Friday live chat transcript

QUESTION: MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to today’s IU sports chat. Thanks for joining us on this cool Friday morning.
Andy, Mike, Jeremy: How are you doing this morning? Are you ready to get started?

JEREMY: Just grateful to see some sunshine outside this morning, and, of course, to chat. Let’s do that.

MIKE: Doing well. Returned from Louisville at a decent hour last night and watched the storm roll into town from the comforts of the front porch. Glad it all rolled out of town, too, because I’m looking forward to Indiana and Rutgers baseball this evening at The Bart. Let’s chat.

ANDY: Morning has broken, like the first morning. Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird. Now we are chatting …

QUESTION: Any information on where Tom Crean and the assistants will be going to observe potential recruits and who they will be targeting?
Josh, Indianapolis

Not sure exactly how the IU staff will disperse, but the the AAU season does get going this weekend with adidas in Dallas, Nike EYBL in Virginia and Under Armour in New Orleans.
Top 2016 targets include Colorado big man De’Ron Davis, New York guard Rawle Alkins, Southport’s Joey Brunk and a bunch of other guys I won’t attempt to list. Hopefully we’ll get to catch up with some of these targets later this spring or summer.

MIKE: Not sure where they’re headed, exactly, but I do know the staff is indeed leaving town this weekend. There’s an EYBL event at Boo Williams’ place in Virginia, to name one, so I’m guessing that’ll be among the stops.

ANDY: Josh:
Hadn’t heard any specifics about which Hoosier coaches will go where, but we do know where some of the prospects IU has evaluated are playing.
The Colorado Hawks with De’Ron Davis and Alpha Diallo are in Dallas for an adidas tournament. So are Eron Gordon, Rawle Atkins, Braxton Blackwell and others. Atkins’ team apparently plays against Indiana Elite down there tonight.

There is also a Boo Williams EYBL tourney in Virginia at which, I would imagine, IU will have a presence. A bunch of Indianapolis-based underclassmen (Brunk, Scruggs, Gunn, Wilkes) are reportedly headed for New Orleans for an Under Armour event.

QUESTION: Not sure I have any interest in IU’s Spring Game if Jordan Howard isn’t playing. I’m sorry, but am I wrong? Can you give me a reason to go?
Chris, Bloomington

JEREMY: Chris,
Good weather might be a reason. On the field, I guess it’s worth at least seeing (1) what the defense looks like and how it is or is not improving; and (2) how the receivers have progressed since last fall.
That’s all I’ve got.

MIKE: Hey Chris,
I understand your disappointment. Watching Howard run around at game speed was the No. 1 thing I was looking forward to on April 18. Sounds like that won’t happen. Frankly, I wouldn’t run him out there if he’s not good to go, but I totally get your frustration. I’ll be more interested watching IU’s offensive and defensive lines battle than anything else, I suppose. The development of the receiving corps will be of importance, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot until the freshmen/Camion Patrick arrive this summer. Those guys — Patrick, especially — are going to be in the mix for starting jobs.
I guess you should go because you love IU football and want to get an early look at a team that might finally be ready for a winning season. But I understand your disappointment. I’m disappointed, too.

ANDY: Chris:
Getting a good look at Howard was obviously one of the prime attractions for a lot of folks, no doubt. And it’s likewise a bit of a drag that fellow UAB transfer Marqui Hawkins is also injured and unavailable. But it isn’t as if there aren’t a lot of other areas to pique the interest of the willing fan, including at the running back and wideout spots.

How do Fant and Padmore look at corner? Are any of the young receivers (many of whom had inconsistent autumns) really coming on? (Ricky Jones is a returnee who is raising some eyebrows this spring.) How is the pecking order shaping up at quarterback behind Sudfeld? Has Zander Diamont progressed from last fall? There are three in-state walk-on running backs who have had people talking this spring (Alex Rodriguez from Lawrence Central, Ricky Brookins from Terre Haute North and Andrew Wilson from Columbus East) and who could actually play some next fall. Which of the new offensive linemen (Tim Gardner, DeAndre Herron, Wes Martin, Delroy Baker) seem to have entered the rotation? Zack Shaw’s emergence at Bandit facilitated the shift of Nick Mangieri to defensive end, and I’m curious how Nile Sykes (the former Notre Dame signee) looks out at Bandit, too. Those are just some of the things I’ll be looking for. Plus, I’m always interested to see how some guys were reshaped a bit during winter conditioning. Herron, for example, looks like a different dude.
Plus, well, I think I can confidently state that Coach Kevin Wilson would personally appreciate your attendance.

