Crean not surprised by Austin Etherington’s emergence

  • 01/29/2014 11:22 am in

When Austin Etherington predominantly sat on the bench for most of the early portions this season, Indiana coach Tom Crean noticed something that he liked.

It wasn’t from his on-court appearance in games, rather Etherington’s day-to-day demeanor in practice stood out.

“I thought that he continued to practice and prepare and persevere throughout when he didn’t get a lot of time and when he was playing sparingly,” Crean said on Wednesday in his pregame teleconference before Thursday’s game at Nebraska. “And he just continued to battle in practice. He didn’t like it, but he battled.”

After Etherington sat most of last season with a broken kneecap, he returned this season as one of Indiana’s most-veteran players — even as a redshirt sophomore. But Crean admitted on Wednesday that he didn’t put Etherington on the court much early this season because of his “lack of rebounding and lack of blocking out and keeping people off the glass.” In Indiana’s first 15 games this season, Etherington played a total of 89 minutes — an average of about six per game.

Crean noticed, however, that Etherington kept a high determination level in practice throughout and before Indiana’s game at Penn State on Jan. 11, Crean approached him and told him his opportunity had arrived. Crean was benching sophomore starter Jeremy Hollowell, and Etherington would see increased minutes.

In that game, Etherington would play a then career-high 17 minutes. He would grab two defensive rebounds and record two steals. He also hit a 3-pointer with less than two minutes remaining — a shot that gave Indiana a lead it would never relinquish.

“I think the fact that he has worked so hard and when his name was called and prepared all week after the Michigan State game to go in and be ready in the next game, especially going into Penn State, the bottom line was it’s working,” Crean said. “And because he’s continuing to do the little things that matter and all the big things, the block-outs, the getting to the boards, the running the court, the moving without the basketball, the making the simple plays.”

Over Indiana’s next four games, up through last Sunday’s game against Illinois, Etherington has seen his minutes increase in each outing. He has played 94 minutes in his past five games — he played 213 in his entire college career before then — and in that span he is averaging 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.

He even made his first career start last Tuesday at Michigan State and scored a season-high seven points in his latest game against Illinois — even after Hollowell returned to the mix.

“I know that my role is to come in and try to bring as much energy to the game,” Etherington said. “You know, sometimes right after the start of the game, it’s like a slow game at some point. So I just come in and play my hardest and play with heart and try to feed some energy to these guys.”

As Etherington’s game has evolved, Crean has taken notice of Etherington’s improvement in moving without the ball and most importantly, his rebounding. He’s comfortable with Etherington taking the outside shot (as long as it’s an open shot and its an inside-out type of situation). He’s put Etherington into his regular rotation.

When asked if any of it was a surprise, though, as his third-year player has finally broken through, Crean knew his answer right away.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “It’s fun watching his confidence grow.”

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  • FeatheryOne

    He’s playing great basketball for us. Glad to see his hard work and determination paying off. I hope he keeps it up. We will need him against some good opponents in February.

  • JerryCT

    Personally I never mind if a player takes an open shot , even if he is not exactly our best option. I figure it will all come together later with experience.

    In AE’s case I think he should shoot more when he has a open look . I feel the same way about TW, JHollowell, EG, HMP and SR,

  • JJ

    Now, if he’ll just shoot that open 3…

  • CreamandCrimson

    Austin Etherington is developing into a valuable role player. I with everyone that believes he should pull the trigger on some open 3’s and I think as his confidence continues to grow, we’ll start to see more of that. There’s no reason he can’t be a solid piece for us for two more seasons and I’m really happy that he appears to be finding his role within this program.

  • Scooter

    So AE kept working hard and Hollowell got 23 min/g though his mind wasnt right. What gives Crean? You should have built AE’s confidence instead of playing into Hollowells lethargy.

  • Scooter

    Just glad one of the good guys are breaking through.

