That’s A Wrap: Bawa Muniru

  • 04/06/2010 7:51 am in

Welcome 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 (19 games): 11 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, one dunk at Hoosier Hysteria.

True story – I was cautiously optimistic before the season tipped off that Bawa Muniru could contribute as a freshman at Indiana.

I knew Bawa was extremely raw having watched him play in an AAU event in July of 2008. While he lacked the intensity needed to compete at the highest level in my limited viewing, he did possess physical attributes that led me to believe he could earn some minutes in an IU frontcourt desperate for size.

But sometimes reality fails to align with expectations.

Such was the case with Muniru, who arrived in Bloomington as the 112th best recruit in the 2009 class according to and finished the season with just 62 minutes logged.

The biggest storyline of Bawa’s freshman season was the uncertainty surrounding his eligibility status. He wasn’t officially cleared by the NCAA until November 5, when Tom Crean tweeted the following message: “Moments ago we just learned that Bawa is completely eligible. If you see his smile as wide as it has ever been you will know why.” At the time, this was viewed as a relatively important development.

However, as the season rolled along, it became obvious that Bawa wasn’t ready to contribute. In his limited minutes, which came mostly in garbage time, he had a tough time adjusting to the speed of the college game. His reactions on defense were a step or two slow. And on offense, his opportunities to score were few and far between: he took just eight shots all season.

The Bottom Line: Now that expectations for Bawa have been lowered considerably, it’ll be interesting to see if he can improve enough over the summer to earn more playing time. His physical attributes — 7-0, built like a rock — aren’t the problem. It’s his basketball instincts, or lack thereof. The best recipe for Bawa is to spend the summer engaged in countless drills to improve footwork and play in as many pickup games as possible. His attitude suggests he’ll do what it takes to get better, but will that be enough to crack the rotation?

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  • JerryCT

    Exactly Alex. I think the best word you used was “intensity”. While he looks like he is trying hard his intensity, alertness to the game happening around him , his reaction timing is way too slow.

    Still , if he can find that spot inside him that makes him really really want to deliver then we could be in great shape

  • Kelin Blab

    My expectations for Bawa have been lowered considerably since last season, to the extent, I don't expect Bawa to contribute until his junior year.

    + I like bawa's size, jump shot for a big, and his ability to get up and down the court.
    + his Basketball insticts can't come within a year IMO
    + the intensity he needs, may never come in my opinion and I think it is based on his personality, demeanor, and culture. Bawa is a seems to be GOOD GOOD kid, and sometimes that hurts him.
    + Bawa's biggest attribute is he is a big kid, solid frame, and with more weight he would have the look of an absolute beast on the court.
    + Next season Bawa should be able to provide 10-12 minutes, good position Defense, and a clog in the lane, get 3-5 boards, and be able to make lay ups/dunks.

  • marcusgresham

    Man, I wish they'd have redshirted him this season. He basically gave away a year of eligibility with no more PT than he got. It would have been a year to learn, because I really don't think he's going to be the same guy in 3 years he was this season, and I'd love to have him when he has a better grip on what he's doing on the court. I'd like more intensity, too, but it's difficult to be intense and quick to react when you don't really know where you're going. When he can stop thinking about every move, the intensity will show; and by all accounts he's a pretty bright kid, so I think he'll get it eventually. (I just hope it evolves when he's in cream & crimson and not 5 years down the road when he's playing pro ball in Tajikistan or the Philippines or some other third-rate league.)
    If nothing else, he can develop into a solid rebounder & defender who provides a good rest for some of the other front line guys and 5 more fouls.

  • Hardwood83

    I agree- a R/S would have made much more sense to me as I can't imagine the extremely limited minutes he played justified burning a year of eligibility. It's easy to gripe about him being a 'project' but sometimes projects develop and an athletic 7 footer is worth some risk, IMO. I certainly hope IU brings in more polished big men very soon, but I'm not ready to write-off Bawa just yet.

  • Wish

    I thought the r/s would have also helped to level out the classes, too. Right now there are 6 guys in that class and only 2 seniors in 2013-14, I'd think you could move him to the next class and then get one from the class of 12-13 to tranfer and you'd be down to a more manageable number.

