The Inside the Hall Mailbag: October 21

  • 10/21/2014 11:34 am in

The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

hoosiersftw on the premium forum writes: In the opinion of the ITH staff, what are reasonable expectations for this team? An improved B1G record? A return to the NCAA tournament? More?

For this question, I solicited the opinion of ITH co-founder Ryan Corazza as well beat writer Jordan Littman. Corazza: “I think a return to the tourney qualifies as reasonable, which would likely mean an improved Big Ten record.” And Littman: “Well firstly, I think a reasonable expectation for this team would be a return to being regarded for its shooting. This year’s squad has many more capable shooters than last year’s, and multiple in-game scoring droughts last season certainly did not help the Hoosiers. As far as results-based expectations are concerned, though, it’s a bit difficult to say as nobody has seen this team in action. And 60 percent of the entire roster has never even played a game in the cream and crimson. That said, though, there always is a pressure for Indiana to make the NCAA tournament, and I think that also is an expectation for this season.”

Assuming Indiana improves its Big Ten record, it should be in contention for a NCAA tournament bid. That would mean it would have at least eight conference wins and if you reasonably assume ten non-conference wins, 18 wins (at minimum) going into the Big Ten tournament at least gives the Hoosiers a chance. I think getting back to the NCAA tournament is certainly reasonable to expect. — Alex Bozich

Mike Stepp on Facebook writes: What’s the latest status of the Jeremiah April injury? And if healthy what kind of role can we expect him to play this season?

The latest on April, per Tom Crean’s comments last week at Big Ten media day in Chicago, is that he remains sidelined with a left ankle injury and could start practicing again around the time of Indiana’s first exhibition game, which is early next month.

I think at this point, it’s probably best to just table any expectations for April until we see him in some live action, which hasn’t happened to this point. — Alex Bozich

Mark on the premium forum writes: Who is our best defensive player, and why? IMHO it is Stan.

I’d go with Yogi Ferrell. Robinson has the potential, but isn’t consistent enough from what I’ve observed. Robinson can be very good on the ball, but there’s more to being a good defender than just ball pressure.

Go back and watch the film of Indiana-Michigan last year at Assembly Hall and what Ferrell was able to do to Nik Stauskas and it’s tough to argue against him. — Alex Bozich

kmark22 on the premium forum writes: Three things that need to happen for IU to make the NCAA tourney?

I’ll get to the point on this one, with the caveat that it was tough to limit this to just three things: 1. Considerable improvement on the turnover issue that derailed last season; 2. Consistent and somewhat productive frontcourt minutes out of Hanner Mosquera-Perea (25 per game); 3. Find a third consistent scorer beyond Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr. Doesn’t need to be the same guy every night, but Indiana needs to be balanced. — Alex Bozich

Chad Doerr on Facebook writes: Life-long Fan but first Hoosier Hysteria. Coming with my young boys. Historically, what can we expect regarding entry into Assembly Hall. With it being a free event I’m assuming long lines and first come first serve seating?

Assuming you arrive early, I would expect to wait in line, but generally the lines move fast and folks are able to get to their seats in a timely manner. And yes, the seating is first come, first served. It’s a great event to bring children and let them get their first IU basketball experience. Enjoy. — Alex Bozich

dmacer1227 on the premium forum writes: Due to our size (or lack thereof), do you think we will be able to hold our own against B1G opponents if we aren’t shooting well?

There are going to be some teams who try to pound the ball inside against Indiana, but this team is going to have to combat that with speed and quickness. Having size isn’t necessary to becoming a good defensive team, but playing as a cohesive unit that communicates well is.

I suspect there will be some frustrating nights for IU fans when the Hoosiers face an elite post player that knows how to exploit a mismatch, but if you look around the Big Ten, there aren’t exactly a lot of elite post players. This isn’t going to be a team that can rely on one or two guys carrying the defense, it has to be a group effort. — Alex Bozich

airnel48 on the premium forum writes: It seems like most experts are picking us to finish 8th-9th in the B1G. What would you say are the absolute best case finish and worst case finish in terms of B1G standings?

I picked Indiana to finish eighth in a set of predictions that asked me to participate in, but I could see the Hoosiers finishing as high as fourth or fifth or as low as tenth. Beyond Wisconsin, the league seems wide open and with such an unbalanced schedule, there are going to be several deviations from how the league is being picked in the preseason. There are surprises every year and this one will be no different. — Alex Bozich

Jon Robling on Facebook writes: Will Crean play Hanner and Devin at the same time or do you think that he’ll sub them for each other?

