How Will Derek Elston’s Injury Impact The Hoosiers?

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 25th, 2012

Every prediction about the upcoming college basketball season ought to be made with a disclaimer: “assuming they are healthy.” This disclaimer definitely applies to the Indiana Hoosiers this year. Just a few days after being ranked as the best team in the country by the coaches, Tom Crean’s squad already has experienced its first major obstacle of the season. Forward Derek Elston will be sidelined with a knee injury for 6-8 weeks according to several sources. No team is immune to injuries and Elston’s absence for possibly the first 10-12 games will certainly impact the Hoosiers.

Elston’s knee injury will open up some minutes to the younger Hoosiers’ forwards.

Even though Elston only played 12.3 MPG last season, he was expected to provide an important role off the bench for Crean’s group this year. Averaging 2.4 RPG is definitely not all-conference worthy but he brings several intangibles to the team with his size (6’9, 216 lbs) and experience (senior). Elston, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls have been around Bloomington for a few seasons now, and their experience will help younger guys like Yogi Ferrell get up to pace very quickly amidst the intense media spotlight on the Hoosiers. Elston is another key body in the paint and would have taken the bulk of the defensive load to help keep All-America candidate Cody Zeller out of potential foul trouble. Senior forwards who have been around the Big Ten for four seasons know a thing or two about defending the paint and he will be definitely be missed during the non-conference season. Elston’s injury obviously means some shuffling within the Indiana rotation but that could also have a positive impact on the younger players in the long run.

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Big Ten M5: 10.25.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 25th, 2012

  1. The Hoosiers’ depth is one of the biggest reasons for their preseason hype and they will need it during the first two months of the season. Indiana forward Derek Elston will miss several weeks of the regular season due to a torn meniscus. Even though Elston only averaged 2.4 RPG last season, he is supposed to be an integral part of Tom Crean’s bench this season. Elston would have backed up Cody Zeller and maybe even played some minutes toward the end of certain games to keep the All-American stay out of foul trouble, but the underclassmen will need to step up now. Hanner Mosquera-Perea will be one of the key freshmen who will need to become a complement to Zeller in the frontcourt during the first few weeks of the year.
  2. Tubby Smith has had to deal with a lot of trouble over the last week or so. Dealing with his son and Gopher assistant coach Saul Smith’s DWI is only the latest of his issues. The Minnesota athletic director has made it clear that he rather than Smith would decide the appropriate punishment for Saul Smith’s arrest from last weekend. The younger Smith is currently on unpaid leave until the administration reveals more details about its decision regarding his job and the AD, Norwood Teague, has repeatedly punctuated that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated. Smith is scheduled to appear in the court on December 3 and may face very a charge like fourth-degree DWI which could potentially jeopardize his career in Minneapolis.
  3. Great athletes take rehabiliatation very seriously and want to get back to practice as soon as possible. Michigan State’s Branden Dawson is no different, as he has been trying to recover as quickly as possible from his March ACL injury. During his recovery, Dawson has developed a very good relationship with the Spartans’ trainer, Quinton Sawyer, and credits him for an efficient recovery process. Tom Izzo and the trainers believe that Dawson has put in the effort and is ready to come back “from a mental standpoint.” But it will take some time for him to get back into game shape. Freshman guard Gary Harris will need to assume the defensive stopper’s role until Dawson is back to 100% in the Spartan lineup. Assuming that Dawson will be recover completely by mid-January, MSU will be a force once again in early March.
  4. John Beilein’s offensive system requires several efficient shooters from beyond the arc. The ball movement needs to be crisp as it leads to open looks as the players are consistently asked to move without the ball. Last season, Zach Novak (41% 3FG) and Stu Douglass (34% 3FG), understood the offensive schemes and were very good shooters from the wing. After their departures, another wing will need to move into that designated role of gunner and it very well might be freshman guard Nik Stauskas. Stauskas may not receive as much recognition as fellow rookies Mitch McGary or Glenn Robinson III, but UMHoops explains why he could play an integral role in the success of the Wolverines this season.
  5. Bo Ryan’s Badgers always introduce a new player every season who makes the leap from a nobody to a key contributor. Without consistent production from new players filling in for the departure of stars like Jordan Taylor, Ryan couldn’t have produced all those consecutive winning seasons in Madison. Center Frank Kaminsky might be that player this season as he is expected to have an increased role in the offense. The 6’11″ sophomore has spent the offseason trying to lose weight and work on his conditioning with the trainers. He averaged only eight minutes per game last season but will certainly be an important complement to Jared Berggren (10.5 PPG) in the Wisconsin frontcourt. He may not be expected to contribute much offensively but his size will be very important if Wisconsin expects to compete in a conference that features numerous superb big men such as Cody Zeller and Trevor Mbakwe.
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