Indiana Basketball: One Prediction for Each Hoosiers Starter
After a long offseason of wondering who head coach Tom Crean would call upon for his starting five, the group was officially revealed during Indiana basketball's first regular-season game against Chicago State on November 8.
Crean went with with Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey, Troy Williams, Jeremy Hollowell and Noah Vonleh. Everyone played well in the season opener, and the group led the Hoosiers to a dominating victory over the Cougars.
The question now is, what's to come from these players as the season rolls along? Here is one bold prediction for each of Indiana's starters.
Yogi Ferrell: Lead the B1G in Assists
Last year, Michigan's Trey Burke led the conference in assists. He no longer suits up for the Wolverines so the top spot is up for grabs, and Yogi Ferrell is a great candidate to seize it.
A season ago, Ferrell was third in the conference, so he the ladder he has to climb isn't that tall.
His competition isn't as stiff either. Ohio State's Aaron Craft (5.0 APG last year) is more defensive minded and Michigan State's Keith Appling (3.3 APG) will not be the primary playmaker with the emergence of Gary Harris.
Finally, as a sophomore, Ferrell is a much more confident player. He knows the offense better and his game should elevate to another level.
Ferrell should become the Big Ten's next assists leader.
Will Sheehey: Shoot 75 Percent from Free-Throw Line
Yes, I know Will Sheehey's best single-season free-throw percentage is 70 percent.
I also know that last year he shot an ugly 65 percent from the charity stripe.
But, as his role has changed from sixth man to starter, a change in his free-throw percentage is in order as well. Sheehey and Tom Crean are smart enough to recognize the glaring weakness in Sheehey's game.
He's giving away too many easy points and has to be better. It's even more important that Sheehey improves because he's playing more minutes. He will be at the line much more than previous seasons.
It's asking a lot of Sheehey to increase 10 percent in a season, but he must if he truly wants to be more effective.
Troy Williams: Not Be a Regular Starter
Troy Williams was impressive in his Hoosier debut. The freshman put up solid numbers with 13 points, two rebounds and a steal.
Despite this, there are other Hoosiers nipping at his heels.
Evan Gordon, Stanford Robinson and Devin Davis would all love to have his spot in the starting five. Each looked good in IU's first game, especially Davis.
Davis is arguably Williams' biggest competition after his performance of 10 points and nine rebounds. He definitely opened a lot of eyes around Bloomington.
If there is a stretch where Williams struggles, don't be surprised to see Crean try someone else. The Hoosiers are deep, so Williams must be consistent to keep his spot.
Being a freshman, chances are he will underachieve at times throughout the year. The competition around him is too good not to get their own opportunity to start.
Jeremy Hollowell: Lead Indiana in Scoring
Jeremy Hollowell, a prolific scorer in high school (23.9 PPG as a senior), struggled to establish himself in his freshman season. Now, it appears he's worked out the kinks and is ready for a breakout season.
He lit up the scoreboard in IU's first game, leading the team with 16 points and showed an aggressiveness Hoosier faithful had never seen before. He did most of his damage from the free-throw line, making 9-of-10.
The opponent, Chicago State, obviously wasn't tough competition, but Hollowell's performance is encouraging. If he continues to attack like he did against the Cougars, the points will come in bunches for the sophomore.
Noah Vonleh: Finish in the Top 3 in B1G Rebounding
In his Hoosier debut, Noah Vonleh dominated the glass. He pulled down 14 rebounds in 22 minutes of action.
The freshman with the enormous wingspan was arguably the most impressive player on the court.
Rebounding was a big question mark for the Hoosiers going into the season. IU's top three rebounders from a season ago weren't coming back and critics wondered if the current roster could replace what was lost.
If this is the type of play Vonleh is capable of, then the Hoosiers will be just fine on the boards.
Expect Vonleh to be near the top of the Big Ten in this statistic when the season comes to a close.