Who should start next season?

We haven’t done this in a while, so let’s revisit this discussion: who should start next season?

For the purposes of staying on the same page, we’ll assume the following things:

  • The current roster is the roster for the opener (so no more transfers or members of the class of 2011).
  • Everyone is healthy, including Maurice Creek (who is not quite near his freshman-level, but better than last season).

Remember that this is who should not start, not who will start (you’ll see why I made this distinction in a moment).

Here’s my five:

G – Jordan Hulls. He’s the steadiest member of the team, sees the floor well and has emerged as a dangerous scorer. He could be ready to play at an all-Big Ten level as a junior.

G – Victor Oladipo. In time Remy Abell could become a quality defender, but Oladipo has the benefit of experience. I don’t think he’ll be in the lineup on opening day, because I believe there is enough faith in Verdell Jones amongst the coaching staff to place him here. I’d keep Jones as a third guard, unless he makes a dramatic improvement in running the offense.

F – Christian Watford. Like Hulls, Watford could play at an all-Big Ten level. To do so, Watford must figure out a way to be consistent from game-to-game, but also possession-to-possession. The skill is there, and he’s a mismatch at the 3 (which should get him to the line on a regular basis).

F – Cody Zeller. No Indiana post player in recent memory enters college with better footwork than the Mr. Basketball winner from Washington. He won’t be a star immediately, but he’ll make a positive impact.

C – Tom Pritchard. He struggles to score. He’s not an elite rebounder, nor does he block shots a high rate. But he’s Indiana best option at the 5, and he does bring a dirty work attitude (setting screens, scrapping for loose balls) that any team needs.

Much like he did last season, Tom Crean will keep a very long rotation during the nonconference portion of the schedule. We’ll see changes to the starting lineup, as Crean tinkers with the right mix, but I’d go with this group to start out.


  1. 1. Hulls
    2. Oladipo
    3. Sheehey
    4. Watford
    5. Zeller

    Best 5 bball players on the court!

    1st off bench: Elston
    2nd off bench: Pritch or Jones

    *Did not factor Creek in, don’t know what to expect.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Zeller was told that he would not have to play center.

  3. Let’s not get into this yet, please. The fact that you think Hulls AND Watford could play at an All-B10 level bothers me. On top of that, trying to figure out a starting five with this group is like dealing with a bunch of puzzle pieces half eaten by a child.


    8. Elston
    9. Abell
    10. Sheehey
    11. Roth
    12. Etherington

    Not enough big man depth on this roster. They are going to get killed inside and on the boards, again. Anything above .500 this season is gravy.

  4. Jack,

    Said could, not would. And remember that all-Big Ten is 15 guys, not five. Could Hulls and/or Watford be among the 15 best players in the league? Yeah, I think so.

  5. Crean also told Elston he would not be playing a 5 but look what he did. VJlll and Watford should not even be in the game. Those two don’t even look at the post let alone pass it in there. When Watford and VJlll the game is all about them no one else.

  6. Hugh…could you do something similar (guessing up a first and second team offense and defense based on our expertise) for football? Maybe starting 11 for soccer? Thank you

  7. Hulls
    Abell(unless Creek looks like Creek again)
    Elston(play him at the post)

    First wave off the bench: Creek, Dipo, Pritchard, Sheehey
    Last off bench: Jones

    Note: Have Abell play point. We need the speed on the floor to take full advantage our added size and versatility with Zeller in the lineup. If Creek looks anything close to his old self, then have Hulls start at point with Creek at shooting guard.

  8. Center- Pritchard
    Power Forward- Zeller
    Wing – Watford/Jones
    Wing – Oladipo
    Point – Hulls

    I’m not sure whether Watford or Jones earns the starting spot, it just depends on which one of them wants to play defense. They’ll get minutes elsewhere – Watford as a back-up 4-man and Jones as the back-up point. Oladipo should have a starting spot as long as he matures – he’s got all the skills and wants to play defense.

    Sheehey’s an off-the-bench scrapper, and I expect Abell to contribute in a game here or there but is likely 9th (at best) in the rotation, but I expect Etherington to redshirt and Elston to still have foul/inconsistency troubles. It seems unlikely Creek will be able to bounce back enough make an impact this year, but anything he gives is gravy.

  9. 1 – Hulls no question

    2 – Would like to say Mo but don’t know if he’ll be healthy. The need is a deep ball shooter that can defend. I wonder then if this isn’t Austin. If not, Victor.

