Gentlemen: How are you today? Ready to get started?
JEREMY: What better way to usher in the new year than with an IU sports chat? Never mind, don’t answer that. Anyway, let’s get started.
DUSTIN: Doing well, and Happy New Year to everyone. Let’s get to it.
QUESTION: Good morning gentlemen and Happy New Year! I hope everyone is doing well. As always, thanks for the continued hard work and excellent coverage.
1. After watching some good New Year’s day bowl games, I’m already excited for next season’s IU football season (what can I say, I’m an idiot)….what are the key dates to look for (NFL draft deadline for Cody Latimer, recruiting class Signing Day, etc.)? Any news on the recruiting front?
2. Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. both appear to be tremendous prospects that will fill immediate needs on the IU basketball team next season. This team could really use their ball handling and shooting ability…right now. Anyway, what can Tom Crean and staff plus the players do to cut down on these ghastly turnovers?
3. If IU can’t cut down on the turnovers, they are not a tournament team. That being said, I was encouraged by the close loss in Champaign. I wasn’t expecting them to be that close at Illinois. After a really tough first five games in the conference (at Illinois, MSU, at PSU, Wisconsin, Northwestern), what does IU’s record have to be to feel decent about themselves?
As always, thanks for your great work, have a great rest of the week and enjoy what should be a fun atmosphere on Saturday. God bless and go Hoosiers.
Happy New Year to you and yours as well.
1. Football dudes …
2. There’s no doubt Johnson and Blackmon would give this IU team a different look, but the Hoosiers have to play the hand their dealt right now. The No. 1 thing to cutting down the turnovers is to run/execute the offense. That primarily means better ball movement. I see a lot of times where there’s a hesitation to make the obvious next pass, somebody takes an extra two dribbles before passing, tries to drive into traffic themselves or simply stands and looks at getting the ball in the post too long. The more crisp the passing, the more passing and cutting lanes can open up, as well as more open jump shots. There’s just a basic lack of fluidity to the Indiana offense right now and that leads to turnovers.
3. You’re right about the turnovers, because those are the difference in close games, which I think IU will play a lot of this year. And, yes, it’s a tough start to the conference campaign. I think 2-3 would be a minimum record necessary to feel like the Hoosiers were staying afloat, and anything better is a bonus, because that would require a quality win or two over tournament teams like MSU or Wisconsin, although I don’t think winning at Penn State will be any easy task either. And don’t forget the sixth Big Ten game is the return trip to East Lansing, so 2-4 or worse isn’t out of the question. After that, the schedule would seem to turn in the Hoosiers’ favor a bit.
DUSTIN: Hey TJ,
1. The NFL Draft early entry deadline is Jan. 15, so Latimer has until then to make his decision. Combine in Indianapolis is Feb. 18-25 in Indianapolis and the draft is pushed back this year to May 8-10. Recruiting class signing day is Feb. 5. News on the recruiting front is Dominique Booth, the four-star receiver from Pike. He’s apparently making his decision by Jan. 7 and will enroll this month wherever he goes. He’s signed a financial aid agreement with IU but that’s non-binding, and considering that, I thought it was a fascinating move by Wilson to talk about him publicly as though he was a sure thing before he actually committed.
