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Indiana Basketball 2018-19 Player Previews: Zach McRoberts

The 2018-19 Indiana University men’s basketball season is right around the corner.  To help get you ready, The Daily Hoosier is profiling every player on the 2018-19 IU roster.  You can see all of our 2018-19 player profiles in one place here.  If you are looking for the 2018-19 IU basketball schedule, you can find that here.


Okay, we admit it.  We’ve been fawning over Zach McRoberts.  From his return to the game to admiring his unrelenting effort despite not receiving a well deserved scholarship, it would be fair to call it a basketball crush.

If you are just a casual fan, you probably can’t see what all the hype is about. Unlike most beloved basketball players, with McRoberts, it isn’t about statistics.

Oh sure, he has them, like establishing a new Crossroads Classic record with 7 offensive rebounds, finishing 2nd in Big Ten games only in steals, and 5th in overall steals in the Big Ten.  He also led the Hoosiers last year, shooting 39.4% from three-point range.  McRoberts committed just 18 turnovers in 613 minutes last year.

But as Archie Miller said multiple times last year, when it comes to the redshirt senior from Carmel, Indiana, it’s about much more than statistics.  Zach McRoberts makes “winning plays”.  He’s first to the floor for a loose ball, in the right position on defense, makes the extra pass, and every other hustle play you can imagine.

His most memorable game of the 2017-18 season was in Indianapolis against Notre Dame.  McRoberts played 29 minutes and had an IU career-high nine boards against the Irish.  His seventh offensive rebound off a missed Juwan Morgan free throw turned into an assist to Morgan for exhilarating game-winning basket.

It wasn’t just Miller that McRoberts impressed enough to give the walk-on significant playing time.  As a redshirt sophomore under Tom Crean, he appeared in 31 games, making three starts.

As if he needed another reason to be a fan favorite, McRoberts is also a native Hoosier.  He was named an Indiana All-Star as a senior at Carmel High School, and the Greyhounds won back-to-back state championships in 2012 and 2013.

Like his two fellow walk-ons, McRoberts was Academic All-Big Ten for the 2017-18 season.

ESSENTIALS

Zach McRoberts
Photo Credit – IU Athletics
  • Height:  6-foot-6
  • Weight:  210
  • Position:  Guard
  • Class:  (RS) Senior
  • Hometown:  Carmel, Indiana
  • High School:  Carmel

2017-18 STATISTICS

  • Minutes per game:  21.9
  • Points per game:  2.8
  • Rebounds per game:  3.4
  • Assists per game:  1.2
  • Steals per game:  1.3
  • FG%:  42.9%
  • 3FG%:  39.4%
  • FT%:  68.8%

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

Archie Miller at the Big Ten basketball media day —

“Very few guys that you will have that you have the ability to coach or play with that you know gives everything he has. You know what I mean? I really mean that. You know when he’s done with a workout, a practice or a game, there isn’t anybody in the locker room, regardless of a trainer, doctor, strength coach, assistant coach, player, that looks at him and says, That guy did everything he possibly could today for us.

When you’re like that, there’s a respect level that comes with it. I think there’s an admiration, he’s admired for what he does. The guy never complains. I think just in the off-season, in talking to him, watching him work, he wants to get better. He’s definitely one of the most, if not the most, trusted guy. When you’re out there on the floor, everyone knows what you’re going to get. He’s going to have the team in mind all the time.”

VIDEO

Watch McRoberts, Archie Miller and Juwan Morgan on the BTN set at Big Ten media day.

WHAT 2018-19 SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE

McBob, McHustle, McFloorBurn, or whatever you like to call him is going to have his work cut out for him this year.  Don’t misread that.  We suspect he is up to the challenge.  It would be silly to doubt him at this point.

But this is the deepest IU roster that McRoberts has been a part of.  Although he is listed as guard on the roster, his game suggests otherwise, and the front court is stacked with guys trying to steal his minutes.  If you want to insist that he is a shooting guard, well, there is a guy name Romeo that will be difficult to bump off the floor.

If there is a way that McRoberts sees less time this year, it would likely be due to him not being enough of a threat scoring the ball.  There have been times in his career when defenses have been comfortable giving him room from the perimeter, which in turns allowed them to focus more attention on other scoring threats.  There are indications that those days may be behind McRoberts.

“My hope for him is to be that guy they have a hard time leaving,” Miller said at the IU media day. “Make the open one. You don’t have to make 10 of them but make the open ones and be aggressive with your shot. He’s done that in practice right now, he’s shooting a good percentage.”

There are also reasons to suspect that McRoberts is in a better position to shine this year.  With two high end scorers on the floor in Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford, and other guys that have a propensity to score at a high volume like Devonte Green and Justin Smith, the pressure isn’t really on McRoberts to score like it has been in the best.

With defenses distracted with others, McRoberts could see a boost in his statistics across the board.  Not that he cares.

What may intrigue him is this.  If he retains that starting role and continues to play significant minutes, it will likely be for what haven’t mentioned — his defense.  And that will put McRoberts in a place that no one could have imagined when he walked-on two years ago — as a leading contender for the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.


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