Miller keeping options open with 13th scholarship

BORDEN — The scholarship crunch Archie Miller inherited has become more of a scholarship luxury.

The new Indiana coach enters the summer one under the NCAA limit of 13 scholarships for men’s basketball — not that he’s in any rush to use it.

Miller told reporters at Wednesday’s IU fan event at Huber’s Orchard and Winery that he has “no idea” what he’ll do with the scholarship opened last week by former guard Grant Gelon’s release. To Miller, the keys to roster construction are careful consideration and patience.

“Scholarships are like gold,” Miller said. “You have to be able to do what’s best for you at a certain time of the year. They’re not things to just fire out there and hopefully fill bodies. We have to have a plan.”

Indiana ended last season with 16 players, including three high school signees, for the 13 spots on the 2017-18 roster.

When OG Anunoby, Thomas Bryant and James Blackmon Jr. decided to hire representation and remain in the NBA Draft, IU returned to the NCAA limit. Then, when Gelon requested a release from his scholarship last week, Miller found the kind of roster flexibility he covets.

Miller believes it can sometimes be a disadvantage for programs to use all 13 scholarships. In today’s game, with rampant transfers and early professional departures, navigating roster fluidity occupies a significant portion of coaching responsibilities.

Miller wants to be comfortable playing between nine and 10 players in a regular rotation, and having three or four players who aren’t getting meaningful minutes can lead to unhappiness at the end of the bench.

Sometimes, less is more.

“What we’re able to do right now, I’m not sure,” Miller said. “We’d always like to have some versatility with our roster.”

Although he’s uncommitted to using the open scholarship for the 2017-18 season, Miller is keeping his options open.

Indiana hosted Italian point guard Davide Moretti for the first of Moretti’s four scheduled college visits in the United States, reported this week.

The 6-foot-3 Moretti, who averaged 14.8 points and five assists during Italy’s third-place run at the 2016 FIBA U18 European Championships, is also scheduled to visit Connecticut, Texas Tech and Utah.

In between Gelon’s departure and Moretti’s visit, Miller added to his backcourt by inviting James Blackmon Jr.’s younger brother, Vijay, to join the program as a preferred walk-on next season.

Blackmon averaged 9.2 points and 1.1 assists in 22 games as a freshman at Saint Francis last season. He left the program in January.

“Walk-ons, they’re a really, really important cog to what we’re doing, just like our managers,” Miller said. “We put a tremendous amount of pride in the development of the program, not just players. I think guys that play vital success in your team’s success sometimes don’t get in the games.

“I think, as we move forward, we’re always going to look to have guys that love Indiana, that want to be a part of the program, that are there for the right reasons, which is winning and, at the end of the day, being a part of some special, special moments. A guy like Vijay, who we’ve talked to quite a bit, as he enrolls in the university and does some things, him having an opportunity to be a part of the program is something that we look forward to.”

Football freshmen arrive on campus

Several incoming freshmen moved into their dorms at Indiana on Wednesday. The remaining members of IU’s latest signing class are expected on campus Thursday.

It’s the first step toward getting Tom Allen’s first team as Hoosiers head coach together en masse, a process that will continue with additional veteran players returning for upcoming summer workouts.

Allen said Wednesday that IU’s full 23-man signing class enters the summer academically eligible.

“I think we’re pretty well-intact at this point,” Allen said. “There’s always going to be a couple guys in the incoming class that have to be able to go through and get the final transcripts in to make sure. We’re close on a couple. But, for the most part, it looks really, really good. Coaches did a good job of finding guys that have an opportunity to come here and make it academically.”

Glass updates facility projects

The $53 million South End Zone project at Memorial Stadium is on time and on budget, IU athletics director Fred Glass said Wednesday.

The project, which will add a new athlete dining room and homes for academic counseling and the sports nutrition department, is scheduled to open in time for the 2018 football season.

Plans for a renovated IU Golf Course will go before the university’s board of trustees at the June meeting in South Bend, Glass said. Pending approval, groundbreaking on the course is scheduled for the fall with a planned 2019 opening.

“The golf course has been a bit of a conundrum for many, many years,” Glass said. “If we can solve that one, which we expect to do, it’ll be a world-class, championship golf course, but will continue to be accessible to faculty, staff and students. It’ll be a great piece.”

Glass also said that the groundbreaking for the recently approved multi-purpose arena will also take place this fall. The $17 million project, which will give IU’s wrestling and volleyball programs a new home, is expected to be completed in time for the 2019 seasons.