Where they stand: A player-by-player breakdown

  • 12/02/2011 8:03 am in

With seven games in the books, it’s time for a player-by-player look at how the 2011-2012 Hoosiers have fared to date. We’ll break down an area where each player has excelled as well as an area for improvement. The roster is listed in order of average minutes per game:

Jordan Hulls 

– Where he’s excelled: This is finally Jordan Hulls’ team to lead. And the benefits of having a player with his efficiency have been on full display early in the season. The Bloomington native is playing the best basketball of his career through seven games. He’s contributing big in three pivotal areas: vocal leadership, perimeter shooting and taking care of the ball. Two statistics that stand out: a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and 56.5 percent on 3’s.

– Where he can improve: The junior guard has made 52 consecutive free throws, but only has 11 attempts from the line through seven games. If Hulls can get to the line more frequently, his value increases even more. His defense has improved, but it must continue to progress as opponents become quicker and stronger.

Cody Zeller 

– Where he’s excelled: All of the talk of Zeller needing time to adjust to the rigors of the college game has gone silent as he’s been Indiana’s most reliable scorer (15.6 ppg on 68.5 percent shooting) and rebounder (7.6 per game). He’s taken hard fouls, double teams and even chants of “Tyler’s better,” down in Evansville. Through it all, his composure and business-like approach to the game have been remarkable for a freshman. He’s also got 17 steals.

– Where he can improve: It’s tough to pinpoint a negative, but finishing better through contact is one potential area of improvement.

Verdell Jones

– Where he’s excelled: Jones leads the Hoosiers with 26 assists (1.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio), is shooting better from the perimeter (eFG% of 50) and for the most part, his decision making and defense have been solid. His 3-point shooting is also better (4-of-7), but all four of those makes came at Evansville.

– Where he can improve: The senior guard still struggles when he takes it upon himself to make a play that isn’t there. Whether it be dribbling with his head down or getting stripped on his way to the basket, Jones must tighten up with his ball handling.

Christian Watford 

– Where he’s excelled: Watford is no longer IU’s primary option on offense, but he’s still an effective piece of the equation. He’s second on the team in rebounding (5.1 per game) and his effort and maturity are on the rise. Case in point: his second half performance on Wednesday night in Raleigh. Watford is shooting 45 percent on 3’s and 19-of-23 from the foul line.

– Where he can improve: Like Zeller, Watford must continue to work on finishing through contact around the basket.

Victor Oladipo 

– Where he’s excelled: The sophomore wing is second on the team in offensive rebounds and his prowess on defense has given Tom Crean the confidence to assign him to the opponent’s best perimeter player. There’s no doubt Oladipo relishes the challenge of drawing that assignment. His ability to get the home crowd on its feet and into a frenzy is also invaluable.

– Where he can improve: Shot selection has been a question mark for Oladipo, who is shooting 56 percent on 2’s, but just 22.2 percent on 3’s. He’s most effective attacking the rim, getting to the line and not settling from the perimeter.

Will Sheehey 

– Where he’s excelled: Arguably the most improved player on the roster, Sheehey is second on the roster in scoring (with an eFG% of 59.2) despite being sixth in minutes. The work he put in during the offseason has given him the confidence to assert himself immediately off the bench.

– Where he can improve: Sheehey still gets lost at times, particularly on the defensive glass and with help defense.

Derek Elston

– Where he’s excelled: Elston is moving far better than he did a season ago and he’s knocking down shots at a high rate. It’s tough to imagine him continuing to shoot such a high percentage (eFG% of 70.3), but so far, so good.

– Where he can improve: The Tipton native has struggled with consistency — he’s scoreless over IU’s last two games and has just two rebounds in a total of 22 minutes. To warrant the title of seventh starter, Elston must offer more than just scoring.

Tom Pritchard

– Where he’s excelled: Pritchard’s role has diminished significantly, but he’s accepting it and playing hard, which might not be the case with most players faced with similar circumstances.

– Where he can improve: It’s too small of a sample size, but given his track record, Pritchard’s 7.3 fouls per 40 minutes is still concerning.

Daniel Moore

– Where he’s excelled: The Carmel native, who is on scholarship for his senior season, has been effective as a perimeter defender.

– Where he can improve: It’s tough to pick a bone with a former walk-on like Moore, but an occasional shot fake to keep defenders honest seems like a fair suggestion.

Remy Abell 

– Where he’s excelled: Abell’s performance in Wednesday’s game at North Carolina State (five points, including a key 3-pointer) was easily his most important contribution thus far. Abell has shown flashes of his ability to get into the lane and stay in front of ball handlers.

– Where he can improve: The freshman guard hasn’t been particularly effective shooting from the field (40 percent) or the foul line (58 percent).

Matt Roth 

– Where he’s excelled: Roth’s value lies exclusively as a 3-point specialist and so far, all 12 of his attempts have come from behind the arc. If he makes 40 percent, he’ll continue in this role.

– Where he can improve: The senior has struggled for most of his career defending quicker players and even in spot duty, he must work on better defensive positioning.

