An early look at the 2013-2014 frontcourt

  • 08/22/2013 11:37 am in

IUSMSith0010

We took an early look at the 2013-2014 backcourt on Monday and today, the focus shifts to the frontcourt, where Indiana is also faced with substantial changes. 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 frontcourt:

— Sheehey’s shift from sixth man to a primary option: After starting just 19 games over his first three seasons and earning the Big Ten’s sixth man of the year award as a junior, Will Sheehey will be in for a significant change in his role as a senior. Sheehey has steadily improved his offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) over his first three seasons and Indiana will need him to continue his efficient play if it hopes to have a strong Big Ten finish again. His free throw (70.4 percent as a sophomore, 65.6 percent as a junior) and 3-point shooting percentages (38.3 percent as a sophomore, 34.6 percent as a junior) dipped a season ago and are two areas he’ll need to improve upon.

Sheehey has always been one of the best in the conference at moving without the ball, but without guys like Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford for opposing defenses to key on, he’ll become a focus on the scouting report and will be called upon to create more shots on his own. With a strong offseason that included trips to Colorado Springs and Kazan, Russia, for the World University Games and Los Angeles for adidas Nations, Sheehey had a busy offseason and appears poised for his best season yet at Indiana.

— Vonleh’s arrival and impact: For the third straight winter, Indiana will welcome a McDonald’s All-American to its roster. Noah Vonleh, who won’t turn 18 until this Saturday, is a physical presence that can impact the game in many ways. At 6-foot-9 and 242 pounds with a wingspan that’s nearly 7-foot-4, Vonleh will slide into the starting lineup immediately. He’s been regarded as one of the top rebounders nationally in his high school class, and the offseason transformation of his body under Je’Ney Jackson should make him physically ready to battle down low from day one.

On a roster that doesn’t appear to have a surefire option at the center position, Vonleh will give the staff some flexibility if it wishes to go smaller at times. With the departures of Zeller and Watford in IU’s frontcourt, Vonleh’s arrival will help soften the blow, at least from a talent perspective, and give the Hoosiers a reliable post scorer that  also can step out on the floor and finish in transition.

— Who plays the five? Cody Zeller’s decision to enter the NBA Draft leaves Indiana very thin from an experience standpoint in the post, which begs the question: How will the Hoosiers attempt to replace the nation’s most efficient big man? Freshman Luke Fischer figures to get the first look along with Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who never really got on track as a freshman due to a NCAA suspension and an injury.

Fischer won’t be able to fill Zeller’s shoes, but Indiana fans shouldn’t expect him to. He runs the floor well, has good hands, displayed toughness and continued improvement throughout his prep career and is a guy that fits into IU’s culture. Mosquera-Perea is a bit of a wildcard because for all of the physical talent he possesses, his role was so limited last year that he’ll need to show major progress to earn a regular rotation spot.

— Where does Hollowell fit? With six new freshmen, a transfer in Evan Gordon and two regulars returning in Yogi Ferrell and Sheehey, Jeremy Hollowell doesn’t always get the headlines that he may end up deserving when next season is said and done. His efficiency numbers weren’t great as a freshman (44.8 eFG percentage), but the sample size is too small to come to a conclusion on the kind of offensive player he could become. His prep and AAU career numbers suggest he’s capable of shooting better than 23.3 percent on 3-pointers or 63.2 percent from the foul line. And with more playing time and attempts available due to IU’s roster attrition, Hollowell is a guy that either could crack the starting lineup or be one of the first off of the bench.

Where he has a chance to really earn time, though, is on the defensive end. In stretches last season — the Michigan game at Assembly Hall immediately comes to mind — Hollowell was downright disruptive at altering shots. Indiana won’t be able to replicate its offensive numbers from a season ago, but the Hoosiers can ill-afford to slip into the bottom half of the league from a defensive perspective. If Hollowell can continue to improve as a defender, his role will increase as well.