  • Big Tom

    I am tired of having so many projects. We need to recruit players that know how to play. It is crazy to watch mid major programs that have better talent than we have. If we just recruited Indiana well and just focused on getting solid basketball players we could compete a lot better than we do now. We keep going after and spending a great deal of time on the 3 and 4 star recruits and get nothing out of it. We need to win consistently before those type of players are going to come to Indiana again. It was a pleasure to watch Butler play in this tournament and not piss themselves anytime they played a school with a big name on the jersey. They are not outstanding players but they are solid and fundmentally sound. They don’t average over 20 turnovers a game! I don’t care if we filled the team with Brian Sloan’s and Matt Novers. We would compete at a higher level than we do now.

  • marchus

    why red shirt a kid who shows very little impact ability?….. all it would is take away a scholarship for someone that could really help us in say 2014

  • Wish

    I would think/hope Crean would want to even out the classes a little bit so he can be more consistent in his recruiting. That way, he doesn't have to get 1-2 players one year and then 5-6 players two years later. Six guys in Bawa's class right now, you probably want to cut that down to four or five, at the most. There are only two guys in the next class (Oladipo, Sheehey) so you r/s Bawa to even out that class while cutting Bawa's initial class to 5 players. If you get Capobianco to transfer then you are down to 4, much more manageable.

    Just an idea. He got a late start on the season and IU wasn't exactly a national title contender so I didn't see the harm in giving him another year to adjust/grow/learn/etc.

  • Outoftheloop

    Someone has to put you in the game in order to show what you can do and to get experience doing it! Look at the numbers, Bawa: .177 pts/min, .210 reb/min, .500 FGF%, .375 FT%; Capo: .189 pts/min, .219 reb/min, .397 FG %, .458 FT%; Pritchard: .212 pts/min, .173 reb/min, .609 FG%, .373 FT%. Not much difference between the 3 except in minutes played: Bawa 62, Capo 370, Pritchard 618. But 1 of the 3 is 7 tall , can run the floor, can block shots, is a post defensive presence, was ranked #111 in his senior class, etc. Sometimes you recruit a great player, sometimes you develop a player into greatness. Coach Crean has to demonstrate that he can develop a great post player. Bawa has all of the physical tools!

  • HoosierSmitty

    You can't teach size. You can't teach athleticism

    Bawa has both.

    Coaches should be able to develop a player's skills to help utilize those natural gifts. The player, however, has to take it to the next level with the proper drive, desire, intensity, etc. Which is holding Bawa back? Who really knows. He is still as great a mystery as he was when he arrived on campus.

  • Hardwood83

    Patience. That is exactly why you red-shirt, to develop him so he'll have a greater impact later. If there is no hope, then 'encourage' a transfer and open the scholarship. Too early to tell with Bawa, imo.

  • hardwoodwizard

    Exactly. You have to play more than a two minute stint here ans there to get in the flow of the game. Let's take a quiz, someone name me a center who played for Crean in the past who was developed into an all conference/NBA prospect? Anyone? Is that crickets I hear??? Bawa was wasted this year unless Crean was going to commit 6 to 10 minutes for him a game. What would he have hurt? Would they have won 9 games instead of 10? That would have been terrible.

    Guys, I am seriously questioning the vision and coaching ability of Crean. Look at the horrific losses we had to non tournament teams from weak conferences early in the season. Elston should have logged 20 minutes a game, I don't care how bad his defense was. Play him more minutes, I bet it would have improved. Capo “the hack attack” should not be on the floor in front of a 7' center. If defense was so bad and a concern, play a match up zone with a 7' tree in the middle to alter shots in the paint and use your athleticism with speed on the wings and up top.

    Yet I sit here and read posts about VJIII will be 15/5/5 next year. At what expense? Will this be accomplished by shooting 28% from 3pt range next year? VJIII would see limited time at MSU, OSU, Purdue, and Wisconsin, but we are stuck with his level of talent. So now we get to rave about a season he shot 39% from the field and 27% from 3pt range.

