Yesterday, Indiana's 73-58 loss to Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament ended their season at 10 wins and 21 losses.
Today, their record is 0-0, and the offseason begins.
The summer is the best time for players to get better. They can go bulk up in the gym, work out with trainers to improve their quickness and strength, and play plenty of pickup basketball games against teammates, as well as former players.
Just look at what a summer did for sophomore guard Verdell Jones III.
He improved his scoring average from 11 points per game, to 14.9. He had five more assists on the season, as well as 12 less turnovers. He improved his free throw percentage from 71 percent to 76 percent. And maybe even bigger, he gained 15 to 20 pounds, which helped him nudge off some tough defending and hard fouls down low all season.
Most would expect that another summer hitting the weights should help Jones III even more, and maybe gain another 15 pounds of muscle.
Freshman forward Christian Watford acknowledges that he needs to go to the gym. Too often this season, he was pushed around underneath, and although he is 6'9", and even longer with his wingspan, he played much smaller because of his lack of strength and muscle. Right now he is at 220 lbs, per iuhoosiers.com . Expect him to be at 230 to 235 come this fall.
The same goes for all the guys down low. Freshman Derek Elston, Bobby Capobianco, and Bawa Muniru weigh 220, 238, and 242. Expect those to go up by at least 10 to 20 pounds each.
Freshman guard Jordan Hulls, all 172 pounds of him, will surely by next season weigh somewhere around 185 by next season.
In addition to bulking up during the summer, the whole squad will have plenty of time to work on their skills on the court.
Jones III told the media on Thursday that he would be working on his three-point shot over the break.
He also mentioned that he will work on his whole game, which is a great mentality to have. No matter how good one is, they must constantly strive to be greater.
For the big men, be sure that they will work on their post moves and fundamentals all summer. A bonus is when former Indiana players or other current Indiana players come back to play with and against the current team. Last summer Roy Hibbert and former Hoosier D.J. White played for a few days against the current IU players. Another showing of NBA players like this on campus certainly wouldn't hurt.
Also, maybe junior guard Jeremiah Rivers will improve after playing with NBA players in the summer thanks to his father being the coach of the Boston Celtics.
And finally, the summer is a time for players to either come back from injuries, or make up for a poor season. And in Indiana's case, those two are well represented.
Freshman guard Maurice Creek and sophomore guard Matt Roth both suffered season-ending injuries during the season, and now must spend the summer working to get back into playing shape, as well as improving themselves.
Both players are being counted on for next year to use their strengths, three-point shooting for Roth, and overall shooting and defense from Creek, to help improve the play on the court for the Hoosiers.
And for Jeremiah Rivers and sophomore forward Tom Pritchard, this summer is a time for them to prove to the fans, their own coach, and teammates that they can play at the D1 level.
Pritchard, who seemed to take many steps back in his development this season, averaged just 4.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, while committing over three fouls per game, and averaged two turnovers to every one assist. And it wasn't just his stat line that was poor. He seemed constantly out of position on offense and defense, and seemed to play much smaller than his 6'9'' body gave him.
Rivers was supposed to take over the point guard role from Verdell Jones this season, but after a few good performances early in the season, his inefficiencies began to show. He displayed a horrible jump shot, was not the lock down defender everyone had hoped, and by midseason, stopped driving the lane, which took away his tremendous passing ability. He also let defenders just guard the passing lanes and force him to either restart the offense or shoot. He averaged just six points and 3.4 assists per game, much less than what was expected of him.
You can be sure that both players will work their tails off this summer to get back onto the court and into the starting lineup, because as of now, both are beginning next season on the bench.
It was a tough season, but to expect more than 10 wins without Maurice Creek, who was Indiana's best player before going down to injury, is asking a bit much.
Next season, the weight training, experience, and addition of depth in the two new freshman will help this team keep it's confidence high, and provide a great base for this team to take off to greater heights.
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