Filed to:

  • Doug Wilson

    Alex, that was great article. My opinion of Hollowell and HMP is, last season, They were not afforded the opportunity to stay in the game long enough to play through their mistakes and make adjustments. Look at the mistakes that Yogi made, and those Zeller made the season before that. You will find both made tons of TO’s and both got to stay in the game to improve on that. Now turn back to last season both Jeremy, and in a limited role, HMP never were afforded the chance to play through mistakes. With the team being full of inexperience, I see that changing, and those two having solid seasons. Once their minutes p/u so will their confidence in Crean’s system… I am confident, IU will be a better team then last year, once the dust clears. They may not end up Big Ten champs, but a better more all-around team, YES!

  • slingguy

    Obviously a lot of variables going into this season and we don’t really know what to expect… especially in comparison to last year and our familiarity with our team. But I’m really excited going into this season! 2012 guys (other than Yogi) weren’t relied on too much, but this year they will need to step up a ton and prove themselves. Also with 2013, this recruiting class reminds me of how we got to follow Hulls/Watford/Elston’s class and see them progress. The only difference here is the potential for 2013 is far greater than that class IMO. If they work as hard and dedicate themselves, I think they will be just as beloved by the Hoosier fanbase and hopefully even more successful in their careers here!

  • So_Cal_Hoosier

    There’s a lot of question marks heading into the season, but I still think we have a strong foundation and once our freshman get accustomed to college play and the physicality of the B1G I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • N71

    Any news on Peter’s health and development?

  • IUMIKE1

    First off let me say that I think everyone is a wild card for the upcoming season. Our only two returning high minutes guys, as stated in the article, will be called upon to do some things noticeably better or do some things that they have not had to do or been asked to do in the past. The incoming freshmen are just that incoming freshmen. Yes things like, NV will start and contribute, TW will show flashes of freakish athleticism at times, HMP will be better ( I know not a real bold and dangerous prediction ) are pretty much a given but, for the most part the rest, and it’s a lot, ends up in the, unknown until the season gets underway column IMHO and that’s a big part of what is making it so hard waiting for this coming season to get underway.

    Out of all the variables the most likely to happen, IMHO, is these four.

    1) Think Sheehey will to look to score more at the beginning of the season, less as the season goes on, and more on other things to help the freshmen.
    2) Yogi’s outside shot % & assist to turnover ratio will both look better.
    3) At least at the beginning of the season I think JH not only is a starter but one that plays a lot of minutes and shows us that he has put in some serious time over this past off season.
    4) Think HMP is going to be not just better but able to noticeably contribute type better. If CTC didn’t think he was going to end up with a real gem he wouldn’t have spent the time he did polishing HMP last year and he wouldn’t have gotten even close to the amount of minutes that he did last year. Still say his BS 9 game suspension, by the Taliban of college bball, really hurt his development especially with virtually all of it coming during the cupcake part of the season where he could have gotten on the floor for extended minutes and been able to play through some of his mistakes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can practice all you want, any way you want, but there just isn’t any substitute for actual game time minutes and that was exactly what got taken from him.

  • IUMIKE1

    Excellent question. His health, development and how much he is able to actually contribute, may be the biggest variable of all this coming season.

  • adam

    i think hollowell will end up being a force this season

  • HoosierInChapelHill

    Bold final statement.

  • Scooter

    Not suggesting that AE ever play the 4 or PF, but he is the strongest guy on the team now. If facing a team with a smaller PF (6’7″ ish) than AE would not be outsized that much. But, I would much rather see a line up of Yogi, WS, JH, AE and Noah on the floor when trailing by a few points at the end of the game if we needed shooters and a press. HP and AE could do the offense for defense substitution.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Off the radar but another wildcard would be DD giving us a spurt or a boost at the 3. I have a good feeling about him, and I think there are some surprises to come with DD.

