Before the season began, many IU fans knew that Indiana was going to need to get quite a bit from Jeremy Hollowell to be a major competitor this basketball season. Hollowell was a victim as a freshman of getting limited time behind a very experienced roster as a freshman. Now that he is getting his minutes he is struggling to consistently provide meaningful results that can be measured by numbers. Unfortunately for him, being a very strong defender doesn't really measure out in metrics, so to get respect you've still got to earn it on the offensive end of the court. Let's take a look at where we expected Jeremy to be and where he actually is.
For full disclosure, I was one touting Hollowell to begin the year. I saw him a couple times in high school after he had learned he hadn't made the McDonald's All-American team and was upset. In that mindset he was unstoppable. What I saw out of Jeremy was a kid determined to make everyone else pay for what he viewed as a transgression against him. Night in and night out some of the best teams in the state were made to look silly as Hollowell did whatever he wanted. That's the kind of Hollowell I thought we'd be getting this year. Before the season I said he'd be third team All-Big Ten. That doesn't appear to be happening unless a light bulb clicks here in conference play.
Before the season, our very own Devin set an expectation line of Hollowell that I think everyone could agree was a very fair line for a sophomore in the Big Ten. 25+ minutes, average 10-12 pts and "somewhere around 5 rebounds". As of this moment he's averaging 23.4 minutes, 8.6 ppg and 4.2 rebounds. Now that's not far off, but it is still not quite what we'd like to see. Indiana is going to be a team of balance this year. Outside of Yogi, who apparently is going to have to be Trey Burke this year, this team is going to rely on several different guys doing the little things that add up to a team effort. Hollowell's contribution needs to improve.
Hollowell's gross averages when looking at where he stands on the team show a little better picture of his contributions to date. Being third in minutes played he's fourth in points, third in rebounds, 4th in assists, 1st in blocks (tied), 4th in free throws and 3 point %. In pure volume, he's easily one of the top five players for Indiana currently. That may be more of an indictment on Indiana at this point than it is a positive for Jeremy, but the raw numbers show that he's playing on par with what his expected role was to be early this season. The fourth option behind Yogi, Will and Vonleh.
To continue on with the statistical numbers, if you recall this summer, Devin did a post looking at the 67 seniors who played all four years in the Big Ten from 2007-2013. He took a look at per game productivity and averaged it out over time. In those numbers we saw that the average Big Ten sophomore had a 10.4 per game average. Currently Hollowell is sitting at 13 point average on this scale. Which is actually right at the statistical average of a Big Ten junior. So in this case it appears Jeremy Hollowell is ahead of the pace.
Now let's go ahead and look at Pomeroy efficiency numbers. Earlier in the summer I also took a look at some of the expected growth from a Pomeroy and raw numbers standpoint for freshmen becoming sophomores. It turns out that Hollowell is right on course with those numbers as well. The average Big Ten freshman that saw a major bump in minutes from freshman year to sophomore year averaged a Pomeroy Offensive Rating bump of 7.7 points. Jeremy Hollowell finished the season with an ORtg of 91.4 and is currently sporting a 99.3, which is a change of +7.9. Or right on pace with the expected average.
Extrapolate the expected change to his other efficiency numbers and you'll see that again, Jeremy is doing exactly what you'd expect the average sophomore with his results last year to do. He's ahead of the average growth pace in added minutes, improving assists and turnover rates, blocking%, steal% and drawing fouls. In fact, the only thing that is currently an issue in his efficiency numbers and what I would suggest is holding him back is his stagnant shooting percentage. Shooting 37.6% from the floor is not acceptable in any medium. That is the biggest thing that needs to change.
Basically we're looking at the Jeremy Hollowell that the last couple years of freshman to sophomore jumps would have told you to expect. I would consider it his floor with how I was personally expecting him to play. He's certainly not doing anything to blow anyone's mind, but this is the kind of growth we should have expected. Perhaps it was unfair to think he could/should carry a heavy load. He's following a standard growth curve for any college basketball player and in fact he's ahead of it. Truly if he improves his touch, which is the thing currently wrecking his shooting percentages, he wouldn't be getting the flak that he is.
Despite being slightly below national average in efficiency this year, I think he's still the best option for the starting lineup right now. He defends better than most anyone on the team, rebounds and blocks shots. If he could sink 2 more shots and cut out a half a turnover a game, his value would sky rocket for Indiana. I wouldn't be shocked to see that happen. As we get into conference play the rotation is going to shorten. Add in that he's the third best player on the team at avoiding the fouls and you know his minutes are going to see a bump.
In the end, I would preach patience with Jeremy Hollowell. It is fair to expect a little more right now, but he's slightly ahead of the pace in player development. Hollowell is not going to make my prediction of an All-Conference team this season. I was definitely wrong on that. But we've seen flashes of what he can do. Through the non-conference season he's had 5 great games, 5 bad games and 3 in between.
Finding the consistency will be key down the stretch. What we should be asking is for Jeremy to raise his floor some. It's OK at his young age to have an off night, but those nights can't be ones where he's only worth .7 points per possession. No more Kennesaw St. games where you play 21 minutes but only have a usage percentage of 9 and an ORtg of 65. It is unacceptable to be a non-factor. Heck that one game is what's keeping him from being right at the national average in ORtg this year. Raise the floor of play and Jeremy Hollowell becomes a guy that isn't just in the starting lineup but is a threat to punish you if you don't account for him. Hopefully he's been in the gym all Christmas break shooting. My advice? Make a couple more shots and everyone will get off your back.