FORT WAYNE – Indiana’s best returning players continue to get better, men’s basketball coach Tom Crean said.
Add to the mix a highly touted freshman class and it’s easy to see why fans are getting excited for the season.
I don’t look at any of the guys that are coming back, that have experience, that did really good things for our team last year, and think that any one of them have leveled off at any point, Crean said Sunday. And our freshmen have come in, and they’ve come in with a mindset and with a very good work ethic.
Crean was at Autumn Ridge Golf Club on Sunday as the guest speaker for the Neal/Delagrange Celebrity Golf Classic’s Celebrity Live Auction to benefit Special Olympics of Allen County.
You’ve got some people in this community that could do just about whatever they wanted with their money, whatever they want with their time and with the resources they have, and yet they put an enormous amount of time and energy into making other people’s lives better, Crean said. And an event like this for Special Olympics takes a back seat to none of those events. To come in here and have an opportunity to spend some time with that and help bring some energy and awareness to it, I’m proud to do that.
Crean also met with reporters to discuss the upcoming season.
Indiana returns its five top scorers from last year’s team, which helped the Hoosiers to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002.
IU has four freshmen – a fifth, Ron Patterson, recently announced he was headed to a prep school – that make up one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
I think all four freshmen are going to be factors on our team, Crean said. Some will be factors earlier, but all four are going to really be able to help this program, I think, in the short term and without a doubt in the long term.
Point guard Kevin Yogi Ferrell was rated the No. 19 player in the country in April by Rivals.com. Small forward Jeremy Hollowell was ranked No. 41. Power forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who is recovering from a foot injury, is ranked No. 43. Center Peter Jurkin, listed at 6-foot-11, rounds out the group.
You look at the freshmen coming in, and I have no doubt in my mind those guys are going to play, Crean said. Now, they have to earn it. We’re way past it being easy to play and anything being given to you.
But I have no doubt those guys will earn it.
Crean also provided an update on guard Maurice Creek, who missed all of last season after he suffered a ruptured Achilles’ heel. Creek also saw his freshman and sophomore seasons cut short because of separate knee injuries.
He’s coming along fine. His strength is still not where we would like it to be, Crean said. His recovery is good. He’s back to being a full-time player. We don’t keep him out of anything that we wouldn’t have anybody else in.
He has full clearance, and he’s had that since the summer, so there’s no issues with any of the injuries he’s had to recover from. But there are issues with just getting back and having the strength he needs to compete. That will be an on-going process. That will be something like the rest of our program we’ll measure day to day.