Indiana Basketball: What to Love and Hate About 2013-14 Hoosiers
On one hand, IU has to replace four starters, including All-Americans Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. On the other, Indiana's recruiting class is highly touted and its returning players should be much improved.
The Hoosiers have a lot going for them but also face major issues heading into this season. This slideshow will detail what to love and hate about Indiana's 2013-14 team.
Love: Incoming Freshmen
This class is extremely diverse yet complete. It features a scoring machine in Stanford Robinson and a shot-maker in Collin Hartman. Devin Davis Jr. and Troy Williams can get in the lane and finish at the rim. Luke Fischer is a legitimate post player.
Noah Vonleh is the complete package. He can score inside and out. His 7'4" wingspan makes him a defensive nightmare. Don't be shocked when he becomes one of the Big Ten's best players.
These freshmen are talented and will push the returning players for time on the court. They give Tom Crean and Hoosier fans everywhere something to be excited about.
Love: Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey
Once Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller declared for the NBA, it became clear that Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey were going to be the leaders of the 2013-14 team. They would need to make great strides in the offseason in order for Indiana to be successful.
It appears the two have embraced their roles and dedicated themselves to improving. Both were selected to play for the United States in the World University Games and had a great showing.
In eight games, Sheehey averaged 10.6 points per game and shot 63.6 percent from the three-point line. Ferrell was just as impressive, averaging 10.3 points and 4.4 assists per game. Sheehey and Ferrell played well against some of the best young talent in the world.
The World University Games experience will pay off this season because if anything, it brought IU's top players closer together. Crean is going to need them to lead, and what better way for the two to get more comfortable with each other than by spending the majority of the summer together.
Indiana will only go as far as these two take it, and fans everywhere have to be happy with what they have seen this offseason.
Love: Addition of Evan Gordon
The young Hoosiers' roster got a big boost when Evan Gordon decided to leave Arizona State and join Indiana. The senior guard averaged 10.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game last season as a Sun Devil.
Gordon is a solid all-around player who strengthens IU's bench. He is usually a shooting guard but can handle the ball effectively as well. When Yogi Ferrell or Will Sheehey need a break, Gordon can replace them on the court.
He should be a reliable player Tom Crean can count on to produce. For a team lacking upperclassmen, Gordon fills a need and makes the Hoosiers a lot better.
Hate: Post Play
One of IU's major weaknesses is its lack of size and experience in the post. The past two seasons, Cody Zeller controlled the paint on both ends of the floor.
He was the main cog in Indiana's wheel. Zeller was Indiana's first option on offense. His presence and ability were usually too much for one defender. When double-teamed, he was able to find the open teammate.
Zeller's size helped set him apart from the competition. He was lanky but made up for it with height (7'0"). His possible replacements, sophomore Hanner Mosquera-Perea (6'8") and freshman Luke Fischer (6'9"), don't quite measure up. Seven-footer Peter Jurkin could be an option, but his experience is an issue.
He only played a total of seven minutes last season.
More important than size is talent and experience. Mosquera-Perea had a dismal freshman season (0.9 PPG, 1.5 RPG), and Fischer has yet to play a college basketball game.
Will Mosquera-Perea improve enough in the offseason? Is he really as good as recruiting services labeled him to be?
How will Fischer's game translate to the college level? Can he handle the pressure of replacing Zeller?
Obviously, Cody Zellers don't grow on trees, but the fact that IU's low-post situation is so up in the air and its prospects have so many questions surrounding them is a major concern for this season.
While having young, talented players is one of the Hoosiers' biggest strengths, it's also one of their most troubling problems. Tom Crean knows he has a legitimate recruiting class on the way but has to recognize that none of them have played at the college level.
The main reason Indiana was successful the past two seasons was because of experience. Players such as Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo developed over time. Once they became upperclassmen, IU made the NCAA tournament and even won a Big Ten title.
This season's roster is comprised of six freshmen and four sophomores. Crean will have to play them because he has nowhere else to turn.
This inexperience could prove to be costly for Indiana.