After a year in basketball purgatory, the Hoosiers started the long trek back up the Big Ten standings. Sure, 4-14 in conference is not going to remind anybody of the glory days of Bob Knight, or even Mike Davis, but there was definite improvement over the 08-09 iteration of the IU squad. Nevertheless, while head coach Tom Crean was given a pass in his first year due to the necessary complete reconstruction of the program, those Indiana fans aren’t used to losing and won’t remain patient long, as this year proved.

The 10-11 version of the Hoosiers will not look a whole lot different than last year’s, but hopefully shooting guard Maurice Creek will fully recover from the knee injury that robbed him of the final 19 games of his freshman season, after having led IU in scoring through the first 12 games. Creek is a high-percentage scorer, a guy that can drop 31 on Kentucky as he did as a freshman while still shooting high percentages from all over (53% from the field, 45% from 3-pt and 76% from the line – a number which will likely improve over his career) and assuming a full recovery will again be the go-to scorer for the Hoosiers. Alongside him in Crean’s three-guard lineup will likely be senior Jeremiah Rivers and junior Verdell Jones. After Creek’s injury, Jones was as close to a clutch performer as Indiana had and was a capable scorer, despite shooting significantly lower percentages than Creek. Rivers, a transfer from Georgetown, was a bit of a disappointment for Crean’s squad. He has all the tools you look for in a big guard his size – athletic, good quickness, finishing ability, a nice jumper, good on-ball defense, penetration, passing – but has never been able to put all of those tools together to form a complete game; there is just no excuse for Rivers averaging just six point per game in over 28 minutes of playing time. Depth in the backcourt will come from sophomore point Jordan Hulls, incoming freshman Victor Oladipo, junior sharp-shooter Matt Roth and junior scrapper Daniel Moore.

Up front, Christian Watford started every game in his freshman season with the Hoosiers and will be a vital cog in the Hoosiers’ 10-11 plans. He is a bit undersized at the four, but moves well, can play out of the post, blocks some shots and is the best rebounder on the team. Junior Tom Pritchard will likely start alongside Watford up front, and he is a capable is unspectacular post-man. Ideally for Crean, either Derek Elston, Bobby Capobianco or Bawa Muniru would step up and claim, or at least challenge for, that fifth starting spot. None of the those three showed any type of consistent offensive games in their freshman seasons, but Elston and Capobianco may turn out to be better rebounders than Pritchard. Muniru, on the other hand, is an athletic freak, but is so raw that is may be another year, or even two, before the guy sees any type of significant minutes. Will Sheehey is a 6-6 incoming freshman who may get a chance to spell Watford a bit as an undersized four.

 Best case scenario in Bloomington next season is Creek getting back to form early in the season, Rivers putting his considerable talents together for his senior season, Watford bulking up a bit and the front-line depth taking a step forward, allowing the Hoosiers to creep toward .500 in conference play. Them actually getting there in 10-11 still seems unlikely, however.

 


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