For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio
BLOOMINGTON -- So now we know – Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell is a three-point threat.
Granted, it came without a defender or game pressure, but in the hype that is Hoosier Hysteria, did it matter?
Not at all, especially to the 10,000 or so fans on hand Friday night.
Ferrell has made improved outside shooting a priority since last season's Sweet 16 loss to Syracuse and its offense-wrecking 2-3 zone. The word was he'd improved dramatically, but there had been no public proof.
Until Friday night.
Ferrell beat the Hoosier men by making 18 of 25 three-point attempts, then won the overall competition over women's player Kaila Hulls (the younger sister of former Hoosier Jordan Hulls) by making 17 three-pointers to Hulls' 13.
For the record, Ferrell hit a three-pointer during the 16-minute scrimmage that wrapped up the annual event.
Right before the scrimmage ended, freshman guard Stanford Robinson bruised a knee and was helped to the locker room. Coach Tom Crean said he hoped it wasn't serious.
Three other freshmen didn't play because of injuries – forward Troy Williams because of a hand injury, forward Noah Vonleh because of a sprained ankle and center Luke Fischer because of a shoulder injury. Williams is expected to return to practice next week. Vonleh likely will do the same. Fischer is another week or two away from returning.
In the dunk contest, freshman Devin Davis beat sophomore forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea with a dunk that generated perfect 10s from judges that included injured Williams, ex-Hoosiers Matt Roth and Pat Graham, the parents of former Hoosier Cody Zeller -- Steve and Lorri.
The Hoosiers also raised a new banner for last year's Big Ten championship, their first outright conference title since 1993.
All this came after a two-hour practice earlier in the day. Crean summed up the state of the Hoosiers this way:
“The bottom line with this team is we have a lot of old habits to break and new habits to build.”
Crean pushed one big theme to the Assembly Hall crowd and, of course, the multiple recruits on hand that included Virginia forward Devin Robinson:
“We're ready to go to work. We're a hard-nosed, blue-collar work program.”
IU remains a work in progress, which is what you'd expect when adding seven newcomers and six freshmen and returning only two main players (point guard Yogi Ferrell, swingman Will Sheehey).
“I think the last (few) days sum up where we're at,” Crean said. “When we practice the way we did (Wednesday), we've got a chance to be a really good team. When we don't have the driving forces driving us past fatigue and driving us past mistakes and living in the past and being focused on ourselves and practice the way we did at times (Tuesday), it could be a long year.”
After coaching through Cream 'n Crimson misery in his first three years because of NCAA sanctions, after reaping the rewards from consecutive Sweet 16 seasons, Crean has no intention of having any more long years.
“The whole trick is,” he said, “how do we address what needs to be addressed daily and stay with it the next day.”
One way -- run opponents into the ground, and the Hoosiers when they don't defend to their coach's liking.
“I would say on the court, we have a chance to be a really good running team and a really good rebounding team,” Crean said.
“I would say the things that scare me a little bit right now, we can't become a turnover team that doesn't get really good shots. We don't have the amount of consistent, been-there, done-that type of shooters that we had here the last couple of years. We have to continue to make sure that that ball continues to move.”
Crean has other fears, which goes with the coaching territory.
“I'm scared to death about the communication. The communication on defense right now is something that's a crisis for us. It's not a crisis because it's five days in, but it's a crisis because if we don't get it, if we don't have great communication with this young of a team, they don't have their experience to fall back on.
“They've got to be together on this on the communication. I always say defense is about exclamation points and offense is about bullet points.
“You've got to be emphatic with, 'Help! Ball! Switch!' whatever it is. You've got to be emphatic with that. And that's going to take us a while. That's my greatest fear, that that takes us too long.
“We'll get it. And like I tell our guys, we're either going to get it, or we're going to be marathon runners, because we're going to run until we figure it out.”