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Indiana Basketball: Toughest Lineup Decisions for Tom Crean in 2013-14

Kyle GrandFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2013

Indiana Basketball: Toughest Lineup Decisions for Tom Crean in 2013-14

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    As has been known for a long time now, this year's Indiana basketball team is going to look completely different than last season's. The Hoosiers added an abundance of new faces, including one of the top freshman classes in the country. 

    With so much change, it's still unknown who is going to be in Indiana's rotation. Luckily for Tom Crean, he has plenty of options, but that won't make his decision-making any easier. 

    This slideshow will examine the biggest lineup decisions facing Tom Crean. The decisions were ranked based on how integral they are to the team's success. 

3. Who Gives Will a Break?

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Will Sheehey has a lot on his plate this season. Not only is he tasked with leading the offense, but he will also likely guard the best player on the other team.

    It's a lot to ask of him every game, and he will definitely need rest. There are plenty of players trying to be his backup, but there are concerns with each player. 

    Sophomore Jeremy Hollowell is certainly the most qualified. He showed flashes of brilliance last year, but Crean might want to use him at power forward.

    The next candidates are newcomers Troy Williams and Devin Davis. Williams is a more high-profile recruit, but he recently hurt his shooting hand and is expected to be out several weeks. Who knows if he will be ready to play when the season starts?

    Davis' game is solid. He can get to the rim and finish, but his jump shot is a concern.

    Redshirt sophomore Austin Etherington is another choice, but he is returning from a serious knee injury he suffered last season. How effective will he be coming back from such a long layoff?  

    The dark-horse candidate is freshman Collin Hartman. His game is in the mold of former Hoosier Matt Roth, except Hartman is bigger and more athletic. His deadly three-point shooting could be enough to get him on the court, but his defense is a liability.

    Crean has a diverse range of options at his disposal. Now, he must figure out who fits best. 

2. Yogi Ferrell And...

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Yogi Ferrell is poised to be an all-conference point guard. After averaging 4.2 assists per game as a freshman, expectations are high for him.

    As good as he is, he isn't Superman. Ferrell will get tired or be in foul trouble and have to head to the bench. 

    Someone must be Indiana's floor general when Ferrell isn't unavailable.

    There are three likely choices, but only one of them, Jonny Marlin, is a true point guard.

    Marlin transferred to Indiana from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. He put up modest numbers there (4.3 PPG, 3.5 APG), but is he really ready for power conference college basketball?

    The other candidates, Evan Gordon and incoming freshman Stanford Robinson, are natural shooting guards.

    Each can handle the ball and defend the position, but these players are scorers, not distributors. They are used to running off screens and playing on the wings, not constantly dribbling the ball.

    To make things even more complicated, Crean still needs a starting shooting guard and would definitely like to use Gordon or Robinson for the role.

    Basically, Crean's hands are tied. Even though Gordon and Robinson aren't used to being point guards, it doesn't seem like they will have a choice.

    A likely scenario for Indiana's backcourt is a three-man rotation of Ferrell, Gordon and Robinson.

    What Crean must decide next is who to pair with Ferrell in the starting lineup.

1. Man in the Middle?

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    With Cody Zeller's departure, Tom Crean has All-American sized shoes to fill.  

    His main options are sophomores Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin or freshman Luke Fischer.

    The first two don't inspire much confidence. The other hasn't played a game of college basketball. 

    Last year as freshmen, Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin had less-than-stellar seasons. Both started the year suspended, and it didn't get much better when they returned to the court.

    Mosquera-Perea only played in 20 games, averaging just 0.9 points and 1.5 rebounds per contest.

    Jurkin saw minutes in nine games. He was injured for the majority of the season.

    Fischer will definitely be competition to Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin. He's big (6'11", 230 lbs), has great low-post moves and rebounds well (averaged 9.5 boards per game as a high school senior).

    A likely scenario is the starting center will be either Mosquera-Perea or Fischer. Going with the more experienced player is the safer idea, but if the competition between the two is close, Crean will have a very tough decision.

    If none of those players prove to be sufficient, Crean might have to go in a completely different direction. He could employ a smaller lineup with Jeremy Hollowell at power forward and Noah Vonleh at center.

    Vonleh can score from the post, outside and in transition. A smaller, quicker Indiana lineup featuring Vonleh as the big man gives the Hoosiers a totally different look and could prove to be dangerous.

    The disadvantage would be that the Big Ten has plenty of quality big men (i.e., Purdue's A.J. Hammons, Michigan's Mitch McGary and Michigan State's Adreian Payne). A small lineup would likely struggle against those players.

    The route Crean goes in trying to replace Zeller could determine the outcome of Indiana's season. 

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