Derek Elston finally close to health

Derek Elston injuries were never enough for him to miss a game last year, so Indiana coach Tom Crean would give only cursory explanations of what they were.

But they hurt. Really bad. Especially his nagging knee pain and the sports hernia that Elston started suffering from early in the year that never quite went away.

“I played last season and I know I did terrible,” Elston said. “I know probably the fans thought I did terrible, which I don’t blame them, but the fact is I tried to get through it. That’s what kind of bothered me. They think I played terrible, I think I played terrible, but really I just had a hernia the entire time.”

But no more. Elston said he had surgery in May and he feels better than he did all last season. He’s not 100 percent yet, he said, and he’s only been back on the court for the past three weeks, but he’s healthy enough to feel optimistic.

“Right now I feel absolutely fantastic,” Elston said. “I’m not 100 percent yet as of right now is what (athletic trainer Tim Garl) is telling me, but as I come back after this two weeks that I have off, he’s telling me I should be 100 percent as long as I keep stretching, which I plan on doing.”

Now that he’s back to health, the 6-foot-9, 230-pound junior is hoping he can finally become the high-energy, versatile post presence the Hoosiers were hoping for when they got him from Tipton. He’s struggled on defense since his freshman season, and he seemed extremely uncomfortable last season when he had to play many of his minutes at the center position, defending players much bigger and thicker than him. Those were the reasons that, even with a thin group of bigs, he’s still only averaged 15.5 minutes per game in two seasons.

“I’m just trying to do the defense thing,” Elston said. “My jump shot’s gonna be there. That’s something I can come in on my own and work on with the gun and one of the managers. Right now I just want my defense to be to the point where I can guard a 3 or a 4 or a 5. I gotta be versatile. The team’s playing so well right now that you gotta be versatile or else you’re not gonna be able to see the floor. I gotta be able to guard multiple positions and I gotta be able to bang down low.”

Elston said he doesn’t plan on putting much more weight on his upper body but more in his legs. He said that would help him defend both in the paint and on the perimeter.

“I want to try to get my body to where I can guard a 5, but I want to be able to guard a 3 like I just said,” Elston said. “… Coach (Je’Ney) Jackson was telling me I could gain 15 pounds and just put it in my legs. That’s what I want to do. I jump rope every day. I want to have the quick feet to guard the 3, and still have the strength to guard a big 4 or a big 5 to where if Cody or Tom got in foul trouble I could still guard them, but if they kind of wanted to go big and have me guard a 3 or a 4, I could do it. That’s what I’m focused on right now.”

Elston expressed a lot of optimism about the rest of the Hoosiers, singling out sophomore Will Sheehey as particularly impressive. Asked about leaders, Elston said junior Jordan Hulls has taken more of the reins than he ever has before and than anyone else on the squad has.

“He is a lot more vocal,” Elston said. “He’s one of those guys that starts screaming now. Conditioning days, if you’re not making it, Jordy’s the first one to tell you. Whether you like what he has to say or not, he’s gonna say it. If that doesn’t motivate you, then he’ll get you off the floor. He’s had to kick a couple of guys out from conditioning. Jordy’s one of the guys that has stepped it up for us, and we hope that continues through the season.”

 

5 comments

  1. Love what he had to say about Jordy, that he’s leading with his voice and following through. Only going to help on the court. And with Elston healthy, count on him for easily 8-10/game. Love he’s talking defense first, just shows what we’re about. Go Hoosiers!

  2. I think I can speak for fellow hernia surgery veterans here: Derek has my admiration for playing through one last year. After I asked my doc if I needed surgery right away, he told me, “not as long as you don’t mind hauling your n*** around in a wheel barrow.” I’ll spare everyone the gory details, but playing basketball was out of the question until post-op. Playing through a sore ankle or a bad wrist is one thing, but having your guts……well never mind – Derek you’re a better man than I.

  3. For those of you keeping score at the moment:

    Basketball post about Derek Elston’s health: 3 commments.

    Football post about Coach W. standing up to Trudeau: 68 comments.

    Just sayin, football absolutely matters to IU fans.

  4. The players have to hold each other accountable and to lead the freshmen. This is GREAT news! It did not happen during the last 3 seasons.

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