Offseason to-do list: Christian Watford

Christian Watford drives against Purdue’s D.J. Byrd during the team’s second game, in Bloomington. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

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. We begin with Christian Watford.

2010-11 STATS: 16 points per game (42.2 percent FG, 38.1 percent 3Pt), 5.4 rebounds, 32 assists, 55 turnovers.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: As a sophomore, Watford made strides as a go-to scorer. He scored 20 or more points six times, including a career-high 30 against Iowa. Only four times was he held to single-digits.

He often responded to coach Tom Crean’s public criticism of his game: when Watford scored 24 points in the season opener against Florida Gulf Coast, Crean said he wanted a double-double. Against Wright State, Watford had 17 and 10. When Crean said he wanted him to get to the free-throw line, Watford did — 164 attempts this season, fifth in the Big Ten.


  • Get angry. Too often, Watford seems to coast through games. It’s because of his personality — the soul that came up with “cool cat” probably had Watford in mind. It’s not an uncommon affliction, but it sometimes affects the team. His 30 points against Iowa were dismissed by Crean because Watford had probably given up that many on the defensive end.
    Simply put, Watford is the kind of presence, at 6-foot-9 and 215 pounds, to take over games. To take over the Big Ten. He should be an All-Big Ten performer. Instead he was not even a honorable mention selection this season. That should anger Watford, and it should serve as a driving force during this offseason.
    Crean has said that, when focused, he has been around few players that could improve faster than Watford. We saw flashes of that this season — he responded from the Iowa game by having his best performance as a Hoosier against Michigan State — but it needs to be more consistent, more of an ongoing process than a every-so-often situation. The best way to get that accomplished is for Watford to feel like he is being disrespected and/or forgotten.
  • Develop his perimeter game. The current makeup of the roster, combined with at least Cody Zeller and Austin Etherington joining the team next season, indicates Watford is best served as the team’s small forward. Zeller is not yet physically strong enough to handle playing the 5 but needs to start, so he’ll be at the 4. Some combination of Tom Pritchard/Derek Elston/Bobby Capobianco/TBD recruits will be at the 5, which leaves Watford to play the 3. It is the position he wants to play, and the position the coaching staff started him at during the early portion of the schedule. He played more 4 and even the 5 during the Big Ten season, because Crean simply ran out of options down low and was also looking to open up playing time for the wings.
    When Watford puts his shoulder into his defender and drives through him, he’s a very capable penetrator — but that move needs to more consistent and more aggressive. He is already a very good 3-point shooter for a player of his size (he made 37-of-97 3-point shots) and does not hesitate to shoot when open. Perhaps his biggest weakness as a 3 is his ball-handling — he finished with 55 turnovers, with four or five in four games.


  1. VJ III and Watford do not have it–intestinal fortitude plus they are not the type players to make the team better. Combine that with poor coaching.Nothing will change next year.

  2. I believe your assessment of Watford’s game is accurate. He needs to look at film of himself turning the ball over when he puts the ball on the floor. His “move” just below the elbow really stinks. It seems that he waits to be double teamed and looses the ball on this crossover dribble. He would be better served with a quicker first step and explode to the hoop. He needs to finish strong and expect to be fouled. There…one man’s opinion. Go Hoosiers!

  3. Watford’s off season to do list:
    1) Lots of protein
    2) Lift
    3) Speed/Agility drills
    4) Lift
    5) Squats
    6) Lift
    7) Squats

    If he truly has aspirations of playing in the NBA he really needs to work on unbolting his feet from the floor and playing strong around the basket. To be elite level talent he needs to give effort like he did in East Lansing every game.

  4. Uh, remember folks, he’s a SOPHOMORE. Remember what Alan Henderson and DJ White looked like as sophomores? (Hint: they weren’t beefcakes.)

    He’ll get there. I think Christian has an incredibly tall ceiling. Some hard work in the offseason and he’ll be ready to compete with the elite in the B10.

