Indiana Basketball: 5 Biggest Concerns with the Hoosiers' 2014 Roster
Indiana Hoosier fans got disappointing—but not altogether unexpected—news during the NBA draft early entry period. The departures of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo made the Hoosiers' quest to repeat as Big Ten champions that much more difficult.
With next season's roster much more firm than it was a month ago, the weaknesses are more pronounced than they were one year ago.
At that time, a hyped recruiting class was going to make the Hoosiers a 10-deep juggernaut, with Tom Crean simply running gifted athletes out in waves.
This offseason, those freshmen have some work to do and a new crop of rookies will find much more weight placed on its collective shoulders.
There are some sizable concerns entering next season. Let's examine a few.
Is There a Go-to Scorer?
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There is not a man on the Indiana roster that has been a double-digit per-game scorer at the collegiate level. That will certainly change next season, and the pictured Will Sheehey is the most likely culprit.
Sheehey is one of the few returnees who has proven himself as a capable shooter from range, and he's quick enough to get to the rack more often than not.
Where, however, will the support come from? Jeremy Hollowell only got about two shots per game, but has shown flashes of capability at all three levels (inside, mid-range, three-point line). Hollowell made 33 percent of his two-point jumpers and 23 percent from beyond the arc, according to Hoop-Math.com.
Point guard Yogi Ferrell will likely always struggle to get shots off, largely due to his height. His ability to draw fouls and capitalize at the line, where he made nearly 80 percent as a freshman, will only enhance his value.
From there, the Hoosiers may have to turn to skilled freshmen like Noah Vonleh and Troy Williams and ask them to produce points immediately. Neither is a range shooter, but both are plenty explosive enough to challenge the interior.
Where's the Beef?
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No players on the coming season's IU roster were listed at more than 230 pounds, and that may take time to change.
The only man over 225 was the seldom-used freshman Peter Jurkin, who's not currently expected to make a huge impact as a sophomore, either.
Hanner Mosquera-Perea (pictured) played at 225, and he faces a crossroads in his development. Does he bulk up in an effort to play in the post, or slim down to maintain the hops that earned him the nickname "Air Colombia"?
Vonleh, at 220, and 210-pound Luke Fischer will be asked to play at least occasionally in the paint. It's difficult to picture them holding ground against the likes of Michigan State's Adreian Payne, Purdue's A.J. Hammons or Michigan's Mitch McGary.
IU will need to rely on its players' athleticism and verticality to come anywhere close to last season's production on the offensive glass. Those rebounds will be crucial if the Hoosier shooters aren't locked in from the start.
Is There a Backup Point Guard?
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We've projected next season's depth chart multiple times, but every time, the Hoosiers had the services of Remy Abell available as a caddy at either backcourt position.
In the wake of Abell's transfer, however, it's back to the drawing board to find someone to occasionally rest Yogi Ferrell. The most likely option now appears to be incoming freshman Stanford Robinson, a 6'3" combo guard who's spending much of his offseason time improving his handle.
Robinson told IU blog Inside the Hall, “I’m only [6'3"], so therefore I am going to be a point guard somewhere down the line. Every day I’m just in the gym working on my ball handling and trying to be a primary point guard.”
Robinson is a skilled facilitator, but was not the primary floor general at Findlay Prep (Nev.), usually working alongside Washington recruit Nigel Williams-Goss. It may take time for him to get acclimated to calling the plays as a collegiate point guard, but any minutes coach Tom Crean can use to lessen the burden on Ferrell will prove beneficial in the long term.
Can the Defense Remain Elite?
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Pictured: one last shot of Victor Oladipo being a defensive irritant. Apologies if it causes the room to get a little dusty. Wipe the tears and we'll carry on.
A lot of factors went into the improvement of IU's defensive efficiency from No. 66 in 2011-12 to No. 13 in 2012-13 via Ken Pomeroy. It wasn't just the athleticism of Oladipo and Ferrell, although that clearly helped.
Perhaps more important was the fact that the Hoosiers' nucleus had spent a year together perfecting their chemistry and communication, and new ingredient Ferrell was a quick study. Players the world over should be incentivized to play the kind of defense IU played, using the possibility of quick and easy transition baskets as the carrot.
Recruits like Troy Williams and Stan Robinson have the skills to be strong defenders and the athletic ability to blow the roof off Assembly Hall with potent finishes. It will take a great deal of time and work, however, for the entire unit to work as well together as last season's team did.
It may not even happen until the 2014-15 season.
Will "The Movement" Stagnate?
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In the pantheon of great nicknamed recruiting classes, Indiana's Movement fell well short of the Fab Five standard. At the risk of antagonizing the Hoosier faithful, the group couldn't even hold a candle to Purdue's Baby Boilers.
Ferrell drove the high-performance Hoosier machine hard and fast, but Hollowell suffered from the occasional sputter and the Perea-Jurkin duo never recovered from the NCAA slashing its tires before it left the garage.
Next season, Hollowell will get his chance to be a major contributor. But, if he stumbles, recruits like Williams and Indiana natives Devin Davis and Collin Hartman will be highly eager to take those minutes. Likewise, Perea and Jurkin will need substantial improvement to beat out Vonleh and Fischer for a large share of the frontcourt playing time.
There's not a lot of consolation for a recruiting class that becomes more renowned for what it represented than what it accomplished. While the 2012 class has time to forge a legacy of excellence, the one-and-done era almost mandates that the casual fan wonder what's wrong.
For more from Scott on college basketball, check out The Back Iron. This week: NBA Draft Early Entry Winners and Losers.