Christian Watford drives against Purdue’s D.J. Byrd during the team’s second game, in Bloomington. Chris Howell | Herald-Times
With the season complete and the offseason officially started for the 2010-11 Indiana Hoosiers, The Hoosier Scoop will have a breakdown of each individual player’s season and what he needs to focus on during the offseason. We begin with Christian Watford.
2010-11 STATS: 16 points per game (42.2 percent FG, 38.1 percent 3Pt), 5.4 rebounds, 32 assists, 55 turnovers.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: As a sophomore, Watford made strides as a go-to scorer. He scored 20 or more points six times, including a career-high 30 against Iowa. Only four times was he held to single-digits.
He often responded to coach Tom Crean’s public criticism of his game: when Watford scored 24 points in the season opener against Florida Gulf Coast, Crean said he wanted a double-double. Against Wright State, Watford had 17 and 10. When Crean said he wanted him to get to the free-throw line, Watford did — 164 attempts this season, fifth in the Big Ten.
THE TO-DO LIST
- Get angry. Too often, Watford seems to coast through games. It’s because of his personality — the soul that came up with “cool cat” probably had Watford in mind. It’s not an uncommon affliction, but it sometimes affects the team. His 30 points against Iowa were dismissed by Crean because Watford had probably given up that many on the defensive end.
Simply put, Watford is the kind of presence, at 6-foot-9 and 215 pounds, to take over games. To take over the Big Ten. He should be an All-Big Ten performer. Instead he was not even a honorable mention selection this season. That should anger Watford, and it should serve as a driving force during this offseason.
Crean has said that, when focused, he has been around few players that could improve faster than Watford. We saw flashes of that this season — he responded from the Iowa game by having his best performance as a Hoosier against Michigan State — but it needs to be more consistent, more of an ongoing process than a every-so-often situation. The best way to get that accomplished is for Watford to feel like he is being disrespected and/or forgotten.
- Develop his perimeter game. The current makeup of the roster, combined with at least Cody Zeller and Austin Etherington joining the team next season, indicates Watford is best served as the team’s small forward. Zeller is not yet physically strong enough to handle playing the 5 but needs to start, so he’ll be at the 4. Some combination of Tom Pritchard/Derek Elston/Bobby Capobianco/TBD recruits will be at the 5, which leaves Watford to play the 3. It is the position he wants to play, and the position the coaching staff started him at during the early portion of the schedule. He played more 4 and even the 5 during the Big Ten season, because Crean simply ran out of options down low and was also looking to open up playing time for the wings.
When Watford puts his shoulder into his defender and drives through him, he’s a very capable penetrator — but that move needs to more consistent and more aggressive. He is already a very good 3-point shooter for a player of his size (he made 37-of-97 3-point shots) and does not hesitate to shoot when open. Perhaps his biggest weakness as a 3 is his ball-handling — he finished with 55 turnovers, with four or five in four games.