Friday, April 30, 2010

Does IU Have To Sign A Big Man This Spring?

Forget, for a second, Indiana’s quest for frontcourt help and consider this question -- Would it be a disaster if IU didn’t sign any big men for next season?

A pessimist would say yes, but who needs pessimism these days when we have Tiger Woods stinking up the fairways.

An optimist would say that the Hoosiers just might have enough veteran big men to get by next year if -– and this is a big if -– they all return and have big off-seasons. That includes having forward Bawa Muniru play to his potential, or even just play, period. IU doesn’t need another season of having a 6-10 athlete sit the bench.

Yes, it would be nice if IU could sign, say, the second coming of Greg Oden, but this late in the spring that won’t happen. So you do the best you can, and if that means considering junior college big man Guy-Marc Michel, well, considering isn’t signing.

Coach Tom Crean has at least one more option in 6-10 Minnesota high school player Kevin Noreen. He had signed with Boston College, then backed out after a coaching change. Noreen averaged 37 points and 16 rebounds as a senior and is the state’s career scoring leader.

Anyway, IU does have inside potential with 6-8 Christian Watford, 6-9 Derek Elston (who really picked it up at the end of the season), 6-9 Bobby Capobianco, 6-9 Tom Pritchard (who regressed as a sophomore) and, of course, the ever smiling Muniru.

Pritchard has two years left. The others have three. There is definitely room for growth there, but it will only come with hard off-season work, but in strength building and skill development. Crean and his staff have a track record of developing players, sometimes even to NBA levels, so we’ll see.

That leads to another question -- could Michel be the savior for Indiana’s front court?

The short answer -– no.

The longer answer –- no because he’s not a savior. He’d provide much-needed inside depth, defense and athleticism. If offense came with him, that would be a plus.

He’s a 7-1, 265-pound guy with a 7-6 wingspan and this is a wonderful thing. He’s athletic enough to come from a soccer background and this, too, is a positive.

But, and you knew a “but” would be coming, he’s only played organized basketball since he was 17. That means this native from the Caribbean island of Martinique only has about three years of experience. A project, in other words.

That’s not a problem if he’s playing at, say, North Idaho College. In fact, he DID play there and averaged seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks this past season. He told that he was sometimes “lost on the court.”

This could be a big problem in the Big Ten. IU doesn’t need another lost big guy. Muniru already has that role. Still, Michel has enough potential for Colorado and Gonzaga to recruit him. He has a strong upside if he develops.

The Hoosiers would boost their overall athleticism if former Ohio State and Wright State guard Walter Offutt walks on at IU. He’d have to walk-on because Big Ten transfer rules prohibit players transferring players from being on an athletic scholarship (although academic scholarships are fine). He told the Indianapolis Star he’d come to IU if a good financial aid package is devised.

The bottom line is that while Crean hasn’t signed anybody this spring, there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes action going on. When there’s action, there’s hope, and where there’s hope, there’s a chance. In other words, all things are possible.

Isn't that what spring is for?

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