Observations from Shootout

INDIANAPOLIS — Pool play for the Shootout at North Central is winding down, and it’s been an interesting (but long) day so far.

  • Marshall Plumlee, Yogi Ferrell and Spencer Turner are all not with Indiana Elite Team Indiana (the first two because of adidas Nations; the latter because of an injury). That opened up some more playing time for the rest of the loaded 17u team. The group responded with two laugher wins. Cody Zeller looked really good — 32 points in both games. Austin Etherington showed off a nice jump shot and some defensive skills beyond going for steals. And Jeremiah Davis ran the point the majority of the time (when he didn’t, Matt Carlino did).
  • Zeller continues to play his recruitment close to the vest, though he did say he could see himself playing for Butler. Not sure how much to read into that, but given how tight he usually is with information, it was interesting. Said Tom Crean continues to pitch the same thing.
    “He says I could be an Indiana kid — like the old days,” Zeller said. “He’s trying to get things changed around there. He told me I could be one of those building blocks.”
  • Davis said he will make a decision when the time is right. He’s also getting an earful, he said, from Etherington, who has been his AAU teammate for years (Zeller said Etherington had not done the same for him yet; sure it is coming).
  • Carlino confirmed that Florida and UCLA are both interested in him coming to college a year early.
    “It is what it is,” Carlino said. “It’s an option.”
  • 2012 forward T.J. Bell is really improving his game rapidly. He has always had great athleticism  and is smooth, but consistency and effort had been problems. He seems to be rapidly developing that — scoring 22 points in the first game. He does have a scholarship offer from Indiana and said he is planning on going to more open gyms on campus.
  • Southport sophomore Michael Ramey is a kid to keep an eye on. Apparently Tim Buckley was in to watch him a couple of weeks ago. He’s a dead-eye shooter — 5 3-pointers in the first game — and is now probably 6-foot-5 with the vertical to go with it. He had 31 points, including three dunks, in that first game. Both Bell and Ramey are on the 16u Meanstreets.
  • Darryl Baker is back and healthy. He missed all of his freshman season for Jeffersonville after breaking his tibia. He’s playing a year up, for Team Southern Indiana 2012 Red, and had 27 points in a 91-81 win earlier today. Sherron Wilkerson is his mentor and said Wilkerson has been in continual contact with Buckley. Baker hopes to start building a relationship with Crean this summer during the elite camps.

Banks, Zachery, Kiel impress at scrimmage

Indiana’s starting skill position players have been a bit knicked up in the spring, but that allowed a few lesser names some time in the spotlight at Saturday’s controlled scrimmage.

Starting tailback Darius Willis has been out of action since injuring his ribs in last week’s scrimmage. Backup tailback Shane Covington was also out with an ankle injury. Senior Trea Burgess and redshirt freshman Nick Turner got most of the reps with the first team, but the injuries allowed true freshman Antonio Banks to get significant work with the second team. Banks, who graduated from Ohio’s Middletown High School early so he could participate in spring drills, showed speed and toughness rushing for 41 yards on nine carries in the main part of the scrimmage. On a 12-yard carry, he took several hits, then dragged the pile for about three yards before anyone could bring him down. In red zone scrimmages at the end, he also rushed for a touchdown.

Starting wide receiver Damarlo Belcher is still out with a hamstring injury, but that also opened some opportunities for others. Redshirt freshman Nick Zachery, who was recently moved from safety to wide receiver, also showed some playmaking ability. The Sheridan graduate caught four passes for 46 yards, turning one quick hitch pass from Ed Wright-Baker into a 19-yard gain.

Quarterback Ben Chappell wasn’t quite as sharp this week as he was last week, but he still completed five of his nine passes for 71 yards. Redshirt freshman Dusty Kiel showed significant improvement from the first scrimmage to a second. He struggled at first, completing just two of his first six passes for seven yards, but then he hooked up with junior receiver Dre Muhammad for a 35-yard completion, then hit Tandon Doss on a quick hitch that Doss turned into an 18-yard touchdown. It was the only touchdown of the scrimmage before red zone drills. Fellow backup Ed Wright-Baker also had a strong performance, completing six of 10 passes for 41 yards.

Along with Belcher, Willis and Covington, cornerback Matt Ernest was held out of practice with a minor elbow injury. The move was made in part to protect the two-sport athlete for baseball, though he didn’t make the trip to Ohio State this weekend. Backup center Jordan Marquette is also out with a lacerated finger. Defensive end Deonte Mack is still out with an elbow injury as well.

Yeagley: “We’re still experimenting …”

Game 2 of the Todd Yeagley era, albeit spring, resulted in a 1-1 tie with Cincinnati Friday night at Armstrong Stadium. Not unlike the first game, a 2-1 comeback win over Louisville, the Hoosiers played a less than stellar first half followed by a strong second half.

