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Indiana Basketball: Biggest Challenges for Tom Crean in 2013-14

Kyle GrandFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2013

Indiana Basketball: Biggest Challenges for Tom Crean in 2013-14

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Tom Crean's tenure as Indiana basketball head coach has been a roller coaster ride.

    He inherited a program in shambles. Finally, after multiple losing seasons, things turned around at IU. The Hoosiers made the NCAA tournament two years in a row and even brought home a Big Ten title. 

    Despite the recent success, this season could be very different. Indiana lost the majority of its contributors, creating plenty of uncertainty in Bloomington. 

    Here are the biggest issues facing Crean as the season gets underway. 

What Is Yogi Ferrell?

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Tom Crean is lucky to have Yogi Ferrell, one of the country's best point guards, at his disposal. Ferrell had a great freshman season and should be much improved as a sophomore.

    The thing is, should Crean have Ferrell focus on being a creator or a scorer? There are valid points on both sides of the argument.

    Indiana lost its top-four scorers from a season ago. Ferrell, being the only returning starter, is one of the more seasoned players on an otherwise inexperienced team. 

    He's more than capable of creating his own shot, and with a full offseason under his belt, his shaky jumper should be better.

    On the other hand, Ferrell is going to be surrounded by new faces, mainly freshmen.

    In order to play well, these young players need confidence. A great way to build confidence is through making shots. Ferrell is an excellent distributor and will be able to get them great looks at the basket.

    How to best use Ferrell is something Crean will wrestle with throughout the year. 

How Does He Replace Cody Zeller?

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    Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Spor

    For the past two seasons, Cody Zeller was the main cog in the Hoosiers' wheel. The talented big man was arguably the best post player in the country. He could score, rebound and defend the lane.

    Tom Crean has options to replace him, but all of them are surrounded by questions.

    Hanner Mosquera-Perea was a high-profile recruit but had a subpar freshman year. Did he improve enough in the offseason to finally live up to the hype?

    Peter Jurkin has great size (7'0") but very little experience. Is he ready for the big stage in one of college basketball's toughest conferences?

    Luke Fischer is only a freshman but is very skilled. His game is similar to Zeller's. The problem is, he's been battling injury throughout the preseason. Will Fischer be healthy enough to contribute when the games begin?

    The final and most interesting option is freshman Noah Vonleh. Vonleh, the highest-ranked recruit in this year's class, has the skills of a guard but the size of a post player (6'10", 240 pounds).

    Playing him down low would certainly be a nontraditional idea, but having a quicker, "small ball" lineup might just be what the Hoosiers need. 

    Which direction Crean will go remains to be seen. 

Can Will Sheehey Shoulder the Load?

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    Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

    Will Sheehey is the team's most experienced player. As a senior, he is also Indiana's de facto leader. In all likelihood, last year's Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year is moving into the starting lineup and will be expected to lead this team offensively.

    The one concern is that he's never been the centerpiece of Indiana's attack. 

    Sheehey's made his mark as Indiana's spark plug off the bench. Is he ready to carry the offense?

    Should he even be the primary option?

    If Tom Crean builds the offense around Sheehey, he must preach efficiency to the senior. Sheehey's a capable player, but whether he can be an effective volume shooter remains to be seen. 

    Sheehey must take the right shots at the right time.

    If he isn't the right choice to be the primary option, Crean must figure out who is. 

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