Notebook: Crean impressed with Nick Zeisloft early on

  • 08/11/2014 8:05 am in

Just before the Indiana men’s basketball team was set to leave for their Canada tour on Thursday morning, Hoosiers coach Tom Crean found transfer addition Nick Zeisloft in the gym, working on his game with rising sophomore Stan Robinson.

It was 6:45 a.m. The team was scheduled to meet at 8 a.m.

“That’s what you want,” Crean said on Sunday afternoon. “No one told them to do that. And that’s the level of commitment you want.”

Zeisloft, a senior with two years of eligibility remaining, had arrived in Bloomington just days before then after completing his undergraduate education at Illinois State. He had only practiced with the Hoosiers for “a couple of days,” according to Crean, before flying with the team to Montreal.

And while he is new to Bloomington, Crean said he still has “extremely high expectations” for Zeisloft. After all, last season he shot nearly 42 percent from beyond the arc during Missouri Valley Conference play and 90 percent from the free throw line throughout the season.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re 21, 22, 42 or 52, you walk into a new environment, it’s going to be different,” Crean said. “But we have high expectations for Nick. Extremely high expectations for him. Because like I said, when we started studying his film when this became a possibility, we felt there was a lot on the table left for him. and there is, and we’re going to keep pushing him.

“And I think he wants it. He’s an extremely hard worker.”

Through his first two exhibition games as a Hoosier, Zeisloft has recorded 12 points — on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range — and three assists. Crean sees him having a large role in his future at Indiana.

“He’ll be a real factor for us,” Crean said. “I have no doubt about that.”

Defensive struggles in loss to Ottawa

As Crean noted following Indiana’s 109-101 loss to Ottawa on Sunday, the Hoosiers ranked in the top two in 3-point shooting defense last season in the Big Ten.

Against Ottawa, the Hoosiers allowed 18 made 3-pointers on 30 attempts and an overall 64.1 effective field goal shooting percentage.

“Because of our 3-point defense, it takes a bit for us to learn we’re not an over-help team and that we really don’t over-help on the ball nearly as much,” Crean said. “But with that being said, you’ve got to keep the ball under control.”

Ottawa’s offense produced 19 assists, all the while turning the ball over just 12 times — and just four of them from Indiana steals. And while it was a high-paced game (the exhibitions are being played with 24-second shot clocks), Crean did not excuse the team for its lack of stops.

“We lost it because we got fatigued a little bit defensively, and we didn’t get the 3-point shooting under control at the end of the game,” Crean said. “And they shot it well the whole game, I see that, but we needed to get a couple stops. This team’s got to learn that to be successful you’ve got to put together multiple stops with multiple scores. And that’s how you create separation.”

James Blackmon Jr. settling in

Through Indiana’s first two games of its preseason tour through Canada, its leading scorer is freshman James Blackmon Jr. After scoring 14 points in Indiana’s opening win over Laval, the 6-foot-4 guard scored 20 in the Hoosiers’ loss to Ottawa on Sunday.

“Something I knew was going to come was my offense,” Blackmon said. “One of the best things I do is score, so I know that will come along.”

One thing Crean has challenged Blackmon — and Indiana’s other guards — to do is effectively push the ball up the court. Crean said on Sunday he will play whoever can pass the ball up-court most effectively on the fast break as his point guard.

Blackmon has welcomed that challenge, he said. Through the first two games of the trip, Blackmon has recorded four assists and has also been effective on the boards, grabbing nine defensive rebounds as well.

“That’s one of the reasons I thought that I should come here: (Crean’s) going to push me,” Blackmon said. “I can play the point guard and I can show that here, and I’ve just been getting a lot better at pushing my dribble up.”

But, as with all incoming freshmen, there is a learning curve to the college game. And Blackmon learned one of those lessons on Sunday.

“We all thought we could have had it in the fourth quarter when it was 88-88,” he said. “We thought we had the game, and that’s what we’ll probably talk about. Just not letting that slip again, and I don’t think it will happen again.”

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  • OhioHoosier

    I believe Troy is the leading scorer.

  • srhise

    I’m really struggling with Crean’s overall messaging. So it seems his #1 focus right now is who can push the ball up the floor? I thought we’ve learned our lesson by now. That doesn’t work in the big ten. Against good teams you have to be able to play in the half court.

