It’s time for Inside the Hall’s player-by-player breakdown of the 2010-2011 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Derek Elston.
It’s difficult to pinpoint, precisely, the reason for the inconsistency of Derek Elston’s playing time as a freshman.
Perhaps it was the mental lapses he suffered regularly, as most freshman do, on defense. Or maybe it was something we didn’t see behind the closed doors of practice in Assembly Hall.
Whatever the case for the sporadic minutes, Elston was arguably Indiana’s best player down the stretch as he delivered 40 points and 24 rebounds in the team’s final three games. (The efficiency numbers don’t lie, either.)
Those late-season performances, coupled with his versatility at 6-foot-9 to play multiple positions, make Elston the prime candidate to take the biggest step forward of any Hoosier as a sophomore.
That aforementioned versatility affords Tom Crean the flexibility to run with a variety of lineups, depending on the situation.
If Crean elects to go small with three guards and Christian Watford, Elston could find himself, for stretches, guarding an opponent’s five. Sure, it’s not ideal, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned from watching Crean coach for two seasons, it’s that he’s not one for always trotting out a traditional lineup. (Tijan at the top of the 1-3-1, anyone?)
On the other hand, it’s not inconceivable that Elston will also log his fair share of minutes at the three if the matchups align correctly and Elston proves capable of staying in front of opponents on the perimeter.
Hypothetical scenarios aside, the optimism for a large step forward for Elston stems primarily from the eye test that he passed with flying colors when he was on the floor as a freshman. He mixed it up in the paint. He knocked down 3-pointers. He showed, at times, a solid midrange game. He displayed a solid handle for a kid of his stature. He battled, admirably, on the glass. And in all, he was Indiana’s most efficient player from a statistical standpoint.
Bottom line: Elston might not start or finish the season in IU’s starting five, but his play will earn him considerably more minutes than he saw as a freshman. Given how well he played at times last season when given the opportunity and how desperately Crean is seeking grit, intelligence and toughness, look for Elston to emerge and accomplish big things as a sophomore.
Quotable: “In the Big Ten in early practices, I didn’t even feel involved. But I finally put my foot down and said I’ve got to start doing something, and like you said, my minutes went up, and then I got some confidence back, and then I started to roll with it.” — Derek Elston.
This one comes from our friend Jeff Goodman at FoxSports.com. According to this report, Baylor assistant coach Mark Morefield “sent dozens of texts to Hanner Perea’s AAU and high school coaches in July while they were coaching events,” a violation of NCAA rules. The coach in question wasn’t supposed to be recruiting off-campus at the time anyway, a restriction placed upon him by the university for “previous texting infractions.”
The most damning part of the report, at least in the realm of public opinion, might be this:
Morefield also sent a text to LaLumiere coach Alan Huss, which was obtained by FOXSports.com, saying that if Perea didn’t go to Baylor, he wouldn’t be back in the United States.
“I guarantee u if he does [commit to another school] he will be in Colombia for the spring and summer and next year. Don’t forget it,” the text said.
You might recall Baylor coach Scott Drew, who ran the family business as coach at Valparaiso for one year before taking over the troubled program in Waco in 2003. He inherited a team in tatters after the murder of one teammate by another.
Since his arrival, Drew has managed to rebuild the Bears, and last year took them all the way to the Elite Eight, led by Ekpe Udoh, Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn. The last of those was expected to lead Baylor this season, but his status right now is rather unclear following a domestic violence incident.
Perea, a touted and talented recruit in the 2012 class, has listed Indiana and Baylor as his top two schools. He enrolled at LaPorte (Ind.) La Lumiere this fall, and has played his AAU basketball in the Indiana Elite program since coming to the United States.
Hoosier Hysteria is on the horizon and it’s time for Inside the Hall’s preseason All-Big Ten team. Today: Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore.
It’s been three years ago now that I was sitting in my mother’s dining room reading the Lafayette Journal and Courier sports section, and happened upon a story about Purdue’s 2007 recruiting class. In it, the author (whose name I do not remember) essentially made the assertion that, while Indiana’s ’07 class had the star power, (Eric Gordon) Purdue’s had the staying power, and was therefore better.
It was sort of laughable at the time, easily written off as hometown bias. But the more you thought about it — and the more you saw E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel and JaJuan Johnson play — the less preposterous the claim seemed.
This season really is now or never for that same talented group that Matt Painter took to calling the “Big Three.” They’re now probably three of the top 5-7 players in the league, and E’Twaun Moore scores the most of any of them.
