Injuries remain a concern as Indiana preps for 2016-2017 season

  • 10/13/2016 2:32 pm in

WASHINGTON – Indiana is expected to begin the 2016-2017 season as one of the top 25 teams in the country, but it may be some time before this team’s potential is realized.

As the Hoosiers prepare for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Kansas in Hawaii, several players who are expected to be in the rotation continue to recover from injuries.

“I love our team’s spirit. I love their energy,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said on Thursday. “We’re nowhere near healthy enough, which means we’re not even close to having a real understanding of where we can be as a team, but it’s a great team to be with every day.”

While Indiana does have expected starters James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson cleared for all basketball activities, Crean mentioned four other players when asked to provide updates on the health of his team at the Marriott Wardman Park for Big Ten media day.

The most substantial injury is Collin Hartman’s left knee, which is expected to keep him out indefinitely. Crean said Hartman has been involved in stationary shooting to keep him active in practice.

Three other frontcourt players are also dealing with setbacks.

Junior college forward Freddie McSwain had knee surgery earlier in the fall and has been doing some shooting, according to Crean.

“Freddie, it’s hard to tell,” Crean explained. “He’s moving better. But before he’s full speed, I wouldn’t see that before the first game. Hopefully we get to play him before for the first game. But being able to be in the full speed mode, it’s going to be some time in November I think.”

The short term prognosis is more positive for sophomore forward Juwan Morgan, who battled nagging shoulder injuries last season that required offseason surgery.

Morgan has been cleared to do everything but play live with contact, but that should change in a couple of weeks.

“I don’t have an exact date on that,” Crean said. “But it will be soon.”

Freshman De’Ron Davis, who didn’t arrive on campus until late August, is still not 100 percent. Crean said the Colorado Mr. Basketball suffered a minor Achilles injury early on, but is “getting healthier.”

Add it all up and it’s not hard to see why the Indiana team that will take the floor in less than a month in the Armed Forces Classic will be very much a work in progress.

“We’re trying to run our own race,” Crean said. “And I think that’s the most important thing that these guys can understand is that you don’t pick up from where you left off, you build on where you were at. It’s constantly a new challenge every day to get that understood, but we’re definitely working at it.”

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  • BL4IU

    Never heard of a “minor” achilles. Hope such a thing exists and DD is back to 100% soon. Was really hoping to have McFly for Kansas. Be nice to let him rough up Jackson for awhile.

    Somebody in Bloomington, please step on the damn injury bug.

  • SoCal Hoosier

    “You don’t pick up from where you left off, you build on where you were at. It’s constantly a new challenge every day to get that understood.” In the grand pantheon of obfuscation, I’m sure it is.

  • Fivelefts

    Gotta Love CTC.. Sigh.. He always manage to put my enthusiasm in check! LOL!

  • Berned Out

    I think he means that our players are refusing to understand their potential to qualify for (and likely win) the … Paralympics!

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    I think we are going to have to display extra patience around this team early in the year…unfortunately every loss counts….even the early ones as we were so punished for last year. Win the Big 10..congrats.. but here is a 5 seed because you lost to UNLV/Wake in Maui!!!

  • Patience will be required, I think, Hoosier fans. Juts a bit of patience.

  • I swear I did NOT read your comment before posting mine. 🙂 Incidentally, the weird thing about our schedule this season is that the only loses we’re likely to get will be against Top 20 teams, which shouldn’t hurt our seeding the same way. The rest of the schedule means we shouldn’t even be challenged with some of these players still recovering. Of course, that means low SOS.

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    At least we both agree!!

  • TomJameson

    Maybe I’m an oddity, but I understand what Crean was saying. Picking up from where you left off is like staying at the same level as you were, building on where you were at, is using where you left off as a starting point for growth. CTC made a comment earlier this year that he wanted the defense to start from where it was and build it better from there. I was a bit encouraged by that. lol

  • Fifer39

    This all makes things look at bit thin in the frontcourt for a while at least. I’m not as sold on the significance of the starting 5 as some. But if I was playing that game, as things stand at the moment, RJ, JBJ, OG and TB must be definites to be first on the floor against Kansas with JN the most likely other at the 1 in a 3 guard line-up. Or will any of the freshman force their way into that 5…?

