Cody Zeller: What Areas of His Game Can He Still Improve?
Believe it or not, Cody Zeller still has some things he can work on. He will surely be the front-runner for Player of the Year in the entire NCAA, but I think he can improve his game a bit more.
What’s good about Zeller is that he’s not cocky and a showboat who doesn’t listen to the coach. He truly wants to get better and hang a banner in Bloomington.
These are the areas I think Zeller can improve upon:
Working on a Pump Fake
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
It’s no secret Zeller will get most of the attention down low this season as he did last year. Where he struggled last season was giving a good pump fake and getting his man in the air. I felt Zeller got blocked way too much due to that.
He did great in the first matchup against Kentucky, as Anthony Davis was known for wanting to block shots. Zeller put Davis to the bench by getting him in the air and getting fouls. He didn’t do that as much in the Sweet 16 game, hence the loss.
I think Zeller is honestly better than Davis, and if he can develop a good pump fake, he can get the other big men in serious foul trouble while he stays on the court dominating. No other team in the nation has the depth Indiana has and Zeller will get scrubs pretty quickly by doing so.
Most college kids are ignorant and don’t want to get shown up. Zeller will surely have guys guarding him thinking if they shut him down they will get noticed. Those guys all want to block his shot.
The pump fake gets them in the air and all he has to do is make contact and it’s an automatic foul, which means Zeller could be the most dominant player in quite some time if he can use it more consistently.
Free Throw Shooting
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
If Zeller can get the pump fake that I know he’s definitely working on down, free-throw shooting becomes key. Last year he shot a great 75.5 percent from the line. This year I would like to see that improve to near 80 percent or higher.
He’s a good enough shooter to make those 15-foot charity shots. With his post moves and the pump fake there’s no reason he can't shoot 8-plus free throws a game. He got to the line an average of six times a game last year, which is too low for his skill level.
If he can make 80 percent of his free throws and get to the line at least eight times per game, then there will be no stopping Zeller and Indiana.
Getting More Shots
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Last year Zeller averaged 15.5 points per game, but only shot the ball on average 8.9 times a game. That’s way too low for such a great player. I know a lot of times Indiana couldn’t get post entry due to not having a true point guard.
This year Yogi Ferrell, the true point guard from Indianapolis, will run the show and will surely find Zeller more. I think Zeller needs to be a little more selfish and shoot at least 10 times each game. He’s too good of a shooter and has too good moves not to.
There’s not one player in the nation that can stop him.
I think Zeller getting more touches and shooting more will aid in destroying Indiana’s opponents.
Going After Rebounds More
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
There were times when Zeller would shy away from grabbing the boards. Too many times did teams rebound weak-side and just plain out-hustle him for an offensive rebound.
This year, I would like to see Zeller get a mean streak and not allow teams to do this.
He averaged only 6.4 boards per contest last year. Someone nearly seven feet tall should have more than that.
I think Zeller just needs to do all he can do by going and grabbing the ball. He’s tall enough where no one can jump and get the ball over him. I want to see him average near double digits in this category and lead Indiana to easy transition buckets.
Staying out of Foul Trouble
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
This is the biggest category out of all of them. If Zeller can’t stay on the court he can’t improve on anything.
Last year, Zeller averaged only 2.7 fouls per game. That increased the last month and a half, as it seemed like he was always in foul trouble with three-plus fouls in the second half. Towards the end of the season he would find ways not to foul, and there were a couple of games where he didn’t commit a foul at all.
I think Zeller needs to stay around that two fouls per game average. I’ll give him a couple of hustle fouls, but he doesn’t need to reach over so much when his man shoots. A lot of times Zeller naturally was coming over when contesting shots. This year, I would like to see him just go straight up then go get the ball off the rim.
If Zeller can stay out of foul trouble Indiana won’t lose any more than 2-3 games next season.