Credit - IU Athletics

Exit Interviews: Four Things For Damezi Anderson’s 2019-20 Season

Only seven players that saw the floor from the 2018-19 Indiana basketball team will be back for the 2019-20 campaign as of this writing. 

While formal practices have concluded, the work never stops for high major college basketball players.  Growth and development happens in the offseason, in individual workouts and permitted organized team activities.

If you could talk to each of the seven returning players about their 2018-19 season and what they need to improve going forward, what would you say? 

We play Archie for a day and give it a shot with “Exit Interviews.”


Quick 2018-19 Recap:

Anderson appeared in 21 games and averaged 9.6 minutes per contest.  The South Bend, Ind. native made 27.9% of his shots from the field including 23.3% (7-for-30) from three-point range.

Anderson averaged 1.5 points and 1.1 rebounds per game.  He contributed 8 assists while committing 11 turnovers.

Primary Developmental Needs:

1. Do what you do best. More than anything else, Anderson came to IU with a reputation as a perimeter shooter.  Of course, things didn’t go well in year one.  That’s history.  Anderson is better than this.  Much better.  Good shooters just have to keep shooting and build confidence.  Victor Oladipo shot 21% from three-point range as a sophomore and 44% as a junior.  It can be done.

Anderson made 53-of-134 (39.6%) tries from behind the arc during his final AAU season, and then improved upon that rate during his senior year of high school.  The talent is there.  Anderson looked confident at Hoosier Hysteria, in the preseason game and at times in the nonconference. But at some point the confidence seemed to vanish.

His greatest talent is Indiana’s greatest need.  There is no more clear path for Anderson to see the floor and stay on the floor than to become a confident and lights out three-point shooter.

2. Play with an edge. Was he forced into action before he was ready due to IU’s injury situation?  Probably.  But there were times when Anderson appeared to be lost and timid on the court.  There are a lot of things you cannot control, but you can always play with passion, bring energy, and fire up your teammates.  Anderson has to transition from unsure to unafraid as a sophomore.  He has to develop a nastiness and a ferocity on a team that has sorely lacked such players during Archie Miller’s first two years.

The bottom line?  Anderson needs to take it personally that people are doubting him and play with a chip on his shoulder.

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3.  Improve that handle.  While his best path to the rotation is with his jump-shot, Anderson cannot be one-dimensional in the Big Ten.  The coaching is too good for that.  Anderson needs to read his defender and the help and improve his game off the bounce — especially with his off hand.

Whether it is the fast break, mid-range, getting to and finishing at the rim, or drawing help and finding teammates — those are all areas that can be enhanced by better handles and will make Anderson a much more complete player on the offensive end of the floor.

4. Become a student of the defense. Let’s face it, there were times when Anderson looked lost on defense and IU paid the price.  There were hints before the season that defense might be a year one challenge for him — and it was.  He was a freshman.  His high school team played a completely different style.  It happens.

But sophomores in college basketball are veterans.

Anderson needs to own every detail of the pack-line defense including the help concepts and ball screen coverages.  He has to go from learning the details to executing them.  Anderson has the length, strength and athleticism to be impactful on the defensive end, but his actions need to become more instinctual rather than reactionary.

What Success Looks Like in 2019-20

There is no player on the Indiana team more capable of a big year-over-year eye opening jump than Anderson.  Is he going to start every game and average 20 points?  No.  But we didn’t see the best of Anderson in 2018-19.  Not even close.

Success might be something along the lines of Anderson working his way into a regular spot in the rotation, playing 15 minutes a game and averaging five or six points, two or three rebounds and an assist.

If he can do that while seeing a substantial increase in his shooting percentages, minimizing turnovers and becoming a solid defender, Anderson will then be set up for what should be a very strong final two years as an upperclassman.

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