Thursday, October 9, 2014

Big Ten Basketball Preview: #10 Indiana Hoosiers

And you thought Yogi Ferrell shot the ball a ton last year.  Four hundred and nine times to be precise, a number that ranked 7th in the entire league.  Considering Ferrell was supposed to be a "true" point guard, nobody else on the team even cracked 300 and only two other players shot over 200 times, and he was fourth in eFG% among those who played 50% of Indiana's minutes last season, that's probably not a good thing.  Don't get me wrong, Ferrell had a pretty fantastic season overall and he deserved his All Big Ten status, but ignoring everyone else, particularly when you have a guy like Noah Vonleh on the team, either means you have a terrible coach or a very selfish player.  Consider Tom Crean is the coach and Ferrell's usage rate skyrocketed once Crean didn't have his security blanket combo of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo to rely upon, I feel safe blaming it on Crean, mainly because he's an absolutely horrible coach and a terrible person.

Crean did take an Indiana program that Kelvin Sampson did his best to destroy from a 1-17 conference record in 2009 all the way to a national title contender in 2013 and he deserves credit for that.  The problem is that now he seems to be reversing course and crashing the program back into the abyss with players fleeing left and right.  Ferrell is back from last season and Vonleh heading to the NBA was inevitable, even if Crean completely mismanaged him.  Will Sheehey and Evan Gordon graduated which isn't technically Crean's fault.  But then the transfers:  Austin Etherington to Butler, Jeremy Hollowell to Georgia State, Peter Jurkin to ETSU, and Luke Fischer to Marquette, All this with plenty of minutes available, leaving Indiana completely gutted on the inside.

It's debatable how much any of these guys would have helped, but 3 of the 4 played 10 or more minutes per game last season and all were big men.  All of the impact returnees (Ferrell, Stanford Robinson, and Troy Williams) are guards or wings, and even though Crean is bringing in a highly regarded recruiting class the two big impact recruits are James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson, both guards.  No matter how good these guys are, and they are ranked in the top 50 overall by ESPN, they're both 6-3 or under.  I just don't know how Indiana is going to compete in the Big Ten with this lack of size.

The returnees who could impact things are Williams, who is 6-7 but weighs just 207 lbs., Devin Davis, who could probably play in the paint but averaged just 8.8 minutes per game last year, and Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who is big enough but played less than Davis.  Crean brought in two freshman centers but one is 6-9 and 200 lbs. and was described by ESPN as frail, and the other seems like a panic signing considering they nabbed in Spring (always a little scary) and his offer list was a little mid-major-y (actually both were Spring signings after all the transfers).

Don't get me wrong, if I'm an Indiana fan I could talk myself into some optimism.  Ferrell, Blackmon, and Johnson could end up as the best backcourt trio in the conference by the end of the season.Mosquera-Perea, Williams and Robinson were all top 100 recruits as incoming freshman, and Davis played two of his best games of the year in the two games prior to their season finale (in which he played 6 minutes because Crean).  I can see why most publications see this as rosier for the Hoosiers than I do, but do I think Crean can take this mix and blend them into a highly efficient basketball machine?  Not remotely.  I see him rolling the ball to Ferrell and telling him to run fast and shoot faster, which means the Hoosiers will be playing a lot of circus ball this year while being crappy at the same time.  And that's kind of perfect.


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