That’s A Wrap: Robert Johnson

  • 03/25/2015 11:01 am in

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. First up: Robert Johnson.

Johnson (34 games): 8.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 52.9% eFG, 65.1% FT, 38.8 3PFG% in 27 minutes per game.

A top 50 recruit from Richmond, Virginia, Robert Johnson came to Bloomington and made his impact felt immediately. We had our first glimpse at the role Johnson would occupy back in August during IU’s trip to Montreal when he did a little bit of everything in averaging 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game over five exhibition games.

The coaching staff showed confidence in Johnson from the season’s onset as he started in a three-guard set alongside Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr.

His second game in an IU uniform produced his best offensive output of the season as he torched Texas Southern for 21 points at Assembly Hall on 8-of-13 shooting. He also had three other key offensive performances in Big Ten play as he went for 14 at Nebraska in the conference opener, 20 at home in a win over Penn State and 19 at home in a win over Minnesota.

But while Johnson was effective as a scorer when he asserted himself, his role was more complementary than that of a featured piece of IU’s offense. With plenty of other offensive help around him, Johnson never forced the issue and often chose the role of facilitator rather than looking for his own shot. His overall numbers reflect that as he took 162 fewer shots than Blackmon Jr. despite playing only 72 fewer minutes on the season.

His numbers for the season were solid all-around, but Johnson seemed to lose some of his explosiveness when he went down with a knee injury in IU’s loss at Ohio State in late January. Although he didn’t miss a game as a result of that injury, he appeared to be limited as times because of it.

“I was definitely in a good position this year,” Johnson said after IU’s loss to Wichita State. “I played a lot of basketball. Coach (Crean) believed in me, played me a lot of minutes, so that’s definitely going to help for next year.”

In preparing for his sophomore season, there’s plenty for Johnson to build on and also improve upon. As shown below by Shot Analytics, his midrange game and finishing at the rim are areas to work on between now and the start of practice:


Additionally, Johnson needs to work on becoming more explosive off of one foot to finish better at the rim and improve his handle to play better in traffic as his turnover percentage (24.2) was the worst on the roster. And like most everyone on Indiana’s roster, Johnson’s defense, particularly his ability to contain ball penetration, must also improve.

Bottom Line: Like most freshmen, Johnson’s season had its share of ups and downs, but the experience he gained as a starter who played heavy minutes on a NCAA tournament team will be invaluable to his future. While there’s uncertainty on whether IU will return its entire backcourt next season, Johnson is clearly a building block for the program moving forward as he should only continue to grow as a player. And if his path of improvement at this level is anything like the one he took as a high school player, an appearance on one of the All-Big Ten teams will be in his future.

Quotable: “Any time you lose in the first round of the (NCAA) tournament, that’s not something to be satisfied with. So looking forward as a player and a team, we need to get better and stronger and just continue to develop a tougher mindset.” – Johnson following IU’s loss to Wichita State.

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  • Gregory Spera

    Question. Is RJ Yogi’s eventual replacement at point guard, or are we still looking for that?

  • Rob

    It doesn’t matter who plays where. As long as TC is coach we will be mired in mediocrity.

  • Taskmaster75

    Really? How about offering some actual discussion rather than just moping around childishly? Crean is here, like it or not. Derailing discussions with your complaints serves nothing for the site and is disrespectful to the community.

  • Taskmaster75

    He’s a different type of PG than Yogi is, but he has some potential in that spot, especially considering that he was often relied upon to initiate the offense this season. I’d like him to curb his propensity to turnover the ball when driving, but he has the tools to make it work, and an offensive game that seems well on its way to being effective. Intangibly, he seems aware enough to rarely force the issue offensively, as Blackmon has struggled with this season, and is willing to be patient for the right shot.

    I would say that he is the heir apparent, but you never know if a De’Angelo Russell type player will be available. HE could just as easily be a combo guard in our system as he has done much of this season if the roster justifies it.

  • Rob

    All righty then. RJ is an average BIG point guard. Yogi is improving. Whether Yogi, RJ, or any other human being on the planet plays point for IU they will still be mediocre. I hope this helps.

  • SCHoosier

    Rob earned a lot of floor time and responsibility in his freshman year and IMO …handled it well. By his senior year I would expect him to be an All-conference player. Against the cupcakes, Rob was successful getting to the rim off the weave and knocking down a 3 with open looks. The better defenses in the B-10 took a toll on his drives…and 3’s. RJ needs a much better handle and crisper passing on the perimeter. I’d like to see him work on a softer release for his 3 pt shot..its very “muscular”..and he either zips it or klangs it. No shooter’s roll in his release. Rob also needs a pull up game given that he can get into the paint. On defense Rob will only improve and I expect him to be our go too guy in coming years. Lot to like about RJ’s future. He will put in the work to be a great player!

  • SCHoosier

    Lot of them being looked at in the 2016 class.

  • Blair McKee

    I like RJ at the One. Certainly he can create. He’s a little long for lots of dribbling. Would think you’d have some competition for that spot.

