Thursday, November 11, 2010

Indiana Player notes from the exhibition games

My player notes from watching the two exhibition games. Although this already seems like Indiana's deepest team in a couple of years, IU's best player for the last two years (Verdell Jones) and biggest recruit (Guy-Marc Michel) are still sitting on the sidelines. Despite being down double-digits late in the second half to a D-II team, there's reason for optimism this year.

Christian Watford- good offense in general (altho maybe ease up on the 3-point trigger) still can't defend guys driving to the basket, but hustled to play some really good transition defense in the second half of the Ferris State game. His handles are much improved and he's really IU's only guy who can score with his back to the basket, altho we'll see how that holds in D-I play. He did develop a nice face-up game and really is driving to the basket this year, trying to draw fouls. He's clearly put in some work into making himself a nice feature of the IU offense.

Tom Pritchard- still fouling out- not good. But he plays good defense otherwise inside, and showed good rebounding against Franklin and decent finishing against FSU. He's not necessarily where he needs to be (and he's clearly recovering from some sort of hand injury), but it's quite possible to imagine him retaining the starting job even if Michel gets cleared. However, with Michel sitting out in both exhibition games, he still couldn't average 20 minutes/game, so that doesn't bode well in the long run.

Maurice Creek- What to say? He's clearly working his way back to playing form, and he's making some bad decisions with the ball, not the least of which is shooting far too quickly and often. He runs the floor well on defense and has good handles, but he can lose his guy on defense too easily, which could be disastrous in conference play.

Victor Oladipo
- Vic is a freshman, but he looks like a freshman who belongs in the Big Ten. He's got a nose for the offensive rebounds, hits big shots, and really wants to be a full-court-press doberman (a la Scottie Pippen). However, he makes some really poor passes and decisions with the ball in general, and savvy ball-handlers are going to make him pay for over-playing them. I could see him as a sixth "energy" man or even part-time starter this year once Verdell Jones is back.

Jordan Hulls- Jordy seems a little calmer and savvier than last year. He played 41 minutes in the Ferris State game, so obviously Crean trusts him. Also, for nabbing 5 offensive rebounds in two games, he seems to always be the first one back on defense, and he's starting to get some charge calls now. On the other hand, he still tends to get used by bigger guards, which could be a major concern in conference play. That's probably that only thing that might limit Hulls' playing as many minutes as anyone else on the team.

Derek Elston- I like Derek a lot better on defense than Watford. Derek just makes things happen- he racks up some blocks and steals, and his rebounding is as good as anyone on the team, but he just seems to cause a lot of deflections and loose balls too. If I had my druthers, I'd like to see Derek start occasionally. Despite a bit of a rough stretch against Ferris State, his shooting is fine, although his free-throws have been horrid (1-6). Also, he's getting chalked with a lot of turnovers, although I could've sworn Oladipo & Creek were turning it over more than him. There was a brief line-up in the Ferris State game that Capobianco, Elston, and Watford all playing at the same time. I'd like to see some more of that, especially as Indiana starts to face some bigger teams.

Bobby Capobianco- Uh, pretty much the same as last year. Which, as a hard-nosed brusier who mixes it up on both ends of the floor, isn't a bad thing. He still makes the occasional nice pass, but we didn't see any of his three-point stroke in the exhibition games. Honestly, if Pritchard doesn't improve soon, I'd start making more time for Capobianco to see he can develop.

Jeremiah Rivers
- Rivers actually played really well in both games. He had one turnover that was totally Olapdipo's fault, and I would credit the win over Ferris State to his excellent defense on the final play of regulation. Watching it frame-by-frame, he was all over the shooter from the inbounds play, causing him to back up and Jeremiah timed his jump almost perfectly, making the shooter fade-fade-fade in order not to get blocked. That slowed the shooter down just enough for time to expire, sending it to OT. Rivers just seems more comfortable coming off the bench as a slasher and rebounder, and although he's maybe not entirely happy about it, it may just be what's best for the team.

Daniel Moore
- While Moore looked great in the scrimmage and simply tore apart Franklin College, his role in the Ferris State game seemed a better gauge of what we'll see this year. Solid point guard relief with ball-handling (with a few turnovers) and laudable tendency to tear back on defense and draw charges. Crean probably enjoyed having the ability to put Moore in with Hulls and Rivers when Ferris State was trapping in the last two minutes of overtime.

Matt Roth- I like Roth because he doesn't beat himself. He doesn't turn the ball over, he doesn't force shots (unless it's 2009 and he's IU's only hope of hitting a three late in the game), and he hustles back on defense. However, should he recover quickly from his latest injury (knock on wood), he seems like he's still going to be a rotation player at best. He just can't get boards and make plays like Creek and Oladipo, but he'll be able to come in and settle things down when those guys are having off-nights.

Will Sheehey
- I like Sheehey's gumption on the boards and his handles, but I've not seen anything to suggest he should get more than spot minutes this year. His passing leaves a lot to be desired, and IU needs a guy on the wing who can hit threes. He may be a good defender, but evidence thereof really remains to be seen.


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