QUESTION: Good morning. Pretty big week recruiting wise for the Hoosiers and having Troy decide to stay is good news as well. I’m wondering if the most important thing to happen off-season is to recruit an assistant coach that can help fix the defense. Have you heard anything on who might be added to the coaching staff?
Wine Country, Sonoma

JEREMY: Wine Country,
Right you are, and probably the next big recruit for IU basketball is getting Yogi Ferrell to return next season. Well, that, and figuring out how to open a spot on the roster for Thomas Bryant.
Anyway, no news on the assistant coach search, though I’d guess with the Final Four in the rearview mirror, things might wrap up within the next week or so on that front.

MIKE: Hey Wine Country,
Agree. Williams coming back is big, but a possible return for Ferrell would be even bigger. I said last week that Crean and company ought to be recruiting their starting point guard, and I’m sticking with it. Part of me gets why Ferrell would consider going pro, but the other part looks at next year’s roster with Bryant and company and says, ‘Dude, what’s taking so long?’ I sense will learn sooner rather than later whether Ferrell is staying in Bloomington.
I also agree that IU would be wise to find a guy who can help this team develop better defensively. Who could that be? I’m not sure. Last I checked, IU has not even posted the job. I’m sure Tom Crean did some work on this last week at the Final Four, when seemingly every coach in the country was in Indianapolis for networking opportunities during the coaches convention. But the more I think about this, it could be a few more weeks until we know for sure.

Still haven’t heard any names that seem immediate or definite possibilities. Bennie Seltzer is back on staff as Director of Player Performance, and he obviously is a former assistant coach, but I haven’t heard about any pending change in his status. Jeremy and/or Mike might have some names and/or some insight. I don’t deny your observation that the defense needs addressing, whether by the current staff or by a newcomer or both.
Next season’s team, as it shapes up on paper, should score points in bunches with some regularity. If it can learn how to get more stops at the other end, it could be rather formidable, indeed. The recruitment of Thomas Bryant could help, in terms of potentially taking away the lower part of the lane and protecting the rim a bit more consistently. I think Hanner is a talented and generally willing but not always well-positioned or fundamentally-sound defender. He seems to lack the intuition and fundamentals of, say, a Jared Jeffries. Don’t really know how Bryant is, in that regard, but having him back there could potentially help IU’s perimeter guys get up into their guys more and pressure the ball better. Because now if their guy gets around them on a drive, maybe there is a better chance somebody will be waiting in the lane who could thwart drives around the rim. But I also think almost all the Hoosiers need to improve their defense, fundamentally. Sometimes keeping your man in front of you is easier said than done, but it’s a nice place to start.

QUESTION: Congrats to WBB for getting Elbert to commit. But, that’s for next year. I understand the Spring Signing Day starts on Wednesday…how long is that period?
Using the logic of fans on Peegs/Hoosiertimes, it’s obvious that the baseball coach is over his head and should not have been hired. Now that my sarcasm is done, is the pitching failing or is it a case of “gelling” with the baseball team?
Steve, Indianapolis

JEREMY: Steve,
The spring signing period runs from April 15 to May 20, so over a full month to fill out the roster, and players after that can still sign via a financial aid agreement.
Elbert is a very good get for the IU women’s team, but just won’t be able to contribute on the court until 2016, so you should definitely see some more immediate help in the spring signing period.

Yeah, baseball is chemistry and timing and a still young team trying to figure things out. Pitching-wise, IU is obviously better off if Kyle Hart continues to stretch things out in his return from Tommy John surgery, but when you take Scott Effross and Jake Kelzer out of the bullpen and into the rotation, there’s some adjustments to be made both places. I still think the pitching staff is better than perhaps the results, but IU is fast reaching the point where potential and results need to get in sync.

