Indiana Basketball: 5 Biggest Things to Look Forward to in 2014-15

Kyle Grand@@KyleGrandFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2014

Indiana Basketball: 5 Biggest Things to Look Forward to in 2014-15

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    Tony Ding

    The Indiana Hoosiers may not have had the best season in 2013-14, but what's done is done. It's time for head coach Tom Crean and Co. to turn the page and set their sights on 2014-15. 

    Despite a rough year, Yogi Ferrell, Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams return for another campaign. A solid freshman class headlined by James Blackmon Jr. will arrive. So, it's not all doom and gloom in Bloomington. 

    Here are the five biggest things to look forward to in 2014-15. 

Robert Johnson

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    Incoming freshman Robert Johnson is a talented prospect (4-star, via ESPN), and based on IU's current roster situation, he should see the floor plenty in his freshman year.

    Johnson will be a nice fit for Indiana. Described as a combo guard, Johnson may give the Hoosiers exactly what they were missing this season, a suitable backup for Ferrell.

    Crean tried to find someone who could give Ferrell a break, but none of the options performed at a high level. Robinson will certainly get his chance, and Crean is hoping he pans out. 

Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams

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    Troy Williams' potential is off the charts.
    Troy Williams' potential is off the charts.Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The two Hoosiers with arguably the highest ceilings are Robinson and Williams. They showed flashes of brilliance throughout the season.

    Both had solid first years, as Robinson averaged 6.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, while Williams put up 7.3 points and 4.4 boards a night.

    But they can get tons better.

    Robinson and Williams are crazy athletic, and once they find a consistent jump shot, they will be a handful for opposing teams. 

    Fans can be nothing but optimistic and excited when thinking about this pair of Hoosiers. 

Tougher Nonconference Games

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    SMU head coach Larry Brown will lead his team into Assembly Hall to take on the Hoosiers.
    SMU head coach Larry Brown will lead his team into Assembly Hall to take on the Hoosiers.Frank Franklin II

    One of the knocks against Indiana this year was that its nonconference schedule was weak. So, in an effort to bolster their RPI and get the team more battle-tested, the Hoosiers added some better opponents to their slate.

    In 2014-15, Indiana will battle SMU and Louisville. Both of these will be great tests for the Hoosiers.

    SMU was consistently ranked this season but questionably didn't make the NCAA tournament. It made a run all the way to the finals of the NIT before losing to Minnesota. Legendary basketball coach Larry Brown has turned the program around, and the Mustangs will be ready to play when they show up to Assembly Hall.

    What do I really have to say about Louisville? With Rick Pitino at the helm, the Cardinals are a consistent college basketball power. Indiana and Louisville will play on December 9, 2014 in Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic. 

    Hopefully, these games will get a young Indiana team prepared for the rest of the season, especially the rigorous Big Ten. 

Yogi Ferrell

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    Kiichiro Sato

    From his freshman to sophomore season, Ferrell became a totally different player. He went from just a cog in the wheel to Indiana's best offensive weapon. He raised his scoring per game by 10 points and increased his three-point shooting by 10 percent despite taking 144 more attempts.

    So, if this is the kind of jump Ferrell can make from season to season, then Hoosiers fans should be excited for his junior year. 

    With Will Sheehey gone, Indiana is now Ferrell's team. Expect him to not only lead, but be a stud in 2014-15. 

James Blackmon Jr.

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    Andrew Nelles

    Here are just a few reasons why Blackmon Jr. coming to Bloomington is a big deal:

    • 5-star recruit, via ESPN
    • McDonald's All-American
    • Averaged 33.1 PPG in senior season

    Salivating yet?

    Blackmon Jr. is the real deal. He's an excellent shooting guard and will be in IU's starting lineup from day one. His body (6'2", 175 lbs) and abilities are reminiscent of former Hoosiers standout Eric Gordon. Like Gordon, he could easily be Indiana's top scorer as a freshman.

    What makes Blackmon Jr. special is his ability to light it up from beyond the arc. He proved he can shoot the long ball by winning the McDonald's All-American Three-Point Contest. 

    So, in short, Blackmon Jr. brings a boat load of offense to Indiana, scoring it will need in 2014-15.