Indiana Will Look For Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey to Fill New RolesPosted by Walker Carey on November 9th, 2013
Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Friday evening’s game in Bloomington between Indiana and Chicago State.
Not very often does a team have to replace four career 1,000-point scorers, but that is the situation Indiana is in to begin the 2013-14 season. Gone from last season’s Big Ten champion Hoosiers are guards Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo and forwards Christian Watford and Cody Zeller. The talent level leaving Bloomington was so great that Oladipo was the second pick and Zeller was the fourth pick in last June’s NBA Draft. With all that talent and production now missing, Indiana enters this campaign as a bit of unknown. Sure, it brought in a highly-ranked recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Noah Vonleh, but as we all know, experience is a necessary attribute for success in a league like the Big Ten. Luckily for Tom Crean, the Hoosiers return two players with solid experience in sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell and senior forward Will Sheehey.
As a freshman last season, Ferrell started every game for the 29-7 Hoosiers. His prowess as a floor general was evident throughout last season as he led the team with 4.1 assists per game – a figure that was also good for third-best in the Big Ten. While Ferrell was not counted on to score too much, he showed he was capable by averaging a respectable 7.6 points per contest. The Indianapolis native’s strong play was noticed by the coaches of the Big Ten as he was named by them to the league’s All-Freshmen squad. Now in his second year in the program, Ferrell is going to be called upon to be much more aggressive in the offense. As the team’s second-leading returning scorer, it is fair to figure that Tom Crean and his staff are going to look for the sophomore to increase his scoring output. Additionally, due to the great experience he gained last year, one would imagine that Ferrell will also take on a leadership role with the squad.
As a junior last season, Will Sheehey emerged as one of the most capable bench players in the entire nation. In a campaign that saw him garner Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year, the versatile forward averaged 9.5 points and collected 3.5 rebounds per game. Sheehey also earned a much-deserved reputation within the Big Ten for his scrappy and hard-nosed defensive play. As a senior, Sheehey will be a full-time starter for the first time in his collegiate career. With this increase in minutes will come an increase in opportunities to be even more productive than he was in the 2012-13 season. As a known component of a young team still filled with a plethora of questions, Indiana is likely going to count on Sheehey to both increase his production and take on a leadership role with his less experienced teammates.
Indiana’s 2013-14 season tipped off Friday night with a resounding 100-72 victory over Chicago State. Even in the blowout, Ferrell and Sheehey led the Hoosiers in total minutes with 27 and 24, respectively. Ferrell struggled a bit with his shot, as he finished just 3-of-11 from the field, yet he still managed to finish with a workmanlike 11 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Starting with two freshmen and two sophomores, the senior Sheehey turned in a solid performance, converting on four of his six field goal attempts to finish with 10 points to go along with nine rebounds. Ferrell and Sheehey were also part of the defensive effort that limited Chicago State to just a 25.9 percent shooting performance.
While it is unwise to make some predictions in November, one would have to believe Indiana is going to be both a factor in the Big Ten race and a contender for an NCAA Tournament bid on the sole basis of the team’s talent. Being a factor in the conference race and a contender for a spot in the field of 68 is one thing, and being a contender in the conference race and a lock for a spot in the field of 68 is another. If Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey adapt successfully to their new roles, this season’s Hoosiers are more likely to be the latter than the former.