Indiana Hoosiers basketball season in review: Matt Roth.

This is another in the prolonged postseason wrapup series.  Pretend that I made a bunch of empty promises here about when the next post will be. 

Matt Roth is one of three remaining Kelvin Sampson recruits on the IU roster.  Derek Elston (previous post in this series) and Tom Pritchard (next post in this series) are the others.  When the IU program was at its all-time low, those three guys stuck with the Hoosiers, and that isn't often mentioned and shouldn't be forgotten.  Roth's freshman year was the horrid 2008-09, "let's just field a team" season, and Roth played quite a bit that season.  Frankly, I did not recall that he had played so much, but as a freshman, Roth logged 21 minutes and 5.6 shots per game.  Nearly all of Roth's shots came from three point range that season, and he averaged 6.7 points per game on 37.5 percent shooting from behind the arc.  The highlight of Roth's freshman season and career to date was his performance in a 93-81 home loss to Ohio State that year, in which he scored 29 points on 9-11 from three point range. 

 

Roth's subsequent years have not yet matched his freshman season.  As a sophomore, Roth suffered a season-ending foot injury, logging only a total of 11 minutes in IU's first two non-conference games.  This past season, Roth returned, but his playing time was dramatically diminished from his freshman season.  Roth's shooting percentage was a steady 37.5 percent from deep, but he played only 8.2 minutes per game and averaged 3.4 points.  That's not to say that Roth didn't have his moments.  His best game was at Michigan State, where he scored 12 points on 4-5 shooting and would have been remembered as one of the heroes if IU had held on in that overtime heartbreaker. 
It's hard to say what exactly is the issue with Roth.  His strength is as a spot-up shooter, and IU's offense has not excelled at providing opportunities for such players.  Also, Tom Crean seems to favor guards who have more shot-creating ability than Roth has.  Yes, with the way IU's offense looked at times last season, that sounds like a punchline, but it's true. Roth does not seem like the typical Crean guard.  I may be overlooking someone, but can anyone remember Crean signing or even pursuing a guy whose sole strength was perimeter shooting? 

Because of diminished playing time, and because Roth graduated in May and will be attending graduate school next season, his departure has been rumored, but Roth has said he will be back at IU and there is no particular reason to believe otherwise. Unless he seeks an additional year of eligibility (a medical redshirt for the season in which he played only two games), then Roth's career will be over next season, meaning that he will have no impact on the 2012-13 scholarship crunch.  As far as we now know, next year's roster of scholarship players will be identical to this season's, but minus Jeremiah Rivers and plus Cody Zeller, Austin Etherington, and Remy Abell.  The recruitment of Abell, in particular, would seem to be a bad sign for Roth's ability to earn significant playing time next season.   As we discussed back when it happened, the signing of Abell is understandable only if he is able to contribute to next year's team--otherwise, banking the scholarship for the 2012 class (can you bank a scholarship that doesn't exist?) would have been the better move.  We don't know whether Abell will be above or below where Rivers was in the playing time hierarchy, but it's fair to assume that like Rivers was, he will be ahead of Matt Roth.  All that said, Roth has shown that he is an excellent shooter, perhaps the best pure shooter on the team (although I'm sure that Jordan Hulls and a healthy Maurice Creek could give him a run).  It's unlikely that Roth ever will return to the 20 minutes per game visibility of his freshman season, but let's hope he can finish things out by coming off the bench with some well-placed daggers that help IU make some progress. 
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