Observations from Indiana’s scrimmage at Nolan Fieldhouse

  • 10/24/2009 11:15 pm in

38276962Close to 800 Indiana fans packed Nolan Fieldhouse in Sellersburg, Indiana on Saturday afternoon to watch the 2009-2010 Hoosiers practice and scrimmage.

The team took the floor just before 4PM and the event began with some opening words from Tom Crean, who thanked everybody for coming. One-by-one, the Indiana players and coaches introduced themselves to the crowd. A couple of players didn’t speak loudly enough, including freshman Christian Watford, who Crean told, “start over, freshman.” The introductions ended and Crean urged fans to cheer, boo and sit back and enjoy.


+ The practice kicked off with the players navigating their way towards the basket off the dribble and attempting to finish against two assistant coaches, Bennie Seltzer and Roshown McLeod, who were both waiting with football pads.

+ After taking a beating from the pads, the focus shifted to defense with Crean and Tim Buckley stopping a couple of different times for teaching opportunities: “Be active, be active, be active,” “Hands up on every catch,” and a question for Bawa Muniru and Tijan Jobe after both were beaten by manager Michael Santa, “How does this guy get past two seven-footers?”


+ Teams were split up as follows: Red: Kory Barnett, Jeremiah Rivers, Daniel Moore, Steven Gambles, Jobe, Tom Pritchard, Watford, Maurice Creek. White: Matt Roth, Muniru, Brett Finkelmeier, Jordan Hulls, Bobby Capobianco, Derek Elston, Devan Dumes, Verdell Jones.

+ Crean called for a sub for Capobianco just minutes into the scrimmage after the freshman failed to dive for a ball. “Dive for the loose ball,” Crean shouted.

+ The offensive flow this week had much more flow than the Hoosier Hysteria scrimmage. Rivers and Jones were the two most effective offensively. Rivers was especially good at getting into the lane and also at knocking down his jump shot off the dribble.

+ One focus was pushing the ball up the court after a made basket. When the ball wasn’t pushed at a pace suitable to Crean, he made it known, “We are not walking the ball up,” he exclaimed.

+ Watford’s presence was most felt from the perimeter, where he showed the ability to knock down a mid range jumper and did an excellent job of staying within the flow of the offense. He seemed to tire in the later stages of the scrimmage, which lasted a solid 45-50 minutes.

+ Hulls, per the usual, played a solid floor game and looks to be in very good shape conditioning wise. Most of his efforts were spent on setting up his teammates with scoring opportunities.

+ The big men were each worn down after IU’s second practice of the day. Pritchard looks to stronger in the upper body than he was last season. Capobianco got Crean’s message about diving on the floor and was active on the boards. Elston showed a knack for the ball and was the best rebounder on the court. Muniru and Jobe both played hard, but both struggled with reacting to the speed of the game.

+ Creek stayed on the perimeter for the most part and knocked down a couple of three-pointers. Dumes did a nice job creating offense off the dribble, but was out of control at times. Roth is quicker and stronger, but still needs to add another dimension to his game.

Final Drill

+ The practice ended with a that required 86 lay-ups be made in two minutes and the crowd cheered as the team hit 90. Crean thanked the crowd for their support and attendance and then signed autographs and posed with pictures with hundreds of fans to wrap up the day.

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  • I was at the practice today and here are my thoughts:

    1) VJ3 looks VERY VERY good. Rivers is supposed to be a defensive stopper and VJ repeatedly broke him down during the scrimmage. Good news IU fans…he looks better than he did at the end of last season (when he was our best player).

    2) Creek will not be a starter when the season opens. I've been very high on Creek but he seems to be a little more one dimensional than I thought (a long distance shooter). Granted, that's not really a bad thing…but I think most fans expect him to be a dynamic scorer and I just don't see it….yet.

    3) Hulls is going to be a very good player…but he's not a very good defensive player right now. Crean had to stop the practice at least 3 times to specifially address Hulls not performing correctly on defense. On the other hand, Rivers is a much better defender and although he didn't look good early on offense…he did heat up. Right now I'd say Rivers should get 28 min per game at point. VJ 7 and Hulls 5. The great thing about Hulls….he is SO confident with his dribble and passes. Everytime he feeds a teammate the pass is right on the money and it's almost impossible to pick his pocket. Give him 2 years to iron out his D and Hulls will be an undeniable floor leader. He just needs some time.

    4) For some reason, I have a feeling Elston is going to contribute more than people think. Watford played the wing a lot during this practice and if that continues the only real inside threat we have is Pritchard. I think as time passes we'll need to develop another inside player and I think Elston can do it. He's actually pretty athletic (especially compared to Pritchard).

    5) We have so many guards….but I really hope Crean figures out a way to fully utilize Matt Roth because he is a major offensive weapon. He looks bigger and a little quicker than he did last year and his shot and release is so smooth. I heard a lot of negative stuff about Roth over the summer but I'm not concerned anymore. He looks better than last year and his jumper is still deadly.

    6) Bawa is so raw…but man…he has the skills to be a difference maker down the road. Remember how great George Leach looked on the court…but he never played as well as he “looked”? Well…Bawa ir already cut and ripped like Leach and his footwork is much better than I expected. Yeah he's a project…but in 2 years he could be a beast…especially on defense.

