One of the quotes that caught my eye this offseason came from senior forward Lance Stemler when he was asked the depth of this year’s team.
“We’re definitely going to have to compete for our spots, which is a good thing. No one can get too comfortable with as deep as we are,” Stemler said.
And that my friends, is a good problem to have. My only question now is: Who will be the five on the floor when the season tips off? I’ll give you my take and I’m interested in hearing yours.
Armon Bassett – The Terre Haute native has worked all summer on his vocal leadership and will be in charge of running the team from the point guard position. At times as a freshman, Bassett was forced to take big shots down the stretch by default. This year, he’ll act as a distributor and will be counted on to get the ball in the hands of Eric Gordon and D.J. White in key situations.
Eric Gordon – There’s no question that Gordon will be the primary focus of opposing defenses all season long and for good reason. He’s already been touted as a preseason All-American by several publications and will not be fazed by the hype. His scoring numbers may be slightly lower than some are projecting, but that’s simply because he’s a team first player who will get others involved to keep the Hoosier attack balanced.
Jamarcus Ellis – The Chipola J.C. product would be the primary option on a lot of teams, but as a Hoosier he’ll embrace his role of a distributor and slasher from the wing. Ellis told me that he’s looking forward to doing the little things that often go unnoticed like rebounding and passing. When needed, he’ll also look to score.
Lance Stemler – One of the captains along with D.J. White, Stemler will be counted on to help anchor down the paint and be a hustle guy. His ankle should be 100% when the season starts and that should go a long way in helping his jump shot return to early 2006-2007 form.
D.J. White – The best big man in the Big Ten will be in my eyes, the key to taking the Hoosiers to San Antonio. The Hoosiers simply cannot count on a perimeter oriented attack to carry them through the Big Ten and the NCAA Tournament. One bad shooting night come March and you’ll be going home. That’s where White’s stability and presence inside becomes important. Very few teams on the IU schedule will have an answer for the Tuscaloosa native.
In their final Bahamas barn burner, IU snuck past the Commonwealth Bank Giants 115-63. I’m pretty sure most of the teams that play at the HPER could beat the three teams IU played on this trip.
Nonetheless, the final contest provided an opportunity for fantasy friendly statistics. D.J. White led the way with 22 points, Eric Gordon and Armon Bassett added 19 points each and Jamarcus Ellis added eight points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Here’s a quick glance of some of the team numbers from the trip:
The Hoosiers shot 56% this weekend and held its opponents to 33.9% accuracy.
IU outrebounded its opponents 55.0 to 28.7.
The Hoosiers had 87 assists and 59 steals in three games. They also forced 30.3 turnovers per game, while averaging 108.0 points.
I’m fairly certain we learned nothing about the team IU will put on the floor this coming season from this trip. It was an opportunity for the incoming players to get acclimated to Coach Sampson’s system and an opportunity for Eric Gordon to visit family in the Bahamas. Other than that, the competition level was mediocre and provided no real challenge. Nonetheless, the real value from the trip comes in the form of building team camaraderie and getting film for the coaching staff to break down before Midnight Madness tips off the season.
Armon Bassett showed early on last season that he was a force to be reckoned with as he marched into Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 28th and scored a then-career-high 16 points.
He finished the season fourth on the Hoosiers in scoring at 9.5 points per game and second in assists with 3.0 per game.
Now a sophomore, Bassett will be called upon to take over the point guard duties for the departed Earl Calloway.
Inside the Hall caught up with the Terre Haute native after the Barnstorming Tour stop at New Albany. We got the scoop on what he’s been working on over the summer, what Calloway taught him last season, the incoming recruiting class and his expectations for the upcoming season.
We’re jammed pack with content for you over the next few days and a great time was had by all at the first stop of the Barnstorming Tour at New Albany High School. Among those we were able to interview tonight: Lance Stemler, Armon Bassett, Bud Mackey, Jordan Crawford and Jamarcus Ellis. So look for content regarding each of them over the next few days, starting tomorrow.
I was able to honor some of your requests for questions and I’ll be sure to include the answers where applicable.
As far as my closing thoughts for the evening, I’ve got quite a few to share with you. First off, Eli Holman has qualified and will suit up for the Hoosiers next season. That’s great news because the Richmond (CA) product will be a factor once the Big Ten season rolls around. His offensive game isn’t spectacular, but he can finish and he’ll help a great deal defensively because of how long he is.
DeAndre Thomas has dropped about 30 pounds since his arrival in Bloomington. He’s doing quite a bit of cardio work to shed the pounds.
Eric Gordon was spectacular once again. He showed why he is the top incoming freshman in the land. He’s also looking a bit stronger in the upper body since we last saw him in the Jordan Brand All-American game. For those of you who haven’t seen him in person, it’s a real treat and IU is fortunate to have a player of his caliber.
Jordan Crawford played well and since it was the first time I saw him, it’s the first time I can pass real judgment on the Hargrave Academy product. He’s got excellent court vision and gets up and down the floor very well. I expect he’ll contribute immediately.
Jamarcus Ellis was my favorite interview of the night. The Juco Player of the Year can score, rebound and pass. He’s definitely the slasher that IU needs. Most importantly, he’s a good kid who came to IU for the right reasons.
Brandon McGee is a blue collar player that does a lot of different things well. He likes to go inside and mix it up and he can also handle the ball a bit on the perimeter if need be.
Bud Mackey seemed thrilled to be at the game and he enjoyed the love from the IU fans. The lefty from Scott County should be a top contender for Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky.
And last, but certainly not least, Ray McCallum Jr. impressed me with his exceptional quickness. He’ll only be a sophomore at Bloomington North, but he’s already a high major target.
I hope you enjoyed the live blog coverage and make sure to check back over the next few days. There will certainly be plenty to talk about.
Because it’s never too early to start talking about rankings — or having some of your own for that matter — let me direct you over to FanHouse. Its college hoops bloggers have compiled a “Premature Hoops BlogPoll” for the upcoming men’s basketball season.
How good will Eric Gordon be? Tell me that and I’ll tell you how good Indiana will be.
Gordon, one of the nation’s best incoming freshmen, verbally committed to Illinois before changing his mind and heading to Indiana, and that changed the balance of power in the Big Ten as well as assuring that things will get heated when the Hoosiers visit Champaign.
But Gordon isn’t all Indiana has. D.J. White, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound shot blocker and a very tough presence inside, is back, as is guard Armon Bassett, who showed a great deal of promise as a freshman last season. Although the Hoosiers will miss the departed Roderick Wilmont, this team should be significantly better than it was last year.
It’s a quick analysis for sure, but it gets the job done — save for a JaMarcus Ellis mention. (Which a commenter altered them to under the post.) As far as other Big Ten school are concerned, FanHouse ranked Michigan State at No. 9. Other than that, no other Big Ten schools made the cut.
I’d think that once the preseason AP poll drops, IU will be somewhere in the No. 7 to No. 14 range.