But as you might expect with spring games, the emphasis is as much on figuring out how the pieces fit as what those pieces build.

“We’re still experimenting with a few players, and we know there are going to be some mistakes made, whether it’s positional mistakes or technical errors or whatever it might be,” Yeagley said. “We’re trying to be patient, however, we do want thing to happen a little bit quicker, and the first half, just the effort and attention to detail was not even close to what those players perform at every day.”

Some of those experiments included Alec Purdie spending some time in midfield, Chris Haffner starting in the back and freshman Jacob Bushue, who enrolled in January, seeing significant minutes.

“Certainly, Chris Haffner, who’s not played many minutes, was a night and day performance first to second half. We gave himspecific things that he went out and did,” Yeagley said. “I thought Jacob Bushue in particular came in and did a real nice job. Here’s a kid that would still be in his last semester of high school, came in and was confident, has bite to his game. (He) came in and gave us a lift.
“I thought he and Tyler McCarroll in the second part of the first half changed our momentum a little bit to the positive.”

Yeagley also praised center back Tommy Meyer as the Hoosiers’ most consistent player from start to finish and credited Bruin with “some great moments as he’s capable of.”

Football uniforms to be unveiled at spring game

Just as he’d hoped to do, Indiana assistant athletic director for marketing Pat Kraft will unveil the IU football team’s new uniforms at the Cream and Crimson scrimmage on April 17.

“I do believe we’ll have both the home and away uniforms,” Kraft said. “We’re going to put them on mannequins throughout the stadium and just unveil them that way.”

Kraft also mentioned that they could be shown on the stadium scoreboard, which will be working for the game.

The process of choosing the new uniforms has been going on for most of the year. A model of one of the options presented by Adidas leaked around December. Kraft wouldn’t describe the model IU eventually chose, but said he was happy with the end result.

“I love them,” Kraft said. “I think they’re great, I think they’re unique to us. I really like them, I think they’re classy. I think it will separate us from Oklahoma and some of the other schools that have uniforms with a very similar look and feel to us. I think they will keep us and make us unique.”

The unveiling of the new uniforms will be just a part of the spring game experience. The marketing department has come up with a list of promotions, which are detailed here.

Kraft said his hope is to make the spring game a bigger event. At football-oriented schools like Alabama and Ohio State, teams come close to filling the stadium for the spring game and sometimes actually sell out. Indiana’s spring game has never drawn that sort of attention.

“We always talk about trying to change the culture and create a culture around football,” Kraft said. “Fred and Scott and myself want people to look at this game as Midnight Madness and Hoosier Hysteria for basketball. Everywhere else in the country, this is a big deal. … We gotta lay the foundation. We gotta start somewhere, and I think this is really important for us.”

Wilkins could be nearing decision

Indiana target John Wilkins is visiting Illinois State today, Southeastern (Iowa) Community College coach Terry Carroll said, and could be making his college decision soon.

According to Caroll, this is Wilkins’ third visit. The 6-foot-9, 215-pounder has also toured Indiana and Providence.

“By next week here, I think he’s going to be ready to make a decision,” Carroll said.

Carroll said there has been additional interest because of the recent coaching carousel but “I don’t know if he’s even interested.”

Wilkins visited Indiana two weeks ago. Carroll said it was positive, but said Wilkins didn’t go into a lot of detail. (more…)

Hoosier Morning


Indiana tackle James Brewer, kneeling, goes through a drill with Greg Middleton last season. Chris Howell | Herald-Times


Stevens, looking quite secure, came to South

Brad Stevens was one of several big-name coaches to take in open gym at Bloomington South tonight.

Today is the first day of the April evaluation period. Coaches can watch open gyms and workouts, but not AAU Tournaments during April.

Stevens, the Butler head coach who signed a 12-year extension Thursday, was apparently there not only to watch Erik Fromm, who is signed with the Bulldogs, but also 2011 prospect and former Indiana commit Matt Carlino.

UCLA head coach Ben Howland also scouted Carlino, as did Purdue associate head coach Paul Lusk and Florida assistant Richard Pitino.

Notre Dame assistant Martin Ingelsby, a Philadelphia native and therefore my favorite person in the gym, also stopped by, and St. Louis assistant Chris Harriman also stopped by.

Carlino wasn’t the only target, of course. Senior-to-be Spencer Turner remains un-committed, and junior-to-be T.J. Bell has emerged as a legitimate force in the paint. There are also underclassmen who may develop into Division I players.

Turner, by the way, took a frightening spill. He faked a shot and was barreled over, landing loudly on his tailbone. He remained motionless on the floor for a long time — at least 20 minutes — before being taken off on a stretcher. We received word shortly after that he’d reached the hospital and was OK. He’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow.

Indiana, which is recruiting Bell, did not have a representative there. I’m not sure yet where Crean and his staff went, but I’ll work to find out.

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