As Tom Crean and his assistant coaches Steve McClain, Tim Buckley and Kenny Johnson addressed the media about a 2014 recruiting class in which James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson and Max Hoetzel all signed their National Letter of Intents on Thursday, Crean emphatically repeated the phrase on multiple occasions.
“We addressed our needs with a capital ‘N’,” he said.
That need that was so effectively filled by a class with two 6-foot-3 guards and a 6-foot-7 forward?
“Downhill players that can make shots,” Crean said.
With a team that made only 2-of-24 3-point attempts in its first three halves of the season, Indiana’s 2014 recruiting class, ranked No. 17 according to the 247Composite, is regarded for its shooting. Blackmon and Johnson each have elite shot-making skills. Indiana focused on recruiting Hoetzel because of his size and long-range shooting ability, in addition to his athletic upside.
But with a team that might not have the shooting weapons it wants now, Indiana’s staff has found them, and they are only a year from donning the cream and crimson.
Indiana coach Tom Crean has made it clear. Tonight’s game against Samford will not be “just another game.”
As the game tips off just after 7 p.m., Crean will coach against his former assistant, Bennie Seltzer, now the head coach of the Bulldogs. Seltzer had coached at Indiana from 2008 to 2012, and tonight, he will make his first return to Assembly Hall to coach against his mentor.
“We’re dealing with somebody like Bennie Seltzer who has had such a hand in the development and the reestablishing of this program over the past few years,” Crean said Thursday afternoon in his pregame press conference. “Bennie was here through every tough period, through every tough moment, through all those tough years, and was just an absolute study in perseverance in the sense of how he continued to have incredible energy every day, how he continued to make the players better.”
After the 2011-2012 season in which Indiana reached its first Sweet 16 under Crean, Seltzer left to take the head coaching job at Samford. After coaching under Crean for six years, including two at Marquette, Seltzer finally took the reins of his own program. And in his first year at Samford, he went 11-21 but led the Bulldogs to a .500 record in Southern Conference play for the first time in school history.
The Indiana coaching staff met with the media on Thursday to discuss James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson, who both signed National Letters of Intent with the Hoosiers earlier today.
Max Hoetzel, who also signed with Indiana, was not discussed because his Letter of Intent was not received at the time of the press conference. Hoetzel’s letter is expected to be received in the coming days after his parents, who live in California, sign it.
Here’s the complete press conference of Tom Crean, Kenny Johnson, Tim Buckley and Steve McClain discussing the 2014 class:
It started with a jump shot and ended with a 3-pointer.
Will Sheehey’s second-half performance, a 15-point and 4-assist effort on 6-of-10 shooting, propelled Indiana to its second victory of the season on Tuesday night, a 73-72 win over LIU Brooklyn at Assembly Hall. It came after a first half in which the 6-foot-7 senior went 0-for-8 from the field and 0-for-6 on 3-pointers.
When Indiana needed its senior most, he provided 19 minutes and 45 seconds of action in the second half.
“In the first half, myself, Yogi and a couple of guys weren’t letting it happen,” Sheehey said. “In the second half, we made plays for each other. And that’s why we won.”
The jump shot was Sheehey’s first. After Sheehey’s 0-for-8 first half effort in which his team was down by three points at the break, 2 minutes and 25 seconds into the second half he had the chance to give Indiana its first lead since the 12:46 mark of the opening half. It was a mid-range jump shot from the left side of the court, off a Yogi Ferrell pass. He drained it, and Indiana led, 41-40.
With three sophomores and five freshmen who appear poised to play rotation minutes, Indiana doesn’t have a ton of experience to draw upon as it begins the season.
The Hoosiers cruised through Friday night’s opener against Chicago State with little resistance, but the competition level figures to rise tonight as LIU Brooklyn comes to Assembly Hall.
The Blackbirds, who have reached three consecutive NCAA tournaments, are Indiana’s second game of seven in a 19-day stretch to open the season.
LIU Brooklyn features one of the nation’s better point guards in Jason Brickman, who led the nation in assists per game last year. LIU also utilizes a lot of ball screen action that will be unfamiliar to many of IU’s young players.
The way Tom Crean sees it, the quick turnarounds and different styles of play the Hoosiers will encounter in this stretch present opportunities to learn about his young group.
“I think it’s great that we have the games because we need the experience,” Crean said Monday evening at Assembly Hall. “We scheduled it that way and part of it is because of the Wounded Warriors tournament we’re going to play in in New York, that plays into it. I’m excited to see what we look like at the end of the week.”