Tom Pritchard looks to pass the ball against Minnesota. 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. The fourth player in the series is sophomore guard Maurice Creek. PREVIOUSLY: Christian Watford, Verdell Jones, Jordan Hulls and Maurice Creek.
2010-11 STATS: 2.5 points (59 percent FG, 34.8 percent FT) and 3.8 rebounds a game. Twenty-three blocks, 94 personal fouls.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: There’s a pretty reasonable case to be made that the 2010-11 season was a success for Tom Pritchard, even if his 2.5 points and 3.8 rebounds a game average say “role player” more than “started 22 games.” But Pritchard was the one big man that had the body to bang down low and was also capable of doing things like setting screens — perhaps the most important role of the 5 in Indiana’s dribble penetration offense.
He made big plays when it counted or stood out — the tip-in to beat Illinois, the amazing put-back dunk against Minnesota — but the vast majority of Pritchard’s production came as the forgotten conduit to everyone else having success. That’s an integral role on a basketball team, and Pritchard seemed willing to accept such a role.
THE TO-DO LIST:
- Stay on the floor. Bobby Capobianco had an astronomical foul committed per 40-minute rate (10.7), but Pritchard was second on the team at 6.5. He fouled out of four contests and finished with four personal fouls in seven others. While we fully expect coach Tom Crean to sign another big man in the class of 2011, right now we can only expect Pritchard, Derek Elston and Bobby Capobianco to be at the 5 next season (Cody Zeller is a 4 – was recruited as such, and it is the best position for him as a freshman). Of the three, Pritchard is the most capable of giving Indiana quality minutes. To do that, though, he needs to stay on the floor — his 18.2 minute a game average is largely because of said foul trouble.
To foul less, Pritchard needs to work on his fast-twitch muscles. You can’t become more instinctual (instincts are instincts; learned behavior is learned behavior), but he can have a faster first step or movement once he recognizes and accesses the situation. That will help him to make less needless fouls as his opponent goes to the rim, or get caught out-of-position on the help side.
- Develop a more consistent offensive game. At this point, it is fair to say that Pritchard will never again consistently resemble the offensive force he was in the first half of his freshman season; for whatever reason, that time has passed. But he is capable of scoring more than 2.5 points a game. Six to eight points a game would give Indiana a bit of a boost.
And, honestly, it would be quite easy to pull off. One, Pritchard needs to make his free throws. A 34.8 percentage at the line is abysmal — actually, abysmal doesn’t want to be associated with such a rate; it suggest horrid, and I am inclined to agree. He was 8-of-23 at the line, and with some work on point No. 2 (below), Pritchard could be a 50 percent shooter, at least, and get to the line for 40 or so attempts. That’s an extra 12 points, at least.
OK, so No. 2: work within the frame of the offense to find easy points. I have written repeatedly that Cody Zeller is the perfect choice to be the screen man on Indiana’s three-wide offense, where the 5 sets a screen for the 1, who drives and tries to do something with it. Zeller’s jump shooting ability will open up the lane and allow for less doubling-down. Well, Pritchard can be along the other baseline, ready to exploit the holes in the defense. Imagine Verdell Jones driving the lane, past his one defender and Pritchard’s man rushing to play the help-side. Jones finds a cutting Pritchard along the baseline for an easy two points. Sounds simple, right? I am not a basketball coach, but this seems like it would work.