Monday, October 25, 2010

Rating Big Ten Basketball, Part II

So here we are, Part II of Rating Big Ten Basketball, and suddenly there’s this huge unnerving Cream ‘n Crimson question:

What’s up with Verdell Jones’ ankle?

First, we know officially thanks to Indiana coach Tom Crean’s love of Tweeting that Jones sprained it. If it’s a regular sprain, the junior guard will return fairly quickly. If it’s a high ankle sprain, it will take a while.

The good news is it’s apparently not a season-ending thing in the manner of Robbie Hummel and his twice-blown right knee. A little less pounding now might pay big dividends in Big Ten play. Jones’ history has been relatively slow starts, fast finishes.

Crean tweeted that Jones was hurt during a Saturday scrimmage, saying that “He was playing at the highest level he has been at with us.”

Jones will be a three-year starter and, potentially, IU’s top scorer this season. Yes, Maurice Creek has more scoring ability, but he’s still on his way back from last year’s fractured kneecap. There’s no sense in rushing him, so Creek might not be back at full strength until the Big Ten season. It’s even possible he might not be fully recovered until next season.

Yeah, it was that challenging an injury.

Anyway, assuming IU gets to full strength, things are looking good.

How good?

Glad you asked.

In case you’ve forgotten (or don’t want to look at the previous blog), the absolutely, bet-the-house-accurate prediction for the first five Big Ten teams were 1 Michigan State, 2 Purdue, 3 Ohio State, 4 Illinois and 5 Wisconsin.

6 Indiana: The Hoosiers are ready to make a big jump back to the postseason. Jones is an All-Big Ten guard. Creek has similar ability when he’s fully healthy. So does forward Christian Watford. JUCO transfer Guy Marc-Michel has to develop the stamina to play with the necessary pace and intensity, but he’s really, really big at 7-foot and 277 pounds. He doesn’t have to be Mr. Offense. If he can rebound, play defense and block a few shots, he’s golden. There’s a ton of backcourt depth with sharp-shooting Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth, athletic Jeremiah Rivers and hustling Daniel Moore. The frontcourt is loaded with Derek Elston, Bobby Capobianco and Tom Pritchard. Freshman guards Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo have demonstrated the kind of early effort likely to produce plenty of minutes.

A realist would say IU should make the NIT, with the NCAA tourney returning the next season. An optimist would consider 20-plus victories and a NCAA Tournament bid this season.

So what are you?

Anyway, where does this leave the rest of the Big Ten?

That’s coming up.


  1. I am an optimist. I think the Hoosiers will end up making the tourny this year. Some many losses last year that were so close to being wins. I see those being Ws this year.

  2. Is this William Westmoreland optimism, a combination of naivete and disingenuousness? For your prognosis to be accurate, Maurice Creek must make a complete recovery, Christian Watford must make huge strides, Guy Marc-Michel must be better than the scouts think he is, and you must have been watching a different back and front court last year than I was. By the way, explain to me exactly what offense Indiana plays? When did you last see disciplined motion without the ball? Am I really exaggerating if I say it was about a decade ago? I must say, you sound like an IU football fan about three weeks ago.

  3. 16-15 overall, about 6 wins in the conference.

  4. The frontcourt is loaded? You're joking right? Elston is the only real frontcourt player we have.

  5. Indiana is absolutely no better than 7th.

    Minnesota will be much better this season; I wouldn't be shocked to see them finish as high as 3rd or 4th.

    Northwestern will also probably be better than the Hoosiers, although there's the potential to beat them out for that 7th spot. Michigan, Penn State, and Iowa are duds, of course, meaning IU can't really finish lower than 8th.

  6. I think the Hoosiers will end up making the tourny this year. Some many losses last year that were so close to being wins. I see those being Ws this year

  7. I think you are looking through crimson-colored glasses if you expect Indiana to finish ahead of Minnesota and probably even Northwestern. My best guess is that Indiana finishes 8th or 9th and that result would satisfy most supporters. The 2011 season is where Indiana breaks out and gets back into the upper division, especially if they add Cody Zeller no one of consequence leaves the team. Coming back from the dead takes time and IU is simply not quite there yet.