    Next year Hulls and Rivers should rotate at PG, put Creek as #2, Watford at #3 where he should be, Elston at #4, and Bawa at #5. Capo and Pritch can back up the 4/5 positions, when VJIII comes off the bench as 6th man, Watford can go to #4 and Creek to #3. This will allow IU to have the ball in the hands of better shooters all game long. VJIII will get his minutes as his shooting improves.

    As far as redshirting Bawa, it should have been done since he got little time. I would have taken him as a red-shirt and clogging up the scholarship issue than signing either of the 2010 recruits that are coming in next year. VO better be a lock down defender or he will be a waste because he cannot score. Sheehey is way too soft for the Big 10 and will not contribute for years.

  • Outoftheloop

    I totally agree with you on Elston and Bawa. Next year we need to start Bawa, Elston, Watford, Creek and Jones. Jones needs to be a point guard like Shryer at Duke if he wants an NBA look. Hulls should be the first sub, a true point guard, and Capo the first BIG sub, let's see if he can hit .37-.40 from 3 pt range. I disagree on the 2 Freshmen, Sheehey is an Abernethy-Laz type of talent, but better on the dribble and assist side, not as tall for rebounding; Oladipo is a Jim Thomas type of talent. If you notice those were contributors on NCAA Championship Teams. You have to let Roth play and SHOOT early, if he hits he gets minutes, if not he sits. Let Pritchard come is as the 2nd BIG sub, if he plays well he earns minutes, if not he sits. The same for Rivers at point guard, but only as point guard, never with Hulls on the court at the same time. It is time to forget excuses and to win 20 games next year!

  • JerryCT

    Your questions of CTC are fine but your “center” quiz is not a good pretext since I guess Jay Wright would be among the worst for sitting down Maurice Sutton, Yarou and Armwood most of the season. Most coaches in the BEAST could not pass your quiz incl Huggins.

    I think you can fairly question offensive scheme ( our lack of off ball screens and cutting type offense you saw yesterday evening ) which seems one dimensional and our poor development of perimeter defense as a team.

  • MillaRed

    I like this. I've been mentioning a similar line-up for months.

  • MillaRed

    I don't like the redshirt theory for anyone on our roster until Crean has 7-8 of his recruits with two years of experience. Right now our recruiting is a grab bag of sorts and we are hitting and missing. We can't afford to hold on to a kid for an extra year and burn a scholly under these circumstances.

    Now in terms of how Crean handled Bawa and others? If you're not redshirting and your team stinks to high heaven, why not give the kid PT? I'm not really criticizing I'm questioning the philosophy.

    Elston and Capo got theirs very late. Bawa never got there. Could he have done worse than Tijan? No way in heck. Tijan was horrible. Would he have done worse than Pritchard? I would have liked to see him try.

    Good luck on your philosophy coach. I hope it works out.

  • IUDan

    I have to disagree with some here – people have questioned Crean using Elston so sparingly early. But it seems as though that worked pretty well – few can argue with the results we saw towards the end of the season. Would those have come sooner if he had played more? Maybe – but from what I saw there wasn't alot of evidence of that.

    the coaches see these guys every day in practice – they know what players can and cannot do. If they thought more playing time would help, I'm sure they'd find a way to get them there. The other problem we have as a team is that everyone needs development – if Bawa is out there, that's less time for someone else who may be able to put it to better use.

    i guess I get frustrated with people making absolute judgments on players, etc with little information – I think it is also possible to put players in a situation where they are hurting the team and could potentially stunt their development.

    We'll know more in the fall, I'm sure.

  • MillaRed

    So you are disagreeing with my notion that some may wonder why Bawa didn't get more minutes when we didn't have a lot going for us anyway? OK I can handle that. I really didn't think it was that heavy of a comment myself.

    It seems maybe you don't want anyone questioning coach Crean at all? For anything? Because we are not there in practice? Not sure the world works that way Dan. We pay the tuition, buy the tickets and watch the commercial timeouts.

    This isn't something to get worked up about. I'm just curious as to why Tijan got more minutes when Bawa could have clearly used the experience that in turn could help with his future.

    Once agian, I hope his philosophy works. But I ain't guaranteeing it!

