Hoosiers ready for season of big expectations

Hoosiers ready for season of big expectations

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) The Indiana Hoosiers have seen some of the preseason rankings and have heard people talking all over campus.

Clearly, they're aware of the debate about whether they'll be playing for a national championship in the spring.

Inside the locker room, the Hoosiers have chosen to stay away from the discussion and focus on the things that matter most - getting stronger, getting quicker and exceeding their own goals rather than those being set by the outsiders.

``You know, we were here when nobody was talking about us, so it's a humbling experience when everyone is talking about you,'' junior swingman Victor Oladipo said Thursday. ``Look we love accolades, we love recognition, but we know none of that matters right now.''

By April, it might.

The pundits are raving about Indiana's freshmen class, pitching center Cody Zeller as a player of the year candidate and talking about the Hoosiers in the same breath as perennial college basketball blue-bloods like Duke, Kansas and North Carolina.

There hasn't been this much preseason excitement in Bloomington since 2002-03, the year after Indiana finished as the national runner-up, and Hoosiers fans say it's about time.

Last season, Indiana made one of the most dramatic turnarounds in college basketball. After three straight losing seasons, the Hoosiers upset three top-five teams, including No. 1 Kentucky on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, and reached the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament for the first time since Tom Crean took over as coach.

So when Crean got most of his key players back and one of the nation's top recruiting classes, the natural assumption was that the Hoosiers could win it all.

``I don't know that we've really set any goals as a team, but obviously, we want to win a national championship,'' Zeller said. ``We're not going to guarantee anything, we're just going to play and see where it takes us.''

Crean is eager to see what he has.

Although a new NCAA rule allowed him to lead small groups of players through short practices this summer, Crean has not really had a chance to see his team together in months.

Indiana will hold its first official workout, a closed practice that will be televised by ESPN, next Friday. Indiana doesn't plan to hold its traditional Hoosier Hysteria festivities until Oct. 20.

``I don't think we spend much time talking about that,'' Crean said, referring to this year's soaring expectations. ``They understand we're trying to raise the standard of play here. We've got to continue to grow to a point where we're really consistent and we've got to have a toughness about us. It's not about being arrogant or cocky or being tough when you're ahead by 10 points, but being tough when you're down five or six on the road. We're spending our time getting the best skills out of them that we can.''

There's no telling how good the Hoosiers might be

If freshman Yogi Ferrell emerges as the starting point guard, as many anticipate, senior Jordan Hulls and Oladipo, a junior, may spend more time playing their natural shooting roles.

If Maurice Creek is healthy enough to become a contributor, as Hoosiers fans hope, that will be an added bonus.

Even Zeller looks different. He says he's grown about a half-inch since last year, measuring an even 7-feet in his shoes, and has bulked up to 240 pounds. He played most of last year between 225 and 230 pounds.

And while the combination has certainly created a stir outside Assembly Hall, Crean spent the summer going back to the basics..

``I've never incorporated more drill aspects than I did this year because I think it's really, really important,'' he said.

Will the combination allow the Hoosiers to meet the hype?

The players hope so.

``We're not throwing anything out,'' said Hulls, who was wearing a T-shirt celebrating Indiana's tourney run. ``We'd like to win every single game we play, of course.''

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Oklahoma star freshman Trae Young to enter NBA Draft

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Oklahoma star freshman Trae Young to enter NBA Draft

After a sensational freshman season at the University of Oklahoma, point guard Trae Young plans to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, according to a report by ESPN.

Young will be one of the most fascinating prospects in this class given the extreme highs and lows of his one college season. He vaulted into the top 10 in most mock drafts after beginning his freshman year on fire, but then began to slip over the final months as his shooting percentage dropped.


Right now the Wizards are lined up to be in the late teens, so it's unlikely he falls to their range. But at this point it's difficult to predict where he will go, whether that is top five or later in the lottery.

It really could go either way. Some teams may see him as a Steph Curry-like scorer who can hit shots from unusually deep range. There were certainly times where Young backed up those comparisons.

Teams could see his flaws as a result of opposing defenses honing in on him because they could at the college level. In the NBA he may have more space and therefore be able to play to his strengths.


Or, teams could look at the fact he shot 36.1 percent from three on a whopping 10.2 attempts per game as a sign he is a chucker. He also led the nation in turnovers, commiting 24 more than the next guy. Young averaged 5.2 giveaways per game.

While Curry is the best-case scenario, Jimmer Fredette may be the worst-case. Fredette was the 10th overall pick in 2011 and now plays in China. 

Young will be an intriguing prospect in the draft because the ceiling is high and the basement is low. 

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Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source


Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source

The Redskins hosted Sylvester Williams for a free agency visit on Tuesday morning, per a source with knowledge of the situation. 

Williams played in 2017 with the Titans, logging 20 tackles in 11 starts. Tennessee released Williams this offseason, just one year into a three-year, $16 million deal. 

Drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 313 lbs. Williams' stat line has never really popped. That isn't uncommon for a nose tackle though, as the job is less about tackles than it is holding leverage against the interior of an offensive line. 


Should the Redskins sign 29-year-old Williams, it would represent the first true nose tackle free agency addition since Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton joined the team in 2015 from Denver. In an ironic twist, Williams took over at nose in Denver when Knighton left for Washington, and posted his best season as a Bronco. 

Washington restructured its deal with Terrell McClain, reported first by ESPN, which could allow more flexibility to add another defensive lineman. That could come in the draft, but the club has been very active talking with free agents to play on the defensive front. 

On Monday, Johnathan Hankins and Pernell McPhee visited with Redskins officials in Ashburn. Hankins would carry the heaviest price tag, but his past performance would also indicate the most promise. 

McPhee is an edge rusher with enough bulk to play against the run as well. Williams compares more with Hankins, and could be seen as the secondary option.

Among 79 nose tackles Pro Football Focus graded, Williams ranked 36th. For comparison, Bengals star Geno Atkins ranked No. 1, Dontari Poe ranked 26th, former Redskin Chris Baker ranked 65th and current Redskin Ziggy Hood ranked 79th. 

It's also worth noting that since the Titans released Williams, should the Redskins sign the nose tackle, his contract would not count towards the NFL compensatory pick formula. 

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