junior campaign.
After a disappointing 2010-11 season — one riddled with injuries, as Elston revealed to the media in August — the Tipton native coming into his own this year could be a key component in just how successful the Hoosiers will be.
Last season, Elston was a part of Indiana’s fouling problem. He finished third on the team in fouls committed per 40 minutes (5.7) behind the departed Bobby Capobianco (10.7) and Tom Pritchard (6.5). Beyond his heavy foul rate, he, like many of his teammates, also struggled to stay in proper position on defense, though some of that may be attributed to injuries which limited his lateral quickness.
On the offensive end, he improved his effective field-goal percentage year over year (50.0 to 52.4 percent) by being efficient inside the arc (61-of-108, 56.5 percent). Outside of the arc, however, Elston struggled (3-of-17, 17.6 percent). He was also the top defensive rebounder on the team among regulars (defensive rebounding percentage of 21.3).
If he’s able to move past his injuries of last season and find the missing spring in his game, Elston figures to benefit from dump-offs and open looks around Cody Zeller. And if he can find a 3-point stroke again to couple with his strong two-point shooting, there’s no reason he couldn’t find himself as a low double-digit average scorer, more than doubling his 4.9 points per game mark from last season.
Before the start of Big Ten basketball media day Thursday morning, the Big Ten will release the results of its preseason poll of selected media (me included), who last week voted on the best teams and players in the conference.
Ostensibly so it doesn’t make the also-rans feel badly, the conference will, as it always has, release only the top three vote-getters among teams. So, a number of years ago, some of the teams’ beat writers, many of whom vote in the “official” poll, created their own “unofficial poll,” which is all-inclusive.
In other words, we rank them 1 through 12. We don’t care if their feelings are hurt. They’re big boys.