Wednesday, September 3, 2008

2008-09 Preview: Indiana

Indiana (Last season: 25-7, 14-4, #24 Pomeroy ranking): It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Last year, Indiana looked like a Final Four contender when they jumped out to a 17-1 record. They would finish the remainder of their season with an 8-6 record. Most point to the Kelvin Sampson debacle as the primary force behind IU's slide, but is that entirely fair? In those first 17 wins, had beaten exactly 2 Top 50 Pomeroy teams - Illinois (#40) and Georgia Tech (#49) at home. Both wins were by 4 points each. The truth is, IU's early season schedule was hardly challenging. When they faced tougher competition, they weren't nearly as successful. This team was probably better than a 1st round exit (the first round matchup against Arkansas - an early salvo from the Infractions Committee?), but not really a team that could go on a deep tourney run.

I'd go into detail about what Indiana did well last season, where they struggled, etc. in an effort to gauge how they'll handle the upcoming season. But that would be pointless. Indiana loses 96% of the minutes from the 2007-08 season (through a combination of graduations, dismissals, transfers, and early exits). The lone returning player of significance is Kyle Taber, a rising senior who earned a scholarship after initially walking on the team. While on the floor last season, Taber took less than 5% of the shots fired up. Specifically, in 247 minutes of action, he took 14 shot attempts. IU brings in 7 new players, including a couple of JUCO transfers. None of the new guys appear to be "instant impact" freshman. They will all likely bite off more than they can chew next season.

The truth is, there's really no precedent for this kind of overhaul. Florida brought back more minutes from it's national title team after Noah and the gang left for the NBA, and they brought in a pretty well-regarded recruiting class. And they didn’t make the tournament. Indiana is not going to be good next season. A near-lock for last place in the conference. But the big picture might be more important. IU is on its 3rd coach since the General left Bloomington a little under 8 years ago. Hopefully this one sticks around for a little while.

Projected Indiana rotation (statistics are for conference games only):

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