Big Ten Previews: Indiana Hoosiers


Jan 26, 2014; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean during the first half of the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Assembly Hall. Indiana won 56-46. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

2013-14 Result: 17-15 (7-11)

Postseason: N/A

Head Coach Prospectus: Tom Crean, 101-97 (40-68)

Crean, the brave man that took over the Indiana program after the sanctions against former coach Kelvin Sampson, started his Hoosier tenure with a 6-25 record after he literally rebuilt the entire roster from scratch. Three years after his team went 6-25, Indiana went to two consecutive Sweet Sixteens after posting a combined 56-16 (25-11) record. Last year was a down year for the Hoosiers, despite pulling in five-star center Noah Vonleh as well as starting several talented guards. Indiana finished the season in disappointing fashion marked with disappointing losses ( at Purdue, Northwestern, Notre Dame) as well as several big wins (Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State). After many have called for Crean’s job last year, Indiana will have to bounce back in a big way in Crean’s seventh year at the school.

Key Returning Players:

G Stanford Robinson

G Yogi Ferrell

F Troy Williams

While these three provided a lot of scoring last year for the Hoosiers, Tom Crean will rely on them more for their experience to help mentor the younger starters and contributors. Indiana returns their top scorer in Yogi Ferrell (17.3 points-per-game in 2013-14), second-leading rebounder in Troy Williams (4.4 rebounds-per-game) and Stanford Robinson, who was fourth on the team in assists (one assist-per-game). With the exception of Ferrell, both Williams and Robinson averaged less than 22 minutes-per-game last year, a number that will undoubtedly go up this year with an increased role. The biggest impact these three make are on the defensive side of the ball. Ferrell, similar to former Hoosier Victor Oladipo, is a tenacious and quick defender that puts tremendous pressure on ball-handlers. With his agility and quick instincts, Ferrell forces turnovers and makes momentum-swinging plays.

Robinson is just a sophomore, but he showed flashes of what he can do last year in his freshman campaign. A guard who’s not afraid to drive inside, Robinson has a chance to grow into a more complete guard this season. Robinson and Troy Williams showed their strong chemistry together last year that resulted in big plays for Indiana, but both had far too many careless turnovers, some that can be mainly attributed to freshman growing pains.

With another offseason to improve, these three will be heavily relied on to contribute and help the freshmen, especially James Blackmon, acquainted and familiarized with the Big Ten style of play.

Frontcourt Outlook

Troy Williams headlines the frontcourt, starting next to center Hanner Mosquera-Perea. Perea will have to fill to shoes of Vonleh, which is always a tough task when your predecessor was a NBA-lottery pick the year before. Perea and Williams combined to average 10.1 points-per-game, 6.7 rebounds and 0.8 blocks. Vonleh by himself averaged 11.3 points, nine rebounds and 1.4 blocks-per-game. Needless to say, the frontcourt will certainly be an issue for the Hoosiers. Williams is an athletic big who provides a reliable post presence on defense, but Perea has very little experience. The junior power forward averaged just 7.7 minutes-per-game last season and gets the nod at starting power forward solely because, well, Indiana doesn’t return any big men that played solid minutes last season. Sophomore Devin Davis averaged 8.8 minutes per game last season, but after a car accident last week, Davis’ basketball future remains in question.

The Hoosiers did add depth, though. With four big men in Emmitt Holt, Max Hoetzel, Tim Priller and Jeremiah April, Indiana has bodies to give Williams and Perea the occasional breaks. All four freshmen were three-star recruits and under-recruited when they signed, but their defensive instincts make them rotational players moving forward.

The biggest concern for the Hoosiers is who will replace Vonleh’s contributions on the boards. Vonleh was the leading-rebounder last season with nine boards a game. The second-leading rebounder was, indeed, Troy Williams with just 4.4 boards a game. With more minutes, his numbers will surely improve, but the Hoosiers will need Williams to step up.

Backcourt Outlook

Headlined by Yogi Ferrell, Stanford Robinson and James Blackmon, Indiana has an opportunity to make their strength even stronger. Blackmon has been as good as advertised this offseason. The freshman led the team in scoring and was perfect from the line in their Canada tour last week. Much further along than expected, the same cannot be said for the other freshman shooting guard Robert Johnson. Johnson is a talented prospect that can score just like Blackmon, but is further along and had trouble consistently hitting his shots. With Ferrell, Robinson and Blackman headlining this unit, however, Johnson will eventually shoot himself out of the slump and give Indiana the scoring off the bench they desperately need.

As mentioned, Ferrell and Robinson are aggressive defenders, but team defense was just average last year. The defense ranked eighth in the Big Ten last year in points allowed per game (67.6 points), even with Troy Williams and Vonleh down low. The guard play did a good job getting out on shooters, but rotation off screens looked to be an issue. Against good shooting teams, Indiana’s guards had a tough time locking down the opposing team’s best shooters, but in a conference with many three-point specialists, so did a lot of teams.



In the Big Ten this season, a number of schools will have smaller lineups and question marks in the frontcourt, so the Hoosiers won’t be knocked down too much because of it. They retained their top scorer from last year, but I expect Indiana’s defense to take a hit with Vonleh and Will Sheehey gone. This team will have their upsets, but also have their hangover games. The middle of the pack in the Big Ten is tight, which is where I expect Indiana to end up.

Troy Williams and Stan Robinson will be suspended for the first four games of the season after failing a drug test. Freshman Emmitt Holt will be suspended for the first two regular season games after allegedly driving under the influence in the accident that seriously injured Devin Davis. Simply put: Indiana is facing adversity. How the team responds can either mean good things for the Hoosiers, or very badly for Tom Crean’s future.