Indiana didn't make the NCAA.
Indiana didn't even make the NIT.
Grumbles and gripes echoed throughout Hoosier Nation. The direction of the program seemed uncertain.
And then today happened...
In 24 hours, Noah Vonleh officially declared for the NBA draft, and five other players (including two projected starters) announced they were transferring...
Take it easy, Jackie Moon.
Here is what we know: everyone is frustrated from Tom Crean to the players to the fans. We also know Crean will be the coach of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers, and no amount of internet debate will change that much.
With that being said, it would be in every Hoosier fan's best interest to take a step back, take a deep breath, and listen to...Yogi's mom?
"@doclibby: IU is still recruiting. Negative comments don't help. Be a fan not a critic #iubb"
So, was cleaning house just what the team needed after a year like this? Maybe. Obviously everyone would love Noah to stay another year, but that can't be helped. Now, although Jeremy and Etherington played significant minutes this year and were projected to start next year, it's possible the team could be better off without them. Among players averaging more than two minutes per game, Hollowell had the team's lowest offensive rating and Etherington had the third lowest.
Six Worst Offensive Ratings for Indiana per StatSheet.com:
13. Austin Etherington
14. Stanford Robinson
15. Jeremy Hollowell
16. Pete Jurkin
17. Joe Fagan
18. Taylor Wayer
It's no secret that recruiting is Crean's strong point. Could he already have bodies in mind to fill the newly vacant roster spots? Quite possibly. In fact there are three big names that have been mentioned in association with Indiana over the past few days:
Anthony Lee - 6'9" 230 F
(photo credit: msn.foxsports.com)
Lee would be an almost to good to be true pickup. With Vonleh leaving, Hanner Mosquera-Perea will be the only player 6'9" or taller on the roster with any real experience. Lee averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds for Temple this season, and would be available immediately under the graduate-transfer rule. Just today he narrowed his list of schools down to Ohio State, Indiana, Louisville, Iowa State, and Notre Dame.
Eron Harris - 6'3" 195 SG
Harris just finished a breakout sophomore season for West Virginia in which he averaged 17.2 ppg, shot 86% from the line, 44% from the field, and 42% from three. Much to the chagrin of Mountaineer fans, Eron recently announced he is transferring in order to be closer to home - which happens to be Indianapolis. As you can see from his high school tape above, he was also AAU teammates with current Hoosiers Yogi, Hanner, and Peter Jurkin. Feel free to let your imagination run wild while watching Eron and Yogi playing together in the video.
Trevor Thompson - 6"11" 210 F
(photo credit: virginiateach.sportswar.com)
Almost immediately after Virginia Tech announced they were hiring Buzz Williams as their head couch, Thompson announced he was transferring. The Indianapolis native averaged 5 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 41% from the field during his freshman season, and he is another player who could help man the middle for the Hoosiers.
What the Future Could Hold:
G: Yogi Ferrell
G: James Blackmon Jr
F: Troy Williams
F: Hanner Mosquera-Perea
F: Anthony Lee
F: Stanford Robinson
F: Devin Davis
F: Robert Johnson
Next year's lineup would look very similar to this year's with some major reasons for optimism.
- Lee would fill in for Noah, and the drop-off wouldn't be as drastic as most would expect. Lee averaged 2.3 more points per game, only 0.4 rebounds less per game, and there is less than a two percent difference between his overall offensive efficiency and Noah's.
- An ability to score from the outside was one of the biggest weaknesses for this year's team. The man dubbed the best shooter in the 2014 recruiting class, James Blackmon Jr., by Eric Bossi of rivals.com should alleviate that problem (along with highly ranked SG Robert Johnson).
- Williams, Robinson, Devin Davis, and Hanner all showed tremendous potential at the end of this season, providing momentum and confidence for the young players heading into next year.
The 2015-2016 season could then become the year that the Hoosiers make a serious run at the national title. The Hoosiers would lose Lee, but would add Eron Harris's 17 points per game and an overall offensive rating that would have been the best on this year's team among players playing significant minutes (yes-better than Yogi's). They would also add Thompson's 6'11, athletic frame to the middle along with any other recruits that Crean would (hopefully) add. Most importantly, perhaps, the roster would be loaded with battle tested seniors and juniors hungry for a title.
Did you just get slapped with a bunch of pure speculation? Oh yea. Unrealistic? I don't think so. Like Yogi's mom said, Indiana is still recruiting for this coming year. Anthony Lee has already cited the love he has received from Indiana fans on Twitter as one reason for his interest in the school per Jeff Rabjohns:
"The last 48-72 hours, it's been hundreds of tweets from Indiana fans wanting me. I've really just been soaking up everything and paying attention to how excited their fans are. I've gotten stuff from other fans at other schools, but Indiana's been the most consistent. Anything I say, anybody I tweet, they're like, 'We hope you come here.' You want to play for people who are like that."
Unfortunately Twitter is a double edged sword, and we all probably took a few steps back today by bombarding the world (recruits included) with negative #iubb tweets.
Listen to Yogi's mom...she's a doctor and knows what this sickly team needs. Sunshine and rainbows Hoosier fans. Sunshine, rainbows, and a few transfers.