  5. You briefly mentioned the many attempts from the line but you didn’t recognize his very high free-throw conversion percentage(140-166 .843). It’s one thing to get there, it’s another thing to to put the points in the scoring column. He scored more points from the line than Hulls and Jones combined. He had 109 more attempts than Hulls but nearly shot an equal percentage. And there are people criticizing his inside play? How do you think he got those free-throw attempts? And how many bigs would still be able to put the points on the scoreboard from the charity stripe with such remarkably high percentages? VJ shot only 67% from the line and committed nearly 30 more turnovers than Watford. Think of the points lost at the stripe added to those given up by way of turnovers from Jones. Watford’s ability to shoot the 3-pointer(.381) is an additional weapon(which may have even suffered a bit at the end of the season due to the hand injury). And what do you think happens when you move a player away from the basket to take advantage of his outside threat? Doesn’t that take away his ability to get to the offensive glass compared to a forward/post player more utilized in a smaller circle around the hoop? 5.4 rebounds per game is nothing to be ashamed of for a guy that averaged 29 minutes a contest and drilled through the bottom of the nets twice the amount of 3-point shots than one of our primary guards. Watford has a tremendous amount of skill and versatility to build from. He covers the court very well and his numbers are very strong for a sophomore on a team that didn’t have a lot of scoring options. Every time we faced an opponent they only needed to worry about two or three Hoosiers on the floor that could provide the majority our scoring punch. Throwing Watford under the bus is completely ludicrous. The kid got the damn broken bone in his hand from diving for a loose ball on the floor. Unbelievable to fail and see the huge contributions he brought to the team. And even more lapse in understanding the game to not see how Christian’s game could really explode onto the scene once Zeller forces more defenders away from him. Sorry, “get real”…your opinion of Watford is far from realistic, fair, and objective.

  6. my assessment:

    for starters, let me say i like watford and this is not meant to be mean. that being said, watford has the slowest release in the league. he hinges at the elbow and takes the ball behind his head instead of up and out. unacceptable.

    he lopes and plods his way to the basket instead of seeing a seam and exploding. rather, he gradually forces his way to the hole. that’s why he loses the ball so often to help defenders. a drive to the basket from the 3 point line should take a little over one second, tops. can you imagine watford getting to the basket that quick? a mid-range game would help a lot. have you ever seen him pull up a mid-range jumper? nah.

    watford has no mid-range game and no post moves. zero. nada.

    like the rest of the team, terrible footwork in all areas of the game.

    i put all this on crean. kids come to a school and expect the coach to teach him the fine points of the game. as far as i can tell, watford is no better than he was when he got here.

    i don’t understand why anyone still talks about the nba when discussing him. slow release, no handle. not much verticle and not explosive. plays like he’s in slow-motion. got destroyed in the addidas camp last summer. if watford was 3 inches shorter he’d be a d-3 player. that says it all.

  7. I promise not to say “I told you so” at this time next year.”Coachv” hit the nail on the head about Watford and Crean’s lack of coaching ability. Watching no positive change in VJIII for 3 years also.

    With all these coaching changes— all the coaches who lost jobs have been better coaches than Crean. He is making a mockery of IU right now. I’ll be surprised if anyone understands him as an analyst.

    7 teams from the Big 10 make the NCAA’s and IU can’t sniff a tournament. No players make even honorable mention all Big 10. No road wins. Lack of basic fundamentals. And you guys expect anything different next year?

  8. getreal, please GET LOST. You are a useless troll.

    Nothing you have written is even remotely accurate.

    When IU starts winning a lot of games you will crawl back under your rock never to be seen or heard from again.

  9. Watford has gotten better from year one to year two. Look at the numbers. Hulls showed dramatic improvement as well. Most player development is up to the player.

  10. coachv you are delusional sir

    your crazy if you think a few negative attributes about watfords game make him the pillar of hopelessness you are describing him as. dude is pretty good now and is getting better.

    He spent all last season getting stronger. He played out of position this season. He did pretty well this season considering he was the only option we ever had down low. He and Hulls saw the majority of opposing teams focus because they knew our options were very limited after them

    Hopefully he will spend this season working on some footwork and agility skills. I have full confidence that the improvement we saw in specific areas last offseason, we will see again this season and will make him of of the premier players in the B10

  11. hey, i never said watford is hopeless. i wish he was being taught better. give me 6 weeks with him and you won’t recognize him.

  12. Ya that is one of those things that is very easy to say on a blog. Did he or did he not get substantially bigger, better, stronger from last year to this year.

    offseason is the time for individual improvements. crean and staff can’t correct his natural development over the past 19 years overnight. he’s gotten better, and he has become very well rounded. imagine him playing the 3 next year, he will actually be able to post someone up that doesn’t have 15-20 lbs on him.

    they are all developing as a team and individually, even if the W-Ls don’t. remember how sheehy and vic got a lot better as the season went on, .

    stop the hate. stop the hate. peace in hoosierland.

  13. Watford isn’t the type of player that can carry a team on his shoulders. Very few are, besided Jimmer, perhaps, who can do that? He needs another frontcourt threat. May Zeller can come in and provide enough threat to open Watford up for his drives to the hoop.

  14. CW shot and scored with several mid-range attempts albeit most were in the first half of the season and only two after the hand injury. Not being a Mickey D’s or 4* his development is about where you would reasonably predict. Averaging 16 as a sophomore against some of the toughest competition in the country lends me to believe his shooting form is not to deficient. I agree with D-5’s thoughts on his potential. He will be on the All B10 lists next year.

  15. Why isnt get better in the post on here? he is big enough and talented enough to play down low. I cant understand you guys sometimes.

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