    Also he has no real message on the over-helping. He says yeah, you can’t overhelp, but you gotta stop the ball… That mixed message leaves me right in the middle, unconvinced of what I should do. Stick to your guns. If you think you can guard 1 on 1, then do it!

  • SCHoosier

    Just MHO..but given that IU’s guards and wings are going to have to rebound..TC wants who ever has the ball to get the break started quickly with a pass or by taking off with the dribble. No more looking around for someone else to throw it too?? May not be that urgent with a 35 sec shot clock..still he sees open shots for his shooters with a blistering pace. As far as the “over-helping” only reaction is “Huh?”

  • MillaRed

    Never heard it called “over-help” before. But he is talking about our help defense obviously. We must not have rotated well and as a result you usually have two players guarding one man. A skip pass or two crisp passes on the perimeter will find an open shooter. And as we saw against a team like this, they are going to get open threes.

    In general we are a young team and need to know our responsibilities on the perimeter. As noted in other CTC comments, it sounded like we were really winded. That affected our close outs as well.

  • skotchie

    If JBJ really wants to be a point guard at the next level
    then here’s how I see him succeeding in attaining that goal.

    2014-15 Share the point with Yogi & RJ, learn from Yogi
    while making some mistakes playing the point about 20%. The other 80% you’re

    2015-16 I’m assuming Yogi is still around JBJ gets to run
    the point 25-30% of the time allowing Yogi to get his scoring numbers up while
    still playing a most of the point showing NBA scouts he can run the offence and

    2016-17 CTC brings in a point successor for the future the
    cycle starts over with JBJ playing the point 80% sharing with RJ and the new
    recruit. JBJ shows the NBA scouts he can run the point and score the ball.

    Sounds like a great plan and it’s how college basketball
    used to operate however in this day in age your either a one-an-done or you’re
    washed up. So I imagine instead of this stellar plan being put into operation instead
    JBJ will get tons of pub, all the questions, and if the writers place him in
    the popularity contest of what is the NBA lottery he’ll be gone having learned
    very little and spend the next three years in the NBA learning from the bench
    an in practice what he could have learned at IU on the court enjoying his last
    years of being a kid, getting an education and becoming a man.

    I know the only important thing is to cash in ASAP, I get

  • Hoosier Hall

    With very limited video to go on, I already like Nick Zeisloft. He appears to be an intelligent player and doesn’t have as much fear as some of his predecessors. It takes confidence to knock down a 3 off the dribble after a high ball screen and he made it look fluid. Can’t help but think about the impact of Hanner and Jeremiah in this last game. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered much. I mean, we were scoring and shooting well. They just shot better than us.

  • Bryce Kepner

    I think he wants to push the ball so that the team can get into it’s offense much earlier. Last year the team seemed to struggle at times even to get it across half court and have a decent amount of time to set something up on offense. If these highlight videos and exhibition games are any sign of our offense will be this year, we fans have nothing to worry about.
    And the over helping is actually very easy to understand if you listen to all the guys mention it. Help defense and rotating is important, but you can do it so much that you completely lose track of your own man and leave him wide open! Pretty simple concepts

  • Bryce Kepner

    I was definitely skeptical of the Zeisloft signing but I think he is going to be an important piece of this squad!


    A Haaa, I thought I had caught glimpses of you silently lurking in the shadows of the ITH comment section over the last couple of weeks, welcome back. lol Kinda what I’ve been doing only not quite to the degree that you have, I’ve just been stepping out of the shadows once in a while to reply rather than comment. lol


    In the pic with this thread,Tim Garl has looks like he is wanting to go out onto the court and kick somebody’s butt and Nick Z looks like he’s afraid it might be his. lol

  • MillaRed

    I’m all eyes and ears Mike. Interested to see how all of this plays out. Still puzzled by things like the HMP situation. But I’m learning to refrain from trying to understand everything going on……slowly……..

  • ForeverIU

    Good to see you back, Milla 🙂

  • b_side

    Based on the twitter comments and feedback elsewhere, it sounded like the “over-help” was a result of not having a rim protector on the floor. The team likely over compensated on drives and we got burned on the kick-out.

  • ForeverIU

    I wonder where calbert40 and Gregory Spera are? Can you imagine ITH without them?

  • I second that emotion…

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I’m looking forward to nick proving all the ney Sayers wrong, including me