Indiana Hoosiers basketball season in review: Tom Pritchard.

 

Yes, I'm still at it on the first day of June. Thanks to Bobby Capobianco's transfer, Tom Pritchard is the last remaining scholarship player for me to review, although my final post will be about Daniel Moore, the only walk-on who has played enough to warrant discussion. Pritchard is an enigma, to say the least. Since we love to discuss the last days of the Sampson era so much, recall that Pritchard was part of a four-man recruiting class that signed in November 2007 and included Pritchard and Matt Roth, both unranked by recruiting services, and Devin Ebanks and Terrell Holloway, both of whom were more highly regarded recruits. Pritchard and Roth enrolled, while Ebanks and Holloway went elsewhere (Ebanks to West Virginia, Holloway to Xavier). As I said during Roth's preview, we should not forget that Roth and Pritchard stuck by IU when it was at its lowest point, to play for a coach who did not recruit them and may not have wanted to recruit them. I don't mean to criticize Ebanks or Holloway for their decisions, both of which worked to their advantage.  But for that reason, it bothers me a bit the degree and intensity of criticism that Pritchard draws from IU fans.  He was recruited to be a complementary player.

 

Still, Pritchard's career trajectory has been puzzling.  As a freshman, he played nearly 30 minutes a game and averaged 9.7 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field.  To some degree, those numbers were skewed by high scoring games against non-conference opposition, by not by a whole lot.  He continued to play consistently and respectably, albeit for a team that finished 1-17 in the Big Ten.  He even shot 57 percent from the free throw line, which isn't good by any means, but isn't horrible for a freshman big man. 

Since his freshman year, his contributions have cratered, however.  Pritchard's playing time has diminished, which is to be expected, but only by about 10 minutes per game.  He averaged 4.2 points per game as a sophomore and 2.5 as a junior.  His shooting percentages have been good--60.9 as a sohpmore, 59.0 as a junior--but on only 3 shot attempts per game as a sophomore and 2.5 as a junior.  Also, his free throw shooting has cratered, going from 57 percent as a freshman to 34.3 as a sophomore and 32.8 as a junior.  Pritchard, like many Hoosiers, has been a fouling machine, still averaging about 3 PFs per game despite playing less than 20 minutes per game over the last two seasons.  Still, that doesn't entirely explain why Pritchard, who was a serviceable offensive player as a freshman, now contributes so little to scoring.  He is a solid rebounder and shot blocker, but struggles to find scoring opportunities and to stay out of foul trouble. 

What's frustrating, of course, is that there are glimmers that suggest that there is more to Pritchard than meets the eye.  He isn't a stiff.  His dunk last season against Minnesota...


...made highlight reels all over the country.  Can you imagine Todd Lindeman or Tijan Jobe making that play?  Me, either.  Unfortunately, his 12 point effort in that win over Minnesota was Pritchard's only double-figure scoring output of the entire season.  He was in double figures 15 times as a freshman.  He had a similar out-of-nowhere performance against Purdue his sophomore year, scoring 13 points on 6-7 shooting in a game that was in doubt until the buzzer.  That was one of only two double-figure performances when Pritch was a sophomore.

Certainly, with Cody Zeller coming in, it is unlikely that Pritchard ever will match the number of touches and shots per game that he produced as a freshman.  Still, he has shown enough glimmers to suggest that he is capable of being a solid complement to Zeller or providing some offense when Zeller is on the bench. Am I crazy to hope that Pritchard has a senior year renaissance?  Or should we simply give up and hope that he sees the court in garbage time.  I think there is something there, and I hope that tom and the coaching staff find a way to unleash it.

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