Bloomington – Indiana's coaching staff is looking for more than just good players. They're also looking for good teammates.
As IU assistants Tim Buckley and Bennie Seltzer have been parading around the country this spring to a variety of high-profile AAU basketball tournaments, both have been looking for more than just point, rebounds and assists. They're also keeping an eye out for the sort of intangibles that mean plenty when it comes to team chemistry.
"The number one thing is character," Buckley said. "We'd prefer they have it and not be it."
With head coach Tom Crean only having limited opportunities to go on the road to evaluate talent due to IU's self-imposed penalties, much of that responsibility has fallen to Buckley and Seltzer during the last month. Both have been at a variety of venues this spring looking at prospects for the 2008, 2009, 2010 and even 2011 classes.
The easy part, according to Seltzer, is figuring who has the skills to play at the collegiate level. The more challenging part of the equation is determining who will be a good fit in the IU program. That's why he spends plenty of time looking at the kinds of things that others might overlook.
Seltzer said he's looking to see if a player is willing to do the dirty work such as diving for a loose ball and standing his ground on the defensive end to take a charge. Beyond that, he's also looking to see how a player interacts with his teammates and his coaches.
"If a kid makes a mistake and the coach takes him out, does he give everybody five when he walks down the bench, or does he pout," Seltzer said. "If someone gives him a great pass and he scores a basket, does he give him a point to let him know, ‘hey, good pass.' Does he pat a guy on the butt to let him know it's going to be okay when his teammate messes up? Those are the things that make a great teammate."
As cliché as it might sound, this Indiana staff says those are the types of things that are prerequisites for players that are going to be a part of the IU program going forward.
"I don't think you can sacrifice character for talent," Buckley said.
In its effort to find those kinds of players, IU will recruit anywhere and everywhere. The state of Indiana figures to be where everything will start, and Buckley's long-standing ties in the Hoosier state will help in that endeavor. But Seltzer said there are no areas that are off limits. He said he's already been as far west as California and as far east as Washington D.C. to recruit since his arrival.
"Being at Indiana, that gives you the opportunity to recruit nationally," Seltzer said.
Indiana has already added three players to its '08 recruiting class since Crean, Buckley and Seltzer arrived, and they have also added a pair of '09 commits as well. While that's a slew of commitments in a small window of time, Seltzer said the staff makes sure it's not prematurely offering players before they get a read of their skills and character. That's why Seltzer said he likes to see a player four or five times before he's convinced that he'd be a good fit. Even then, he also wants Crean to take a look as well to make sure he sees what Seltzer sees.
"I think (Crean) trusts our evaluations, but I would like for Coach Crean to see kids that I'd like to offer," Seltzer said.
On top of the on-the-court skills and the off-the-court character, both coaches said they're also looking for players they think have the sort of energy that would make them a good match for Crean's system as well.
"Coach is a high energy guy, and I think it helps to have players that have a high energy and a passion for basketball like he does," Buckley said.
What's Indiana Looking For?
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