The 2009-2010 Indiana Hoosier basketball season came to a close with a tough 73-58 loss to Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
The final record of 10-21 was better than last season, although still fell short of expectations placed on the team by the players themselves, as well as many fans.
A long off-season awaits, but the prospects for the future are looking more inviting day by day.
Here are some stories to keep an eye on this spring and summer as we lead up to Hoosier Hysteria in early November, 2010.
5. Players hit the weights.
The Hoosier's were constantly pushed around all season, and it was pretty noticeable that they just didn't have the strength (with the exception of Verdell Jones) to play a full Big Ten season.
Coach Crean has already been talking about how the players have been working out with the weights (per Twitter) and this is a great sign for fans. Expect a much stronger and quicker team next season.
4. Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey arrive on campus.
The arrival of the two man recruiting class will be huge for Indiana. Sheehey can stretch defenses with his shooting ability from all areas of the court, plus he has above average dribbling ability. And Oladipo will certainly give the Hoosiers the energy man they have been lacking, as well as a player who can consistently play above the rim.
They will go through struggles this season, but assuming there aren't too many injuries, they can be eased into the rotation this season to help with their adjustment to Big Ten basketball.
3. Players playing pickup against pros and former Hoosiers.
Every year many former Hoosiers and other professional players in the Indianapolis area come down to Bloomington during the summers to play some pickup against players on the current squad. The experience the team can gain from playing games against current pros in the NBA or in Europe is invaluable, and there will certainly be plenty of teaching moments for all the players.
A full season, plus a summer of pickup against players of much higher talent and skill, as well as a summer in the weight room will certainly mean a smarter, stronger, and more talented Hoosier team come fall.
2. Tom Crean and his staff hitting the recruiting trail.
The summer is a great time for coaches to get out and look at prospective recruits at AAU and summer tournaments. Tom Crean will be sure to be on the road plenty to look at plenty of Indiana prospects (Jeremiah Davis, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, and Cody Zeller) as well as some out of state blue chippers (Quinn Cook, Peter Jurkin, Haner Perea, Marshall Plumlee).
Last year, Indiana made some ground on Kyrie Irving and Josh Selby during the summer. While those two talented guards didn't choose to come to Indiana, the fact that the Hoosiers were on their radar means that Crean is recruiting well. Look to see more prospects on Indiana's radar, as well as plenty of prospects who have great things to say about the Hoosiers.
1. Maurice Creek and Matt Roth returning from injuries.
There is no doubt that the Hoosiers season was drastically affected with the injury of star freshman guard Maurice Creek, who broke his left knee cap in the final game before the Big Ten season began. Also hurting the Hoosiers was the loss of Matt Roth to a broken ankle. Without the two, the Hoosiers had few players who could hit shots from beyond the arc with consistency, and defenses had an easy time containing Indiana on offense.
With the return of Creek to the starting lineup, the Hoosiers instantly become much better on offense and defense, and with Roth coming off the bench as a sixth or seventh man, he will be able to offer the sharp shooting from behind the three-point line that we saw from him during his freshman season. With Creek finally back on the court, the Hoosiers are in a great spot to move up in the Big Ten standings next season.
There are still six months until Hoosier Hysteria returns to Assembly Hall, but in the mean time there is plenty of good news on the recruiting, injury, and strength training front.
The Hoosiers right now are on their way up, and a strong off-season will pay off with success next season.