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Eyeing IU

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Crean likes Hoosiers' upside

Indiana coach Tom Crean held a wide-ranging press conference on Tuesday.

The one line that caught some attention was Crean giving a nod of legitimacy to his critics, who grew louder after the Hoosiers missed the NCAA tournament and NIT last season.

"We didn't have enough consistency," he said. "You know what, certain things last year, I would have booed me, too. I really would. We were trying to get guys in and find some type of consistency on the court, and we didn't have enough of it."

Crean said his vision for this year's offense is something like Erik Spoelstra's "pace and space" system with the Miami Heat.

Let's sort through some of the other remarks, touching on the important points raised with each player.

Yogi Ferrell: Crean offered glowing praise of Ferrell as a defender, calling him one of the best players in the country on that end of the floor.

Where the point guard needs to improve, Crean said, is in earning trips to the free throw line. Ferrell worked on adding strength this offseason in order to play more physical.

"You have to get fouled," Crean said. "Yogi has got to be that much more versatile. Yogi has to be able to get to the rim."

Not surprisingly, Ferrell, who'll be a junior, is looked at even more as the leader of the program now that Will Sheehey graduated.

"His leadership is emerging," Crean said. "It's ongoing like everybody else's. He kind of epitomizes our team. We're kind of talking about him like he's a senior. We are going to be an extremely young team, and there's no doubt about that."

Stanford Robinson: Driving the ball is already a big part of Robinson's game, but he has plenty of room to improve as a finisher.

"Stan can get fouled, but Stan has got to build explosiveness into his game that is consistent, and he's really working hard to get to that," Crean said. "He's getting stronger. He's probably benching right now 225 (pounds), probably 245, somewhere in there. He's growing."

Crean said Robinson could become a lockdown defender in the form of Victor Oladipo.

Hanner Mosquera-Perea: Remember when Crean drew eye rolls for saying Jordan Hulls could play in the NBA? He made the same connection with HMP, although it was qualified.

"If he gets consistent, he's going to play in the NBA," Crean said. "There's no question about that, with that athleticism, that length, that talent and that body and speed that he's capable of. He's got to become consistent because he epitomizes what we need."

Crean seemed sincere about Hulls, and at least he had one elite skill. HMP is far removed from even being on the fringes of NBA consideration. Here, it's more a case of Crean trying to motivate the player. HMP's been a tough nut to crack the past two years, and Crean is trying some different strategies.

Devin Davis: It's not hard to envision Davis playing a big role. Crean called him the strongest player on the team, which, combined with the fact that Davis runs well, could make him a solid, if undersized, center.

"He came in here benching just over 200 and he's now at 285," Crean said. "His feet are improving. His speed is improving. Big key with him is the versatility. He's going to have to be able to do multiple things for us."

Collin Hartman: Crean said there is no timetable for Hartman's recovery from knee surgery and said it was too early to see if Hartman would take a redshirt.

"We'll take our time," Crean said. "We won't rush him."

James Blackmon Jr./Robert Johnson: Crean said the freshman guards will have to play quality defense.

Nick Zeisloft: The takeaway is that Crean doesn't view the Illinois State transfer as filler. Crean's not shy about talking up Zeisloft.

"When we found out about him, we watched every shot that he took for the season, watched his turnovers, watched probably seven or eight games, because I wanted to be right," Crean said. "I wanted us to look at this and say, 'OK, if we're going to do this, let's make sure this fits.' I think there's a lot there. I think there's a lot there."

And don't view him as just a shooter, either.

"There's athleticism, there's a tenacity," Crean said. "I'm going to be shocked if there's not a toughness level that I think is going to be high for us based on what I've seen."

Nate Ritchie: Crean loves Ritchie's athleticism.

"He came up here and worked out," Crean said. "I had seen him on film a little bit. He was coming to Indiana. He had turned down offers of other Division I schools and there was no question after his on campus evaluation that he's going to be part of our team. Willing learner, quick learner. He wants to be really good. I love his athleticism and pop."

Ryan Burton: Sounds like an intangibles guy.

"I wish I would have known about Ryan last year, even though he would not have been able to play," Crean said. "It would have been great to have him in our environment last year. He would have helped bring a maturity just like that to our team."

Tim Priller: Priller, Ritchie and Burton are all going to be in direct competition with one another. There's overlap in their skill sets.

"My basic message to Tim is: If you catch it and are open, you shoot it," Crean said. "That's 52 percent from 3. He's a little bit situational right now, but I think he's going to grow out of that because he's got a great work ethic."

Jeremiah April: Crean said he isn't sure what the 7-footer can contribute this season, so April may be a project.

"His speed is getting better," Crean said. "He's learning a lot. He's got a lot to learn but he's a willing learner."