MIKE: Hey Steve,
Signing period runs through May 20, I believe.
I feel a little guilty on the baseball front. I’ve written as many basketball stories in the baseball press box as I have actual baseball stories over the last four games. I blame Thomas Bryant and Troy Williams. Anyway, the baseball slide is strange. I didn’t think they’d run through Big Ten play with ease, but the way this skid has unfolded is a bit concerning. First thing that starts to jump out at me is leadership. I think IU misses guys like Schwarber, Travis and DeNato for reasons far beyond their on-field production. I’m not saying the locker room is sour or anything like that, but those were guys this program absolutely leaned on over the last two years. Who is IU’s leader right now? Ryan Halstead? OK, that’s fine, but he’s a closer. Scott Donley? Maybe, but he’s a DH — a positionless guy — who’s more or less on the field for three or four at-bats a game. Casey Rodrigue? I don’t know. He’s had struggles of his own. Kyle Hart seems like a guy who could really grab the reigns, but he’s still working his way back from surgery and doesn’t really have a place on the staff at the moment, though it sounds like he could be headed to the bullpen as he continues his recovery.

In baseball, times like these can start to weigh on you mentally. Maybe they’re all pressing. There are some veterans on this team that probably need to step forward and claim the team as their own. I don’t know that we’ve seen that yet. There’s some youth, some guys — especially pitchers — moving into new roles and I’m sure the feeling out process between players and coaches is ongoing. On top of it all, it’s baseball. This happens. I know Indiana’s pitching is much better than it has shown in the last two-plus weeks. This weekend, against a middling Rutgers team, would be a good time to get back on track. I really hesitate to sound the alarm right now. Looking at the schedule, there are some games coming up where IU has a chance to play and beat some quality teams. Season’s far from over.

ANDY: Steve:
This year’s spring signing period for basketball runs from April 15 to May 20 for Div. I.

Sarcasm is most effective when it’s on target, let’s just put it that way.

Can’t really say why the baseball team has hit a lull. It seemed to be rolling along until conference play began. At Iowa, the Hoosiers couldn’t hit the first couple of games, then hit but couldn’t pitch in the third, but things haven’t really righted themselves since. I do think the starting pitching has pretty clearly fallen off a bit. IU had dominated midweek games, but the loss to 9-21 Cincinnati (which had lost 15 straight road games this season until winning in Bloomington) was a bad one and Coach Lemonis was not happy. Baseball is a sport that lends itself to hot streaks and funks, no matter how talented or capable the team, and there is time for IU to regain momentum. Rutgers comes into this weekend 11-20 overall but 5-4 in league play. It would behoove the Hoosiers to win this series at home.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: That’s all the time we have for today’s chat. Thanks for joining us. Be sure to follow IU sports on The Hoosier Scoop blog and app.
Mike, Jeremy, Andy: Thanks for the time, as always, during these Friday chats. What’s on the IU sports agenda this weekend?

JEREMY: IU baseball is hosting Rutgers, so Mike and Andy will split those duties, and Mike’s headed down to the Derby Festival Classic featuring the three IU recruits for 2015-16 on Saturday night. Meanwhile, I’m holding down the fort with desk duty, ensuring that their copy sees the printed page. Oh, and shameless plug, check out our IU sports podcast — the Scoopcast — for what may be informative or entertaining discussions, maybe both. Thanks to those who joined us this week.
MIKE: Another busy weekend on tap. IU baseball is at home for a three-game series with Rutgers. I’ll be there tonight and Sunday, and Andy will have it covered Saturday afternoon while drive down to Louisville to watch Thomas Bryant, O.G. Anunoby and Juwan Morgan at the Derby Classic. Of course, we’ll keep an eye on any other IU news coming out. I’m just hoping Yogi Ferrell doesn’t announce anything during either of the baseball games I’ll be covering this weekend. That would be cruel. Thanks for checking in, everybody. See you next week.

ANDY: Mike will head back to Louisville for the Derby Festival game Saturday featuring IU signees Thomas Bryant, Juwan Morgan and OG Anunoby. Mike and I will both head out to Bart Kaufman during the B1G baseball series with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights that starts tonight.
Thanks, as always, to all who checked in and/or chatted.