  • SoCal Hoosier

    Yeah, we’re building alright…new knees, new shoulders, a spare Achilles here and there…I want the Orthopaedic concession in Cook Hall.

  • I thought about this a bit for some reason. There’s a potential pitfall buried in that statement and attitude. The Crean quote. It assumes that this new team, with lots of newbies, is right now at the same level as last year’s tournament team. They very likely are not at that level right now and it might cause them to expect an easier ride than opponents will allow. Could be some rough patches coming out of this, and some hard knocks.

    What is it that they’re going to have to learn really quickly, and possibly the hard way? How tough are they as a team?

  • If Juwan doesn’t now start, he’ll be an unbelievable 6th man.

  • pdhoosier

    Minor Achilles might mean like a pull or stretch, sometimes you extend just a tad to far . ..

  • pdhoosier

    I think fifer has it right with juwan being 6th ish with the two Fresh guards in and a little de’ron as nackup 5 and maybe even a little thriller sprinkled in to relieve minutes, he can at least rebound and foul their 5

  • TomJameson

    Hi Clyde. I agree that there are always potential pitfalls, but not really too concerned this year. Here’s why.

    First, there is a very solid core of returning players that know what is expected in that area, especially since it’s been the area of focus so far. They will be the starters, and their learning curve for the defense will be minimal.

    Then there are the 2 “newbies” who are transfers. They both have BB experience after high school, and both pride themselves in their defense. Love that attitude. That leave the true incoming freshmen.

    One of the most consistent things I’ve heard about all of our incoming freshmen, (De’Ron, Curtis, Devonte, and Grant) is their dedication to defense. That’s fairly rare in itself, but it seems to be a common thread in this class.

    So yeah, while there is a potential for pitfalls, I’m just not real concerned.

  • pcantidote

    Perhaps eventually, but I am kind of concerned that he really hasn’t played since last spring. It may take him a while.

  • Bill Graham

    Just going on logic here no trying to sound crude but….

    I’d rather have a healthy;

    and Rob

    which we have… At least the four guys who should get the most mins are healthy. Best wishses to Collin, McFly, Davis, and Juwan though.

  • All fair points, and I agree on them all. But I wasn’t really thinking only about defense. I was thinking more along the lines that they “think” they are ready, etc., (and perhaps even do display good defense), but they hit some bumps and a few wheels start falling off. Foul trouble, for one. And more importantly, in tough games where shots just aren’t falling. A couple of losses and some early struggles, and who knows what can happen. I actually don’t think it’s a big concern, and am super-excited about this squad. Trust men on that one. But for the toughness question, that’s really an open question for any team and it can’t be answered anywhere except on the court. And this is where Hartman’s loss really hurts, in my opinion. Hopefully we won’t need it so badly, since we have a lot of experience on the team already. I want hard-nosed attitude and chips on shoulders due to not making it to the Final Four last year, and a feeling that they all still have a lot to prove. And not that they are basically already about there, on that level where they left off last year and are building on that. They are in a way, and it others they absolutely are not. Personally, I think they’re set to slaughter most teams. I just hope they aren’t all right now expecting it to be somewhat easy.

  • Yes sir. I’ve been saying that for years. If all else fails, have a big sub come in from deep down the bench to simply rough up oppenents’ big men. Make them pause and rethink, or even destabilize their emotions and let them force stupid mistakes. Or even soften them up a little for when Bryant returns. With a few rough and tumble possessions, their big men could be taken down a couple notches. If somebody like Priller picks up a couple quick ones, who cares? Assuming fouls are called, make them count. It should have been done years ago in the Hanner days. It could be pretty effective and a nice contribution to the team. Go all Bill Lambier, if you can’t do anything else. Why not?