    3 – Watford w Jones off the bench

    4 – Zeller – no question

    5 – Pritchard – no question

  10. 1 Hulls
    2 VO (VJ3 will be here at the beginning of the year)
    3 C-Wat
    4 Zeller
    5 The Pritch

    Watford and Pritchard will reap the benefits of having Cody in the lineup. The addition of Cody opens the floor, as he can score the ball and will demand attention from the defense. If he gets doubled, he can shove it off Tom who finishes it home. This also allows Watford to play his natural position. This guy has to be on the floor. He has a tremendous talent, it is just a matter of getting in the weight room for him. If he gets stronger, look out for this kid. He will be our go to guy. Without a doubt.

  11. I love it…

    Crean praised all three of his recruits for the 2011 class in his speech. His thoughts on Remy Abell, a guard from Louisville’s Eastern High School, stood out. “Right now, off the street, he’s the best guard we have at getting all the way to the rim,” Crean said.

    Who in this one-horse town saw this Abell kid coming? Was their one journalist?…one blogger(lol)? “9th(at best) in rotation”? Remy will be starting by mid-December.

  12. it is not who starts but who finishes the game that is important. For example, OSU started Lauderdale but he played a fraction of the game and Craft played most of the game. That said, no way does Crean not start and finish the game with Jones so all the haters can forget him not being a key. He is a SR and that is what you want at this point and time.

    Finishers will be Hulls, Jones, Creek, Watford, and Zeller

  13. 1–Hulls

    Actually, in my mind, this is a rather settled group. Maybe not up to standard, but settled nontheless. The wildcards are Creek’s health and Abell’s ability.

  14. “Finishers”(charles@post 13)….That’s a good way of looking at it. I think Remy Abell is going to surprise a lot of people. It’s hard to keep talent off the floor..IU fans are intelligent and demanding. They have silently groaned at ugly basketball they are unaccustomed to watching. There will be less pressure for Crean to be bound by old decisions simply because it was comfortable in the past. We need an unselfish focus in the backcourt. I’m tired of guys looking like they want to take every defender in a game of one-on-one. VJ has been afforded much more leeway because there just weren’t many options(Creek out for most the season). Abell will bring some legitimate competition in the backcourt. And from Tom Crean’s recent quotes on Abell, it appears he’s already very excited and possibly softening a bit of the harsh reality some bench time may be coming for those not used to being there. Abell’s speed to get to the rim and defensive abilities will be intoxicating. And don’t assume this kid can’t shoot the ball..Plus he has good size. I’m not sure how it will all play out, but let’s hope guys have matured and understand there is no player on the team that can do it alone.

  15. I bet this is who starts first game.
    I also think Zeller and Abell should and will be in there Shortly. Whoever starts will work itself out, it will be nice having better skill/depth coming off the bench. We know Zeller is good. But if Abell is as good as hoped for, he will really help. This is definately Crean’s best
    team at IU. With a healthy Creek, even better.

  16. Well now that is a way to get some chat going!. “Who is going to start 2011 First Game???? I personally have never thought much of who starts. It is just 5 players. (respectable positions obviously). Finishers are just the best players on that given day…. at that given time. I have always amazed me how that works out. Example.. Who would have guessed Todd Leary (not to get into his current legal issues) almost pulling out a win against Duke in the ’92 (I think) Final 4. Come on Todd Leary??? But he was on fire!!!! in that last 90 seconds!!!

    I bet is that CTC sticks with playing experience (regardless of who is the most talented) for the first game.

    1. Hulls
    2. JVIII
    3. Sheehey /VO
    4 Watford
    5. Pritch

    I would like to see a post on Minutes Played however. I would have a entirely different list.

  17. And Hugh…. Hulls absolutely!!!! Look in his eyes!!! Look at his swagger. He has it… AND he wants it!!! Watford????? I disagree. I don’t see it. Talented yes… and that is where it stops. CTC might get him to the top level in his competitive drive but.. I don’t see it this year… Hope I am wrong.

  18. Easy…..


    If Creek is healthy or gets remotely back to where he was, he is our best player.

  19. 1 Abell
    2 Oladipo
    3 Sheehy
    4 Zeller
    5 Pritchard

    Why? Because this is my guess as to best defensive lineup. Go look at pomeroy numbers. Fouls per FGA are 333 of 355 Teams. Most other defensive numbers outside of top 100. Hulls, VJ3, Elston, Watford…. you want to start… figure out how to guard somebody without getting out of position and fouling.

