Top 4 Season Preview: #1 Indiana Hoosiers

  by Ryan Potter 

   When examining Indiana’s 2012-2013 season, you must first begin with the incredible rebuilding effort head coach Tom Crean has undertaken since his arrival in April 2008. Crean took the helm following the disastrous tenure of Kelvin Sampson, who’s recruiting transgressions left the Hoosiers on 3-years probation. Crean started with a roster decimated by the early departure of star PG Eric Gordon, two transfers, and three players kicked off the team, leaving him with two walk-ons that had scored a combined 36 points in their careers.

The Hoosiers struggled to a 28-66 record during Crean’s first three seasons. But Crean’s recruiting during those seasons paid off last season with a 27-9 record, a Sweet 16 appearance, and a memorable non-conference victory over eventual national champions, Kentucky. The Hoosiers turnaround from 12-20 in 2010-2011 to 27-9 in 2011-2012 was the single largest improvement in all of NCAA Division I last season.

The Hoosiers enter the season a very experienced, deep and talented squad capable of winning it all. Indiana returns 8 juniors and seniors, including Pre-Season All American and Player of the Year favorite Cody Zeller. Adding that experience is an infusion of young talent brought by a Top 5 recruiting class headlined by PG Yogi Farrell (Ranked the #3 PG in the 2012 class by ESPN), PF Hanner Mosquera-Perea, and the unfortunately named C Peter Jurkin. (Editor’s Note: Jurkin and Mosquera-Perrea will sit out the first 9 games for accepting improper benefits from their AAU coach.)

Hoosier fans also have the return of senior small forward Christian Watford (12 PPG/5.9 RPG in 2011-2012) and the long awaited return of oft-injured red shirt junior guard Maurice Creek. Watford is a three-point marksman with a knack for making clutch shots and has popped up on many preseason Big-10 team lists. Creek has missed most or all of 3 seasons since he arrived in Bloomington, but in his limited time on the court he has provided flashes of incredible talent. Before being injured 12 games into the 2009-2010 season, Creek was leading all freshmen with 17.3 PPG, including a 31 point outing against Kentucky. A fractured knee and torn Achilles tendon caused him to miss the next two seasons. If he can stay healthy, look for Creek to contribute heavily to the Hoosiers’ run at the NCAA title.

Indiana fans are confident about how their team will perform this season. Hoosier fan Jake Drescher says “If we can improve on defense, I think we can win it all because we’re already a very deep and great offensive team”. The Hoosiers have a long road ahead in a loaded Big Ten which boasts five teams in the preseason top 25. Out of conference, Indiana has two big match-ups: The Legends Classic where a potential UCLA matchup awaits and they welcome #11 North Carolina  into Bloomington Nov. 27th. IU opens the season tonight at 8:00PM in Assembly Hall against Bryant University. The game can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

Key Games
November 20th: Legends Classic vs. either #13 UCLA/Georgetown  (Barclays Center)
November 27th: vs. #11 UNC (ACC-Big Ten Challenge)
January 15th: vs. #23 Wisconsin
January 27th: vs. #14 Michigan State
February 2nd: vs. #5 Michigan
February 10th: @ #4 Ohio State
February 19th:  @ #14 Michigan State
March 10th: @ #5 Michigan
March 5: vs. #4 OSU

You can follow Ryan Potter on twitter @RyanPotter26


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