  • IUDan

    I wasn't responding only to you, though reading again it does seem like it. I think it's fine to question coaches – that's what this forum is for. But I think it's dangerous to reason that someone shoudl play because 'they can't be any worse' . . . they just could be. Especially with a young group without strong leaders, that could be a recipe for disaster. I'm sure there's a good reason he didn't get enough minutes – though some would say he clearly has something “against” Elston and maybe Bawa (which is crazy).

    again, my comments weren't necessarily directed at you, more to a few posts above where Bawa and elston should have started from Day 1, and Sheehey (who hasn't even set foot on campus) is already “too soft for the Big Ten”. Seriously?

  • JerryCT

    I agree w IUDAN. Sorry Millared……again.

    I think the team looked demoralized toward the end of the season and I think playing Bawa big minutes at that time would have been worse on the team …… kind of like giving up on them. We all saw how obviously downtrodden JR looked the last 4 games for example.

    I too wouldhave liked to see Bawa play more but I think the time to have played Bawa was early in the season. At the end I think the coach knew more than us about the state of the team.

  • IUDan

    Agree Elston had good moments early, but I think in between he struggled – particularly against better opponents. But we can agree to disagree on that part – I think we both agree he played very well the last few games, and I think he has a ton of potential. I think he'll pick up in the fall right where he left off, and will begin to realize the potential we all think he has.

    But I think Crean held him back a bit for a reason. If he was ready to really contribute well, they would have played him – no reason not to.

  • IUDan

    . . . and they're not freshmen being expected to bring a program back to greatness in one season. They are tough minded and experienced. We'll get there, but not in year 1 (yes I know – but last year was really year one).

  • MillaRed

    If I had a struggling teamand wanted to further demoralize them, I would play Tijan. I really just don't get the Tijan over Bawa minutes. Perhaps it's just me.

  • MillaRed

    I hear you Dan. And I don't get the Sheehey thing either.

    I'm not going to try to understand Crean. He has my support. As long as we keep getting better. And I'm hoping that is next season.

  • Kelin Blab

    MillaRed…the only thing I could think of with the tijan over bawa thing is the maturity level to handle failure and change. Bawa at 7ft could dunk all over high school kids and now in the big ten he gets pushed around in practice then in games, missed the pre season and the combination of that with losing could have destroyed his confidence more than the other kids. Tijan, having some experience at the collegiate level, probaly was just more ready maturity wise to accept the role he had. I don't think Tijan was more talented at all but more ready……

  • marcusgresham

    Well said. You can't give up on Bawa yet. Look at that big turd, Zoubek, from Duke. From a physical standpoint, Bawa is far more impressive than he is and he just pretty much sealed a national championship for his team. I'm just waiting on the day–may be in three years–when Bawa's stats you see at the beginning of the article (10 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks) is his line for a game.
    I just see guys like Thabeet, Olowakandi, Mutombo, who came from Africa with little experience and were a hell of a lot better when they left than they were when they arrived. Now, I understand, for every one of those guys, there's also a Jules Camara, Tijan Jobe, etc,…but I'm not giving up on the guy this early; and if he doesn't pan out to be anything special, he's still a good student and a large body to practice against.

  • JerryCT

    I feel your frustration but keep in mind almost all freshmen are “projects”, including Watford and Hulls and Elston and even Creek ( on defense especially ) and this will be true of VO, Sheehey and whoever else we get no matter how hyped by all of us. They are all having the potential of George McGinnis and all just as error prone.

    Also the Butler team you saw last night is in fact a 3-4 star “projects” team. It comes down to coaching and player development doesn't it ?

    I have to admit I have defended our comittment to the transition game but deep down inside I am not a fan of it. It is prone to turnovers and can be more easily defended than the Duke / Butler cutting and screening game. To me we need to mature to this style.

  • Outoftheloop

    I really liked both Brian and Matt, but both were PROJECTS and neither was a solid contributor until their Junior year!

  • Outoftheloop

    I have to disagree about Elston's progress.. In the second game Elston was very good, he again was very good in the 6th game, then he hit this same level of play in games 27, 29, and 30. He did not get better sitting on the bench, he just lost time in really developing his game. You have to play to get better. Creek, Watford and Elston will be All-Big Ten type players next year, and if Jones can get tough on defense, IU will go far.