2. The elephant in the room is that IU could also really use Maurice Creek right now. But anyway. As far as turnovers are concerned, this problem is not going to go away entirely no matter what they do because they’re just too young and they play too fast and they don’t have enough guards. Turnovers are going to be part of the deal. But my armchair recommendations for this issue are these. 1) Never use a lineup without two of the three guards (Ferrell, Gordon, Robinson) on the floor. Crean’s “there are no positions” theory is fine and dandy and playing a bunch of wings to be able to switch screens all the time is nice, and I get that everyone’s still nervous about having two 6-footers on the floor at the same time after Syracuse last season, but I just think Crean’s offense runs better when there are two ball-handlers on the floor at the same time. Not that those three guys don’t commit their share of turnovers, because Lord knows they do. but it’s better when they have each other to bail themselves out. It’s just more in sync that way. Gordon in particular has 20 assists to 15 turnovers. That’s just over one per game. Everyone else who is playing at least 20 minutes per game (Gordon averages 21.2) has at least 28 turnovers to his name. So play Evan Gordon more is the shorthand of this. 2) The pace has to slow at least a little bit. I get that this team can play fast and that it has to to some degree because it doesn’t have enough shooters to spend a lot of time in the half court. But the Hoosiers have the 11th fastest tempo in the nation (possessions per game) according to Kenpom.com and they rank 327th in turnover percentage (turnovers per possession). One extreme is clearly leading to the other there and they have to take it down a gear to get a little more sure footing, keep their dribble, make the right pass, etc. It’s just a little too quick for them right now.
3. They’ve gotta be 2-3 at the end of that stretch, which means they have to beat Penn State and Northwestern. Penn State has two very good players in Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill, but IU has shut down Newbill before and IU should have enough inside to make up for the fact that Frazier will probably be the best player on the floor. And Northwestern…well… they just have to beat Northwestern at home. Period. They’re not beating Michigan State or Wisconsin, so they have to be 2-3 at the end of that and they have to be at least 9-9 in the league to get in the tournament, maybe 10-8 considering they don’t have a big-time non-conference win. They can’t afford any more slip-ups in games they should win.
QUESTION: 1. Have tickets to IU-MSU saturday but may not be able to go if Colts’ playoff game is blacked out as I will be forced to buy tickets to that. Otherwise I will go to IU game and head back home in time to watch Colts. If I’m IU, I’m praying for a sellout of Colts game or attendance may be dramatically affected (already will be but more so if blacked out because people like me will have to choose colts game). Unfortunate situation but not IU’s fault at all.
2. Having so many transfers cannot be good for IU and Crean’s recruiting can it? It could be used against him in future recruiting.
3. I assume the 2 new facilities IU is talking about to go with Assembly Hall renovations will be a second practice facility like Mellencamp and a new U gym for Volleyball based on comments made by IU in the past? By the way renovations to assembly hall look awesome and major kudos to Ms. Simon Skodt!
4. It stinks IU lost in Champaign, but I kind of thought it would be worse based on play lately and if team can battle like that, we may get 8-9 Big Ten wins yet. Key is to stay with season and not let losses get better of team or else you will have same situation as Crean’s first 3 years. It is imperative they win a close game soon on road.
1. I’ll be at the IU game, with or without you (sorry, wrong U2 song for Assembly Hall).
2. So many transfers? I don’t think we’re quite at that point yet, but, sure, it might be used against him or any other coach. What’s more important is what’s behind the transfers, because if there’s some other issue, it will eventually get out and about.
3. Something like that, believe wrestling is involved perhaps. Dustin has a better ear to the ground on this stuff.
4. It’s one of those odd games where there are plenty of things to like or not to like. I thought going in, it would be tough but not impossible for IU to win the game. I didn’t think Illinois looked nearly as good as it did in beating Missouri, for instance. Indiana’s fight was really good, and it went toe-to-toe with a quality team, but on the other hand a win was there for the taking and instead the Hoosiers did a lot of giving down the stretch. I think IU is going to have to learn how to win some close games or it could be a frustrating year. With so many young guys, I would think getting a win or two under the belt for the sake of confidence would be big.
DUSTIN: 1. This blackout thing is weirding me out. If NFL Playoff games don’t sell out, what’s next? I’d just like to point out that this would never happen in Pittsburgh. Never. Just saying.
