Welcome fellow Hoosier fans. This brief article is centered around some of my mid-summer thoughts in regards to some of the returning players. My wife is a big IU fan as well, but due to her being tired of hearing me talk about these things, as well as the upcoming season, my choices are to talk to myself, or put some of my thoughts on “paper.” Well, I was getting tired of talking to myself, so here goes.
Everyone that saw the court last year has to improve…period. Let’s start with De’Ron Davis. Let’s be honest, even when Davis was on the court and not in street clothes, he was injured all year. An achilles tendon surgery may be one of the hardest injuries for a basketball player to come back from, especially a big man. The promising thing was when Davis was healthy enough to see the floor, he was productive. But even then, his minutes had to be limited. All indications out of Bloomington suggest that after some rest following the season, Davis has been working hard to get himself in shape. Being healthier, being in better shape, and having enough confidence in his ankles to just play, will go a long way in helping the Hoosiers in being successful next year.
Justin Smith improving his effort will also be key. Justin has incredible athleticism, and also ability. But sometimes Justin seems to lose focus and also get down on himself for mistakes. Finishing at the rim, and becoming a mid-range scoring threat would do wonders for not only the Hoosiers, but Smith himself. If I had Smith’s athleticism they couldn’t keep enough backboards on hand, because instead of trying to just going up and laying it in softly off of the backboard, like he was probably able to do in high school, I would be trying to dunk everything within five feet of the rim. Stronger hands, confidence, effort and awareness will be huge keys in both IU’s, and Smith’s seasons. I think Justin makes a huge leap this year. Both figuratively and literally.
Devonte Green is probably the only proven scorer the Hoosiers will run out there every night. Knowing this could either really elevate Green’s game, or it could be detrimental. When Devonte is playing within himself, and the also the system, he can be VERY good on both ends of the floor. When he is forcing things and making mistakes that maybe you accept a freshman making but not a junior, he is an average basketball player. The last 10 or so games of the season last year give me hope that this has finally clicked with Green and he’s going to have a memorable season.
Robert Phinisee prior to his concussion was playing well beyond his years in my opinion. Only once did I think he appeared “rattled” and even then it didn’t effect his play on the defensive end. Phinisee is a very cerebral player and his effort will never be in question. Combining those two things with an improved jump shot this summer could vault Rob into elite point guard status. Just about the time he started to get fully back to 100% from the concussion is when the Hoosiers started righting the ship. I don’t think for one minute that that was a coincidence. Rob seems like the type of young man that will not only understand what he did well, but also what he needs to improve on. Rob Phinisee with a consistent jump shot is a scary point guard for opponents. A point guard I want running “my” team for the next three years.
It was obvious from early on in the year last year that Aljami Durham had worked on his jump shot last offseason. He made himself into a pretty decent shooter. His defense also improved. In fact, his overall play improved. Al’s effort will always be there, and if he can continue to improve his shot and his decision making this offseason, Indiana will have three very capable guards to throw at opponents. Al may never be great at any one thing, but he has the ability to be pretty damned good at a lot of things.
Race Thompson was a young man that I think most of us would agree would have helped us had he been healthy all year. I’m not sure what his numbers would have been, in fact I’m not sure any of them would have jumped off of the stat sheet at us. But I am pretty sure that his toughness alone would have been welcomed. The court time he lost due to the severe concussion he had would have been invaluable in his development as a player. Still yet, he showed glimpses of that toughness when he finally was able to get on the floor. One can only imagine that following his second year in the program a healthy Race Thompson with another full offseason to work on his game will help immensely this upcoming season.
Damezi Anderson came to IU with the reputation of being a shooter. Damezi Anderson struggled with that all year. In reality, he struggled in all facets of the game. A big adjustment for most incoming freshman is adapting to the speed of the college game versus the speed of the high school game. Some are able to slow the game down in their minds and some are not. Damezi wasn’t able to. His confidence took a blow and he actually regressed as the season wore on and his minutes went down. There were times that he looked completely lost on defense and was going 100 miles per hour on offense when he needed to be going 50mph. There is no part of me that expected him to transfer at the end of the year, but I also wouldn’t have been shocked had he done so. He looked that lost, that confused, and that unhappy. To his credit he didn’t throw in the towel, and by all reports from B-Town he is busting his butt and has looked very good in his workouts. Sometimes going through having ones confidence stripped and once the dust settles you are able to see what you need to do to get better and you get to work doing it. A shooter of Damezi’s caliber doesn’t just all of a sudden forget how to shoot. Unfortunately he let shots not falling effect his entire game. I have no idea whatsoever Damezi Anderson as a sophomore is gonna look like, but I’d be willing to bet that it’s gonna be a lot better version of the Damezi Anderson than we saw last year.
Thanks for hanging around and allowing me to bend your ear with some of the thoughts that have been running around in my head for the first half of the offseason. I’ll be back a later to talk a little about next years newcomers. Which is another thing my wife is tired of hearing about.