  • WestCoast Hoosier

    I hate to say this, but if he is going to improve, why didn't it show this year?

    Yes, it is great to play games and do drills and all of that, but presumably, he has been doing that and working on his game all year.

    Has there been any noticeable improvement?

    I would love to say “yes,” but I didn't see it. Did you?

    Predicting his future development trajectory based on this year's trajectory doesn't bode well.

    I hope I'm wrong. I'd love to eat these words!

    Make me eat them, please, Bawa!!

  • IUDan

    . . . and they're not freshmen being expected to bring a program back to greatness in one season. They are tough minded and experienced. We'll get there, but not in year 1 (yes I know – but last year was really year one).

  • MillaRed

    Not a bad answer Kelin. Probably close to the truth. Please Lord, make Bawa a factor while at IU. We need an inside presence next season!

  • MillaRed

    This makes perfect since if Kelvin Sampson never walked this Earth. But these are extraordinary circumstances.

  • marsh21

    Your post makes me depressed. Now I think I'm going to bed and dream about a good IU team.

  • Indiana_Knight

    I didn't see it, but what else didn't we see? We don't know where this kid was when the season started, and this summer is when he'll really have to prove that he has a future on this team as a contributor.

    The offseason is where collegiate players typically get a chance to step back, take note of their weaknesses, and really improve their game. Not many college players, or even pro players in any league, improve much over the course of their first season unless they were already very athletically gifted and basketball savvy. That's clearly not what we're dealing with in Bawa. Judging him as a failure based on his very limited play this year is just foolish.

  • Outoftheloop

    Playing 62 minutes in 31 games does not allow YOU to SEE anything!

  • aceman07

    I predict two maybe three games next season where Bawa comes in and gives us a 10-15 minute glance at how much he's improved and what he'll contribute as a Junior and Senior, but I agree that his contributions will probably be as a Junior and Senior.

    I'm basing this off the few times I got to see him during pregame and pre-second half shoot arounds. He actually has some nice moves when there's nobody guarding him and looks like he can actually walk and chew gum at the same time during pregame so I'm holding out hope that one or two more years of work and actual game time in the off season (somehow) will lead him towards the development that would give us a 7'0″ 250-260 lb center who averages 7-9 points and 7-9 rebounds and 2-3 blocks a game as a jr. and sr. If he can do this then it'll go a long way to building my faith in CTC as a coach!

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  • j4545

    I bet Zoubek had a much high basketball IQ and game knowledge after his frosh season. He shouldn't be reshirted because it will open up a scholly in 2013. And in 2013, after IU basketball is an elite program again, we will be able to get a big time big man who is game ready and isn't a project.

  • Whoa. Lay off the caps, k?

  • j4545

    You guys are fogetting that Bawa and the rest of the team practice everyday in game situations. Maybe if he played well in practice he would get a chance at starting. Also, Bawa looked completely lost most of the time he played last year. I don't care how little minutes he played, no one should look that lost on the court. It's always easy to second guess a coaches decision. You have to earn your playing time in practice and in games. That's what Elston and Capo did. Hopefully Bawa can improve, but he is falling behind.

  • j4545

    We need to play Olidapo. How is Roth going to shoot if he can't open. We need guys on the floor that can create and penetrate. VO will be able to slash and open guys up. If Jones could shoot the 3, play defense, and penetrate, then he would be NBA ready.

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  • stillahoosier

    My God, Seems like the entire team was a step or two behind. Watched every game, like I do every year, and I haven't seen defense this bad in a long, long time. Well maybe 2008-09 season. Desperately want a Dane Fife defense to appear from somewhere. I realize Coach has had an impossible task but, let's start putting things together for next year. I believe in Coach Crean and the constant calling for a Coach Knight to come in and rescue the program is not giving Coach Crean the proper credit he deserves. Let's give Coach a chance. I'll give another 2 years before I get too concerned with the program. Getting back to Bawa, he may or may not pan out, who's to say, but I think he should have played a lot more than he did. Lord knows he couldn't have done much worse than most of the team.