2. Well no. To me, I don’t think negative recruiting has as much of an effect on where recruits actually go as coaches think it does. It makes them angry, but if a kid wants to go to a school, he’s going to go there regardless of what the other coaches who are recruiting him think. And coaches always use the “you’re not as important to him as you are to us,” line on bigger programs anyway. He’s obviously going to have to explain it to recruits and he’s going to have to discuss every transfer and why he left. But let’s go through these one by one to point out that this isn’t necessarily an epidemic. Bobby Capobianco and Bawa Muniru weren’t playing and they weren’t going to play. That happens. Ron Patterson had his academic issues, and with the oversigning, somebody had to go anyway. Maurice Creek wanted assured playing time for his fifth year and he got it at George Washington. Remy Abell is a weird one and I don’t think either party gave the whole story on that one. If the generally accepted narrative for Fischer’s transfer — homesickness — is accurate (and Fischer hasn’t been taking my calls, so I don’t know that for fact) then it speaks more to Fischer than to Crean. He can’t make Bloomington any closer to Germantown, Wis. than it is. I’ve always thought oversigning is something that could be used against Crean. But the transfers he’s had at IU specifically, not so much. There were more at Marquette, so that trend might be considered more damaging.
3. That’s my presumption as well. Andy may now be disagreeing strongly on the Assembly Hall renovations.
4. Very true.
QUESTION: What are Coach Crean’s best options for adding a legitimate front line player for 2014? Are there any names on that front we might be watching for? Is there any reason to think that Peter Jurkin will be able to give IU serviceable minutes next year?
Jim, Marysville, OH
I don’t know if there is one. I’m sure they’ll take a look around and see what’s available in the spring, both high school and JUCO. But I think Luke Fischer’s loss is going to have a lingering effect a bit.
As for Peter Jurkin, I don’t see much at the moment. Between his chronic foot injuries/shin splint/stress fracture or whatever you call it and the lack of strength, it’s hard to be terribly optimistic. There’s no doubt he has a nice touch and can shoot the ball, but that’s about it.
DUSTIN: Hey Jim,
None that stand out at first glance at the recruiting board. Myles Turner, a 6-11 center from Texas, is still uncommitted, but the Hoosiers offered him a scholarship already and from what I can tell, not only didn’t make his list of finalists but didn’t come close. After that, you’ve gotta dig pretty deep to find a big man who isn’t committed. Wouldn’t be a bad time for IU to try the JUCO route again or look for a fifth-year transfer. Timing really couldn’t be worse on this one, as Fischer seemed like a guy they could rely on for all of his four years. Jurkin? Eh, I haven’t seen anything yet that gives me the impression he’s going to be a factor. I mean, you never really know, and I saw some promising things from him back in AAU ball. The length certainly helps, but I’m not sure I see it.
QUESTION: Any word on the PSU coaching change and will IU be in a positon to pickup any football recruits?
Chicago Hoosier, Barrington il
JEREMY: Football dudes again …
DUSTIN: Obviously, it just happened, so it’s going to be a bit until they make a hire, and they’ll be in position to make a significant splash. Bill O’Brien was only around for two years and there’s some belly-aching among the fan base (I’m an alum, so I’ve just deduced this by looking at my Facebook feed) about him bailing, but he quite clearly saved the program from complete destruction, so the next guy is going to have it much easier than he did. Greg Schiano could certainly be on the list and I presume they’ll call Al Golden, but I’m betting against both of them. We’ll see what direction they go.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like IU is in position to benefit from a recruiting perspective. Penn State was pretty honed in on the mid-Atlantic as far as recruiting base (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York) and based on the first three years of Kevin Wilson recruiting classes the Hoosiers don’t seem to be nearly as connected there as they are in, say, Florida, Georgia and Texas. I wouldn’t expect a ton of de-commits anyway.
QUESTION: After watching the Illinois game, it seems like some players are starting to find their role (Robinson defender with driving ability, Gordon getting so catch and shoot 3’s, Perea with energy) but some players are still struggling (Williams). Do you think Troy’s biggest issue is that he is just an athlete and not a basketball player yet. Seems like he is where Vic was in his freshman year with some really good moments, but very limited throughout he majority of the season. Unfortunately for him, expectations are much higher now than they were then.
Also, do you think people are very early to rush to judgment on this team? They have yet to have a competitive game at home and it will be interesting to see how they react with the crowd behind them.
