Team Previews: Indiana University
Intro: Tom Crean and the Hoosiers have seen rough times in their first two seasons winning only 16 of their 62 games but they’re improving. With their core back from last season (all but Devan Dumes) and their leading scorer back and healthy they’ve added nothing but experience. It more than likely won’t be enough to get them to the upper echelon of the Big Ten but their slowly but surely improving as a team.
Returning: The backcourt of Maurice Creek, Verdell Jones III, and Jeremiah Rivers should return healthy this season. However, it seems as if you may see Jones handling the ball more and Rivers on the wing due to his ability to rebound the ball from the perimeter and Jones’ playmaking skills. When Creek went out last season Verdell stepped his game up tremendously, ending the year as the team’s leading scorer (outside of Creek) at just under 15 points per game. He’s slim but he’s long, has a nice midrange game, and a high IQ. In addition to being a good rebounder, Rivers, too, is a playmaker. He’s strong, physical and locks down on the defensive end as well. The return of Creek may be the most important addition to the Hoosiers’ squad this season. Before a knee injury in December Maurice was averaging 16.4 points and 3.8 rebounds. He’s an athletic wing that can score in a variety of ways. Also returning from injury is Matt Roth, a long range bomber who logged many minutes as a freshman. After redshirting last season Roth is back at full health and Coach Crean will be looking for him to provide an offensive spark off the bench with his deep three point range. Bloomington, Indiana native Jordan Hulls, a 6-foot sophomore, made his way into the starting lineup when Creek went down and was solid. He can handle and shoot the ball and will provide as a steady backup in the backcourt. Christian Watford showed great potential as a freshman. At 6-foot-9 he moves swiftly for his size and has good skills. He’s athletic, can finish, and can also knock down open shots. He averaged a team high 6 rebounds and also poured in 12 points per game. He could develop into a star in the Big Ten. Tom Pritchard and Derek Elson both had solid season. Pritchard was a starter with a year of experience under his belt last season but Elson showed a toughness about himself that was hard to ignore. He is one of the team’s best finishers and rebounders but needs to gain consistency and not fade into the game as much. Bobby Capobianco is a reserve but is skilled. He needs to get tougher if he wants to see minutes but he’s shown the ability to score both inside and out.
Newcomers: Crean had a history of working with and developing big, athletic projects in the post at Marquette and now, at IU, Guy-Marc Michel is his next target. However, there’s only two years to work with the 7-foot-1 junior college transfer who will back up the 5 slot. He’s got the size and shot blocking ability but will need to develop some go to moves in the post so he is not an offensively liability. 6’5” freshman wings Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo are both very good long range shooters and could see minutes at the 2 and 3 slots, respectively. Olapido’s athletic ability could inject him in the rotation quicker than Sheehey but both should fit the Hoosiers’ system well.
Outlook: There’s no way this team can’t improve from last season as they return the same talent, more experience, and are healthier. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done including taking care of the ball, rebounding, and getting more stops but they should already have good chemistry which will make these things easier to accomplish. While they may not be in the conference’s top half this year, they should not be the bottom dweller.
PG – Jones*, Hulls*
SG – Creek*, Roth*, Sheehey
SF – Rivers*, Oladipo
PF – Watford*, Capobianco
C – Pritchard*, Elson*, Michel
Players marked with asterisks are expected to see the majority of the minutes played