Here are five important topics, among others, that Indiana head coach Tom Crean touched on during his preseason media availability Thursday:
***INDIANA STARTS PRACTICE FRIDAY
The first official day of practice begins Friday (Oct. 2) for the Hoosiers, who have been working hard over the summer with workouts in Cook Hall and a sandpit. Crean said the Hoosiers will start Friday morning, going twice that day then once Saturday.
"With the practices starting so early, it's really important that, to me, that we continue to stay that it's still preseason, which means your conditioning has got to continue to get better, that your strength has got to continue to get better," Crean said. "And we're in really good shape from where we sit right now on October 1 when it comes to our cardiovascular, when it comes to our fitness. You want to continue to stay on that pace."
***BLACKMON JR.'S HEALTH
Sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. tore his meniscus over the summer and spent the remainder of the Hoosiers' offseason workouts recoverying recoverying from the injury. In July, Crean suggested Blackmon could return by September at the latest.
Blackmon has returned to practice, but Crean acknowledged Blackmon needs to make more progress.
"James has been going full-tilt, but he missed a lot," Crean said. "But he's out there able to go full-go, he's just still got a ways to go building his body back up."
***JOSH NEWKIRK'S INVOLVEMENT AND THE TEAM'S HEALTH AS A WHOLE
Newkirk, a transfer guard from Pittsburgh, had surgery to repair the lateral miniscus and a microfracture in his left knee. When he joined Indiana in late August, he was still rehabbing that injury.
At a mid-September media availability, Newkirk sounded hopeful that he would start jogging in the next couple of weeks from that day. However much progress he's made hasn't been enough, though, as he will be the only player not healthy enough to participate Friday according to Crean.
"We've tried to be extremely creative in our workouts with him," Crean said. "And even though he can really move only in a short space, hopefully he feels like his fundamentals are getting a lot better insdie of that. We'll be anxiously awaiting him to do more as every week goes on. But him coming in and getting better, improving his game, building his leadership, those things have been good for us."
***MORGAN AND ANUNOBY'S PROGRESS
Much has been said about the gains made by freshman big man Thomas Bryant, the heralded Huntington Prep product and centerpiece of Indiana's 2015 recruiting class. On Friday, Crean praised the progress made by Bryant's other two classmates, Juwan Morgan and O.G. Anunoby.
Crean said Morgan increased his squat by 130 pounds, his bench by at least 80 pounds, and increased his vertical by three inches, while Anunoby had the second-strongest legs on the team and made the biggest jump over the summer.
"Those two are really hard workers," Crean said. "O.G. fits into that Oladipo-Sheehey-Hulls mode of really being around here a lot to work on his game."
***ACCESS TO ASSEMBLY HALL WITH RENOVATIONS
Public groundbreaking for Assembly Hall's renvations occured on April 7. Though construction continues and has ramped up since then, it hasn't affected the team's access even though they've been mostly practicing in Cook Hall.
"It's been good, it's been really good," Crean said. "But we'll move it around a little bit."
However, Crean did express some concern over not being able to practice in that environment.
"I'm definitely concerned about not being in an arena-type environment, because we practice at least 95 percent of our time for our practices in Assembly Hall, and so we don't have that. You do the best, and my hope is that we're ready to be in there when Hoosier Hysteria comes but a lot of things can change. It's certainly not for a lack of work."