With the season complete and the offseason officially started for the 2010-11 Indiana Hoosiers, The Hoosier Scoop will have a breakdown of each individual player’s season and what he needs to focus on during the offseason. The fourth player in the series is sophomore forward Derek Elston. PREVIOUSLY: Christian Watford, Verdell Jones, Jordan Hulls, Maurice Creek and Tom Pritchard.
2010-11 STATS: 4.9 points (51.2 percent FG, 17.6 percent 3-point, 63.6 percent FT) and 3.7 rebounds a game. Eight blocks, 68 personal fouls.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Elston went into last offseason knowing he would have to make a physical transformation to compete in the paint in the Big Ten and he did exactly that. The 6-foot-9 sophomore put on at least 15 pounds of muscle. His listed weight inflating from 220 pounds to 235, though it’s possible he actually weighed less when last season ended. He entered the season looking like a Big Ten power forward and he showed some signs of becoming one early, especially in December when he strung together three straight double-digit games. The athletic Tipton native continues to show range and athleticism that is beyond that of most of his fellow big men.
THE TO-DO LIST:
- Get it together defensively. Defense has been Elston’s problem since he arrived in Bloomington. There were periods when it seemed like he made strides in that department this season, but the campaign ends with him still not making nearly as much progress as the Hoosiers had hoped. A big part of that is the fact that he had to play center instead of power forward because Guy-Marc Michel was declared ineligible, leaving IU with two other foul-prone options at the five in Tom Pritchard and Bobby Capobianco. But generally, Elston doesn’t appear to have figured out post defense. He’s out of position too often and almost always appears to be scrambling. As it has with Pritchard and Capobianco, that has resulted in a lot of fouls. His average isn’t near Pritchard’s or Capobianco’s, but he still averages 5.6 fouls per 40 minutes. Defense continues to be the biggest reason Elston hasn’t been a fixture in the starting lineup or at the top of the rotation. He started just 10 games, only two after Jan. 4, and played more than 20 minutes in a game just seven times. Pritchard doesn’t appear to be nearly as athletic as Elston and certainly doesn’t have most of the offensive skills Elston has, but he maintained the starting job for most of the season because he had a much better understanding of the basics of post and help defense than Elston showed.
- Either become a center or pray that IU gets one. Immediately after Indiana’s loss to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament, Elston vowed to spend more time in the weight room to prepare to play center this season. He admitted he was often overpowered inside when playing center, so he decided he should just add more weight. If Elston indeed has to play center again, that is certainly a requirement. He always seemed to play in panic mode when he was giving up size, which ended up with him playing out of position even more often and fouling just to keep himself from being scored on at will. Of course, it would probably be in IU’s best interest to recruit someone who can naturally handle the spot so that Elston doesn’t have to put on the sort of weight that would cost him athleticism. As a 220-pound freshman, Elston recorded more rebounds per minute than anyone else on the IU squad. He appeared to handle 235 pounds well, and his drop in rebounding from 4.1 rebounds per game as a freshman to 3.7 per game as a sophomore was largely because he had a hard time getting position against bigger players. He wouldn’t get boxed out as easily at 250 pounds, but that might cost him some of his vertical, so he could really use a move back to power forward.
- Become more patient on offense. Elston may have the best range of the Hoosiers’ big men, but there are times when he seems to anxious to prove that. He can become something of a black hole on offense, pulling the trigger on jumpers whenever and wherever he gets the ball. He hit his share of 15- to 18-foot jumpers, but he also missed plenty and was 3-for-17 from beyond the 3-point arc, missing all nine of his attempts in the Big Ten season. He could be better at picking his spots, and also attacking off the dribble.