The lanky shooting guard from East Chicago has led Purdue in scoring each of his three years in college, and it doesn’t seem likely he’ll relinquish that role in his final college season.
Moore is a guard’s guard — he’s a wonderful spot-up shooter who can hit a nasty streak, and he’s strong off the dribble (though not quite so talented as when he’s catching and shooting). As a compliment to the wide, tall Johnson and the multi-faceted Hummel, he has developed into the perfect foil.
What will be interesting to watch in Moore’s game this year is how much develops into the match to his offense’s kindling. When Hummel was lost last year, Moore assumed a much more focal role in the offense — by design — pushing the Boilermakers into different sets and trying to initiate action on that end of the floor, with mixed results.
With Chris Kramer now gone and Lewis Jackson, frankly, still untested, it stands to reason that we could see more of Moore (my bad on the wordplay) in that sort of role.
It’s certainly one Purdue will need someone to fill, and if Moore can be that someone, then the Boilermakers will find themselves in even higher cotton. Moore alone stands as an All-Big Ten first-teamer purely on talent. If his role in this offense can be enhanced, Purdue is in incredibly good shape hitting the winter.
It’s time for Inside the Hall’s player-by-player breakdown of the 2010-2011 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Jordan Hulls.
How much pressure rests on Jordan Hulls this season is a matter of opinion, depending upon whom you believe.
Conventional wisdom said that his late-year form combined with a crucial offseason to get bigger and stronger meant, at the very least, Hulls would split time with Jeremiah Rivers at point guard again, with the former receiving a larger share of the minutes.
But in August, Tom Crean was asked, essentially, who he thought would be running the point for Indiana. Hulls’ name was mentioned, Rivers’ was not, skewing the situation in a direction most of us probably did not expect.
Now would probably be a good time to point out that Tom Crean’s offense doesn’t always require a point guard so much as a conduit, an initiator who can handle the ball and also score, and push the team into a particular offensive set.
So it’s not altogether surprising that Crean’s answer to the aforementioned question was Hulls, Maurice Creek and Verdell Jones. And it also doesn’t mean we’re never ever going to see Jeremiah Rivers, who still possesses a physicality both on offense and defense that none of those three provide.
But where does that leave Hulls? Well, the answer depends on a number of factors:
1. How much stronger is Hulls? Can he effectively force his way through traffic without turning the ball over when driving into the teeth of a defense?
2. How valuable is Hulls as a scorer? Beyond Matt Roth and perhaps Creek, Hulls is Indiana’s best 3-point shooter. It seems safe to presume that there will be moments when Hulls’ shooting ability is more valuable than his skill as a point guard.
Apparently, I’m not the only one that still has a bad taste in my mouth from this. Tom Crean says the home loss to Iowa last January is the one loss that continues to make him sick to his stomach. Watch and listen to what Crean has to say about IU’s toughness in this video clip following last week’s Cream and Crimson Survivor Media Challenge, courtesy of Rick Bozich of The Courier-Journal. And when you’re done, raise your hand if you’d be willing to run through a brick wall if Tom Crean asked you to. (Raises hand.)
Will Guy-Marc Michel be part of the solution for that?
The jury is still out.
Best-case scenario: The 7-1 transfer from Northern Idaho College makes the likes of Bobby Capobiano and Tom Pritchard better by battling them in practice, while providing a legitamate defensive presence inside who blocks shots and throws his weight around in the paint, something we’ve yet to have during the Tom Crean era.
If Michel fulfills such a role, he’ll be an important part of the rotation this season. This is basketball: size and defense matter. A lot.
But there is that worst-case scenario lurking about in Hoosier Nation, the thought that for all his physical gifts, Michel might be another Bawa Minuru — a kid with size and strength, but unable to harness it all into significant playing time.
Will Michel start and be the bully? Will he provide some defensive energy in a key reserve role? Or will he find himself seated at the end of the bench, another big man lacking the talent to play at a Big Ten level?
We shall soon see.
Bottom line: The Hoosiers finished second to last in defensive efficiency in the Big Ten last season, and Michel’s presence has the potential to help strengthen IU’s D. Add in a summer in which several players seem to have added some bulk (and another year of Big Ten experience), and the Hoosiers could be set up to flash their best defensive effort under Crean.
Quotable: “I think for me, I can bring a presence inside, block some shots, grab some rebounds and help the team defensively.” — Guy-Marc Michel
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