INDIANAPOLIS (November 12, 2015) -- Yogi Ferrell. Troy Williams. James Blackmon, Jr. Thomas Bryant. The list doesn't stop there. The 2015-16 Indiana Basketball roster is littered with talent, and its head coach is anxious to see it play a game that counts.
"I'm excited to see us get started," said Tom Crean.
During an offseason that continued a trend of off-court trouble, Crean publicly challenged his players to shape-up and assume leadership roles. He says it's a work in progress, but he believes progress is being made.
"We've been through some tough things, and we've had the consequences that we've had to pay for the choices," Crean said. "But I do think they're learning."
Ferrell is the heartbeat of the Hoosiers. The Park Tudor graduate enters his final campaign in Bloomington following an outstanding junior season that saw him average 16.3 points, 4.9 assists, and shoot better than 41 percent from three-point range. Crean lauds his effort and hopes he'll make sure his teammates play the same way he does.
"He plays hard every possession. I mean every possession," Crean said. "Getting his teammates to understand that level and holding them to that, and them wanting to play that hard for him because he's playing that hard, I think he's got to continue to bridge that gap."
Last season, though the Hoosiers reached the NCAA Tournament as a 7-seed. They won 20 games but went just 9-9 in Big Ten play. Part of what ailed them was a lack of interior size. Offseason additions Thomas Bryant (6-10 freshman) and Max Bielfeldt (6-8 graduate transfer) should help the Hoosiers defend in the paint.
Crean is especially high on Bryant, a top-rated recruit.
"I think Thomas is going to get better and better with what he does. With moving his feet, with rotating, with blocking shots. He plays with tremendous energy," said Crean.
The potential is clearly there. Crean knows it. But he also knows potential won't win any championships.
"We have a team of workers. The sense of our guys really wanting to work and get better and be in the gym extra, we're really good there. Will they hold each other accountable for what they have to do? That's the sign of a championship team. That's what I don't know yet. We've got to work towards that," said Crean.
No. 15 IU opens its season Friday night when it hosts Eastern Illinois at Assembly Hall.