Austin Etherington 

– Where he’s excelled: As the twelfth man in the rotation, Etherington, like Roth, appears to be slotted in as a 3-point specialist. He’s hit 2-of-4 attempts.

– Where he can improve: Also like Roth, Etherington must adjust to the speed of the game, particularly on defense.

Filed to:

  • cooper

    Coverdale was better than Hulls right now, thought that may change. Leach was better than Pritchard and good call on Sheehey over Fife. Fife was beyond overrated.

  • Svmman

    Tom and Dick Van Arsdale

  • Svmman

    Tom and Dick Van Arsdale

  • Cpjason311

    If Remy and Austin can improve like sheeladipo we can call them Remington

  • cooper

    Elite is a strong word. Elite means best in your conference. Hulls isn’t in the discussion for best in the conference yet and isn’t elite. With that said he is a good shooter and makes good decisions. His defense is a struggle as well as his ability to penetrate. He’ll keep getting better but I don’t know if he ever reaches elite.

  • IUJeff

    I had a great rebuttal a while ago but the firewall at work blocked it. I’ll try to re-create.  


    The floor general for a top 25 (on Monday) undefeated team that has the 8th best FG% in the nation, and is 10th highest in scoring. 

    A player that just put 20, 4, 5, and 2 on a long athletic NC State team at their house. 

    A former Indiana State Champion and Mr. Basketball with a 2:1 A/TO ratio who is adequate on defense. 

    I’ll also disagree with Loop on elite meaning the best in your conference at your position.    

  • IUJeff

    That is funny unfortunately. 

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I have thought about these comparisons as well because the team is built similar.  I will hold off until March to make these true comparisons.  That is when the ’02 team made the leap and started playing to their true ability.  This team is good but still needs time to grow over the season.  More than anything, our maturity to continue pressure and beat a team after a huge win will be tested against Stetson and our heart and determination will be tested against Kentucky.  We have the chance to sweep the state by beating Notre Dame and Purdue twice in the Big Ten.  If we accomplish all of that what will Hoosier Nation exclaim?  It is possible and we can do it.  Go IU!!!

  • Anonymous

    if CW can bring it like he did against NC State were going dancin in march. i know i have bashed him some but i havent seen him play with that kind of effort and hustle in 3 years.good job Christian!!  hope UK beats NC so they will be #1 next weeekend when we shock the world!! go HOOSIERS!!

  • Kelin Blab

    Really good analysis Alex….

    + I would also point out as a team you can see more confidence and less dear in the headlights looks when they are down.

    + I like the way VJ is playing, not forcing as much and being smarter with the ball. He will be the guy who explodes against a Kentucky because he has been there before and after, Zeller, Watford, and Hulls he is that guy you forget about.

    + I think this team is still figuring it out….there is no go to guy…but that is ok and they are winning as a team.  It will be interesting to see in big games who takes the big shots.

    + Pritchards role will increase if you ask me. He defends the post well, is physical , and a senior. I could see him doing well against a Anthony Davis who is slight of build.

  • SHEEHEYisApimp

    TP’s minutes can be found 7.5 feet off the ground…..JUST OUTSIDE OF HIS VERTICAL LEAP.

  • SHEEHEYisApimp

    I usually have a left of center type of thinking. As much as I can’t wait for VJ3 to be replaced with Yogi, I think he NEEDS to be a starter. His productivity outweighs his negatives (at least 7 games in). As my screen name indicates, I am a HUGE Will “the Thrill” Sheehey fan. However, I think it is better for the overall team goal that WS comes off the bench. There is sufficient offense and defense in the starting 5. Bringing Will in as the 6th man is a HUGE boost when the opponent sends in a sub.

  • John

    Recruiting services really only help a coach know who is worthy of looking into.  Once you see the kids, you have to get to know them and judge for yourself.  I recall Tom Sheehey, Will’s uncle, back in high school in upstate NY.  He was a top-10 recruit and considered a sure-fire future NBA player.  Never got there…  had a decent college career but not an All-American at Virginia.  Potential is everything.  I bet that’s what makes Perea and Jurkin special …  those guys aren’t great now, but their upside is huge.

  • JerryCT

    As long as you have a definition then stick with it . Now apply it to other PG’s .

    I am not saying pure statistics serve as an absolute right answer here …………….. just injecting them into the thought process ……….. that’s all

  • JerryCT

    Loop , it was easy for me to forget shooting %, good catch ……………. thanks for the insight.

    I would not trade Hulls for Frazier  ………… yet ……… but I might for Craft or Taylor.

    I was surprised by several things however in my stats

    + SObelewski low TO’s and high ranking
    + Cartwright dead last by far
    + Jackson as key to stopping PU

  • Anonymous

    I’m not counting Etherington out of that equation just yet, either

  • Anonymous

    That would be “cooper” on the definition of “elite” not me.

  • Anonymous

    Jerry, I always come away with a bigger and better perspective after reading your posts. Keep at it. Is it true that you have a life-size poster of Brian Sloan setting a bone crunching screen in your Den?