Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell
Where does one start when you reflect on Yogi’s senior year. The four year starting point guard was “Mr. Reliable” playing in all 35 games and proved to be one of the most vital pieces to Indiana’s high powered offense. He finished the year playing 34.7 minutes per game, scoring 17.3 points per game, dishing out 5.6 assists per game, and grabbing 3.8 rebounds per game. Yogi was named First-Team All-Big Ten, along with notable stars, Denzel Valentine, Nigel Hayes, Jarrod Uthoff, and A.J. Hammonds. Offense wasn’t the only trait Yogi showed. His 38 steals got him a spot on the All-Defensive team.
Yogi’s court speed, vision, and passing made him a great college point guard and allowed him to be very successful in the Big Ten. Being a four year guy, he has a much higher basketball IQ than most of the one and done guys. Although Yogi is vertically challenged, he makes up for it with his lightning quickness and helped him keep up with some of the bigger guards, like a Denzel Valentine from Michigan State. Ferrell is a tough, aggressive guard that uses his superior passing ability to excel at pushing the tempo. Yogi really improved his jump shot, making him a lethal force outside the three point parabola, and inside the Crimson paint. Coach Crean really challenged Yogi to make the most of his senior year and really push the other guys to improve and become more complete players on the defensive end. Ferrell did have to adjust to this, but once it clicked the team really benefited from it and was a huge reason the team was able to fight off their early season adversity to make a Sweet 16 run.
Troy was one of the most athletic players on this year’s squad. He excelled in Indiana’s high-tempo offense, scoring 24.2% of his points in transition. His 6’7” frame allowed him to finish at the rim well, shooting 63.7% at the rim. Troy was second on the team in points scored behind Yogi, averaging 13.3 points per outing. Troy used his extreme athleticism to lead the team in both, defensive (158) and total rebounds (204). Along with the points and rebounds, Troy got in the passing lanes and stole the ball more than anyone else. His 39 steals topped the team and led to some awesome dunks. Williams niche was finding holes in the defense, attacking them, and going for the highlight reel play. Troy always had an interesting dunk or acrobatic layup in the back of his pocket to keep us on our toes. Unfortunately, Williams followed through with his intentions to forgo his senior year and head to the NBA Draft.
In Robert’s Sophomore campaign he started 22 games of the 30 he was healthy for. He averaged 8.1 points per game to go along with 3.3 rebounds. One of his break out performances came in the Crossroads Classic vs Notre Dame where Robert scored a season high 17 points and helped lead the Hoosiers to a crucial victory. In Big Ten conference play vs Minnesota, Johnson made a career high five threes in lieu to a 90-71 victory over the Golden Gophers. Robert was a great fourth option at the guard position alongside Ferrell, Williams, and Blackmon. His athleticism allowed him to be a very versatile player and make large impacts on both the offensive and defensive sides.
Collin started 24 games this season which he averaged 5.0 points and 3.1 assists per game. Hartman proved to be an outside threat as he made at least one three pointer in 19 games. His shooting brought defenders outside and helped give space for Bryant on the inside. Collin had two season highs vs Michigan State, in points scored (11) and three pointers made (3). Debatably his best game as a Hoosier came in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament vs Chattanooga. He totaled eight points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals in the 99-75 win. His ability to play on the perimeter gave the opposing teams fits and match-up problems. He, like Bielfeldt, really thrived playing in Crean’s up-tempo offense. Each year Hartman has improved his stats, and has earned more and more play time the further he gets in his career.
The big freshman played in every game this season, averaging 11.9 points per game. Along with his near 12 points per game he posted team highs in offensive rebounds (70), field goal percentage (67%) and blocks (32). His shooting percentage was third best in all of college basketball. Thomas scored a career high 23 points vs Minnesota on January 30. He ripped down a season high, 13 rebounds in a 25 point win over Ohio State, January 10. Bryant was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team as well. Thomas is a great addition to this team considering the inside force he brought in a three point shooting atmosphere. Bryant actually hit five threes this year which was quite impressive for not being known as a shooter. Thomas also showed off his midrange game and his impressive footwork in the post. Bryant must improve his shot blocking ability in his Sophomore season, and will set himself up to be a potential lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
James Blackmon Jr.
Blackmon Jr. only played in 13 games this year leading this grade to be an incomplete. In those 13 games he averaged 15.8 points and shot 48% from the field. James was unable to show improvements in his abilities through those 13 games. His defense was abysmal and he still lacked the ability to finish strong at the rim.
James’s dynamic scoring ability gave him some NBA looks and was put in a tough situation whether to stay in Bloomington or try out the 2016 NBA Draft. James has tons of upside now coming back next year off his injury. He is very quick and can get by defenders in the blink of an eye. James will be coming back next season and should be give an instant offensive impact despite his injury.
The Michigan transfer came to Bloomington looking for a new start in his academic and athletic careers. Max played in all 35 games, and started five games. He was a very vital piece of the team whether he came off the bench, or was in the starting five. Bielfeldt averaged 8.2 points per game, and shot 52% from the field. He really thrived in Crean’s system, turning him from a solid role player into Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year. He was the first Hoosier to win this award since Will Sheehey in 2013. Max, like most Hoosier posts, pulled the opposing defense out to the three point line. Max was a great shooter, and showed that by making 64 threes on the year, including eight in a single game. The redshirt senior had a memorable senior season for the Hoosiers. He did all the little things ,that maybe didn’t always show up in the box score, when he came into the game . Overall, Crean and the Hoosiers were pretty lucky that the former Wolverine decided to come down south and turn in his Maize and Blue for Cream and Crimson jersey, but do you blame him? Max proved to be a great asset to have coming off the bench and completed the team.
Tom’s eighth season proved to be a banner one. Not only did he ditch the tie, but he was also named Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the media and coaches polls. Tom came into the 2015-2016 season with a lot of negativity coming from the outside media and fans. Many people thought he wasn’t right for the job and it really affected Crean and his family. Heading into the season Tom confronted the discouraging words and left a statement saying he had become accustom to the criticism and had become more at peace with himself and focused on what is truly more important. Things started iffy for Crean and the Hoosiers to say the least. After a losses to Wake Forest, UNLV, and a thrashing from Duke in the Big Ten/ ACC challenge, all odds were stacked against IU. Things slowly got better as the season grew on and the team began trusting one another, but the defense continued to be a major issue.
After Blackmon Jr. went down people became even more weary about the season. But after picking up a road win in conference play, Crean and the Hoosiers gained the confidence that they could defend and were a admirable team. Despite all the tough times this team went through, Crean never let the team divide or lose their vision. As the team got healthier Crean stopped switching between man and zone defenses and went strictly man. They listened to what Crean had to say and ended up the third best defense in the conference. Not to mention Crean turned Freshman OG Anunoby from a player who may not even play meaningful minutes, to an NBA prospect in next year’s draft. This is debatably Crean’s best coaching job ever. He won his second conference championship in four years, and third Sweet 16 appearance in five years. Hoosier fans may have to continue their wait for a return to the Final Four, but he isn’t far.