  • Townie12

    Starting to wonder if Hanner and Noah share time at the 5, while Fisher is the 3rd option. While neither HMP or NV are that tall, they have huge wingspan and are THICK, which will make up for lack of height against other B1G centers. Our limitations at the 5 might force us into playing a lot of up-tempo small ball this year – should be fun to watch!!

  • CreamandCrimson

    I respectfully disagree. I don’t see how IU can lose two All-Americans (and lottery picks) and four 1,000 point scorers and have anyone expecting them to be a better team. Last year’s team won the best conference in the country outright and was ranked #1 in the nation for more weeks than anyone else. I really don’t see this coming season’s team being able to come anywhere close to matching those achievements. I think we can progress throughout the season and be a scary team to play in March (I have no idea but it’s definitely possible) but to think they’ll be better than last year’s team? No chance in my opinion.

  • N71

    I appears IUBB is developing Devin to be a big wing player, a 2 or 3 versus a small 4. There’s a video of him working out with Eric/Evan/Eron’s dad, Mr. Gordon, where his ball handling looks great, shocking really. Perhaps he’s following Vic’s path toward an eventual 6’6″ NBA point guard. Who knows but I think that’s why he’s not mentioned as part of the “front court”.

  • David Macer

    I read with great interest all the comments on this thread. I, like everyone else, want to see this team succeed. Let’s not put too much pressure on these kids now or during the season. We all know what happened to UK last year with a great recruiting class. I believe that this team will surprise and disappoint this year. Do I expect 20 wins ??? Certainly. But lets wait to see how these kids jell together.

  • Doug Wilson

    You said that, not me. Bold! Crean, starting this season, is introducing Version 1.0 of his vision of a team. Notice that once JBJ decomitted, the guards he is persuing have gotten taller?

  • calbert40

    Call me overly optimistic, but I believe our frontcourt will be our team strength for the upcoming season. I’m not certain which players will be the ones who step up and take over the bulk of the production we lost in that area, but I really like this group.

    I think Hollowell and HMP are keys in this regard. We don’t need either to be all conference, but if both can be significant contributors, that would be great. I believe that Hollowell will be. HMP…jury is still out, but I’m hearing good things.

    I think Vonleh is going to be a stud from the beginning, and I believe Fischer is going to be solid, if not a little inconsistent as a freshman. And I think the 3 could be our best position on the floor this year considering all of our strong options there.

    I like the front court. Now, if we can get someone to play the 2 and backup Yogi, I think this team could surprise a lot of people.

  • marcusgresham

    Not sure who will be 1, 2, or 3, but Hollowell, Sheehey, and Vonhleh are going to be the top three scorers on this team (with the possible exception of Farrell if he can develop a 10-foot floater and improve his consistency on his jumper.”
    Hanner will play a lot more and will be better, but, as a result of his physical nature, aggressiveness, and lack of experience, he will frequently be in foul trouble.
    Luke Fischer will be up and down, but we’ll see flashes of brilliance.
    I hope Etherington has healed well enough to play significant minutes and has regained the confidence in his 3 that he had in high school because he’s the only true option to stretch the defense at this point.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    Noah is a force, and I can’t think of a team in the Big 10 with a center that could outplay him based on size. That said, I’d love to see out starting lineup be:
    Yogi
    Sheehey
    Hollowell
    Perea
    Vonleh

    Hopefully reports that Perea has dramatically improved aren’t baseless. If he has, then we have one of the best defensive, running, and athletic teams we could put on the floor. Size shouldn’t be a problem. At nearly 6’10 245, shouldn’t, for instance, Ohio State fans be more worried about how Amir Williams will guard Noah (an inside outside player) than the other way around? Noah isn’t a 5, but positional roles are being redefined in basketball all the time, and the idea that our center could be that versatile (much like Cody, but a better rebounder who is less skilled inside and more outside) really gets me excited to watch this guy play.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    Don’t sleep on Stan Robinson at the 2. Guy seems college ready. And maybe Crean is working Evan Gordon out to play the minutes at the 1 that Yogi doesn’t?

