That’s A Wrap: Derek Elston

  • 04/01/2010 10:42 am in

Jimmy V ClassicWelcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our attempt to um, wrap up the 2009-10 season. Sit back. Relax. Grab some popcorn. Get your read on.

Final Stats (31 games): 5.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 47.0% FG, 65.2% FT, 36.0% from three.

Thinking back on the season, I was under the impression Derek Elston only saw significant minutes the last few games of the season. This assumption isn’t quite true: Elston logged 20 or more minutes in games against USC Upstate, Maryland, Kentucky and Purdue inside Assembly Hall.

But against Ohio State at home? Six minutes. At Penn State? Seven minutes. Against Iowa in that disappointing loss at home? Nine minutes.

And this brings to mind one word to describe Elston’s season: sporadic.

When the freshman did see time on the court, he was a joy to watch; Elston is the type of player that always seems to be in the right place at the right time — putting back misses on the offensive end, snaking behind the defense for a clean look … Elston has a knack for the game and usually finds himself in the mix in a good way.

So why wasn’t this kid playing more all season in a year where playing time was certainly there for him?

Well, Tom Crean had a short leash with Elston. He’d pull him quickly if he lapsed defensively. If he failed to box his man out, he’d be taking a seat on the bench.

Elston’s turning point of the season? Feb. 25 against Wisconsin at home. The game Crean was ejected from. The game Elston saw significant run in the second half with Crean not on the sideline. It that 78-46 loss, Elston went for 12 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes and Crean praised his solid second-half play at his post-game presser.

From there, Elston shined. In 24 minutes against Purdue, Elston went for 13 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and seven rebounds; he scored a season-high 17 points (6-of-11) and snatched eight boards in a win over Northwestern; and in IU’s last game of the season in the Big Ten Tournament, Elston had a near double-double (10 points on  5-of-9 shooting, season-high nine boards) in 25 minutes.

Bottom Line: As I wrote in my college PER post, Elston was the most efficient and productive player per minute on the team this season. It probably took too long for him to start seeing the minutes he did, but maybe it also took him most of the season to develop into the player he was capable of being. Either way, Elston deserves to play just as much as he was at the end of this season next year, and a lineup featuring Elston, Verdell Jones III, Mo Creek, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls — though undersized — is one that provides multiple scoring threats and better ballhandlers, something that will suit IU quite well come next season.

Filed to:

  • How is Dixon a better recruiter? He just got his first McDonald's All-American in the 2009 class.

  • Disco_Briscoe

    Actually his old asst that's heading Manhattan helped out a lot…they got some good NYC talent that people didn't know about. That's why Lavin was trying to get him on his staff. Dixon has brought more talent over his career at Pitt than Crean did at Marq? Or did he just coach them up better?


    Cough…..Hoosier Scoop……Cough…….That is speakin' the truth my fellow red clad fan.


    oops….my fellow “crimson” clad fan

  • Taskmaster75

    Perhaps you are correct, I am merely speculating on what I would expect from someone in his position.

    I've described my position on Roth's defense, as I think it is yet to be determined.

    It's a very invigorating thing to know that some kids really want to be a part of the IU tradition rather than worry about their minutes. If Roth turns out to be that kind of person, I will be ecstatic, but it's sad that I just don't expect it anymore.

  • You can't be saying you're judging their worth based upon 3 percentage points of 3PT shooting? Need I remind you how devoid last year's team was of offensive options? Have you forgotten this:

    Roth is our best shooter. The other two are good, but I'll take this guy for pure three point shooting. I suspect Crean would say the same. His defense was a work in progress, but it will improve, and I guarantee you he gets minutes next year.

  • Kelin, I also believe we're on pace for a winning season next year, and I agree with your general assessment in this post.

    I'm not so worried about VJ and Creek – Creek had a handful of games under his belt at the time. They'll work better together as they get more time in.

  • Disagree with that 100%. I think Crean is probably the best recruiter of that bunch. I don't understand where you even came up with that opinion. Maybe Miller I could see, but the rest of those guys? Anthony Grant hasn't even been a head coach long enough to make that determination on.

  • MillaRed

    The thing I like about Elston is when I see him play and look at his demeanor, he seems to care more than anyone on the court. He has great energy. Regardless of the score last season, Elston played hard. I have very high hopes for him.

    Not sure how Roth became the subject. But I think IU will be a good team when Ross is a senior. Every good team can use a mature shooter like Matt. Plus he's a good student and teammate.

    At this point if Bawa gives us anything I will be thankful.

    Pritch transferring? I'm not buying it. TP can play in the Big Ten.

