Preseason Player Breakdown: Tom Pritchard


Tom Pritchard has been at times disappointing but at times underappreciated in his first three years at Indiana. The senior forward has one more year to define his legacy. He is the subject of Part 4 of our Preseason Player Breakdown.

THE PAST

Tom Pritchard was essentially the Hoosiers’ only offensive option in the post on the 2008-09 squad, the one that formed from the rubble after the Kelvin Sampson recruiting scandal and subsequent roster purge that effectively blew up the program. The 6-foot-9, 250-pounder showed plenty of promise that season, averaging 9.7 points and 6.4 rebounds, but the numbers were probably misleading and produced a false sense of expectation for his future.

Over the last two years, Pritchard’s role in the offense has not been nearly as significant as it was in his first year. He’s been used more as a ball-screener, and hasn’t had the ball in his hands often. He averaged 4.2 points as a sophomore and 2.5 as a junior. He shot 60.9 percent from the field as a sophomore and 59.0 percent as a junior, but in neither season did he even attempt 100 field goals. Last year he finished 36-for-61 from the field in 32 games, meaning he didn’t even average two field goal attempts per game.

Pritchard has still seen significant minutes because he has been the closest thing the Hoosiers have had to a true center and he has at times been the team’s best post defender. He averages less than one blocked shot per game, and the Hoosiers weren’t thrilled with his 3.8 rebounds per game last season, but he gave him the Hoosiers their best option against the league’s strongest big men, such as Jared Sullinger and Draymond Green. Fouling was an issue, as he led the team with a total of 94 and fouled out four times.

But then, of course, there was the time he was The Pritch.

 

THE PRESENT

Pritchard has been seen walking around in a walking boot lately, but he was expected to return to practice relatively quickly. Reports from the summer said that Pritchard was improving, and that he was benefiting greatly from working out with freshman Cody Zeller. He appeared stronger and somewhat bigger because of offseason workouts, but his improvements weren’t quite as noticeable as players like Victor Oladipo and Verdell Jones.

Teammates raved about what Pritchard was doing in open gyms, but they have always claimed that Pritchard is a beast in the games where the lights aren’t on. As per usual, they’re hoping that will change this year.

THE FUTURE

Christian Watford may be the player who benefits the most from the addition of Cody Zeller, but Tom Pritchard is probably second on that list. Watford has drawn attention but has never commanded a double team in the post like Zeller possibly could, and Zeller is considered a much better interior passer. That could mean some easy baskets for Pritchard and get him more involved in the offense.

In return, Pritchard will be expected to score just enough to ease the pressure of those double teams, and also to be capable of taking on opposing centers, allowing Zeller to deal with the power forwards. Zeller has added more weight than many expected to grow to 6-11, 230, but the 6-9, 245-pound Pritchard still has a little more bulk to use against the Jared Sullingers of the league. Indiana coach Tom Crean said he wants Pritchard to be one of the best post-defenders in the league and expects him to be in the right position at all-times, in zones and on helpside defense in man to man. He’s also expecting a lot more of him in the rebounding game, and said he wants Pritchard to be one of the best per-minute rebounders in the Big Ten.

The more Pritchard can play for the Hoosiers, the easier it may be for Zeller to make the transition. They’re hopeful that he’ll have to play as little center as possible, which means that both Pritchard and Elston need to stay out of foul trouble. If Pritchard can be a serviceable five-man, that could the best legacy he could leave.

9 comments

  1. I’ve said it before & will say it again here now…TP would benefit TREMENDOUSLY by using a classic running/moving hook shot when he gets offensive rebounds! I don’t think he is quick enough to use a jump hook. A jump hook won’t give him separation from the defender in order to get off a shot. A running/moving ‘classic’ hook shot, ala Benson or Kirk Haston would open TP’s offensive game greatly. It also creates the space for Zeller & Watford to move toward the hoop for rebounds or passes. I would really like to see TP try this shot. It is nearly impossible to block, unlike the jump hook, especially since TP doesn’t jump quick nor high. Just a thought. Go Hoosiers!

  2. I like the thought… and I hadn’t thought of Haston in a while – thanks. Mostly I am just hoping that TP can provide D and garbage points on a consistent basis.

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