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Indiana Hoosiers success lies in the hands of the veterans

The Hoosiers will only go as far as their veteran players take them this season.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Hoosiers made plenty of changes this summer to their coaching staff and roster. Nine year head coach Tom Crean was suddenly out and Archie Miller was in. Indiana lost arguably their three most valuable players to the NBA draft including O.G. Anunoby, Thomas Bryant, and James Blackmon Jr. That in mind, there is plenty to be excited about in Bloomington this season.

One of the first promises made when coach Miller stepped into Assembly Hall was the ability to recruit and redefine greatness at Indiana. If you have paid any attention at all, coach Miller is already living up to that promise starting with the recruiting trail.

Over the course of the summer, Archie Miller received five total commitments - two the top-100, three-four stars, and five recruits in the top-200 including No. 63 Jerome Hunter and No. 97 Damezi Anderson.

He’s not done either, in fact he has only just begun. No. 5 recruit in 2018 Romeo Langford made an official visit just a few weeks ago during Hoosier Hysteria. No. 10 recruit Darius Garland was also in attendance. Indiana’s 2018 recruiting class sits at No. 14 nationally and No. 4 in the Big Ten with plenty of recruiting left for coach Miller and his staff to do.

If Indiana were to land Langford or Garland, it would make 2018 one of their best recruiting classes in recent history. If Indiana were to land both top-10 recruits, it could be potentially program changing.

Recruits aside, the Hoosiers are returning the majority of their roster from last season. Without Anunoby, Blackmon or Bryant it now shifts attention to some of the younger players on this roster. Among the players that have returned for another season is sophomore De’Ron Davis.

Last season, Davis was limited in his role with the Hoosiers playing behind Thomas Bryant. Davis also battled weight, conditioning, and health issues that limited his role his freshman season. He played in all 34 games last season averaging 14 minutes per game, 5.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and nearly a block per game.

While the Hoosiers were making changes this summer, so was De’Ron Davis. Instead of returning home for the summer to be with his family, he chose to stick around Bloomington to work on his game. The former top-50 recruit in the country is arguably one of the most underrated returning players in the Big Ten this season.

De’Ron Davis shaved 20 pounds this summer in order to play in the system new head coach Archie Miller likes to run. In order to be dominating throughout the season, Davis needed to be in the best shape of his life. Now that Davis seems physical fit to play legitimate minutes for the Hoosiers, how will Archie Miller maximize his talent?

Tom Crean was know for producing NBA caliber big men, Davis coming in as one of the next in line to take over after Bryant left. That time has come but now under Archie Miller rather than Crean. If both Davis and Juwan Morgan can stay healthy this season, Indiana might be have one of the best starting front courts in the Big Ten too.

As we begin the season, Indiana fans should keep in mind the idea of reshaping the program. It should be expected that coach Miller and his staff will have some growing pains with their first taste of Power-Five conference play. Miller and the Hoosiers will be tested early – Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, at Michigan, Iowa, at Louisville, and at Notre Dame all before Christmas.

As Hoosiers fans, patience is at an all time importance. While I think it’s still far fetched to think Indiana will make the NCAA Tournament in 2018, I have to believe the Hoosiers will be in every single game. The leadership from guys like Colin Hartman, Rob Johnson, and Josh Newkirk are going to have to play significant roles for this squad.

Young, inexperienced players make mistakes. Mistakes can cost you momentum and often times a win. The veterans like Hartman and Johnson can help the younger Hoosiers eliminate and learn from those mistakes. I find plenty of value in the big games the seniors have played in on this Indiana team in the past. At the end of the season, this Indiana team will only go as far as guys like De’Ron Davis and Robert Johnson take them.

For now, we sit back and enjoy the new and exciting era at Assembly Hall.