FISHERS — For the first time Saturday, Luke Fischer experienced life in Indiana as an adopted son.
Even though the 6-foot-11 center from Germantown, Wis., was playing on a travel team presumably named for Bo Ryan’s offense — Wisconsin Swing — while the Wisconsin coach himself was watching from a folding chair on the baseline, Fischer was surrounded by Crimson and Cream. The bleachers were filled with fans in Indiana gear for Fischer and the Swing’s first game of the Spring Showdown at Fishers Fieldhouse, and Fischer was swarmed Indiana’s beat media when the game was over.
“This is awesome,” Fischer said. “It’s not like this in Wisconsin at all.”
It was Fischer’s first visit to the state since New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, when he watched the Hoosiers upset Ohio State at Assembly Hall while on an unofficial visit, then gave his verbal commitment to Indiana for the Class of 2013 before he left. Before Saturday’s tournament, he took another trip to Bloomington on Friday to visit with Indiana coach Tom Crean, his soon-to-be mentor. Crean told him then that his reception would be much different than he was expecting.
“It’s crazy,” Fischer said. “When I was talking to Coach Crean he told me a few guys would probably be there. I didn’t think it would be this many. I can’t wait.”
For his part, Fischer gave the Hoosier fans who travelled to Fishers reason to be excited for his arrival. In his first game of the day, he scored 24 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked 10 shots. He sat out most of his second game with foul trouble, but it mattered little as the Swing cruised into bracket play.
Most importantly, though, he proved that he’d developed numerous facets of his game since the last time he played somewhere in the vicinity of Indiana at the Kentucky Hoopfest in Louisville last July.
His gains in physical strength were evident. Fischer’s frame and game are often compared to those of Cody Zeller, IU’s second-team All-Big Ten center. Though his game doesn’t appear to be quite on par with where Zeller was heading into his senior season, his physical development is following the same pattern. His upper body strength is coming a long slowly, but his legs are turning into tree trunks and the effect is evident.
“I’m just trying to get in the weight room,” Fischer said. “Protein shakes and all of that stuff that’s healthy to do. I do it every day and it works. Just being able to attack the rim faster and stronger. Not being able to be pushed around on the court. You just feel better out there and it really helps.”
Especially in the low post. Fischer averaged 16.9 points per game this season on a 28-0 team at Germantown that won the Division One state championship, and it was in large part because he had the strength to seal off his man, catch the ball deep in the paint and score off post moves.
“He’s got big strong legs,” said Germantown coach Steve Showalter, who was in attendance on Saturday. “His upper body has to catch up now to the leg strength, but I think his ability to finish through contact is better and holding guys off when he’s posting up. In the Big Ten, that’s really important. Every little bit of strength he can get is going to help when he gets to play here at Indiana. … When he gets the ball around the basket, he’s getting to be unstoppable at our level.”
He actually became more unstoppable when he had to stop playing. Fischer broke his right hand and had to miss about a month, but the entire time he was out, he had to learn to score with his left hand. Now he has good touch with either.
“His first game back he didn’t have the pins out yet,” said Swing coach Justin Litscher. “All he was doing was left-handed hooks. I was there and I was joking with him, ‘Make him go right,’ because that wasn’t always a strength of his.”
At this point he doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. He’s showed on Saturday how good he’s become at protecting the rim, and even though he didn’t show it much in the tournament, he has shooting range if he needs to use it. His perimeter jumper is a work in progress, but Litscher said he can take it out to the 3-point line if need by and can be reliable from 15 feet.
“He has to have the footwork,” Litscher said. “He’s got a nice touch, but he’s just gotta work on his footwork into his shot. It’s tough, because, for us, why pull him away from the block when he does so well down there? But that’s stuff he’s gotta work on, just footwork into his shot and that stuff. ”
Point guard sets visit date
The Hoosiers are set at the point guard position for the moment, but they could be in need of another ball-handler when rising senior guard Jordan Hulls graduates. One player they are targeting is Monte Morris, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound point guard from Beecher High School in Flint, Mich. Morris said the Hoosiers haven’t offered him a scholarship yet, but he is taking an unofficial visit to Indiana on May 4.
“I’m hearing a lot of interest,” Morris said. “I talk to Tom Crean and coach (Tim) Buckley a lot. We got a good relationship and everything. They’re telling me that I can fit in down there. I could play next to Yogi (Ferrell) and be a combo guard.”
Morris said he has offers from Iowa State, Southern California, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Rhode Island, Marquette and UTEP and interest from Butler and Illinois. Rated No. 82 in the class, Morris had 22 points and 10 assists in a win in a pool play game for the Michigan Mustangs on Saturday.
“He’s the most mature point guard that I’ve coached in a while,” “He’s just such a team player, he likes to share the basketball. … He knows how to make those plays and those passes. I think he’s very smart as far as who to get the basketball and how get them the basketball on the court.”
Brennan trying to alter game
Guerin Catholic forward Aaron Brennan is drawing interest from a number of high major schools including Indiana, with IU coach Tom Crean stopping to watch his Fieldhouse Elite club on Saturday at the Spring Showdown. However, the Class of 2014 recruit has just one offer so far — from IUPUI — and realizes if he wants to get more, he has to change his game.
The 6-foot-6, 200-pounder is a tenacious rebounder and can be dominant at the post on the high school level, but he understands he has to be more of a wing to get a Big Ten scholarship.
“I’ve played on the post all my life,” Brennan said. “I’m gradually working my way out there. I’m working with my AAU and high school coach to get quicker feet. At first it was hard, but I’ve worked with my strength coach and told him what I want to do. I’ve lost some weight and that made it a lot easier.”
Brennan is getting interest from Indiana, Michigan, Purdue, Notre Dame, Iowa, Xavier, Indiana State and Dayton.