  • AUKevin

    I would agree with you that AE should be shooting more, because his form and % suggest it. However some of those other guys need to stick to scoring when they are at the rim (and they could use more practice at it).

  • calbert40

    I’m glad CTC isn’t surprised, but I certainly am. I didn’t expect much from AE from his initial recruitment, to be honest. I saw him in HS against some fairly inferior competition, and I was never that impressed.

    I’m happy to say that I misjudged him. He has played some really strong ball for us lately, and I hope he stays in the regular rotation.

  • IUeconAlum


  • JJ

    FYI: Vonleh in Chad Ford’s Top 10 @ #8. Good for Noah, not good for IU fans.

    In a related note, I just don’t understand how Aaron Gordon has more “upside” than Vonleh.

  • ’11Hoosier

    This is good news for Hoosier fans. I don’t know how much you’ve been keeping track but he was at #5 in the beginning of the season and has steadily dropped.

    I don’t think Noah leaves early. The draft is far too deep to be the 8th best freshman and get a decent pick. You shouldn’t go to the NBA after your freshman year unless you’re a lottery pick which he is not at this point in time.

  • JJ

    “You shouldn’t go to the NBA after your freshman year unless you’re a lottery pick which he is not at this point in time.”

    #8 overall…As in all draft eligible players…

  • ’11Hoosier

    My mistake, I thought you were talking about the top 25 freshman list. I stand corrected

  • marcusgresham

    I have to agree with AUKevin on this one. When a guy has taken as many as 20 threes that’s a high enough number to indicate whether he should continue to shoot them or to realize his strengths lie elsewhere. (Now, in the off-season shoot 5,000 a day and get to the point where you’re knocking those down, but in the mean time…)

  • MillaRed

    I think Austin will be just as important as anyone in the next two years. Every team needs a kid like this.

  • Outoftheloop

    “What gives Crean?”: try talent! Jeremy is 6’8-9 with the talent to play in the NBA. Austin is 6’6-7′ with the talent to start in the B1G. So you work to get the most talented player to produce on the floor. Then you adapt to get the actual producer in the game! Sounds like excellent coaching to me. Without the attempt with Jeremy, the production from Austin would not have been there. Austin saw, as we all saw, what was needed!

  • Outoftheloop

    I am in with AE, JHollowell, EG, SR, Yogi, Will, and Noah taking open 3’s. I am NOT in with 3 point shots for TW, DD, HMP, JHoward, CH, or PJ. As for open 10-15′ shots, of course you take them, you have to able to score to play in the B1G.

  • Outoftheloop

    Not at the rim, but jump stop at 5-10-15′, shot fake, use the glass if possible, and score 2! Some guys are good at the rim: Noah, Yogi, Stan, (usually) Will; some guys are OK at the rim: Troy, Austin and Evan; some guys can not finish now at the rim: Devin, Jeremy, Hanner, Jeff, Collin, Peter. “Know thyself”! How can you miss at the rim? It is easy, 3 defenders who are athletic and 6’7-7′, make it tough!

  • JerryCT

    I agree Loop. I apologize for implying that I was talking about 3’s , I was really referring to open shots within their typical area of the floor

  • JerryCT

    Every INSIDETHEHALL needs a positive influence like you …………… did you learn that during your brief stint as a nun ?

  • Walton

    It was ever since he hit that huge 3 pointer against Penn State. He’s been on a roll since then. If everyone can pick up their game like he has, watch out.

  • David Macer

    His basketball IQ is finally coming to the forefornt !!! Gotta love it.

  • Big D

    I’ve been waiting to see him start to get playing time. I remember when he was a freshman and he won the 3 pt. contest at midnight madness. If I remember correctly he beat out Hulls and Roth and Cody came in 2nd.

  • MillaRed

    Who is this person? Anyone? A ghost? I don’t understand.

  • yimyames

    Curious to hear your list of “good guys” on the team.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Yeah, he’s not quite as athletic but he does have that high energy, smart player vibe. I think he will be a better shooter than Will though.

