Indiana Basketball: What Luke Fischer's Departure Means for the Hoosiers

Kyle GrandFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, IN - DECEMBER 20:  Luke Fischer #44 of the Indiana Hoosiers shoots the ball during the game against the Nicholls State Colonels at Assembly Hall on December 20, 2013 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Hoosier freshman Luke Fischer shocked head coach Tom Crean, the Indiana basketball team and fans when he announced his plan to leave IU and take his talents elsewhere. His numbers may not have jumped off the stat sheet, but his departure is a big blow to the program. Here's why.

On paper, it didn't look like Fischer was that valuable to Indiana's rotation. He only averaged 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.

However, Fischer got off to a slow start and played limited minutes because he was recovering from a preseason shoulder injury. Near the end of the nonconference schedule, he started coming into his own. In his final game as a Hoosier, Fischer tallied 10 points, two rebounds and three blocks in 19 minutes of action.

Not only was Fischer improving, but he was key in spelling fellow freshman post player Noah Vonleh. Fischer was quickly becoming the team's preferred big man off the bench, winning the competition over Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Now, without Fischer, the team's frontcourt is much, much thinner and less talented. Mosquera-Perea and virtually unknown senior Jeff Howard inherit Fischer's minutes.

IU will miss Fischer's size on the defensive end.
IU will miss Fischer's size on the defensive end.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Mosquera-Perea has improved since last season, but he isn't a true post presence. He's only 6'9" while Fischer stands at 6'11". Fischer's size will be missed, especially on defense, when the Hoosiers are up against their Big Ten foes.

With Fischer's departure, even more pressure will be lumped onto Vonleh's shoulders. Going forward, staying out of foul trouble is going to be a priority. IU cannot afford to have its best big sitting on the bench longer than he has to based on the little backup it can offer.

Don't be surprised to see opposing teams furiously attack the basket in order to draw fouls on Vonleh, knowing there is a significant drop-off in talent waiting in the wings. 

Fischer's move doesn't just affect the Hoosiers now, but their future as well. He has a ton of potential. He wasn't rated a 4-star recruit by for nothing.

Fischer possesses solid skills on the block and could very well end up being a productive college basketball player. He likely could have been a stud for the program.

Furthermore, Indiana's incoming recruiting class doesn't feature a post player. Based on how Vonleh is playing, it's not crazy to think he could leave for the NBA at the end of the season.

This means the only big men on next year's roster will be the still-developing Mosquera-Perea and barely used Peter Jurkin. Crean must find a way to bring another big to Bloomington or he is going to be faced with low-post issues all of next season.

In the end, what's done is done and the Hoosiers must move on and control what they can control. There are plenty of games left and they are still talented enough to make some noise in the conference.

Looking ahead, though, they have to hope this decision is only a blip on the radar and not something that affects them for seasons to come.