An early look at the 2013-2014 backcourt

  • 08/19/2013 12:05 pm in


With the official start of practice a little more than a month away, the 2013-2014 season is on the horizon. We’ll have comprehensive player-by-player previews this fall, but here’s an early look at some of the storylines to keep an eye on with next season’s backcourt:

— Yogi takes the reigns: Yes, Yogi Ferrell started every game last season as a freshman. And yes, he was an integral piece of a team that won an outright Big Ten championship at Indiana for the first time in 20 years. But in many ways, it was a season of transition for Ferrell as he adjusted from being the man throughout his high school to fitting into a team with an already established leadership. Now that seven players have moved on from last year’s team, Ferrell is the second most tenured player in terms of minutes played at Indiana and will be counted on to lead on both ends of the floor. His freshman season had its share of ups — like his composure in the final 52 seconds a win at Michigan to end the regular season and his offensive display of 16 points against James Madison — and downs — his play against Syracuse in the Sweet 16, zero points and four turnovers — but with a year of experience and bigger things expected of him as a sophomore, it will be Ferrell’s time to shine.

— How does Indiana replace perimeter shooting losses? After finishing second nationally in 3-point shooting percentage for the 2011-2012 season and fourth nationally in 2012-2013, how will Indiana replace the efficiency of Jordan Hulls (44.4 percent) and Victor Oladipo (44.1 percent) from the perimeter?  The quick answer: It’s not realistic to expect another season in the top five nationally from a percentage standpoint. But improvement from Ferrell (30.3 percent as a freshman) along with smart shot selection from guys like Austin Etherington, Collin Hartman, Evan Gordon, Jeremy Hollowell, Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams will be key in maximizing efficiency and not falling down to 2010-2011 levels (34.6 percent) in 3-point shooting percentage.

— What’s Evan Gordon’s role? The younger brother of former IU star and New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon opted to transfer from Arizona State to Bloomington for his final season of eligibility and will likely favor heavily into the rotation. Gordon’s primary strengths offensively lie in his midrange game and he’s also got an adept floater that he’ll use off the dribble. Gordon is a capable scorer, as evidenced by a 29-point outburst against Southern Cal last season and three other games with 20 or more points. Next season will be a bit off a fresh start for the middle Gordon, who came off the bench the final ten games last season at Arizona State and is hungry to play in his first NCAA Tournament in his final season of eligibility. So where does he fit? Gordon can play both guard spots and is a solid defender, which should allow him to either play with Ferrell in some lineups or also play some point guard if needed.

— Highly touted freshmen arrive: Last season, the so-called “movement” arrived in Bloomington and besides Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell, it didn’t really produce much on the court. This incoming class doesn’t come with the flashy nickname, but Robinson and Williams appear to be on track for early minutes. Both played highly competitive schedules at their respective prep schools to finish out high school and will help to replace some of the athleticism that was lost when Oladipo declared for the NBA Draft. Once ranked in the top 10 of the recruiting rankings as a junior, Williams fell out of favor with some national scouts who wanted to see him continue to expand his game. If he can tighten up his ball handling, he’ll be a factor early. And Robinson, a lefty, can play both guard spots and defend. Because of their size and athleticism, Robinson and Williams can give IU a different look on defense than last season. That’s important because this IU team will need defense to generate offense.

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  • SCHoosier

    I think we all know what Yogi has to do for IU to be successful. Gordon should bring some on court maturity and Mr. Robinson I think is going to surprise everyone. IU can be a great defensive team..force TO’s and get in transition where our athletes can be effective. The 3pt shooting is a real concern for me..because having someone reliable with the 3 can quickly close a score gap or create one for your offense. Name all the names you want but until somebody delivers..the 3 ball will be a concern.

  • Paul_A

    IU will be fine in the backcourt. The key to this season rests on the shoulders of Hoosier Bigs Luke Fischer & Hanner Perea. One of those two guys has to step into the starter role and produce right away while the other has to provide 20-25 mins of contribution that’s not a drop-off from that of the Starting 5.

    I still insist that another big would have helped this class more than so many G/F types. (Looking at you, BeeJay)

  • The_Hall_Monitor

    Beejay Anya would not have been the answer for Indiana. By the end of last season he was ranked lower than Luke Fischer, who will be a solid contributor. Also according to NC State Head Coach Mark Gottfried, Anya arrived on campus weighing in at 337 pounds despite being listed at 267.

  • I agree with you that BJ would not have been an answer for IU. I read that about Anya showing up all ‘ballooned out’, and seriously doubt if he will make much of an impact at NC State. I think, if all reports are correct, the bigs that we have, will surprise some this year. I think especially Vonleh and Perea, but I also look for good things from Fischer. I am so anxious for HH and then shortly after, the season to start. I think we’re going to be a real force by the time B1G season rolls around. I’m looking for great things from Troy, Noah, Stan and Devin especially..

