#100 Indiana: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #100
Conference Rank: #9 Big Ten Conference
2009-10: 10-21, 4-14
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Tom Crean (16-46 at Indiana, 206-142 overall)
A ten win season may not seem like a step in the right direction, but for Indiana a ten win season was very good. And after winning one conference game during the 2008-2009 campaign, boosting that number to four was not bad. With just about everybody back, the Hoosiers are on track to take another step forward and even reach the postseason.
Key Losses: G Devan Dumes
This is not a class that is anything like last year’s massive and talented group, but it is not too bad either. Shooting guards Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey have some talent and will eventually have the opportunity to play some quality minutes. However, that will not likely happen this season. It is the guys in the frontcourt who could make a bigger impact right away. Incoming freshman Jeff Howard has some skills, but Coach Tom Crean picked up junior college transfer Guy-Marc Michel for a reason. The Hoosiers could use another body up front, especially an experienced one like Michel, and he should fit the bill. The 7-0, 277 pounder is a massive presence in the paint and is extremely tough to beat on the glass. He will not score much, but as long as he grabs some boards and blocks a few shots, he will be doing his job.
For the most part, due to injuries, IU had to make due with Jeremiah Rivers, Verdell Jones III and Jordan Hulls. Rivers is an extremely unique player. The 6-5 senior is not much of a scorer, but he does everything else amazingly well…and that really means everything. Rivers dished out 3.4 assists per game last year and can easily run the show. But he is also a superb rebounder and defender. Most surprising of all is Rivers’ ability to block shots. Most importantly for the team is Rivers’ ability to run the point. That allows Jones III to play off the ball where he can concentrate on scoring. Jones III is a more than capable ball handler, but the Hoosiers need him to build off of his 14.9 points per game average of last season. Jordan Hulls started 17 games, but he is best used as a shooter off of the bench. He knocked down over 40 percent of his long range attempts last year and shows no signs of slowing down.
The frontcourt does not have as much firepower as the perimeter, but Derek Elston and Christian Watford have plenty of potential. Both 6-9 forwards were forced into action as freshmen and performed quite well. It was Watford who secured a starting position and put up much better numbers. He averaged a smooth 12.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. His ability to get to the foul line and make 80.0 percent of his attempts once he gets there makes him a very dangerous player. Watford can even step outside and hit the three-pointer and a year of experience under his belt can only make him better. Elston earned a handful of starts and did a fine job on the glass, but has yet to develop into the type of scorer that Watford has become. That leaves room for veteran Tom Pritchard to stay in the starting lineup. Pritchard, a 6-9 junior, is not much of a scorer, but he is a big body who can fill space in the paint and play a little defense. Bobby Capobianco and the newcomers will have to fight for playing behind Watford, Pritchard and Elston.
Who to Watch:
Matt Roth went down with a foot injury two games into the season. Maurice Creek’s season ended after a dozen games. That did not help Indiana in conference play without those two on the floor. Roth is a good shooter who averaged 6.7 points per game two years ago and he should come back strong as a shooter off the bench. Creek was the bigger loss. Before his injury Creek was leading the team with 16.4 points per game and adding 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals. He only has played 12 games in his collegiate career, but they were 12 good games and he should be back as the scoring leader of the Hoosiers.
What was a bunch of inexperienced, yet talented freshmen, are now sophomores with a year of experience under their belts. The frontcourt lacks an experienced big man who can score in the paint, but the talent on the perimeter is pretty impressive. Indiana is still rebuilding and the next step is a postseason berth. In 2011-2012 they can start thinking about bigger things.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Jeremiah Rivers, Senior, Guard, 6.0 ppg
Maurice Creek, Sophomore, Guard, 16.4 ppg
Verdell Jones III, Junior, Guard, 14.9 ppg
Christian Watford, Sophomore, Forward, 12.0 ppg
Tom Pritchard, Junior, Forward, 4.2 ppg
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