  • ForeverIU

    What’s your concept of a “lethargic” person? I wonder why you would use that word instead of, for example, “lack of focus”.

  • ForeverIU

    I don’t think players like TW would be taking the 3 unless they have been instructed by the coaching staff to do so, and I don’t think the coaching staff would be telling players to take the 3 unless they have been making them at a good rate in practice. I’ve brought that up several times in previous posts, but it is about “regression toward the mean,” meaning practically that if you are making them in practice eventually you will start making them in games. We need everything we can from the perimeter. I am predicting that TW, among others, will add be adding the 3 to his repertoire soon.

  • ForeverIU

    See my post above. What if he is making them in practice? That means he has the technique, and it’s just about dealing with intangibles that arise at game time that are preventing the same level of production. Each player has to figure that out for himself, but if he is making the 3 at good rate in practice, it would be a waste not exploit the advantage in real games, especially with us being in dire need of perimeter shooting.

  • Ole Man

    I didn’t read a slam of anyone into Scooter’s comment.

  • Ole Man

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we near the bottom in 2 point shooting?
    Next game, count how many 10-15 footers are missed.

  • ForeverIU

    I think the context is supplied in the first comment, where he refers to Hollowell’s “lethargy” and wasted minutes. That’s a fully-fledged slam.

  • oldiugymnast

    I have a pretty good idea – but if I expressed it I would get flamed…..

  • oldiugymnast

    I disagree – I think he is a lot more athletic than Will… He certainly has faster feet and can jump higher.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Hope you’re joking here. Will is actually a very athletic guy and has shown it many times. Etherington might be one of the strongest guys on the team but more athletic than Will? I don’t think so.

  • ForeverIU

    Do you mean your comment would get deleted? Or do you mean you would invoke the wrath of others on the forum? Or both? LOL!

  • Ole Man

    I missed it….now it’s gone….I would have liked to have gone back and reread it.
    The new mods have a learning curve if all he used was lethargic.

    Not everyone can write as they write.

    Lethargy: a lack of energy and enthusiasm.
    I’ve seen that comment about more than one player on this board.

    But since I can’t see the comment, I can’t be sure.

  • ForeverIU

    I could write a treatise on this word, but prefer not to do it here. I don’t know how labeling an athlete, of all people, as “lacking in energy and enthusiasm,” when we are neither medical doctors nor psychiatrists, can be anything but insulting. You don’t have to be an “expert” or a seasoned writer to understand how charged a word like “lethargic” is.

  • Gregory Spera

    No need to single out anyone. I saw the entire team look like they were “lacking in energy and enthusiasm” against Northwestern. Maybe the mods are just TOO enthusiastic.

  • ForeverIU

    Exactly, it’s the singling out (constantly) that is hurtful. If such a thing were said about the entire team, it would be obvious hyperbole, and thus more innocuous.

  • Ole Man

    Yep. Think one of our new mods is bound and determined to make this “side of the wall” just like the other side. Sure hope not.
    Also, I’ve seen, but never agreed to or taken part in, public trashing of players on here.
    I would hope that our new mods, unless it is quite obvious or onorous, first respond with a warning post under the “offending remark”.

  • JerryCT

    I have been on the FORUM but I hear there is more rock n roll over here …………. besides……… are here

  • MillaRed

    Nice to hear from you Jerry

  • IU Nines

    CTC should use AE’s waxing confidence to his advantage. Design plays for him get the open 3. Man, we could use a shooter. This team’s identity has been in flux since the beginning of the season, so an experiment like this shouldn’t rock the boat too much.

  • IU Nines

    is that a slow clap? nice.

  • IU Nines

    Both are quite athletic. Comparisons of individual athletic capabilities are difficult to define. IU has a very high percentage of athletic players compared to most teams in the nation.

    What we really need are better decisions from these guys. Will has sped up the game lately and made some poor ones. He’s pressing because his the elder statesman and he’s no longer the 6th man.