  • Rie

    We got two bigs in this class to go with Jeremy, Hanner and Peter. I really think Anya swallowing (no pun intended) a scholarship and roster spot would have left us in a bad position for 2014 recruiting.

  • Paul_A

    I had not heard of these Anya weight-gain rumors. Regardless,

    A) Are we seriously considering Jeremy Hollowell a big man? He was getting swallowed up trying to play 4. His success will come at the 3 spot.

    B) Are we seriously considering Hanner someone who actually will contribute more than Bawa or Tijan? (on the court that is, Tijan gave this program more than anyone in terms of mojo and karma)

    The way I see it, IU has a 3 man rotation in the frontcourt: Vonleh/Fischer/Perea. I have confidence in all 3 but none are proven at the college level yet.

  • Paul_A

    Peter*** Not Hanner, with the Bawa/Tijan comparison. Sorry.

  • Rie

    As long as Hollowell gets the majority of his minutes at the four spot, like he did last year, then yes, I will consider him a four. I do agree that he could be more suited to play the three, but I will leave that up to the coaching staff. His ability to knock down 3 point shots is also why he gets thrown into that position. As we have seen recently in the NBA and with Watford last year, the ability to space the floor with a guy playing the four is a good dynamic to have. I would also contest him being swallowed up trying to play the four. Last year, he played great defense at the end of the season when he was asked to man that position and had some good looks. He also hustled and rebounded well.

    As far as Peter goes, he is a wildcard. We have no idea what he can do, but it is not like we can go back in time and un-offer him a scholarship.

    The point is, even if we don’t include Jeremy and Peter, we have a three man rotation of bigs, which is usually the amount of guys that get playing time at the four and five. Like you said, none are proven at the college level, so it sounds odd that adding another big into the rotation, who also is not proven at the college level, would have helped in anything. I rather have the space available for a better potential guy in our next recruiting class.

  • SCHoosier

    agree..Hanner can and chew gum all at the same time and has more potential that Jobe and Bawa combined. We really DO need him to step up though..just on the b-ball fundamentals..he can be a great asset on D and the boards. And if Jurkin justs get healed!!!!

  • E Foy McNaughton

    All these comments seemto forget Will Sheehey. I see Will playing 2 & 3. The conversation about the big men affecting the season are dead on in my opinion. We should be able to get consistent significantly above average at the 3 spot (Will Sheehey & Jeremy Hollowell); I personally see both Will and Jeremy starting, with Will at the 2. I see Will often moving to the 3, with Jeremy periodically moving to the 4. I see Noah being the stallion as advertised. So, the key to an outstanding season? I’d say Jeremy, Luke & Hanner. If they can be really good, IU will be really good If they are not, then we have a significant drop off.

  • MillaRed

    I think Gordon was a huge pickup. A perfect stop gap while the FR get experience. I also think Coach likes Jonny Marlin.

  • Hardwood83

    I agree about Will. I think he is a natural 3, but if he can effectively play the SG that allows IU their best line-up. Yogi at point, Jeremy the 3, Noah the 4 and Fischer the 5, with Gordon, Stan, Williams, Etherington & Hanner off the bench.

  • Victorbear

    I think this team is gonna be a lot like some of Creans post Wade teams at Marquette when he had Dominic James as point guard. Very athletic, but we may see games in the 50’s and 60’s versus what we saw this year. Lets not forget however that last years national champ was not a great 3 pt shooting team. Siva was not a great shooter. Don’t know about you guys but I’m ready for some smothering in your face full court pressure defense………

  • tmessIUfan

    I can’t believe that the article above didn’t mention Vonleh in the “Highly touted Freshman” portion. I think he is going to have almost as big of an impact on our team as Cody had last year. This kid is a beast!

  • twarrior87

    Am I missing something? In the Highly touted freshmen arrive section there is no mention of Vonleh getting minutes, just Stan and Troy… Isn’t it most likely that Vonleh will start at the 4 or 5 from day 1?

  • twarrior87

    Funny, we both posted the same thing right about the same time

  • CreanFaithful

    An early look at the 2013-2014 backcourt

  • CreanFaithful

    Preview of the backcourt…

  • Devin howard

    This article is about the backcourt

  • twarrior87

    Ah yes, you are both correct. Sorry, I read the headline, but when I got to that last part, I guess I completely forgot about that fact. Thanks!

  • twarrior87

    And we were both wrong in what we said…

  • BC

    Didn’t Crean always envision Hollowell’s game resembling CWat’s? So a tweener between 3-4 is not inconceivable.

  • MisterSlippery

    I’d start Troy over JH.

