Friday, November 4, 2011

Big Ten Preview: #9 INDIANA HOOSIERS

Seems like every year we keep waiting for Indiana to put it all together, and every year they tease you a bit but then end up crashing down like that satellite in that Dave Matthews song.  I mean, on paper they should be a pretty good team:  Maurice Creek and Christian Watford were top 50 guys, with Verdell Jones, Jordan Hulls, Derek Elston, Verdell Jones, Will Sheehey, and Victor Oladipo were all top 150 guys.  To that they add Cody Zeller who ranks as #15.  Really, that's a lot of talent on paper.

Maurice Creek has had a whole bunch of knee and leg injuries leading him to look like a shell of his former self and now looks like he's probably out for the year after another surgery and Derek Elston has been pretty lame so far, but the rest of these guys are in various stages of interesting development.  Jones isn't going to be your lead dog any time soon but can score in bunches at times.  Christian Watford is one of the best all around players in the conference, if not the country.  Jordan Hulls is annoying as shit but he's a good quality point guard who takes care of the basketball and can score when needed.  Victor Oladipo has had some serious high-flying highlights and is looking like a superb athlete.  And I don't know what Sheehey is going to develop into but I see some serious Brian Cardinal potential going on.

The biggest key for this year is Zeller.  If he's an immediate impact player who can put up a nightly double-double or near it they have a chance to at least be on the NCAA bubble at the end of the year.  If he's a year away, so are they.  Scouting reports I've read seem to say that his offensive game is already in very good shape, but based on his size and strength he's going to get pushed around a bit, which will mean defensively and on the boards he could end up being a liability.

Big men (6-10 or bigger) in the Rivals top 20 haven't fared all that greatly lately in their first year:  Adreian Payne, Fab Melo, John Henson, MouphtaouYarou, Renardo Sidney, B.J Mullens, Ater Majok, Ty Walker, Terrence Jennings, and Tony Woods all struggled for one reason or another as freshmen.  The only two exceptions were one guy who was exceptionally athletic (Perry Jones) and one guy who was exceptionally skilled (Greg Monroe).  I don't think Zeller is exceptionally athletic, but there's an outside chance he could be exceptionally skilled (although Monroe had an NBA ready body already).  His brother Tyler made an impact on the Heels the first season he got playing time as sophomore (9 pts/5 rebs per game in 17 minutes per, was buried as a freshman).

I don't know what exactly to think, but he's hyped up the ass when in reality it should be Watford getting all the preseason press.  Maybe he'll live up to it right out of the gate, but I doubt it.  In any case Crean certainly has the Hoosiers heading back towards respectability and he's already got a monster class for 2012 - 4 top 150 guys with two in the top 20.


DWG Over/Under Conference Wins:  6

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