  • Dirk

    There is more in-state talent available to IU than any east coast program can recruit in its home territory. What's Dixon's track record recruiting Indiana kids? Miller? Grant? There's only one person I'd consider someone who got away-Painter, when Dakich told Knight not to recruit him to play at IU. I'll give Dakich a pass; I love his radio show.

  • mmarsden

    I feel like Hulls is the closest we have to a true point guard. He did significantly better than Rivers at the position and I'm with everyone else on VJ not really being a pg. Hulls really needs to work on not picking up his dribble at the top of the key. He got trapped so many times because of that.

  • Kelin Blab

    Dirk Dakich has a great show…I agree. I like the fact he is always on the verge of hanging up on someone, cussing at someone, and always gives some good insight.

  • Disco_Briscoe

    With all the in-state talent…where is it? Not on the IU roster (Hulls and Elston – DE wasn't Crean's recruit) or with our signees…none in 10 and one in 11.

    So what if those other guys had all the Indiana in-state talent available to them if they were at IU…would they be able to recruit better? Who knows but I say probably yes they would.

  • Disco_Briscoe

    I don't have to defend Wright/Nova, I already mentioned Dixon in reply to Alex, Miller is doing a great job right now, and the wild card Grant…He was one of the main recruiters at Florida and his game style would have had recruits coming in. Another minor factor and not trying to bring race into it but he would be able to connect better with demographic (HATE to say this name but like…Mike Davis).

  • Disco_Briscoe

    I too hope that you're right. I was on board from the start but I'm not so sure after season #2 and the recruiting. I hope it changes in a hurry.

  • walton

    Good point Dirk – in an odd way this makes sense. Elston (and maybe capo) definitely seemed to be treated a little different from everyone else on the squad – but it very well could be that Crean has a closer relationship with them – looking long run – instilling what he hopes to instill down the road when he has the players to be able to do so. I can't wait till Crean in his long term vision and without influence from critics, turns out to be the greatest coach Indiana could have ever asked for.

  • walton

    I agree that Hulls may be the closest we have to a true point guard, but sadly that doesn't bold well for IU. I really like Hulls as a player and no disrespect, but I don't think he will ever develop into a consistent true PG that IU is going to need to be as competitive as we all want them to be. Hulls will play an important role on IU for the next few years, but he will not max his contributions as a full time PG. IU needs a couple big guys down low and IU needs a true PG – then I feel we will be fine.

  • walton

    Take it with a grain of salt and I am not claiming to be a psychic or all knowing and this is going to sound very bold indeed (and I have taken my stabs at Crean before), but something in my gut today tells me that when it is all said and done Crean will be remembered on a list of some of the greatest coaches of all time – well above the mentioned coaches.

  • walton

    Pritch transferring? maybe/maybe not…….Pritch can play in the Big Ten? I am not too sure about that. I don't want to not root for the kid, I TRY to root for everyone associated with IU (aka M. Davis in the day). I just can't get the images out of my head of him fumbling a pass right in his hands, getting a shot blocked back at him, and setting some weak picks. He did do some good things his freshman year, but those are fading memories to me. I hope I am completely wrong about him, but……… If IU brought in another big man I just don't see Pritchard getting a lot of PT.

  • garydavid711

    majority rules–i would say that most watch i.u. games would say Derek
    got shortchange.
    One of many of TC weakness was he put so much pressure on the
    perimeter there was not any help out interior from anyone
    the thing i like about butlers defense is they push you to sideline then
    double team–
    I'm not going to point to things I can't prove but McLeod is gone
    because of DE
    ps don't be shocked if both zeller's don't end up at i.u.

  • Bill_Gladness

    Sounds like a teague decision might come soon? i dunno, I've definitely heard this before, but it is interesting. Wherever he goes is good news in my eyes, because if an MT decision comes soon, a Jeremiah Davis commitment could be in order…?

    Who knows? I just like staying positive.

  • JerryCT

    Some random thoughts:

    1. checking out historical recruiting only Jay Wright ( of the coaches mentioned ) is clearly more successful than Crean. Dixon is a great great coach but average , so far, recruiter

    2. I think it is documented that only Tony Bennett was actually considered before Crean, who was previously considered when we hired KS

    3. Scoop did an interview once w CTC on recruiting and from what I read he is getting the kind of player he actually wants. The one and done is not necessarily where he is going right now

    4. Pritchard is the best on the team at establishing & holding his position on the floor, sets a monster screen no one else can match ( nearly killed Kramer ), the best help defender and the best hedger on ball screens as well as the most consistent blocking out his man. If he transfers we will in fact lose alot.

