Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #2 Big Ten
2006-07: 21-11, 10-6, 3rd
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Coach Kelvin Sampson got the most anyone could reasonably expect out his Indiana team last year. This year, after everything went very right in the off-season, the Hoosiers will be aiming for a lot more than just one win in the NCAA Tournament. D.J. White could be in the NBA, but he is back and incoming freshman Eric Gordon could be in Champaign, but he is in Bloomington instead. Together they create a dynamic inside-outside combination that will give the Hoosiers a chance to win the Big Ten.
Losing Roderick Wilmont and Earl Calloway out of the backcourt hurts. Wilmont was the most prolific long range shooter on the team and helped out on the glass from the wing. Calloway did not score quite as much as Wilmont, averaging 9.6 points per game, but the point guard was an effective floor leader. Joey Shaw had some quality moments spending most of the season coming off the bench, but he will suit up for another school next year, as will seldom used forward Xavier Keeling. Big man Ben Allen has left the team after averaging 8.8 minutes per game last year. Errek Suhr saw his minutes decrease last year with the influx of talent, but he still wrapped up his surprisingly effective collegiate career averaging 9.3 minutes per game.
With most of the departures coming out of backcourt, newcomers Gordon, Jordan Crawford and Jamarcus Ellis will be asked to play some minutes. In Gordon’s case, not only will he see some minutes, he will probably be the go-to-scorer. Gordon is a smart player with a great shooting stroke who will score in bunches quite often. He is a better athlete than he looks and can get to the basket. Crawford, the younger brother of Kentucky’s Joe Crawford, will provide some depth at both guard spots. Ellis won the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year award last season while at Chipola Junior College. The versatile 6-5 guard can run the point if he needs to, but will push for minutes on the wing for now. Redshirt freshman walk-on Brett Finkelmeier will provide some emergency depth and will most certainly become a crowd favorite late in blow out games. Up front it is Brandon McGee who has the most potential to help out the team this year. The 6-7 forward will always work hard and will be another big rebounding threat. He can play either forward spot, but needs to work on his post moves or his perimeter shooting if he wants to avoid being labeled a tweener throughout his career. DeAndre Thomas will bring more size to the lineup…make that a lot more size. At 6-8 and 295 pounds he may not be able to run the floor too much, but he can get on the glass and use his large frame to find easy buckets. The teammate of Ellis at Chipola Junior College at least has some experience and enough raw talent to make an impact. Eli Holman is a long and lanky lefty, but he will need some time to beef up before he can make a big impact. However, he will always play with energy and he will be a major contributor in the future.
Who to Watch:
D.J. White finally stayed healthy through an entire season and his production reflected his health. He can be a beast on both sides of the floor in the paint. Finding somebody to start next to him is the problem. Lance Stemler and Mike White got their chance last year. Stemler does his damage from long range, but he got really cold towards the end of last season. Mike White is undersized at 6-6, but he never quits and will use his strength to help on the glass.
Armon Bassett will take over the point guard duties. He was a pleasant surprise as a freshman, averaging 9.5 points and 3.0 assists. He shot over 40 percent from long range and has enough quickness and strength to be a very effective point guard in the Big Ten. How well he can adjust to being the leader of the backcourt remains to be seen. A.J. Ratliff has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but managed to put together a solid season last year. He has always been a good shooter and scorer and now he has the opportunity, assuming he can stay healthy, to be a bigger contributor. Coach Sampson hit the juco ranks to fill some holes. In doing so, he created a team that has few weaknesses and plenty of options. Barring a rash of injuries, IU will have no depth problems and can use their deep roster to match up with any team in the conference.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Armon Bassett, Sophomore, Guard, 9.5 points per game
Eric Gordon, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
A.J. Ratliff, Senior, Guard, 9.3 points per game
Lance Stemler, Senior, Forward, 6.6 points per game
D.J. White, Senior, Forward, 13.8 points per game