ROSEMONT, Ill. — The preseason accolades continue to pile up for Indiana.
The Hoosiers occupied the top spot in the Big Ten’s preseason media poll, released Thursday at the conference’s media day at Hyatt Regency-O’Hare. Sophomore forward Cody Zeller was named the Preseason Player of the Year.
Zeller also earned a spot – along with Bishop Luers graduate and Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas – on the Preseason All-Big Ten team.
Indiana is already ranked the No. 1 team in the country in the USA Today’s Preseason Coaches Poll. The Hoosiers will likely sit atop The Associated Press poll, which will be released today.
One of the team’s strength is its depth. That will be tested with Wednesday’s news of an injury to forward Derek Elston. The senior suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee.
“To have this happen is kind of frustrating, but I’ve been through it (before),” Elston said Thursday. “It’s not like I’m going to be out for the season. In that instance, I’m pretty happy about that.”
IU coach Tom Crean said Elston will have surgery today.
“We have been dealing with other injuries this week, with Hanner Mosquera-Perea out again (foot), and you hate to say it’s part of it, but the disappointment is for (Elston) in the sense that he’s been playing at a good level, working hard, improving, and I don’t see this taking away a season or anything like that,” Crean said.
The 6-foot-9 Elston averaged 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds mostly as a reserve last season.
Elston said he hasn’t heard a timetable for a return. Initial reports said he could miss up to eight weeks. He also suffered a knee injury in high school.
“He’s been a tremendous leader, without question. He’s been as good as anybody in the program at trying to help younger players. I don’t think that will change even if he’s going through the rehab,” Crean said.
Elston said he took himself out of Hoosier Hysteria last Saturday and couldn’t do anything the next couple of days at practice. He then had an MRI, which led to the news of the injury.
“Coach Crean has been huge in kind of keeping my head up,” Elston said.
“The guys couldn’t believe it when they heard the news. But they’ve had me in their thoughts and prayers, and I appreciate that. I’ll be on the court as soon as I know it,” Elston added.
Meanwhile, he’ll help the team in other ways.
“I know the process is going to take me awhile and I’m probably going to get frustrated a little bit through it because I just want to be out there with the guys,” he said, “but I guess now is where my leadership skills come out and I try to help this team any way that I can.”
Note: Zeller and Thomas were joined by Trey Burke (Michigan), Tim Frazier (Penn State) and Aaron Craft (Ohio State) on the preseason All-Big Ten team.