Sunday, October 17, 2010

Starters Or Spots, IU's Crean Wants Results

The record shows that Indiana returns six basketball starters from a 10-21 team. This is a good thing. Experience always matters, especially when you’re trying to become a factor in what looms as a grueling Big Ten race.

After consecutive seasons 20-plus-loss seasons, the Hoosiers seek to move up in a big way. Youth was a major factor in the struggles. That's no longer true. They've got a roster full of one- and two-year starters. It will make a huge difference.

Yes, they do have one starter too many, but Jeremiah Rivers’ role is likely to change from to more of a key reserve.

Guard Maurice Creek started all 12 of his games last season before shattering his knee cap. Assuming his knee can handle the load, he'll return to the starting lineup, although that might take a while. Coach Tom Crean will not rush Creek before he's ready. It might be January before that happens.

Guard Verdell Jones started all 31 games. So did forward Christian Watford. Forward Tom Pritchard started 22 games. Guard Jordan Hulls started 17 times.

This might suggest to you that some guys are locks to start.

You would be wrong.

“I don’t remotely look at it that way,” Crean said about returning all those starters. “We’ve got five open spots. Every day the competition has to be high. The level you bring has to be high."

In other words, players will earn minutes through performance, not reputation.

“Are we ready for that yet?" Crean asked. "We’re not even close to just going at it every day, but we will be. That’s how you build the program back up to where it needs to be.”

IU is dominated by the sophomores and juniors. The only senior is Rivers. So if the Hoosiers are to finish with a winning record and earn a postseason bid, those are the guys who must thrive.

“I would hope they expect more from themselves all the time,” Crean said. “That’s where expectations start. The bottom line is they have to carry a big load for us.

“At the same time we have two freshmen (guards Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey) and a junior college transfer (center Guy Marc-Michel) and they all expect to play right away. They will compete to play. That’s what we want.”

What IU really wants is a return to national relevance and postseason success. In a couple of weeks, we’ll start seeing how realistic that is.

1 comment:

  1. Getting to postseason play is the most realistic expectation for the still relatively young Hoosiers. The devastation that Kelvin Sampson brought down on the program is still lingering and has an impact even today - but Coach Crean still has to win. An NIT bid this year spells clear progress. I believe it would be tough to expect much more this season.