Austin Etherington has the rep of a shooter
Is he more than that?
The quick answer -- he’d better be if he wants to play in this new, more competitive world of deeper, more talented Indiana basketball.
Etherington is the 6-6 freshman forward out of Indianapolis Hamilton Heights. He and Remy Abell play in the shadows of their more heralded fellow freshman, Cody Zeller. That doesn’t mean they can’t contribute, but it does mean if they want to play, they must be more than a one-trick player.
Etherington knows it.
“I’m trying to prove I can play defense, that I can cut to the basket and create shots for everyone else. I’m working on that.”
In high school Etherington was known for his scoring. As a senior he averaged 18.6 points. As a junior it was 22.9 points. He demonstrated enough versatility to averge 8.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks as a senior, 7.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 blocks as a junior.
Heck, even as a sophomore he was a force to be reckoned with, averaging 15.7 points and 7.0 rebounds.
All this is nice, but can he help the Hoosiers this year?
The Haunted Hall of Hoops scrimmage gave an indication. He had 10 points and five rebounds in 27 minutes, which were the second-most minutes anyone played behind Will Sheehey’s 28. He also had a team-high five turnovers, which shows he remains a work in progress.
So what is his role?
“My role is everything –- a shooter, a guy who can play the 4 (power forward) if we want to go small.”
Like every freshman, Etherington battles to adjustment of college ball.
“It’s a different pace than high school. The whole game is at a speed I’ve never played before. I’ve had to get used to it. Now I’m getting in rhythm and finding my game. The first week of practice was the toughest. Now it’s getting better.”
That’s something all the Hoosiers are doing as they prepare for their Nov. 11 season opener against Stony Brook.
“We just have to keep playing together and get used to each other,” he said.
Senior receiver Damarlo Belcher has joined the ranks of a lot of veteran football players from the Bill Lynch coaching era:
Belcher was kicked off the team for something called a “violation of team rules.” Exactly what he did remains a mystery, but indications are something happened late last week that caused his dismissal.
He was suspended for Saturday’s Northwestern loss. Coach Kevin Wilson didn’t discuss it after that game, and hasn’t said anything since.
The 6-5 Belcher returned for his senior season after considering leaving early to enter the NFL draft, in part because he and his girlfriend had a baby girl in December. He was on the Bilenikoff Award watch list for the nation’s top receivers.
A knee injury hurt his production this season. He missed two and a half games because of it. His totals of 25 catches for 286 yards and a touchdown were way below last season, when he led the Big Ten with 78 catches for 832 yards and four touchdowns. He will finish second in school history for career catches, two behind James Hardy’s 191-catch total.
Belcher is one of more than 30 players, including 19 scholarship players, to leave the program since Wilson took over. Five of those, including tailback Darius Willis, left because of injury. The rest left either by their choice or Wilson’s.
Also, sophomore receiver Duwyce Wilson is out for the season after hurting his knee catching a touchdown pass against Northwestern. Wilson said he’ll need surgery.