I think you’re right to a point about roles, and that’s going to define itself more and more in Big Ten play, but there are certainly still a lot of questions about the role of a Devin Davis and Austin Etherington.
I think you’re on the right track with Troy, although I’m not sure it’s fair to say he’s not a basketball player so much as he’s an incomplete basketball player. I think you’ll see his outside shot vastly improve in the next year or two, a la Victor Oladipo. In the meantime, I’d like to see him get more opportunities like he did in the final 10 minutes at Illinois, where he ran a nice curl cut and hit a smooth pull-up jumper from about 12 feet from the side of the lane.
People always rush to judgment, it seems, but there’s still a lot of season to play out and a lot of opportunities to be proven both right and wrong. As crazy as it seems, Indiana could very well find a way to knock off a Michigan State at home, much more likely than beating Wisconsin, at least.
That would certainly be the general criticism of Williams’ play right now. His athleticism makes him capable of some spectacular things, but he doesn’t look comfortable at all with the basics right now — dribbling, shooting, etc.You’re right that there’s a lot of freshman year Oladipo on his game with just some difference in body type. Williams had more length and Oladipo was a little thicker, so that meant for some differences in style, especially on defense. Williams could be a pretty good swarming, trapping type defender but I’m not sure if he’s ever going to be as good at locking up a ball-handler as Oladipo came to be. But yeah, overall, there’s just not a ton of coordination to Williams’s game right now and he needs to find some comfort spots to get his footing and make that transition from “athlete” to “basketball player.” It’s sort of an oversimplification and telling him he’s just being an athlete doesn’t help him fix anything, but he needs to find a comfort level in the fundamentals.
I think you’re seeing some rush to judgment, and a lot of that is fueled by frustration over how last season ended. The Syracuse loss especially was taken harder because of last year’s Syracuse loss. A failure to reach the NCAA Tournament will look worse because last year’s team’s tournament performance didn’t match it’s No. 1 seed. IU fans are still feeling that frustration and it’s building. There hasn’t been a victory over a major-conference team other than Washington, so they feel like they haven’t had anything to celebrate yet. Still, there is some legitimate reason for concern. The turnovers are bad and it’s pretty clear at this point, IU isn’t going to out-athlete everybody. They have to at some point get good at something they haven’t proven to be very good at yet, and that needs to happen soon.
QUESTION: Tonight and Monday appear to be the big tests for the women. I have no idea how strong of a preconference schedule they had, but it’s time for the big girls…(um, that didn’t sound right….)….BIG challenge…Is that fair? (if they split, I’d rather have Monday over the Wannamakers)
These first two games against No. 22 Iowa and No. 17 Purdue are definitely a big-time test unlike anything the IU women have seen so far this season. Virginia Tech at No. 76 in the RPI, according to RPIratings.com, is the best team the Hoosiers have played. By comparison, Iowa is No. 21 and Purdue No. 10. By the way, IU is No. 29. Still, losing both games is hardly the end of the world. However, even a split would be pretty impressive and go a long way to enhancing a potential NCAA resume.
I’m sure beating Purdue would be preferred, but I’d guess topping the Hawkeyes at home might be more realistic. Both Iowa and Indiana are rather guard-oriented teams this year, so should be real interesting.
DUSTIN: I’ll let Jeremy take this one as the old women’s beat writer.
QUESTION: MODERATOR: That’s all the time we have for today. Anything else we need to know heading into the weekend, guys?
JEREMY: I’m joining Mike Miller for coverage of the women’s Big Ten opener against Iowa tonight, while the IU men have a big one with Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. Stay with us and download the Hoosier Scoop app, you’ll put it to good use! Thanks, everybody.
DUSTIN: IU hosts a top five program in Michigan State on Saturday at 2, so that’s kind of a big deal. We’ll have plenty of coverage from that. Also, the usual Moddy, Herald-Times Digital Editor Sarah Morin, is getting married this weekend, (she’s off today, of course,) so much congratulations to her. Happy New Year everybody.
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