Since arriving at Indiana, Tom Crean has made several steps in the right direction, but still his tenure has been full of losses. This year there is, at least, something to look forward to. Signing Cody Zeller last year could be the biggest step in the road to recovery for this program and for a coach who has worked endlessly to get this done.
The immediate impact of Zeller on the court is he adds a big man to a team that really did not have a center capable of competing in the Big Ten. Zeller was listed at 210 pounds at the beginning of his senior season in high school, but has already moved up to 225 per coach Tom Crean's Twitter account. Assuming he continues to add muscle, he will be able to be an impact rebounder and shot-blocker on the defensive end.
His offensive game is also one of his biggest strengths, though. He has good foot-work in the post and can score in one-on-one situations. That impact will be really important next season as they need to find somewhere to go for scoring to prevent times like last year when they went five to six minutes without a field goal.
Another way he'll make in impact on the offensive end is with his face-up jumper that extends out to about 15-18 feet. It's going to be really important for him to be able to consistently knock down that jumper to add a more versatile offensive attack.
Zeller's impact won't be solely measured on his play, but also on how he effects the players around him. With Zeller and Pritchard on the court at the same time, it will give Christian Watford a chance to move to his natural position at the three where he can use his outside jumper and get to the basket.
When Zeller is in the game, there will be a lot of times where he's double-teamed in the post and that will give chances to players like Matt Roth, Jordan Hulls and even freshman Austin Etherington to hit open jumpers from the three-point line.
Zeller has already contributed even more than by making the decision to go to Indiana. Right after his commitment, Indianapolis point guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell decided he will be attending Indiana as a part of the 2012 class as well. Now, the talented 2011 class of Zeller, Etherington and Remy Abell will be followed up by perhaps the best 2012 class in the country with five commitments already and another top-20 player still being pursued.
Even before stepping a foot on the court, Zeller has already done a lot for this Indiana program, but it will all be for naught if he can't come in and produce right away next season. There is definitely a lot of pressure on a freshman playing his first season in the Big-Ten, but everything seems to be pointing in the right direction. The signing of Cody Zeller, for Tom Crean and for Indiana, may be the turning point in this long road back to restoring the name of Indiana Basketball.
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