That’s A Wrap: Matt Roth

  • 04/07/2010 7:37 am in

Big Ten Tournamnet: Indiana Hoosiers v Penn State Nittany LionsWelcome 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 (Two games): Oh come now, is it even fair to put 2 points per game in here? I mean geez, dude only took one 3-pointer. This was a lost season for Matt Roth.

Two points in games against each Howard and USC-Upstate encompass all that Matt Roth was able to muster on the scoreboard this season before a foot injury put the kibosh on a sophomore campaign for the Illinois sharpshooter.

The injury was sort of disappointing, at least for me.

Roth was certainly an experiment in how good Tom Crean might be at identifying and employing effective rotations. (I know that’s come up here at least once or twice, hasn’t it?) At first blush, Roth isn’t much more than a shooter — an incredibly streaky but also ridiculously gifted shooter — and so the assumption was he was one who would see slackened playing time with a strong freshman class coming in.

But I was interested in Roth as a test of Crean’s developmental ability.

If he wants to be successful in the 4-to-5-year time range I think most would agree is fair, Crean is going to have to make a meal of lesser ingredients in a number of different ways, not the least of which is coaxing out of players with somewhat limited skillsets every ounce of potential they posses. Roth doesn’t have to end up filet mignon, but an apricot chicken would do nicely.

How Crean manages and coaches up players like Roth will go a long way to determining how far he can take his program. Maurice Creek is great, but Rutgers had a guy who could score. Ask Fred Hill how that turned out. It’s the complimentary pieces that finish the puzzle.

Roth, to be fair, could be a respectable contributor if a) he can become at least serviceable defensively, b) either becomes unstoppable from behind the arc or develops something of a mid-range game and c) sticks around. (That last point was in no way a subtle hint at a possible transfer, only an acknowledgment that transfers occur on every team everywhere, every year.)

I’m not saying Roth is the second coming of Steve Alford. Hardly. He’s not even the second coming of Jon Diebler. But in Crean’s drive-and-kick offensive sets, Roth has a talent that is immensely valuable, and in few ways teachable.

The bottom line: A lot of this is pure speculation, obviously. What matters is how hard Roth has worked during his recovery, and how driven he is to carve out a place for himself on this roster. Yes, there are other shooters, but I refuse to believe that Indiana would be better off without a player who can be so prolific as Matt Roth. Whether consistency of such success can be achieved, and then coupled with improvement in what Roth offers in other areas of the game, will essentially determine how involved he is in this program next year and beyond.

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