    5. Is Hulls a capable PG ……Yes he will be. DO we still need PG's ……Yes we do

    Will Lavin actually hire Keady as a consultant ? He said it

  • Disco_Briscoe

    Sorry…also Bennett (WSU/UVA)…Not a better recruiter.

    Thanks Jerry

  • Disco_Briscoe

    Thanks Jerry I knew I was missing someone from my list. I wasn't a huge fan of his so maybe that's why I forgot him.

    I have a problem with #3…The sports world is a “what have you done for me lately?”. Those blue chip guys (one and done, but not all of them) bring wins, more recruits, and more money. Why even show an interest in a Selby, Irving, and others that turned us down if that's not what IU is looking for? I don't know about everyone on here but I want to be OSU / MSU, not Wisc (using current Big Ten as an example). I know it's greedy but it's IU basketball and I expect the best. Most posters on here talk about how IU is a top program…It's not right now and until we get the players and the wins we are going to be just an average blue collar program and that's not how it works any more.

    I keep repeating that I know I sound harsh (and people don't agree with me and that's fine) but if people want to call this a top program their expectations have to increase and have to be met.

  • I agree, expectations have to increase over time, but you're literally expecting miracles. There was *nothing* left of this program. Nothing. As we stand right now, no, I don't feel we are a top program. Can we approach those heights? Certainly, with the added benefits of a proud tradition and a devoted fanbase. This project, however, is not a matter of simply reloading. It's a complete reconstruction. We're not even working on building success, yet; we're working on building the foundations of success. As such, expecting to achieve what OSU and MSU are currently achieving is absolutely absurd. 4-5 years out from the nearly lethal blow that was dealt to this program, maybe we can manage to climb back up there, but right now it's simply not feasible, and it doesn't matter which one of those guys you put in this job – none of them could have rebuilt it any faster.

    People say they're aware of how seriously this program was crippled, but time and time again their arguments seem to suggest that they have not in fact come to that realization (and I'm generalizing, not referring to you on that, Disco.) Those who are *expecting* more than the possibility of 16 wins next season need to realize that this is a multi-year task and it will take time. You don't heal from broken bones overnight. The injuries this program suffered will take significant time to heal.

    I guess for me, it was enough that this year this team was more talented, more athletic, and more competitive, and won a few more games. That's what I'm looking for, and I'm looking for increases in all of those areas next season, and maybe a shot at a winning season.

  • JerryCT

    Yes DISCO you are correct and I donot think CTC would disagree in the long run.

    I believe he was saying that he first needs to build simple things like continuity, winning mindsets, player development etc in other words a solid foundation. He said he needs players that can accept and play thru adversity. In which case a 5 star one and done who may only be focused on his own numbers to jump to the NBA would set his plan back.

    He left the door open to 5 star players who are more team and player development focused…………….of which there seem to be very few IMO.

    I fully believe he has a multi-year plan to first build a solid foundation then harvest it. Sort of starting with soil before planting the flowers.

    I have faith in his approach but it is too slow for me to be happy about it. Lets face it. Even if he succeeds we may never get back to the Championship days . Look at Texas for example and how many good recruits, winning seasons and failed NCAA tournaments

  • Taskmaster75

    “Need I remind you how devoid last year's team was of offensive options?”

    Losing a guy who averages about 18 a game probably does that to an offense. Just because it was bad doesn't mean it will be bad with Creek next year. What if those shots that Roth coudl take go to Creek?

    Don't get me wrong, Roth is a good guy, and is adept at shooting the 3, but that's a liability in my view. If he can't drive, the dude is very guardable. What I mean by that is that when Roth is on the perimeter, the guy guarding him isn't going to give him much space, since the defender knows Roth can't drive.

    You say that Roth's defense is a work in progress, but what if he can't defend? That's just another liability that the offense would have to deal with if he gets too many minutes.

  • Taskmaster75

    Could not have said it any better. I think that one of the things that make Indiana fans hanker for instant improvement is really the entire Kentucky program. People see the instant infusion of talent in Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe, and others, and expect that Indiana should be able to do the same thing. These fans expected our talent to already be in the postseason by now. The problem is, Kentucky was already a NCAA team (Or bubble team, but the difference is negligible) with effectively an All American on it (Patrick Patterson). They didn't have sanctions when they got Calipari (But they will in a few years….). They actually had a semblance of a roster still there, which we had nothing close to. People just need to be patient. Wins will come with time, experience, and devotion.

    But you make a good point here: “…and it doesn't matter which one of those guys you put in this job – none of them could have rebuilt it any faster.”. That's the key point here. Even Calipari (Which would make me sick if he was our coach) with his instant talent would not be doing well.

