Nick Zeisloft taking on leadership role

  • 10/14/2014 10:20 am in

When Indiana coach Tom Crean chose to offer Illinois State transfer Nick Zeisloft a scholarship over the summer, the Hoosiers coach said he saw “a lot on the table left for him.” What could have the Hoosiers’ coach potentially seen in the Redbirds’ seventh-leading scorer that was worthy enough of offering a scholarship with limited spots available?

“I think Nick is going to be a fantastic leader,” Crean said during the Montreal trip. “It’s going to take him a little while to get used to and get comfortable and all those things with the team, but we’re highly confident that he will.”

In the Hoosiers’ five-game tour of Canada, the 6-foot-4 Zeisloft showed some of the on-court value he has: averaging 8.8 points and hitting 11-of-20 3-point attempts. On a team that simply lacked 3-point shooters, Zeisloft already has showed he can be a solution.

On Monday at the Hoosiers’ first practice of situational five-on-five action, Zeisloft’s leadership role was already apparent, as well. The former Illinois State captain played a major role in communicating with his teammates, leading huddles and providing intensity on the court.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Zeisloft said. “A lot of fun just being very vocal with all of my teammates and them being vocal at me, helping me out if I make a mistake and if they make a mistake I’ll help them, as well. Whenever a team has each other’s backs, see, that’s the most fun about it. That’s when the win you most, too, is when you have every teammate’s back.”

In one situation, with his team up big in the final seconds and awaiting foul shots, Zeisloft brought his team together and told them to not rush. In another, after he was a part of a poor in-bounds play, he clapped his hands and loudly said he had to do better.

And when sophomore forward Troy Williams missed a technical free throw, Zeisloft went up to him and gave him vocal encouragement, patting him on the chest afterward.

“He talks on the court and he talks off the court,” Williams said. “He’s a leader on both ends.”

At the same time, though, Zeisloft said he does not see himself as more of a leader than anyone else on the team. He emphasized that everyone is helping each other out with leadership so that when the time comes, “everyone can be called upon at any point of the day.”

But even freshman Robert Johnson noted how Zeisloft “came in and really took heed to that everybody has to lead.” And heading into the season, Zeisloft said he is taking that role quite seriously.

“Every day, every drill, every possession, you never know what coach Crean is going to ask of you,” Zeisloft said. “And everyone needs to be ready to lead at some point or follow to the best of their abilities.”

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  • SCHoosier

    For Nick I hope its lead ..folo or…bombs away!

  • Shaggy_C

    One of the telling preseason interviews last year was one where some of the freshmen were coming in and talking about how “everyone is a leader” and that they felt safe even giving Will Sheehey pointers and advice.

    While there’s something to be said for team cohesiveness, it can most definitely go too far and you can end up having no leadership at all. It sounds to me like this year’s team is going to be improved in that department – Zeisloft may downplay it himself but the quotes in the story indicate that the rest of the team looks up to him.

    This is what Crean (and the rest of us) were looking for last year when he brought in Evan Gordon last year as a super senior. Here’s hoping he has found a better fit this time around.

  • Brad

    I am glad Nick by all accounts has good leadership skills. However, it would be nice to get those skills from someone who will be expected to carry the load on the floor. Leadership from the bench only goes so far.

  • Miamihoosier

    I like this kid a lot. I think he will prove invaluable when it all plays out. This year’s team is going to be good, but unpredictable. .next year’s team is going to be special

  • Alford Bailey

    Cautiously optimistic on the kid. Not sure you bring in a role player off a mid major and he suddenly becomes a leader in the B1G. We shall see.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Good point! It’s been my experience that successful teams in any particular sports, business, or social setting thrive when there is ONE leader. IU doesn’t need someone who prefers to lead from behind and will not do well under a “dual leadership” approach. When the fertilizer hits the Osterizer, to whom the players look for help/support/guidance will be clutch.

  • plane1972

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start. Not perhaps when conference rolls around, but I think he’ll crack the starting lineup in a three or even four-guard lineup. If he is reliable from deep, he’ll get minutes worthy of a leadership role.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I agree … Leadership comes from players on the court … This is Yogi’s team … That being said, I won’t be surprised if NZ starts more than 1/2 his IU career …

  • HoosierGrampy

    I hope TC uses 4 guards only when he has someone like Kenneth Faried, Blake Griffin or Anthony Davis also in the game. Playing 4 guards and someone to guard the paint/rebound from this year’s roster is not going to be a recipe for success in 2014-15.

  • plane1972

    It’ll happen. Not for extended periods, but four guards will happen.