BLOOMINGTON-When Errek Suhr first looked at the 2005-06 Indiana roster, he knew playing time wouldn't come easily.
For himself, or for anyone else, for that matter.
After all, the Hoosiers had as many as a dozen players who appeared capable of playing significant roles on a team that was picked by most to contend for a Big Ten title. Mike Davis' squad appeared two or even three deep at just about every position, giving the IU coach the sort of personnel he hadn't had in his first five years as head coach.
It didn't seem like a situation that was very conducive for quality minutes for the 5'8" one-time walk-on from nearby Bloomington North H.S.
"It would be tough to have said I'd have an opportunity to play this year," said Suhr.
But Suhr has managed to earn more than just mop up minutes for the 11th-ranked Hoosiers. He's played in 13 of 16 games and is averaging 4.0 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 13.9 minutes. That includes a 21-minute outing Tuesday against Iowa, when he scored three points and added a team-high three assists while helping fill in for an injured Marshall Strickland.
Despite his diminutive stature, Suhr has worked his way onto the floor with an effort level that is never in question, and an outside shot that is vastly improved from where it was in high school. He helped lead North to a series of deep runs in the Indiana high school state playoffs with his defense, leadership and passing, rather than his scoring.
"I couldn't shoot very well (in high school), to be honest," said Suhr, an Indiana All-Star. "I had my games and my moments, but that wasn't really my job. Back in high school, I looked shot maybe third. Defense first, pass second, and shooting third."
When he was invited to walk-on to the IU program three years ago, though, he knew he'd have to work on that area of his game if he ever wanted to be more than a practice player. While his intensity and tenacity were welcomed on the practice floor, Davis let it be known that he'd have to become more of a threat on the perimeter.
"Coach Davis has really stressed being able to hit shots in the corner and on the wings and I've really taken that to heart," said Suhr.
In the off-season Suhr spent countless hours in the gym working with team managers and coaches and IU's shooting gun to get as many shots up as possible in his quest to become a perimeter threat.
"This past summer, the number of shots I put up was in the thousands," said Suhr. "Growing up, my dad always told me you can never shoot enough. I never bought into that until I got here in college. The work ethic that is needed is something a lot of people don't understand."
Suhr is reaping the rewards. He's shooting 58.6 percent from the floor, including a Big Ten-best 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from behind the 3-point arc. That's a marked improvement from a year ago, when Suhr was just 5-of-19 from 3-point range.
Now that he's vastly improved his shooting stroke, Suhr is working on some other elements of his game so that he can continue to become a more valuable part of Indiana's rotation.
"This year I've been working on handling the ball and being able to do stuff besides just spot up shoot," said Suhr. "Every day in practice, working with Coach (Kerry) Rupp, being able to play at this kind of level with the ball, instead of just on the wing. That's something I've been working on. Whether I'm improving or not, that's yet to be seen. But I've been working on that real hard."
Suhr admits he has a ways to go in that regard, but if he can develop his ball-handling skills to the point that he can bring the ball up the floor against the league's most dangerous ball thieves, he knows he'll become even more valuable to Davis' team, both this year and next.
"I think I'm a work in progress at point guard, and that's what I've been working on this year," said Suhr. "I'd say I'm fourth string as a point guard right now."
He might not be the first choice for Davis at either of the backcourt spots, but he's an option nonetheless. Few foresaw him being that when the season started, but Suhr has overcome some long odds and managed to stake his claim to a spot in IU's backcourt rotation.
"Every year is new for me and everyone," said Suhr. "I don't think anyone has a spot. I've really taken that to heart that every year I have to come out and play harder than the year before. I don't think too much about the roster or anything like that – I just try to work my hardest and hopefully things work out."
Thus far, they've done just that.
Suhr Glad To Get His Shot
Peegs.com Top Stories
Freddie McSwain close to returnJunior college transfer Freddie McSwain speaks to his return to full go action and his transition to high major basketball at Indiana.
Quality 'Priller Time' in Hysteria scrimmageJunior forward Tim Priller had back-to-back baskets in a stretch during Saturday's Hoosier Hysteria scrimmage to show he's improved his game. Before that he sat down with Peegs.com…
Tackles adding up for Tegray ScalesIt has been a long time since Indiana has seen a player rack up the tackles like Tegray Scales has this season.
2016 Indiana Football Scholarship ChartCheck out the Peegs.com 2016 Scholarship Chart for the Indiana Football team.