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I watched the video you are referring to. No fluff here, but I think this guy will be All Big Ten by his senior year, maybe by year 3. Overly optimistic…possibly, but he has the physical tools to get there.

  • James Byers

    I don’t disagree as long as you qualify “better”. I think we have more ESPN Recruiting Ranking certified talent coming in than we have had yet during Crean’s tenure at IU, but that doesn’t necessarily make up for the experience that 4 1000pt scorers (not to mention 2 lottery picks who were not 1 and done). We are also might be slightly better at defending this year (despite losing Oladipo) because of the length and athleticism we are bringing in, but I don’t necessarily think we will be a “better” team…just perhaps more well rounded.

    That being said, it is not unheard of that we could progress farther in the NCAA tournament. I am not saying we will necessarily win it all (I’d love to obviously), but once you make the tournament you always have a chance. Furthermore, I think we all know that best team rarely wins the tournament and a lot of how you do is completely matchup dependent. I fully believe we were a better team than Michigan (although they did peak at the right time) and could have easily make it further had we not been dealt a matchup with Syracuse. This team could be remembered as a better team regardless of talent if they made it to the final four because they had favorable matchups. A pseudo ’75, ’76 team dilemma: one was a better team, and yet the other one it all.

  • drewmiller1

    Last years team was a very special group of guys, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that level of play next year after having five players go on to play professionally. I’m hoping this year has the energy and potential of the 2011-12 season. (that was one of the most fun years as a fan also)

  • calbert40

    I really like Robinson. I think he will probably get more minutes than some people think. So far as Gordon is concerned, I expect him to see more time at the 2, but maybe I am wrong.

    Regardless of what spot each of them play the most at, that is three players to split the 80 backcourt minutes each game. I fully expect Yogi to log 30+, but I doubt that either Gordon or Robinson come near that amount…maybe combined they get 30. Who is getting the other minutes in the backcourt?

    Maybe Will plays some 2? Does our least talked about freshman, Hartman, steal some minutes? What about AE, if he is healthy? It’s hard to say, but I think that there are plenty of minutes available there. Someone has to take them.

  • calbert40

    I don’t know if he could play the 4 or not, but I think AE could be a surprise player this season. We certainly need a player or two who can sink a few 3s, and he is capable of doing that. But the big variable with AE is his health.

    I think that there is going to be a pretty fierce competition for minutes at the wing positions this season. It is hard to handicap the race, because we just haven’t seen how most of them play against significant competition.

  • dtfreed

    Perea won’t start unless its situationally. I would like seeing Gordon at 2 and WS at 3. When you consider all the bench types coming and going throughout a game, it will be a coaching challenge to get the right combo in the game at the right time judging on what is needed. Last year it seemed CTC would leave to many substitutes out on the floor for too long. Switch Gordon to point and bring in the rest of the frosh with HP in the pre B10 games

  • Tony

    Only Question I have Is…Where ar all of the banners that we have been waiting to hang going to come from now?

  • SCHoosier

    The core is there for a decent group of players. I’ll believe it when I see it with Hanner. PJ and AE right now are medical mysteries..anything IU gets from either of them will be a bonus. Robinson, Williams and Davis makes our bench formidable…at least when they get some games under their belts. Now if just had a reliable 3 pt shooter.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Not trying to be sarcastic here but LouRawls Nairns is a guy no one would call tall.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    The fact that he’s not mentioned here is not a good sign. The fact that he hasn’t been healthy enough to take part in five-on-five drills is also not a good sign, especially when you consider that he hasn’t played a game in a year (I’m not counting the handful of minutes against cupcakes as competing).

    If healthy, I think Jurkin could play 5-10 minutes, block a shot, and grab a few rebounds. Sadly, there are no indications that he’ll be healthy after two years of being benched by injuries.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    He’s got to develop a consistent shot or else he’s just — hah, just — Branden Dawson.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    If Noah sticks around for another year, this current frosh class develops their game, and we land some key players in the 2014 recruiting class, I think we’ll have a realistic shot at another banner in the 2014-15 season.