    Just my 2 cents. I'd love to hear you feedback or your thoughts on the practice.

  • Good stuff, Jason. Thanks for sharing.

  • BaseballBuc

    Bobby Capo taken out for not diving for a ball. That right there personifies Crean. I Love it!

  • hoosierclarion

    Jason I like your analysis. Does sound like Dumes is still Dumes trying to do too much which turns into out of control. To kept turnovers at a minimum maybe he should play Roth's role of last year. Stay outside the arc and just shoot 3's.

  • BGleas

    Thanks for the info Jason, good stuff!!

    I've always felt that Bawa is a wild card that could drastically change the rebuilding process if he develops, especially if we lose out on some of the 5* guys we're in on. If by his junior year, Bawa can develop into a legitimate starter, then IU has the big man we're all looking for.

    If this happens (it's a big if) then adding guys like Zeller or the other bigs in 2011 really take us to the next level. If Bawa doesn't develop, then IU is almost depending on landing some of those 2011 bigs and hoping they make an immediate impact.

    I don't think I made my point real clear here, but basically I think Bawa developing could not only speed up the rebuilding, but get it to a higher point much quicker.

  • hoosierodi

    I think dumes is probably right now our most talented player, its just all in his head. Roth when i saw him looks like he will get at least 12-15 minutes a game just cause he can shoot the ball so well. I do think Creek fell behind since he wasnt eligible and couldnt play with the team.

    I think we could see an immediate impact from Derek Elston. He just looks like he is gonna be a bruiser that can go in score 8 points and grab 6 rebounds. Rivers looks pretty athletic and seems to be able to drive the ball well, but it looks like he steers his jump shot. He has good shooting form just needs to let it flow without thinking about it.

    Cant wait for the season to start!

  • GFDave

    Great report. Thanks.

  • Alex,

    If you guys need anyone to write stories, commentaries, etc…I'd love to be considered. I was a journalism major in high school and college along with running a high school sports website (this was in the early 90's). Anyway…I love Inside The Hall and I've been thinking about getting back into writing again. If you're interested please let me know. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  • Hoosier_Hound

    Alex or Jason or anyone else who was at the scrimmage, does it look like anyone has stepped up to be a team leader? You know, by being vocal and directing his teammates? Rivers or Dumes, maybe? Crean was always lamenting the lack of any leadership last year, so I'm curious if there are any players filling that role now.

  • I know Crean said as recently as a couple of weeks ago that this team doesn't have a leader yet. And based on what I saw, I'd probably agree with his quote below:

    “There is nobody that just grabs the team and says this is what we're doing everyday. I don't think there is anybody on the team that is like that right now. I don't think there is any question that when the coach is around, they're waiting for the coaches to do that.”

  • John

    I was at the scimmage as well……………….I agree the Verdell is sooo much better than last year. He did try to drive about everytime and when the defense collapsed he did not kick it out. I doubt he will be able to do that in the Big Ten. Having shooters like Hulls, Creek, and Roth, the kick out will open a lot of things up. I saw where Crean was stopping the 1/2 court sets when Hulls was trying to defend. However, I think that Crean was trying to get Hulls to position himself to force the offensvive player down instead of playing straight up. When Hulls went to the middle, Crean stopped and told him to put his hands up and be active. I don't think that sums up that he cannot play defense. I think they all were learning Crean's defensive stragegies. I also saw Crean get on Bobby and Pritchard about their defensive positioning. As far as Hulls……….he is soo smart that I am sure he will get what Crean wants him to do. It is very hard to judge all these kids by just one practice in front of all these people. Did Watford and one of the assistants have words with each other? I thought I heard someone talking about that.

  • If you're looking for a guy to take control of the team (a la Shane Battier)….it hasn't happened yet. I'm not sure you need one guy to take over a team, especially on a loaded squad…but I think a team like IU needs one. This might not sound like a big deal but when the players introduced themselves at the practice the only guy to project his voice was Jeremiah Rivers. That actually stood out to me. It said he's not timid like a lot of the other guys. It wouldn't surprise me if the reason no one has stepped up yet is because no one feels like they've “earned it”. Crean is BIG on earning respect, earning playing time, etc. I think he actually has this team buying into that…which is awesome. So if that is the case, I think the leader will emerge as IU grows through the fires of actual games. Saying that…I think Jordan Hulls is the next great leader at IU. I had dinner with him and his father last year at an alumni event and the kid and his family are just solid. He seemed like the type of kid that realizes the opportunity we have to turn the program around and he also seems like he wants to be one of the guys we all talk about 10, 20 years from now like UK fans talk about “The Unforgettables”. I just think Hulls is too respectful to just grab the reins as a freshman. First of all, he's not going to play more than Rivers and VJ3. But when his time comes (probably towards the end of next year and his Jr/Sr years) he will be the heart and soul of the team…it's just not his time yet. I'm so glad he came to IU instead of Duke because he has a chance to do some great things at IU. Can you imagine if IU wins a championship with a homegrown kid at PG? If that happens his name will be forever etched in IU lore next to Isiah, Keith Smart, Jay Edwards, Cheney, DJ and Jadlow (just kidding on the last one!)

  • illinoishoosier

    Its going to take at least a couple of games before somebody jumps out to become the team leader…Like some have said before, nobody is sure about their role…A leader will step up when the ball goes up in the air!