Indiana Basketball: Tom Crean's 5 Biggest Concerns for 2013-14 Season
Tom Crean and his Indiana basketball team had a successful 2012-13 season. The Hoosiers won an outright Big Ten regular-season title for the first time since 1993 and were a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Despite the success, the team is losing its core. Starters Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and key reserve Derek Elston are graduating. The team's best players, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, are leaving for the NBA. With all that talent departing, Crean faces a lot of questions heading into the 2013-14 campaign.
This slideshow examines what Crean's five most pressing concerns are as the offseason begins. The concerns were ranked from least detrimental to IU's success, to most detrimental.
5. Zone Defenses
In this year's Sweet 16 game against Syracuse, the Hoosiers got exposed. The ferocious 2-3 zone of the Orange dominated Indiana. IU was confused and out of sync for nearly the entire game.
Tom Crean has to be worried considering how other teams can watch the game film and see a glaring weakness. The only positive is that zone defense is rarely used in the Big Ten, so the Hoosiers won't see it very often.
The problem is, when IU is in situations like the NCAA tournament, having to play against a zone is a real possibility. This aspect of the team is definitely something Crean will have to address.
4. Relying on Freshmen
Outside of the starting five and sixth man Will Sheehey, the Hoosiers roster contributed very little. Jeremy Hollowell was average. Remy Abell could only seem to get his defensive game in order. Maurice Creek and Hanner Mosquera- Perea didn't stand out either.
With four out of five starters gone and a weak supporting cast, Crean might have to rely on freshmen. The incoming class is ranked No. 3 in the nation by rivals.com, but a highly-touted freshman isn't always ready for the big stage(e.g. Mosquera-Perea).
Crean has to be concerned because Sheehey is IU's only proven scorer left on the roster. The head coach will have to instill confidence in his freshmen class because unless the previously mentioned players drastically improve in the offseason, the Hoosiers will need to get points from somewhere else.
3. Low Post
Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Derek Elston are gone. Leaving with them is scoring, rebounding, defense and leadership. Left in the wake is seven-footer Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea.
Both of these players underachieved in 2012-13. Jurkin only played seven minutes the entire season. Mosquera-Perea, a former 4-star recruit according to rivals.com, only averaged 0.9 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. He never looked confident in himself or comfortable with the elevated level of competition.
This issue becomes worse as Indiana is only adding one true post player with incoming freshman Luke Fischer.
With so much inexperience in the low post, this area becomes a major cause for concern for Crean. He must find a way to develop these players quickly or expect the Hoosiers to struggle down low next season.
2. Three-Point Shooting
Going into next season, IU will have lost its three best long range shooters. Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo shot 44.4, 48.4 and 44.1 percent from beyond the arc, respectively.
The three-point shot is a staple of Indiana's offense. Coach Crean wants to push the tempo in an attempt to get fast-break points and transition three-pointers. Watford and Hulls made plenty of teams pay with pull-up threes from a Hoosier fast break.
This area is a problem for Crean because his best returning shooters, Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey, aren't as deadly from the outside. Ferrell only shot 30.3 percent from three and Sheehey wasn't much better, with a three-point percentage of 34.6.
Crean must stress to returning players the importance of improving this aspect of their game in the offseason, or he might have to adjust his team's game plan.
1. Who Will Carry the Team?
For the past two seasons, Crean has had elite talent to carry the team. Cody Zeller has been the driving force behind IU's meteoric rise back to relevance.
This year, Crean received the surprise of an improved Victor Oladipo, giving him a second marquee player. These players took Indiana to the next level.
Now, both are gone.
Crean is bringing in an outstanding recruiting class, but every player will be inexperienced. Most likely, none of them are going to be as dynamic on defense as Oladipo or as dominant on offense as Zeller was.
Indiana counted on their NBA-bound stars to make plays in the clutch. Zeller took over at the end of the Michigan game in Ann Arbor to bring home the outright Big Ten regular-season title. Oladipo made the key shot against Temple in the NCAA tournament to put the Hoosiers in the Sweet 16.
Now, Crean must depend on Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey and an incoming freshman like 5-star recruit Noah Vonleh. He has to be wondering if they can replicate the production that leaves with Oladipo and Zeller.