  20. Hulls, Zeller, and 3 other guys that wanna win as badly as they do. I really don’t care what position they play, or what their names are. (But I do think one of those might be Sheehey.)

  21. No doubt this is going to be Crean’s best team but there is huge holes across the board!!! I am blown away at the love most ppl have for Sheehey! Seriously guys did you watch anything this kid did other than dunk the ball? What I seen in every 14 mins he played this past season was; can’t dribble the ball with his left, can’t go left period, shot 30% from three, shot 65% from the line, can go on and on! Can he become a good role player, ofcourse. But lets not get ahead of ourselfs! I want him to do well bc he and VO are our energy guys. Come late in the halfs will be great for crean to get off the bench!
    As for Verdell, how can you not give him that 2 pos. to start the game?!? He is a SR and has started more than anyone on this team! Yes, he does the Verdell show always way too much for any player but fact is he will score 14 a game guy this yr! Don’t know about you but the third or fourth leading scorer at 14 a game will be what this team hasn’t had since “Its Indiana, Its Indiana” has showed up in BTown!
    I can’t wait for this squad to start playing together for real! Creek should be heathly and ready to kill the net, and pritch will use all 5 fouls every game ha! Hulls 0 had a good yr under him and will shoot the ball more with the confidence he got this past yr! Elston might lose some playing time if Zeller plays up to his potential.

    Most important is who finishes the game! Will most likely change from game to game, but that is great bc more guys will get much needed playing time by seasons end to carry over to the NCAA tourney. Dont think that is a long shot to make it in the dance if they play ball!

    If i was Crean and Im not,
    First off Bench,
    Thanks for the chat Hugh!!!

  22. chille, for as much as you said negative about Sheehey we could say twice that much about Jones yet you don’t mind him starting. Able who we have not seen and Creek who we don’t know is healthy off the bench before Sheehey?

  23. Hugh – I barely have Hulls as one of the top dozen guards in the B10 next season, not including incoming Freshmen or Nebraska players because I haven’t seen them play.

    Taylor – Craft – Hardaway, Jr. – DJ Byrd – Lewis Jackson – Bryce Cartwright – Zack Novak – DJ Richardson – Brandon Paul – Keith Appling – Drew Crawford

    I’d put Hulls on par with Marcotullio right now. Crean can’t figure out whether he wants Hulls to play PG or SG so until that happens he’s not going to be able to contribute like he might be able to. He’s a good player, but not a top-15 player in the B10.

  24. 1. Hulls
    2. VJ3
    3. Sheehy
    4. Home Depot
    5. Zeller

    I like this combo.. but it would mean Crean would have to drop his weird up top Mich State weaving and dribbling crap. With this combo, I see picks up top for Hulls to fire 3’s and for VJ3 to slide by and go to the hoop. It also gives us great athleticism. I’d like to pass to Sheehy and O Depot flashing down the lane or on the base line. Lastly Zeller opens up all the these opportunities. The threat of passing down low creates a lot more options. BUT!!! Crean has to dump his current offense or else we will not use our strengths in the best ways. Lastly, I know this is not a big line up, but honestly I think we lose a lot with either Pritch or Elston. I would use them to help give Zeller a rest.

    Any thoughts? …. I know I am right!

  25. Reading all the speculating is great fun but I like Jubilee’s choices as my own. 1 Hulls
    2 Creek(will be ready)
    3 Watford
    4 Zeller
    5 Pritchard
    It will be hard for Coach Crean to keep Will, VO and regrettably Jones out of the lineup at times. If RA is what he is professed to be along with a healthy Creek, will steal justified minutes from Jones.

  26. Anyone who thinks Zeller will not be a starter is crazy. Now maybe the first game or something CTC will not start any freshman, but during the majority of the non-conference schedule Zeller will be on the court to start and play a majority of minutes.

    Watford is far too talented offensively to not start and play a lot too.

    At some point I hope CTC realizes that Hulls is a vastly superior PG to VJIII.

    Thus I see Zeller, Watford, and Hulls on the court to start and finish almost all games this year. The 5 spot will be manned with Pritchard as a starter and Elston off the bench giving plenty of minutes to both guys as we all know they will probably both foul out of 50% of the games. This will force Zeller to get minutes at the 5 at some point and increase his anticipated minutes.