  • mckillio

    After our program went in the dumpster and was lit on fire for three years. I agree with your sentiment.

  • Hardwood83

    To be fair I accept mediocrity in all facets of my life, not just IU basketball. At least I’m consistent…….

  • John D Murphy

    I like RJ. However, the TC “do everything fast” offensive system seemed to destroy his drives that were paced under control earlier in the season. Like all of IUs guards and wings, his athleticism would suggest him to be a better defender than he actual is. He would flourish if he were properly coached.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I’m very interested in seeing this guy develop. He has a ton of skill and decent size for playing the point. His defense actually wasn’t that bad compared to a few others on the roster.

  • GatewayHoosier

    Three variables in the equation: Crean, RJ, and opponent. Two remain the same all year, one changes each game and from non-con to B1G. When a freshman’s performance deteriorates as the season goes on and the competition improves, I don’t understand why “coaching sucks” is the obvious answer over “freshman adjusting to college.”

    Regarding Crean’s offense, I, like you, would prefer something else if I were creating it myself. Don’t know what your preference is, but I’m enough of a bball nerd to prefer slow, methodical Princeton-style, essentially polar opposite of Crean’s. But good grief, “preference” does not equal “superior.” Of all the things to question about Crean — recruiting strategy, defense, performance as the year goes on — it boggles my mind that we would still criticize his offense. Top 10 offense in the nation…how can we complain about that?

  • Gregory J. Haggard

    I wonder if anyone else noticed Robert took our first 3 pointer in a great deal of games this year.
    Hit a good amount of them as well.

  • Bk39

    RJ is the second best rounded guard on the team in my opinion. May not have the full firepower of JBJ, but can play respectable defense and can knock down shots and get to the rim. Remember for a stretch of quite a few games RJ was injured from that sideline placard which slowed his performance so his stats would be even better had not been for that occurrence.

  • MadMaxfor3

    I know this is kind of a little after the fact but can we please see those Big Ten tourney uniforms again. I love the tradition of the old uniforms but I really think they’re a good mix of a newer style while still keeping a lot of the traditional parts. Then again we are one of the fan bases that clutches to tradition until our last dying breath… I won’t hold mine

  • TomJameson

    I’m sure you don’t see it Rob, but Taskmaster75 is absolutely right, you are being childish and your own comments prove it.

    “Yogi is improving” ??? you sir are a joke, probably a troll sent to just stir things up.

    Serious question: When will you start adding real content to the discussion instead of just being a … well whatever you are.

  • TomJameson

    I think that no matter who comes in the future, RJs future with IU is assured. He will either be the main point player, or he will be in a role like he was this year. Either way will probably be just fine with RJ.

    His turnovers worried me also, but I think (hope) he will be doing all those dribble exercises/drills we’ve seen Oladipo do. Not comparing the two, just trying to bring the image of the drills themselves. lol

    The article alluded to RJs improvement throughout HS, which to me means he’s a hard worker. I think we’re all going to be happy with his improvements next year. Everyone except Rob of course – LOL

  • TomJameson

    The two things I’d like to see more of from ALL our guards … a floater and lob passes to the rim.

  • StevieV610

    I think a good comp for RJ is Marshall Strickland. He played primarily as a ball-handler when Bracey was the primary scoring option, but asserted himself as a weapon during his senior season after Bracey left. In a way, Bracey/Marshall may be a suitable parallel in several ways to JBJ/RJ.

  • StevieV610

    I know it’s purely cosmetic, but those Adidas duds at the end did look really polished.

  • Rob

    Calling a person childish, a joke, a troll and whatever you are is compelling content. Name calling is the last bastion of person who cannot formulate an intelligent coherent argument. Therefore there is no need for me to go their now or ever. Keep the name calling up, I wear bigboy pants and the names bounce right off. I’m an alum and a former coach of IU’s freshman and my opinion stands on its own merits. And by the way, if you want to watch a team that is well coached watch Wichita State tonight my good fellow man.

  • TomJameson

    I’m actually a fan of Wichita State. See them play my favorite home team the Evansville Aces every year.

    My last line was basically a sarcastic play on one of your comments, which obviously failed to convey any humor.

    Your comments were full of negativity and a little disrespecting to the players and coach (Yogi is improving .. hahaha). We all get it that you don’t like the coach, but you can’t see the future and know how the book ends (so to speak).

    BTW, I’m a big boy too, and just because you say you were a former coach doesn’t garner any merit. As far as I know you were a horrible coach that was mired in mediocrity and that’s why you’re not there anymore.

  • Rob

    It’s true that I was/am a bad coach. However, the reason that I lost the gig is that the NCAA ruled it a violation for a teams incoming freshman to play an organized summer schedule. My lack of coaching skills for a volunteer position does not excuse the lack of coaching skills of a man who is running a top 10 program at a salary of $3 million a year.


    The things that he needs to do to take, as you say the zip and klang out of his shot, should also help his, lower than you would expect / think FT %, as well.