Friday, April 1, 2011

Yet Another Reason Why Zeller Will Thrive At IU

So what do we know after Cody Zeller’s McDonald’s All-America game?

Basically, the stuff we know before. He has impressive skills. He’s going to be a very good college player. But he’s not going to have Jared Sullinger-like instant impact.


First, and there’s no diplomatic way to say this, he he doesn’t have the large enough back side to clear out space under the basket. Among the reasons why Sullinger was so good so fast -- beyond his high basketball IQ, tough-minded play and ability to quickly pass out of double teams -- was that he used his legs and, well, rump, to muscle his way into inside position.

Zeller can’t quite match that.

But the bottom line is overall strength. Yeah, Zeller needs to continue working on his individual skills, and he will, but the sooner he gets back in the weight room and really hits it hard, the better.

It's been hard for him to do that lately considering his Washington team just won a second straight state championship and then he immediately headed to Chicago for the McDonald's preparation.

Indiana basketball strength coach Je’Ney Jackson almost certainly has already given Zeller a workout plan to follow. Once Zeller gets to IU this summer, he can fully take advantage of that.

The McDonald’s experience got Zeller game time –- he had 10 points (on 5-for-10 shooting), three rebounds and three assists –- but it also gave him the chance to play or practice against some of the nation’s top big men such as Khem Birch (going to Pitt) and Anthony Davis (heading to Kentucky). The main lesson learned was again how important strength is.

Figure Zeller will learn it well. He's seen what it's done to older brother Tyler, who had a big-time junior season at North Carolina in part because he was able to physically handle the inside power stuff.

While Zeller was IU’s only McDonald’s participant, Kentucky was well representated, which once again showcases how effective a recruiter John Calipari is.

Michael Gilchrist had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the East to a 111-96 victory. Marquis Teague, the Indianapolis Pike standout, also was there.

Next year IU could dominate the event with guys like Yogi Ferrell, Hanner Perea and Jeremy Hollowell in the mix.

Yes, the Hoosier future is very bright.


Could Illinois coach Bruce Weber be heading to Oklahoma?

It’s possible. Weber isn’t as popular in Champaign as he was in his first two seasons, when he won a pair of Big Ten championships and led the Illini to a national runner-up finish.

They’ve struggled in recent years and badly under-achieved this season, when they went 20-14. While they made the NCAA tourney as a No. 9 seed and lost in the second round, they didn’t make it by much.

Illinois has to replace four senior starters. Plus, athletic director Ron Guenther might not be around much longer (his contract expires in June), so administration support for Weber might be a little shaky.

While Weber has released a statement saying he's committed to Illinois, as we saw with the Matt Painter situation (rumors were rampant he was heading to Missouri before settling on a $2.3-million-a-year deal to stay with Purdue) nothing is sure this time of year.

Except that somebody is going to sign a big-money contract to coach, and it's not going to be us.


  1. Zeller comments make some sense but Cody Zeller is never going to have a "backside" like Jared Sullinger. That is a good thing. That backside is not going to help Jared at the next level. What those other "big guys" that Zeller went against, had one other thing that Zeller doesn't have. They have a complete lack of understanding when it comes to some basics of playing basketball. Yes they are probably not that far from the NBA but that is not necessarily a good thing. That league had "devolved" into an excercise in athleticism. One reason that VCU and Butler are in the final four is that they actually have some understanding of the game of basketball. Instead of demanding that players learn the game better, the NBA "relaxed" it's rules so that a helter skelter mindless game of running up and down the court could exist. Zeller seemed to have a great understanding of basketball that I haven't seen in a while. He knows that he is an inside player and he concentrates on those skills. He unlike many of those "stars" who at 6'-8" or even 7'-0" think they are guards, actually knows what to do and not do with his skills. After watching that "Rise" fiasco on ESPN yesterday, I once again know why I like Indiana high school basketball and not what they play other places. An exhibition of mindless running up and down the floor jacking up sensless three pointers and throwing down dunks followed by jawing and "in your face" put downs to the defenders, was what I saw.
    Cody Zeller should do just fine, getting stronger and getting even smarter. Let us not forget a guy from French Lick that showed everyone what brain was to brawn in basketball.

  2. Pete...Sullinger's success in the low post has far more to do with his technique and willingness to get low. Fundamentally, Sullinger is the best low post player I've seen in college basketball in 10+ years.

  3. i heard a rumor last week that cristian watford was cosidering trasferring?..any truth to that??