Image courtesy of IU Athletics
Tony, it hurts to type this.
Not emotionally or anything, I mean physically. Like, existing is unpleasant, thanks to Coach Jeney Jackson putting us through our paces at the Indiana basketball media challenge. The day itself was enjoyable, for the most part: we got some free adidas swag; experienced first-hand the exercises that players go through with the strength and conditioning coach before they begin practice (My inner thighs curse you, Coach Jackson. They curse you and your Spiderman Crawl Stretches! I can’t climb stairs.); played on the Assembly Hall hardwood; won the Student Media Championship AND enjoyed a delicious meal to finish the day. To top it off, my lucky Lollapalooza headband was featured on the official IU Men’s basketball twitter account AND complimented by Cody Zeller. I slept like a king after a day as full as that one, even if I do need a truckload of aspirin.
I remember the first time I ever did squats during my freshman year of high school. The following day, I felt as if I couldn’t walk. My legs were in excruciating pain, and I had muscles in my legs screaming “WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME?!” As I type this….I feel worse. Maybe the fact that I’m in the worst shape of my life has something to do with it? Nahhhh.
As you explained, strength coach Jeney Jackson put us through the works at the Indiana basketball media challenge. And by that I mean, he made us do three reps of a few of their pre-practice stretches, and we (the media) were all ready to collapse. Thankfully we all made it through the workouts and were able to move on to some of the fun stuff.
After the rigged three-point contest (the winner had an unfair advantage), our IUSportCom team looked pretty dominant in Assembly. We got off to a slow start, but we came together as a unit and persevered (coach-speak).
Seriously though, what a great event that J.D. Campbell continues to put on year after year. I can’t imagine there are too many programs in the country that put on similar events, and it’s a nice time to connect with some of the players, and also showcase that we’ve got a little game ourselves.
With all of that said, what impressed you most from the media challenge? Was it Cody Zeller looking like he had put on serious weight, or maybe Mo Creek putting up shots? Or -the grand daddy of them all – was it Tony Adragna showcasing to the IU coaching staff that maybe they passed up on a hidden gem from Southport High School up in Indy? Ok, maybe not the last one.
Before I get to the basketball related questions, we should reveal the ‘advantage’ that the winner of the student three-point shootout – Michael Felish – enjoyed: he shot in a walking boot (yes, we should all be ashamed).
As for the IU basketball team, there were a few things that stood out to me. First and foremost, a lot of these players have become even more physically imposing. Hanner Mosquera-Perea in particular looks as though he’s put on a ton of muscle and I expect him to contribute to this team pretty early thanks to his superior athleticism and added strength, even if some of his skills are still pretty raw.
You mentioned Cody Zeller looking like he’d put on some serious weight, and that was also certainly the case. Seriously, if someone forgets the kind of growth he’s made since he first committed to Indiana as a senior in high school, just look at his recruiting photo on ESPN or Rivals. He came to campus at 210 pounds, played last season at around 230, and according to Coach Jackson he’s currently carrying around 245 pounds – about 5 more than his officially listed weight. I don’t think many people expected Zeller to dominate the paint during his freshman year in the B1G, but he did just that and more – finishing with the second highest single-season field goal percentage in school history. Now he’s bigger, more skilled and expected to play an expanded role in the offense.
Long story short, everyone on this team is bigger – and in a good way – than when fans would have last seen them on the court, whether that was in high school or college.
One other thing that was really interesting was the response that Yogi Ferrell gave to a question about adjusting the the speed of the college game. Being faster than everyone has always been a part of Yogi’s game and it’s harder to do that at the college level. Ferrell came from a 2A school, and while he’s seen higher levels of competition, this is his first time really playing against a higher level of competition consistently. His answer was encouraging though, because while he acknowledged that the speed of the college game was something that he hadn’t seen before, he also said that he had gotten faster since being on campus and that the speed of his decision-making had improved as well. A quicker, more explosive Yogi Ferrell being plugged into this offense is a pretty exciting concept.
Yeah, about that unfair advantage…..
Anyway, I don’t want to just reiterate what you said, but each and every guy on the team looks like they have packed on some pounds, and in a good way. Even Jordy Hulls looked like a solid piece of muscle, and that’s pretty impressive when you look at his frame his freshman season.
After being put through some of the team’s workouts, I can see how the guys are getting stronger by the day. In all seriousness, a lot of the Hoosiers’ success should go to a guy that won’t get much credit when the lights come on, but Jeney Jackson has built the Hoosiers’ bodies to a point most thought they probably couldn’t reach.
Outside of that, the players seem like a confident bunch, but I’m sure Coach Crean and company will do a good job at keeping them grounded.
As for the media challenge, I hope the players enjoyed it, because I’m sure today was probably the most relaxed setting they’ll see until mid-April.
They were confident, focused and engaged from everything they showed today. While they were relaxed today, we saw some flashes of the competitiveness that Coach Crean and his staff talk about on a daily basis (there was a board in the hallway tallying the results of the different competitions that the players participated in throughout the summer). With as much work as they put in over the offseason, it would be nice to see it pay some serious dividends. Based on a lot of what we heard during Thursday’s availability, it sounds like this team is taking a good approach to make it happen.
Now if only I could get Coach Jackson to give me some pointers on my vertical leap. I really want to catch an alley-oop from Yogi at next year’s media challenge…