I ran through my overall thoughts and laid out some statistics yesterday on the Hoosiers in Canada. Now I want to walk through who I see as the winners and losers of the trip. I have three players in mind for each category. So let's get started.
Nick Zeisloft - There were a lot of upset fans when Zeisloft was brought into the program as a player with two years remaining earlier this summer. People were fine with this season, but they didn't want a guy who was really only an average player at Illinois State to be taking up a 2015 scholarship as well. Coach Crean rationalized the signing by saying Zeisloft brought leadership, shooting, and a high basketball IQ to the program. After the trip to Canada - it appears Crean has nailed this signing. Nick shot 55% from three and had the lowest turnovers per minute played of the main rotation players at .03. Keep in mind the three point line per FIBA rules is one foot behind where the NCAA places it which makes the 55% that much more impressive. Now - is he going to shoot 55% during the season? No. He shot 36% last season at Illinois State, and I would expect him to be around 40% this season if he can get some open looks. However, this trip was big for Zeisloft as he proved he not only belongs on this team, but possibly in the starting lineup.
James Blackmon Jr. - The most anticipated debut of a player this season certainly belonged to Blackmon Jr. The Hoosiers struggled to shoot and score all season last year and Blackmon chose Indiana over Kentucky to come fix both of those issues himself. To say he was a success in these departments is an understatement. He led the Hoosiers in overall scoring with 94 points and also tied for first in points per minute at .71. He shot 58% from the field and a respectable 35% from a longer three point line. In short - he did exactly what everyone hopes he will be able to continue doing against better competition this season - score at will.
Troy Williams - One of the biggest discussion points of the offseason is whether Troy Williams would make a Victor Oladipo like improvement over the summer? He has been rumored to be in Cook Hall at all times of day and night which is a great sign, but everyone wanted to see for themselves. He didn't waste any time going for 21 in Game 1 and 27 in Game 2. He shot an incredible 66% from the field and was behind only Blackmon and Stanford Robinson at .66 points per minute. Granted a lot of his "shots" were layups and dunks, but he is at least showing better decision making in getting to the rim rather than settling for the long or mid-range jumper. His turnovers were pretty high at .11 per minute played which is a concern, but does not overshadow the rest of his performance on this trip.
Hanner Mosquera-Perea - This was an obvious answer for this section. Perea is by far the biggest question mark coming into this season and I have to believe the coaches feel the same way. The chance to play 5 games in August with a couple of them being against good competition could have gone a very long way in determining what exactly Perea is going to bring to the table this season and allowed the coaches to make adjustments in the next two months if necessary. However, there was a visa issue and he wasn't able to attend. I don't know this for a fact, but I believe it has to do with his previous DUI which is not viewed very favorably in Canada to say the least. I have had a friend denied entry to Canada in the past due to a DUI which is what I am basing that statement on. Hoosier Nation will have to wait until November to get a good look at Perea and will only be able to hope between now and then that he has immensely improved to solve the issues down low for the Hoosier program.
Jeremiah April - April was a complete unknown when he committed to Indiana earlier this summer. The Hoosiers were looking for big men and decided April might be able to help them out in that area given that he stands at 7'0". This trip was the perfect opportunity to see what type of player he could possibly be this season. It also was a great opportunity to get on the same page with the other players which can only be done so much in practice. However, due to an ankle injury - April was unable to play in any of the games which has to be a huge disappointment for both him and the coaching staff. I think a lot of fans wanted to see what he could bring to the table as well. It will instead have to wait a few months.
Stanford Robinson - This was obviously a much harder decision than the other two choices. In reality, you could make a very good argument for only being two losers - but I do think Robinson has to come out of this trip with at least some concerns. I know - you are yelling at your computer right now asking how in the heck a player that was tied for being the most efficient scorer on the trip be in the loser category? For one, he didn't start any of the five games and trailed Zeisloft, Robert Johnson, and Devin Davis in minutes. Part of that was driven by going down with an injury in one of the games which limited his minutes, but even with that - I don't think he passes any of the other players in minutes. Coach Crean rotated the starting lineup quite a bit - even Tim Priller started a game. Is Coach sending a message to Robinson early that he is going to be the energy guy off the bench? Possibly. It just seems a little odd that he would trail two new players to the program in minutes when he was widely viewed as one of the success stories down the stretch last season. Like I said, it is hard to consider him in this category given how well he played during the minutes he had on the court - but there are some slight concerns here.
What do you think? Do you agree with the players above or would you make adjustments if you had to put three in each category?