The Indiana Hoosiers basketball program appears to be in a place where expectations will remain consistently high for the foreseeable future. A preseason top-15 team a year ago met that expectation (albeit on quite the undulated road), winning a record-tying 22nd Big Ten regular season championship and making an appearance in the Sweet 16. One would assume that the expectations in Bloomington should settle around a similar result.
This of course will have to be accomplished without point guard Yogi Ferrell, who continued the legacy of the crimson No.11 jersey with his four-year career. Ferrell was the first Hoosier since Isaiah Thomas to lead the team in both points and assists in back-to-to-back seasons.
Ferrell left Indiana as the school’s all-time assist leader and averaged a career-best 6.1 assists per game last season. He averaged 17.0 points per game over his last three seasons. At one point, Ferrell was riding a 65 consecutive game streak with at least one made 3-pointer.
Needless to say, the on-court production is a void that the Hoosiers must find a way to fill this season. But more than that, Indiana will need to find a leader on and off the floor. A litany of transfers and dismissals left IU at a point two seasons ago with a senior-less roster. The wagon was hitched to Ferrell and for two season he carried the brunt of the program’s expectations on his shoulders.
With the departure of Ferrell, Collin Hartman is the lone senior on this year’s roster. There should have been two, but Troy Williams left for the green pastures of the NBA (you could maybe add a “DL” to the end of that).
Yes, Indiana fans loved to refer to “Good Troy” and “Bad Troy” during games on social media, and both fans and media alike would often label which version of Williams would show up as a key to games. One cannot deny, however, the productivity that Williams leaves void this season. Williams averaged 13 points per game over the last two season, and while his rebounding productivity went down from 7.4 to 5.8 boards per game, someone on this year’s roster will have to step up and be the major contributor on the wing, (are you listening OG Anunoby?).
The final two key departures will not be missed as much for productivity, although their on-court statistics were nothing to sneeze at, but for the maturity that the two provided to a desperately young roster. These two players are, of course, Nick Zeisloft and Max Bielfeldt.
Both transferred into the program, Zeisloft spent two seasons as a man in candy-striped pants and was a natural sharpshooter. In fact, just seven of his 72 made field goals last season were inside the arc. The Hoosiers do have enough outside weapons that the graduation of Zeisloft should not be a major concern.
Bielfeldt, a Michigan transfer, spent just one season in Bloomington. His 8.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game were a key to beefing up IU’s thin front-court a season ago.
Certainly Yogi Ferrell will be missed tremendously this season, but Indiana wants to create a culture of reloading rather than rebuilding. Expectations are aligned with this thought and it will be up to the new faces in cream and crimson to make these departures hurt as little as possible.