After seasons of 6-25 and 10-21, the Indiana Hoosiers are set to make a substantial leap in head coach Tom Crean's third season.
With a bevy of formidable guards and a solid mixture of youth and experience, the cupboard, left vacant by cell phone abuser Kelvin Sampson, appears stocked enough to compete game in, game out in the rugged Big Ten.
The return of potential All-American Maurice Creek, whose fractured left knee ended his season before Big Ten play began, highlights IU's 2010-2011 squad.
Beyond Creek, the Hoosiers welcome back 10 letterwinners and five starters, including double-digit scorers Verdell Jones III, a junior guard, and sophomore forward Christian Watford.
If Indiana's inside play improves at both ends, the Hoosiers—a year away from Big Ten title contention—could finish middle of the pack, which would be quite a step up from last season's ninth-place finisher.
A ticket to the NCAA Tournament? Unlikely...but not impossible.
- Overall: 10-21
- Big Ten: 4-14 (T-9th)
2010-2011 Schedule (* = Big Ten game)
- Nov. 12 Florida Gulf Coast
- Nov. 14 Wright State
- Nov. 16 Mississippi Valley State
- Nov. 21 Evansville
- Nov. 23 North Carolina Central
- Nov. 26 Northwestern State
- Dec. 1 at Boston College
- Dec. 4 Savannah State
- Dec. 11 at Kentucky
- Dec. 17 SIU-Edwardsville
- Dec. 19 South Carolina State
- Dec. 22 Northern Iowa (Las Vegas)
- Dec. 23 New Mexico or Colorado (Las Vegas)
- Dec. 27 Penn State*
- Dec. 31 Ohio State*
- Jan. 4 at Minnesota*
- Jan. 9 at Northwestern*
- Jan. 15 Michigan*
- Jan. 20 at Wisconsin*
- Jan. 23 at Iowa*
- Jan. 27 Illinois*
- Jan. 30 at Michigan State*
- Feb. 2 Minnesota*
- Feb. 5 Iowa*
- Feb. 8 at Purdue*
- Feb. 12 at Michigan*
- Feb. 19 Northwestern*
- Feb. 23 Purdue*
- Feb. 26 at Ohio State*
- March 2 Wisconsin*
- March 5 at Illinois*
- March 10-13 Big Ten Tournament (Indianapolis)
Head coach Tom Crean should have less to shout about in 2010-2011.
2010-2011 Roster (* = returning starter)
- 0 Kory Barnett 6'6" JR F
- *1 Jordan Hulls 6'0" SO G
- *2 Christian Watford 6'8" SO F
- 3 Maurice Creek 6'5" SO G
- 4 Victor Oladipo 6'5" FR G
- *5 Jeremiah Rivers 6'5" SR G
- 10 Will Sheehey 6'6" FR G/F
- 11 Daniel Moore 5'10" JR G
- *12 Verdell Jones III 6'5" JR G
- 15 Guy-Marc Michel 7'0" JR C
- 23 Bobby Capobianco 6'9" SO F
- 24 Jeff Howard 6'8" FR F
- *25 Tom Pritchard 6'9" JR F
- 30 Matt Roth 6'3" R-SO G
- 32 Derek Elston 6'9" SO F
Projected 2010-2011 Starters
- G Jordan Hulls 6'0" SO
- G Verdell Jones III 6'5" JR
- G Maurice Creek 6'5" SO
- F Christian Watford 6'8" SO
- F Tom Pritchard 6'9" JR
Verdell Jones leads IU's talented backcourt.
Returning Starters (3/3)
Verdell Jones III (14.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.4 APG)
Jordan Hulls (6.4 PPG, 40% 3FG, 80% FT)
Jeremiah Rivers (6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.4 APG)
Maurice Creek (16.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 53% FG, 45% 3FG)
Matt Roth (6.7 PPG, 37% 3FG, 80% FT in 2008-2009)
Daniel Moore (1.3 PPG)
Victor Oladipo (11.9 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 3.6 BPG as a senior at DeMatha High School in Washington, D.C.)
Will Sheehey (14 PPG, 7 RPG, 4 APG as a senior at Sagemont High School in Weston, Fla.)
Devan Dumas (6.6 PPG)
Sophomore Maurice Creek, who returns after a knee injury prematurely ended his freshman campaign, leads the Hoosiers' talented backcourt.
The skilled trio of Creek (16.4 PPG), Verdell Jones III (14.9 PPG) and Jordan Hulls (6.4 PPG) should average 40-plus points per game.
Moreover, Creek and Hulls are three-point marksmen, and Jones, whose outside shot keeps improving, can stick a three when needed.
On paper, Indiana has one of the best starting backcourts in the Big Ten.
Matt Roth, who redshirted last season due to injury, will serve as a three-point sniper off the bench, while Jeremiah Rivers, a starter in 2009-2010 and IU's only senior, will provide leadership and defense.
Junior Daniel Moore and freshmen Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey add to the Hoosiers' depth, though the three figure to play limited minutes for guard-heavy IU.
Sophomore Christian Watford needs to be an inside force this season.
Returning Starters (2/2)
Christian Watford (12 PPG, 6 RPG, 80% FT)
Tom Pritchard (4.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 61% FG)
Derek Elston (5.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG)
Bobby Capobianco (2.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG)
Jeff Howard (16.8 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 3.1 APG as a senior at Westfield High School in Westfield, Ind.)
The development of sophomore Christian Watford is essential to IU's success this season. Watford, a lithe 6'8", must score inside more consistently and forgo the temptation to settle for jumpers.
After a sophomore slump, Tom Pritchard, a two-year starter, must return to his freshman form. The key to Pritchard's success: avoid foul trouble.
Sophomores Derek Elston and Bobby Capobianco, along with Pritchard, must improve upon their 2009-2010 numbers, especially scoring, to help Watford on the inside.
Jeff Howard could help, but don't expect the freshman to log significant minutes.
Returning Starters (0/0)
Guy-Marc Michel (7.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 3.1 BPG as a sophomore at Northern Idaho College)
Bawa Muniru (0.6 PPG)
Tijan Jobe (0.4 PPG)
IU, with only one center on the roster—Guy-Marc Michel—will most often employ a three guard, two forward set. When he does play, Michel's goal is simple: use his 7'0" frame to shut down the middle defensively.
The three starting guards plus Watford form a strong offensive nucleus. If others, most notably Pritchard, add to their 2009-2010 contributions, IU should have enough "O" to compete with any Big Ten team.
Under Crean, the Hoosiers have had difficultly with interior defense. Expect the same this season. With no center other than Michel, a raw project, teams might have their way with IU in the paint. Look for Indiana to use zone often to combat their lack of size and inside defensive presence.
A weak non-conference schedule, more depth and experience and the return of Creek should vault the Hoosiers to a winning record in 2010-2011. Finishing .500 or above in a brutal Big Ten might be a season away, but Crean will send IU to the postseason—probably the NIT—for the first time during his tenure.
Final Record Prediction
- Overall: 19-14
- Big Ten: 8-12 (including 1-1 in Big Ten Tournament)