  • Indiana_Knight

    This is a good point. Right now, improvement for Indiana means developing our roster and recruiting talented players but down the pipeline… Crean is going to have to prove it in the tournament and recruiting isn't going to do it all for you there because you'll be playing other terrific squads.

    I think that this core of players can deliver an exciting tournament run before they leave campus. And I think Crean will be able to recruit Indiana much better after we get a chance to see these freshmen as sophomores. And again as juniors (This'll be Verdell's senior year!). The in-state talent, as everyone has repeatedly said, is good enough here that we should be able to recruit it once the team is back to winning tournament games.

  • runelord

    I'm not really sure how you can “dog” his defense when basically the whole team is deficient in that area. His defense isn't any worse than VJIII. He is the perfect fit for a dribble drive team if he realizes that he needs to move to get open rather than standing in one spot and watching. I really can't truly gauge the kid on the season 2 years ago as the talent level was much less than it was this past year. Roth basically received the same treatment after going off against Ohio St. as Pritchard did when he was going off during the pre Big Ten; opponents actually guarded him while leaving the offensive liabilities (Moore, Williams, and Taber) to take up the slack. With just two freshmen guards coming in as 3 star recruits, a kid would have to have zero confidence in his abilities to not want to stay and fight for minutes. I just don't see any kid on the roster as having that type of makeup.

  • runelord

    Then you really don't have many fond memories of any current Hoosier as all of them, bigs anyway, all did the same thing numerous times this year. The only difference between the other bigs and Prtichard is that he rarely scored. I'm with Jerry on this one as I watched Pritchard more after Jerry's comments and he blocks out the best among the bigs, hedges the best, and sets the best picks. He doesn't get many boards as he blocks his man out towards the free throw line allowing Jones or Rivers to swoop in and get the board. I definitely think he can play in the Big 10. If he has a more disciplined effort to off season conditioning and develops a short jump hook or hook shot, he will score as well as doing the other intangibles.

  • marcusgresham

    I don't think Roth will transfer—if he leaves he loses a year of playing (unless he'd go to a Juco for a season)

  • marcusgresham

    I'm with you on this one—Crean almost got a guy that was basically a done deal to his home school. No, he didn't land him, but he might have had he been in the game a little sooner. He got Creek, Watford, both with nothing really to sell except PT. Let's give him a year or two with his own players (last year's crop not included–except VJ III) and I think we'll all be satisfied with the talent he's pulling in. (I'd still like a big guy, though)

  • timmayat

    Elston needs to play at least 30 minutes a game at the 3 position. He is very lean, strong, quick and has some ability to elevate (his ability to get to the rim will only get better.) Although early in the season he was still getting acclimated to TC's system and his help-side defense was horrendous, his potential is very high. I like the comparisons to Guggliotta. There are concerns due to his size with him playing the 4 or 5. He doesn't mind banging underneath and hitting the glass, however, his shoulders are very narrow and he doesn't take up a whole lot of space, which is detrimental when compared to the corn-fed bodies of most Big 10 frontcourts. His decision making will only get better and his “happy feet” (way too many traveling calls) when trying to make a move will also improve. All in all, a very productive freshman season. I think he will stay a Hoosier. I get the impression he loves playing at IU and he understands how he fits into TC's master plan. I am very excited to watch him mature at IU. He could be one of the greats of all time and definitely a crowd favorite.

  • marcusgresham

    I'd like to have seen Elston and Capobianco on the floor more than Pritchard, too, but if they're the guys you want to show some meanness, you might just have to treat them that way a little bit. Maybe CTC had an idea there that will pay off in the long run.

  • marcusgresham

    I'm not convinced Carlino was really a point guard, either, though

  • marcusgresham

    Didn't Tyler already burn his redshirt year when he broke his wrist at the beginning of his freshman year, or did he come back that season?

  • JerryCT

    Amen Runelord !

    I watch games 3 times usually. One time I watch just Pritchard. TP's actions w/o the ball tell you everything you need to know about what is actually happening in a game by what he is doing and NOT doing. For instance:

    HEDGING vs SWITCHING: His hedge on the ball screen is great, often taking the dribbler to the sideline. If he hedges hard then this tells me Jones/Hulls/Creek are not consistently able to defend their man's penetration or that the ball screen is really good. If he does not hedge , usually w Rivers, it means we feel we can defend the penetration w/o any disruption in the alignment or his man is more dangerous than the ball handler.

    If he switches then the other team is usually using a forward to start the offense ie Hummel

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