It's happening everyone! The basketball pre-season is officially here. Indiana's first practice is today and Hoosier Hysteria is only a week away. We can finally quit worrying about recruiting and the future of Indiana basketball and focus on the present roster. I don't know about you, but that feels pretty darn good to say. Recruiting is fun and all, but I prefer to talk about results and numbers than feelings and what ifs. We get that now.
Yesterday was an Indiana media day where IU released team pictures, individual photos and information about the players for this year's team. Unfortunately there are several pieces of news to discuss as we set the table for the upcoming season.
Freshman C and top 100 recruit Luke Fischer has been sidelined for a few weeks as he will be recovering from a sprained shoulder injury. Coach Crean said about the injury, "Luke has made great strides and was playing with great confidence. He was being aggressive in his pursuit for the basketball when it happened." So in fewer words, he was diving for a loose ball when he landed on his shoulder wrong.
Fischer is the second freshman to be missing a few weeks of opening practice from an injury. As discussed in the comments earlier this week, Troy Williams broke his right/shooting hand in practice and will have to spend a few weeks as a lefty. Neither injury should impact the team or their preparation all that much. I imagine Williams will get a soft cast and still do a lot of skills work with his off-hand and Fischer will just have to be careful with the shoulder for a week or two. There's still plenty of time for recovery before the season starts.
On some final injury notes, it has long been thought, but finally confirmed by the Indiana media department that Austin Etherington and Peter Jurkin are back and healthy to practice with the team. Etherington suffered a fractured patella last season which has sidelined him up until the last month or so of 100% hard cutting workouts. He should be up to speed at this point. Still a bit sluggish and he'll need some time, but he'll be good enough to go in the relatively weak non-conference schedule.
Jurkin is back from injuries that have plagued him all through high school and into his freshman year. A "lower leg injury" which many believe to have been another stress fracture has brought up a lot of questions of whether Jurkin can ever be healthy enough to compete for regular time in the Big Ten. It sounds like his health is less of a concern to start the season. Hopefully Jurkin, along with Perea can especially get some quality reps against the soft schedule since they both missed that part of the season last year due to the NCAA being dumb.
Indiana also mentioned in their press release that Coach Crean will be delivering a lecture in the IU Auditorium at 7 pm on October 2nd. Crean will speak on "The State of the Hoosier Nation" in his fifth annual pre-season lecture. It is free to the public so if you're in the area swing by. From my experiences this isn't just some form of rah, rah pep rally. Crean is fairly open and honest about what he sees is the state of the program, where it currently is and where he thinks it can be in the near future. It's good stuff.
Finally, the Hoosiers released a short photo gallery on media day that includes a team picture and the players working on their media guide photos as well. How about everyone take a look at the team picture and we dissect it a little bit.
It's not the most high definition picture in the world, but we can see a couple physical things from it. First off, Peter Jurkin, Hanner Perea and Noah Vonleh look especially big. Luke Fischer appears to be a little behind in strength training, but the other three should most definitely have the size and strength to hold their own in the post. If we're going by the assumption that Peter Jurkin is right at 7 ft tall, then I'd say that Fischer is probably closer to 6'10" than his listed 6'11". On the flip side, Vonleh is probably closer to 6'11" than his listed 6'10". Hanner is lagging "behind" at a measly 6'9" or so.
We're looking at 4 guys in the front court depth charts that average a height of over 6'10". That's some size that a lot of teams would kill to have. Add in the very legitimate 6'6" and up players of Hollowell, Etherington, Davis, Hartman, Williams and Sheehey and we're looking at only 3 scholarship guys under the size of 6'6". Stan Robinson at 6'4". Yogi and Evan Gordon at 6' even. That's a really big team. In comparison, our good friends in West Lafayette six scholarship players under 6'6" and only two taller than 6'9". For a more competitive comparison Michigan runs out two 6'10" players and 4 guys under 6'6". MSU one and five. Size should be on our side.
On the whole, it's going to be nice to see what Indiana runs out there to start the season. We're going to start getting more solid reports about the current roster starting today. Previously it has only been whispers that so and so has improved a lot and someone else has struggled to compete. All of it with very little in ways to confirm the rumors. Now we're going to get more concrete information. Get excited everyone. College basketball is happening.