    The #2 spot is the one that is most up in the air. You could see it split with VJIII, VO, and Able depending on the team’s need at that moment in time (defense or scoring). Sheeney will get his minutes as a backup to Watford and those rare times that Zeller is out and Watford slides to the 4. I anticipate that will be about as many minutes as Sheeney averaged last season.

    So from this I could see the biggest drop in minutes coming from VJIII. It depends on how much VO improves and just how good Able really is.

  27. Jordan Hulls at PG (with Remy Abell as back-up); Austin Etherington at SG (to be replaced by Mo Creek when he is 100% healthy) (with Verdell Jones and Mo Creek as back-ups); Victor Oladipo as rebounding guard/SF (with Will Sheehey as back-up); Christian Watford as offensive forward/PF (with Derek Elston as back-up); Cody Zeller as Big-Guy forward/C (with Tom Pritchard as back-up); Matt Roth as off-the-bench shooter G (with Daniel Moore as defensive-PG back-up, and Jeff Howard as off-the-bench Big-Guy back-up). That makes 14 players to use for 2011-12. Indiana needs to have Zeller (#1), Watford (#2), and Hulls (#3) on the floor almost every minute of any close game (with Creek (# 2-3-4) when healthy)!

  28. If Crean wants to keep his job and keep the fans from wanting his head he better start Zeller from day one and give him a ton of minutes

  29. J Pat!
    You are so right about Jones, but sheehey will never be as good of a scorer as Jones is! his D is solid but NO off. This team has a huge challn when it comes to scoring, and even more so late in games!
    as for Creek, Crean said a few days ago that he is twice as heathly as he was last yr when he forced himself back! So with my line up,which is only my Opinion, I’m pretty confident in having a heathly Creek in it! Able, well I have seen him play twice and this kid is a great high school player. Will it tranfer over to the Big ten NOT SURE, but wow this is a big 6’4″ combo guard that can guard the opp’s PG SG and even some SF. The first game I watch him play was an AAU game where he locked down a 4! So just from what I seen he will get good mins. Even more so if he comes in with a chip on his shoulder from not being Recruited by big schools in the begining!
    I like that you ask those ?s though bc i did forget to but that in! what do you think about this know! ha

  30. Pritchard can’t shoot, can’t jump and gets to many fouls He is not a division 1 player.

  31. Without a doubt Hulls, Watford, and Zeller will be in the starting lineup on day 1. There is ABSOLUTELY no way he gives Jordy’s spot to someone else and I would say it is pretty much guaranteed he puts the other golden boy Zeller in that first starting lineup. Watford def gets the start as well because he is supposed to be the best player on the team. I would also almost guarantee VJ3 gets the start as well, despite how much everyone on here hates him, I really don’t see Crean pulling minutes away from him this year.
    5th starter could be a number of people depending on how big crean wants to go. Could be Pritch, could be Mo, could also be a number of people including Abell,Vic, or Sheehey

  32. chille, I am thrilled with your perspective on Remy and now am excited to see him play. I hope it is a good year! Thanks and take care.

  33. First off, we can all be excited about Remy, but before we get all warm and fuzzy about him, lets see how he translates his game from High school and AAU to the next level. It is a totally different game and it is all about how hard you are willing to work. He may look great up against some AAU teams and high school teams, but lets see how he does against top talent. We have seen a huge growth spert in Hulls, and a small spert in Watford. Hopefully this Remy kid will be as good as advertised, but I remember reading the same thing about Watford, and he is not as good as advertised. He is lazy, can’t get down the floor, can’t play a lick of defense and does not appear to be a very good team player. A little hustle from him for 40 minutes a game will change my mind, but I have yet to see it. Let’s hope in year 3 he has some competition with Remy breathing down his neck. Only time will tell

  34. Its all academic anyway, so what the heck… Hulls, Creek(if 100% healthy), Watford, Pritchard & Zeller. TP needs to be on floor with Zeller until he gets experience in college ball. But TP has to reduce the fouls. I ways always taught that the ballhandler MUST take the ball close enough to the screen to brush against him. If IU’s guards did that TP wouldn’t need to move on his screen attempts trying to pick the defender. VO, Sheehey and Jones better be ready.

  35. The only one in the line up that will play at an all big ten level is Zeller. Bank it. Hulls and Watford will benefit from Zeller’s threat.

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