IU added Harrison Niego, a preferred walk on guard from Illinois who had some mid major and Ivy League offers. They also added Michigan grad transfer Max Bielfeldt, a nice late addition. Bielfeldt isn’t a star but he’s proven to be a guy capable of giving you a tough 10 mpg off the bench. They also added Josh Newkirk, a transfer from Pitt who won’t be eligible until next season.
As has become all too familiar a story, the Hoosier roster suffered some attrition since the Spring. Hanner Mosquera Perea transfered to East Tennessee state after being booted from the team in a marijuana incident which also led to forward Devin Davis being asked to leave the program (he’s off to Odessa Junior College in Texas). Jeremiah April, a young project big man, elected to transfer just after the spring preview was posted. Then forward Emmit Holt was dismissed from the program in August after an alcohol related incident, his second offense in that area. All of these guys but April figured to contend for a rotation spot, so it’s left Tom Crean with a little less in the way of overall frontcourt numbers but he should have enough to get past the losses.
This looked like a team likely to be improved in April and even with all the comings and goings since then, it still looks that way to me. IU has a ton of offensive firepower. With Ferrell, Blackmon, Johnson and Williams, they have four guys who can flat out score the basketball. They have deadeye shooters off the bench in Ziesloft and Hartman. They have three young posts in Bryant, Anunoby and Morgan who have potential to help inside and a veteran in Bielfeldt who can chip in with reserve minutes. If anything, I think they could be even a notch better offensively than they were last season because they have more potential for post scoring to mix in with all their running and shooting from the perimeter guys.
Where the rubber will meet the road for this team will be on the defensive end and on the glass. IU was really, really, really bad defensively last season, especially on two point shots. That was to be expected, given that they rarely could play legitimate size (Hartman saw a lot of 5 minutes and he’s really a wing). Bryant alone should change that but he and his classmates Anunoby and Morgan are going to have to play a bit beyond their years, at least defensively. Still, I think just having some honest to goodness size has to help some. That should also help some on the boards, where things weren’t as bad for the Hoosiers…they somehow actually outrebounded opponents by almost 3 per game.
This is going to be a good team and there’s reason to think it’ll be one of Crean’s best. It all comes down to the defensive end, IMO, because IU will have one of the best offenses in the nation. If they can just get to being mediocre defensively, they can win the conference and make a long run in March.