  • Kevin Tolliver

    They will both put up good numbers I believe regardless of who starts. I’d give the nod to JH just because he is above Troy in class. Its just a respect thing. Not to say that Troy shouldnt get some starts if JH or others become lazy in practice or games. Leverage, thats what is good about having a good bench. Or maybe they both start.

  • ScoopGeoff

    I don’t think we need to consider JH a “big”…
    the nice thing is that if the other 3 contribute adequately rotating around the 4 and 5 spots that frees up JH to be a big 3. if he splits his minutes 80/20 between the 3/4 then we actually should have a size advantage on the court almost all game.
    Will, Williams, Davis, Etherington, and Hartman are all legitimately sized 3’s at the D1 level as well.
    Size should be much less of an issue this year than in the past. It won’t be rare to see a line-up of:
    Sheehey/Williams (6’6″)
    Hollowell (6’8″)
    Vonleh (6’10”)
    Perea/Fischer (6’10”)
    Not only are those “big” players, but athletic as well.

  • marcusgresham

    BeeJay Ate-ya?

  • marcusgresham

    Not saying he’s pro material, but PJ is far more skilled than Tijan and Bawa. How much he can ever contribute is contingent on his health. So far he hasn’t been able to get on the court.

  • marcusgresham

    You’re being generous with Hanner. He’s only about 6’8″.

  • marcusgresham

    Marlin’s probably the best shooter on the team. The only problem is playing him with Yogi–then you have two sub-6′ guys on the floor together.

  • marcusgresham

    Not in the upper body (and I sure as hell hope not in the head,) but if you look at Vonleh’s long, muscular thighs he’s reminiscent of Dwight Howard.

    ….and I must be very confident in my sexuality to be able to discuss another man’s long, muscular thighs.

  • marcusgresham

    Look back to the last several games of last season. Hollowell was becoming a rebounding beast. He needs to be on the floor.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    As far as PJ goes….wasn’t any of you at HH last year? He played opposite of Zeller. I remember him running the floor well, rebounding, 2 dunks and chewing gum at the same time.

    He was actually the one that I was talking about being our least minutes guy but after HH he actually impressed me….now rewind one year…..playing behind Zeller and being on banned for 9 games then comes the injuries. I really think we have no idea as where he currently stands nor what his FULL potential really is. CTC recruited him for a reason and so far he has not proven himself wrong in that area. So let’s let this play out before we even start comparing him to the Bawa’s and TJ’s of the world.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    I agree w/most of your post but Hanner was listed at 6’8″ last year but I do believe we will be fine on the wings and play the post semi-well just because we don’t know of the progress of PJ and a Freshmen Fischer who’s listed at 6’9 but may have grown into a 6’10” or bigger frame. It is still way early but fun to predict the future.

    The back court will be fine with Yogi running the pt and we presume Gordon/Stan or even pulling back Sheehey from the 3 to the 2 would be fine. There is one huge component that has not been mentioned once on ITH postings and that is Johnny Marlin…and before you start about his height…and if you were at HH you would know that he won the 3 pt shooting contest and I started calling him Johnny Cash “as in Money, spot on”. This kid can shoot better than Roth and Hulls (now that’s not under pressure) just talking about a pure shooter. So I do believe our 3 pt shooting will drop off but not off the cliff nor enough to be concern about. Keep in mind that he turned down a scholly to walk on at IU, this kid wanted to be a Hoosier.

    My two biggest concerns is our 5 spot and 6 new freshmen and how well and FAST they will gel. If they continue the 365 day attitude workout than I think we will have a pretty good season if Luke or someone picks up the 5 for B1G play and rebounding.

    I’m predicting top 3-5 in B1G and going to the dance….but we need to see the progress of our returning classes before we can really start predicting how good we will really be.

  • dtfreed

    I wish we heard more about DD and Luke as far as progress or work ethic. Both came in touted as hard workers and DD especially looked like a great energy guy. Have they fallen in to the not gym rat types and will need to become that?.

  • dtfreed

    Which is really why CWat ended up undrafted, if he was 4 and bulked up got tough [hung on to the ball inside] he might be pro material, but they let him play out and was a shooter so he looked lost in the summer leagues playing 4

  • CreanFaithful

    CWat’s overall lack of athleticism and strength is what hurt him. I guarantee you that CTC and Je’Ney wanted him to bulk up. Some guys have a harder time adding weight than others. Perhaps he didn’t put the time in. Who knows. What I do know is that he was never going to be a banger in the NBA.

  • Scooter

    Because the article was about the IU Backcourt, not IU Frontcourt.


    Nice link, thanks. Check it out people.


    Yea and I, and if memory serves me right you also, got banged by more than one or two for putting that opinion out there a long as a year or so ago.

  • marcusgresham

    I’d love to know how big his hands are in comparison to everyone else. They don’t look real!

  • ufo3

    Vonleh, Hollowell, Troy Williams, Sheehey, Yogi