I don’t see them starting together with any regularity, but I could see them playing together as Davis is certainly a guy you can plug in at the four. Obviously, it would be difficult to play them together for long periods of time just because of the risk of foul trouble, but I don’t see any reason why they can’t play together, certainly against teams with a lot of frontcourt size. — Alex Bozich

Hoosiers88 on the premium forum writes: Will the freshman (Robert and James) be able to hold their own on perimeter defense in the B1G? Thoughts?

Johnson looks like the better defender of the two so far from what I’ve seen and while there will be some growing pains as there are for every freshman, he should be solid in that area right away. I still need to see more out of Blackmon Jr. in terms of being physical, but he’s certainly working to get better in that area. He knows it’s something he needs to improve upon and like any player who aspires to be great, is making it a focus in his development. — Alex Bozich

cheeseman18 on the premium forum writes: From what you’ve seen, how many players will be in our rotation this year, and who do you believe they will be?

Rotation as I see right now would be, in no particular order, Blackmon Jr., Ferrell, Robinson, Johnson, Zeisloft, Williams, Mosquera-Perea, Davis and Holt. Hoetzel would probably be next in line for a spot. — Alex Bozich

@ARealWolverine on Twitter writes: Anything on when Bryant will announce?

Not a lot of news on that front to report other than it appears he’ll wait until the spring to sign a National Letter of Intent. I haven’t heard anything firm on a decision timetable. — Alex Bozich

HoosierDadE on the premium forum writes: How are the plans moving along for the Assembly Hall renovation project? Any new design pictures than the ones first reported?

Fred Glass said late in the summer that they’re continuing to meet and finalize the plans for the project, which will start immediately after this season, continue through the 2015-2016 and then be completed in time for the 2016-2017 season. As for any new design photos, none have been released to my knowledge. — Alex Bozich

Oleman on the premium forum writes: There has been talk about IU’s need for a pressure defense to keep other teams from slowing the pace on us. Do you see more of that being implemented this year?

It’s been talked about, but realistically, once you get into the grind of conference play, it’s really tough to play fast. I think Indiana tries to push pace by running off of made baskets by their opponents, but in terms of using defense to speed teams up, it’s not something that comes easily against teams like Wisconsin and Northwestern. Indiana’s best chance to put pressure on teams, in my view, is to push the pace as much as possible offensively while taking care of the ball better. I’d be shocked to see any kind of full-court pressure defense played with any regularity. — Alex Bozich

BK39 on the premium forum writes: CTC I believe stated he wanted 3 shooters on the floor. Yogi, JBJ, RJ, NZ, certainly would be shooters. Has anyone else shown or proven they should be included on this list that will play in more than just situational minutes?

Possibly Max Hoetzel, but he still needs to become stronger to include him in that group. He’s not lacking in confidence, but strength and conditioning must continue to be major focuses for him. I’d say right now he’s more situational than rotation regular. Depending on how the health of Collin Hartman progresses, he has a chance to earn some minutes as a potential floor spacer, but he needs to develop some more confidence and assertiveness to include him on any list of this team’s top shooters. — Alex Bozich

“WILL” take charge on the premium forum writes: We’ve heard many stories from some people about Hanner being improved. All of the people are together in saying that he is better, as he should be. But at the same time these people aren’t really raving like his improvement is all that dramatic . Realistically (without playing a game yet) do you believe he has improved enough to give us 20-25 solid minutes?

I’ve only seen one practice, so it’s really tough to say if he’s improved enough to give solid minutes. But whether he’s ready or not, he’s going to play quite a bit, so we’re going to find out quickly. I’ll share what I wrote about Mosquera-Perea following that practice in the premium forum below:

“Mosquera-Perea is definitely better, but it’s really hard to say how much because a lot of this practice was drills and there was only a little bit of 5-on-5. He still needs to become better in traffic, but he seemed to be more comfortable out there. He’s not really going to need to score much, so the question becomes, can he play 25 minutes and get 7 rebounds per game without fouling? If he can, that can be huge for this team.” — Alex Bozich

@mattyork1941 on Twitter writes: What is the status on the health of the entire team? It seems surprises seem to come up every year with players health.

As discussed above, April is still out and Hartman is easing his way back into things, but everyone else was healthy as of Monday, Oct. 13, which is the date when I watched practice. — Alex Bozich

Olde Hoosier on the premium forum writes: Who do you see getting the most playing time this season, Nick or Rob?

Can I say this one is a push? I think they’ll both start some games and play a healthy amount of minutes. Zeisloft is a guy who I’ve had a lot of praise for because he’s an intelligent player who appears to be confident. And Johnson is just solid across the board and doesn’t play like a freshman. I think Johnson is likely to get more minutes overall because of defense, but I expect both guys to play pivotal roles. — Alex Bozich

Knuckledrager on the premium forum writes: With all the controversy over subbing last year how will fans react with so many options on the bench this year? I think it made sense to spread the minutes around to produce a more well rounded team, but there was a lot of second guessing CTC and his decisions. I think we will be a run and gun team and this wears out both teams so the bench will be the difference on how well this works. So, if this is the game plan there will be a lot of subbing. Go Hoosiers.

