Much discussion has surrounded the preseason #1-ranked Indiana Hoosiers, as they’re re-climbing the ranks of the sport faster than most thought they would.
With lofty expectations officially getting kicked off last Saturday as ‘Hoosier Hysteria’ was hosted at Assembly Hall, things couldn’t be better in ‘B-Town.’
However, Wednesday evening a bit of cold water was thrown onto the excitement.
It was reported first by Zach Osterman of Inside Indiana, and confirmed by Inside The Hall, that senior forward Derek Elston has a torn meniscus and is expected to miss a couple of months.
The 6’9 Tipton, IN native has seen his playing time decrease throughout the past three seasons, from about 15 to 12 minutes per game. Nonetheless, he’s made great strides in his game, gained some muscle, and become one of the team’s leaders since he joined Tom Crean’s squad back in 2009.
An Elston 3-pointer gets Assembly Hall as rockin’ as just about anything. Credit: Getty Images
Although Elston only averaged 4 PPG last season, many thought his offensive game really evolved.
With Cody Zeller manning the post, it allowed others like Christian Watford and Elston to play outside more. Elston made 16 of his 29 3-pointers attempted last year, which comes out to a very impressive 55.2%. In fact, he had an extremely efficient 49.5 field goal percentage.
So although Elston didn’t contribute a ton on paper, his contributions as far as offensive efficiency and veteran leadership were very valuable.
So what does Elston’s injury mean for the Hoosiers? In my opinion, it signifies the first adversity the team is facing in this year of great expectations.
As far as the on-the-court takeaway goes, it’s really pretty simple. With Elston not in the lineup likely until the team is into B1G play, it means some of their youngsters will get more of a playing opportunity.
It won’t effect PG Yogi Ferrell or C Peter Jurkin’s PT much, but it definitely will have PF Hanner Perea and SG/SF Jeremy Hollowell seeing the court a bit more. And since IU has a fairly easy non-conference schedule, I think Perea and Hollowell (along with others) eating up Elston’s minutes could benefit the team in the long run.
Before IU heads to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes on New Year’s Eve, their only big tests will come on November 20th when they face either UCLA or Georgetown in Brooklyn, and on November 27th when the Hoosiers face the UNC Tar Heels at home in the B1G/ACC Challenge.
Of course, any other games could surprise us and be testers, specifically the games against Georgia and Butler. But overall, it’s a very easy path before we turn the calendars to 2013.
You can’t underestimate the effect of a team missing a senior who’s seen significant minutes throughout 3 full seasons, but as I tweeted (@zach_gropper) right after the Elston news broke, the injury shouldn’t affect the Indiana Hoosiers’ win-loss record.
This team is just too talented to be derailed by losing a player that likely wouldn’t likely see more than 10 minutes on the floor in most games.
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