  • IUMIKE1

    I’m afraid you may be right. It’s starting to look more and more like that all the time. PJ has not been able to showcase what he can do because of injury and Tijan & Bawa, through no fault of their own, just never could rise to the level we needed them to get to. While PJ’s circumstances appear to be different than that of those two I fear he may be the 3rd one the list of foreign bigs that never were able to contribute while at IU and ends up taking the route that Bawa did. Oh well, just one more reason why you never stop recruiting. You know, it’s almost as if Crean knows what the hell he’s doing. dws

  • IUMIKE1

    Not only was it the best conference in the country last year, our conference itself was better from top to bottom than it had been in many many years. Last year’s conference schedule had the least number of, more or less, ” gimmee “, games than I can remember in a long time and that was with us being better than we had been in a long time.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Lol!!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    The ceiling on this class is much higher now looking back and comparing those to those guys in hindsight. Projected 2012 seniors (including Creek) were decimated with injuries as a whole. Hulls stayed pretty clean, Watford too. We all know about Creek, but DE had the injury bug as well. If this class stays healthy then lookout.

  • Corey M

    Gordon is definitely the backup 1… Stan has the size and athleticism to be a good 2 in college but does not have the qualities you look for in a PG.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Tournament aside, a goal that I would enjoy seeing would be for LF and NV to stick it to Wisconsin. I would be happy with that for starters.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I think you are on the money with what Coach Crean wants. He is now free from the chains of sacrifice. In the next four years he will prove what is he worth by building the teams he wants with the players he wants.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Alex: Ban IUMIKE1 for speaking ill of Tijan!!!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    NV will be a RICH mans Trevor Mbakwe from the start.

  • BluegrassHoosier

    Fischer will start at the 5 and be a upside surprise this year.

  • IU5-PU0

    I liked the video too…then I realized it was actually sped up. Watch the ball bounce or him jumping at the end of each drill. Am hoping he gets to that level in real-time!

  • BMusic

    Excitement abounds. Last season the expectations were exciting; this season it’s the prospect of surprise. I hate to put any guy in a box, especially guys we have yet to see shed their pinstripes and check into a game. It’ll be interesting to see how the team comes together. Can’t wait!

  • Geoff_85

    How the F**K did PUke win at wisconsin last year, and Indiana go 0-2 against them? WTF!? Someone make me understand. This better be the year IU beats those cheese-eating hocky-playing pee-drinking crapfaces. If all else fails, I’ll just remember that Indiana beat them THIRTY-THREE TIMES in a row in the 80’s-90’s.

  • Hoosier_DC

    Annnnnddd Geoff comes out of left field with a “pee-drinking crapface” comment

  • Geoff_85

    It had to be said, man. Hopefully IU annihilates them in Sandlot fashion.

  • Hoosier_DC

    Not sure how this post provoked such outrage against Wisconsin but I agree, I’m tired of losing to those pee-drinking-crapfaces too

  • Tucson Hoosier

    I agree with 1-3. I really like your analysis on Sheehey and JH. Unfortunately I just don’t see HMP contributing much. He looked so bad and uncomfortable last year that I just don’t think he will produce much in his tenure as a player at IU. For some reason, when I think of him, I think of George Leach. I always thought Leach would produce much more than he ever did. HMP is twice the athlete of Leach, but I am just thinking about production and how awkward they both look on the floor. I hope you are right and I am wrong about HMP. We certainly need him.

  • Scooter

    AE has been medically cleared and able to participate in full court drills and practice. He is 2 months ahead of schedule. He could be that 3 point assassin we need. At 6’6″ he could be a very deep threat, plus he is very strong. I am hoping for a good season from AE.

  • IUMIKE1

    Or in even worse fashion. I don’t what fashion that would be but whatever it is I hope that’s the fashion we beat them in. Wanting to beat them so bad has me saying some really weird $hit.