One reason there was a lot of subbing last year is that the staff was looking for answers and quite frankly, there weren’t many of them to be found on the bench. So when something didn’t work, the natural reaction was to try something else.

Naturally, if the team is pushing pace, there will be a fair amount of subbing, but I’m not sure I see more than eight or nine guys playing consistently when the meat of the schedule kicks in. The best chance to win is to play your best players the most minutes possible without wearing them down by March and that’s what I see happening with this group. — Alex Bozich

TomJameson on the premium forum writes: If the B1G is in a down year with a lot of unknowns about how they rank amongst themselves, and they beat each other up during conference play leaving a core group in the middle hovering around the .500 mark in conference, how many teams do you think the B1G will take to the NCAA tourney?

Seven is probably a realistic number in that scenario. Maybe eight if the computer numbers are really strong and some of the bubble teams have some nice wins in the non-conference. That would probably set up a very intriguing Big Ten tournament in Chicago with plenty of NCAA tournament implications. — Alex Bozich

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  • funkycfunkydo

    ’11-’12 we were 118th with 12.9 per game. ’12-’13 we were 155th with 13 per game.

    Just looking at big ten play, last year’s team was 12th (last) in the conference, ’12-’13 was 11th, and ’11-’12 was 8th.

    So yes, the numbers last year were worse than in the two “good” years under Crean, but there has always been reasonable room for improvement.

  • b_side

    Appreciate the leg work on digging up those stats. Crazy to think that two measly turnovers is the difference between being average and abysmal.

    I could see us being right around 13 again, similar to those good years. If it bears out a top 5 Kenpom offense again which would lead us to the tourney, we’ll all be satisfied.

  • Ole Man

    I’d almost guarantee that it will be brought up at least once!

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    What did you see applied to address crazy turnover level last year? No pro RMK, but know his teams were never @ that level. Could IU have won 5, 6, or more games last year with a lower TO stat? Most likely

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Well – watch the Grantland “Jalen & Bill’s” NBA preview for the Celtics — which I am a fan also — who is saying that he believes BS gets fed up with losing, and if the IU, Duke or UNC position were open, would likely bolt.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Hey — I think IU should finish at LEAST in the top 6, as high as 4. Shooters and pressure defense is the name of the current game — which we “should” be able to do this year between JBJ, YF, RJ, NZ and possibly Max shooting the nets off the rims — and with YF, SR, TW (if he were to maximize his physical gifts defensively) we should be able to play extremely good pressure defense.

    The wild card, HMP/DD/EH —- can we defend the rim?

    That being said, there are only about 2-3 really good centers in the B1G now anyway.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    UMMMM — I’m pretty darn sure they played for the national championship 2 years ago (although that was embarrassing) and they have a really good chance at the first college football playoff. If IU had played for the national championship 2 years ago (which was attainable) we wouldn’t be having this conversation. BTW — I am a grad from both IU and ND, so I can root for IU bball and ND football with a strait face!

  • b_side

    I saw Marlin and Howard getting playing time over younger, more talented players. Unfortunately it was a double-edged sword because those guys couldn’t put the ball in the basket. Nonetheless, it was an adjustment.

    Noah was a turnover machine when he got double teamed. For all of his physical talents, he had limited court awareness when the second man doubled. The ball won’t be force-fed to the post this season (mainly because Hanner isn’t a dominant presence yet).

    Experience and familiarity with the system will go a long way for Troy and Stan (two others guilty of the turnovers). Yogi will feel less pressure to make a play all by himself. The two freshmen getting the most playing time (JBJ/RJ) are more fundamentally sound than a typical freshman. It’s reasonable to think we can get back to par with the turnovers (13 per game).

  • AnonymousDave

    I’m also dumbfounded as to how someone can think a team that went 17-15 and lost a lottery pick, has Hanner to replace him, and lost our senior warrior can think we jump to third in an expanded big ten without at least some quality coaching. Ohio st got better in my mind, Nebraska will be better, Michigan replaced they’re losses pretty well and has some players ready to take leaps, Illinois and Maryland have solid teams, Mich St will at least be a hard team to beat, and Purdue is extremely underrated and will definitely be a match up nightmare for us, and oh yea Wisconsin is one of the best teams in the nation. I’m very confused.

  • Alford Bailey

    I can can see you are confused and I’m willing to help. Follow me as I step out of the tiny paradigm that is B town to view the big picture that is IU basketball.