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.
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.