Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Looking forward to next year

Maybe I'm an ever-naive optimist, but I am really looking forward to next year's Hoosiers. The Men's soccer team picked another fine recruiting class and a solid transfer in AJ Corrado. And the men's basketball team looks to make a substantial jump forward, even if Maurice Creek is still not 100% in coming back (and I would be surprised if he was).

Yeagley loses a few fine players, but Will Bruin was a man among boys out there, and it'll be hard to replace his scoring. I was not as enamored of Rich Balchan as the MLS seems to be, but he and Andy Adlard were fine players who will also be missed. Btw, IU alumni could totally field a complete team from their MLS players alone this year- which is pretty impressive. Anyway, there will have to be some contributions from the eight-man recruiting class, but I also think Corrado, redshirt Kerel Bradford, Matt McKain, and Joe Tolen are ready for expanded opportunity. One thing that would really help is if goalkeeper Luis Soffner just started being more consistent in his performance - he really needs excellent to put out fires before they start, because I don't trust his instincts once the offense gets the ball in scoring position.

Crean has done the hardest thing of all, which is to reinvigorate in-state recruiting while putting lousy teams on the floor. To be fair, IU was not that bad last year, and lower efficiencies from KenPom are mostly a result of facing a really tough Big Ten. IU was clearly a better team than either one of the previous two incarnations, which made the 3-15 Big Ten record all the more frustrating. I'll grant you, it's hard to look good defensively when Jordan Taylor is hitting a series of fall-down threes or OSU is hitting on all cylinders. It's also hard to look good when you don't get out and get a hand in the shooter's face. Still, I actually like the Jones-Hulls backcourt for next year, and if Oladipo and Sheehey can settle down their defensive lapses and turnover problems, they'll actually be pretty good players that should be able to replace anything we lost from Rivers' graduation. Throw in one of the top big recruits in the country to complement Pritchard and Watford, and the Hoosiers should be ready for a significant jump forward. What does that translate in terms of wins-losses, especially given that Taylor & Sullinger are returning? My guess is conference record of 7 or 8 wins (where I thought they'd be this last season), and an overall record just north of .500, but it's really hard to predict this far out. They'll be better, tho, which will be a welcome sight.


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