Playing for Pittsburgh last season, transfer guard Josh Newkirk got a taste of Assembly Hall and Indiana’s tradition while playing against the Hoosiers in the Big Ten/ACC challenge.
Now he’s part of the program which looks to add to its collection of five national championship banners this upcoming season.</p>
“Just walking into the gym and just feeling the tradition,” Newkirk said, “you get chills walking into this arena.”
The tradition and pageantry of the program made an impression on Newkirk and was one of the main reasons why he wanted to play for the Hoosiers. Indiana head coach Tom Crean’s reputation for developing players also factored into his decision to depart Pittsburgh for Bloomington.
“Coach Crean has a lot of guys that weren’t highly ranked out of high school, and he developed them into great players,” Newkirk said. “That kind of caught my eye when choosing to come to Indiana.”
Newkirk will have plenty of time to take advantage of Crean’s player development abilities because he must sit out and redshirt this season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.
He said he wants to work on his ball handling and jump shot among other areas. Practicing with and against senior guard Yogi Ferrell will no doubt help him improve.
Ferrell and Newkirk faced off in the Big Ten/ACC challenge last year, matching up as point guards. The biggest thing Newkirk said he took away from that game against Ferrell was Ferrell’s passing ability among other aspects of his game.
“He s sees the floor well, he’s always dribbling with his eyes up, he sees the next play every well,” Newkirk said. “Those are some of the things I’ve picked up on and asked him about, getting pointers on. I’m not just sitting on the sidelines, I’m constantly watching his game. I’m learning everyday.”
Aside from the technical improvements, Newkirk also wants to be a force and practice and push the team to play as hard as it can.
“Just bringing the extra energy to practice, always brining the energy, being a leader and just making practice competitive, that’s my biggest thing,” he said.
Newkirk said he expects to start jogging for the first time since he underwent microfracture knee surgery on May 6 in the next couple of weeks. When he arrived in Indiana in August – the Sunday before fall semester classes started – he had still been rehabbing from that surgery.
Though only with the program for a little over a month, he’s finding ways to stay involved and be a leader. The biggest adjustment has been the inability to participate in practice drills because of his rehab.
However, Crean has kept Newkirk busy.
“Coach Crean has been big on me just talking,” Newkirk said. “On the sideline, I’m not as involved with the drills and stuff. So he just wants to stay active, stay talking, getting touches. I’m just being a leader, getting touches. Those are the main things.”
Being a leader from the sidelines and giving players the best looks in practice while making sure he learns as much as he can is a delicate balance for Newkirk, but it’s one that he’s working on a lot to prepare for this upcoming season and the next.
“I’m just always asking questions,” Newkirk said. “Anything I’ve got a question about, I’m always asking questions (like) how do you do this, how do you do that. A lot of the guys, they’re open to answering questions, they’re been real helpful. That’s been big for me.”
When Newkirk arrives at Assembly Hall each day, he sees the walls lined with Hoosiers who put in as much hard work as he is, reminding him of why he’s here.
“You definitely get reminded of that as soon as you get in here,” Newkirk said. “That’s a big part.”