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Indiana basketball 2020-21 player previews: Joey Brunk

The 2020-21 Indiana University men’s basketball season is right around the corner.  To help get you ready, The Daily Hoosier is profiling every scholarship player on the IU roster.  Indiana’s season is expected to begin on Nov. 25.


Leadership can be tough to come by in college basketball, but Indiana clearly has their man in fifth year senior Joey Brunk.

Experienced, vocal, and a team player, Brunk brings all of the intangibles you look for when trying to build togetherness and cohesion on a roster.

When combined with the size and effort he brings to the IU roster, Brunk projects to be an important piece of the puzzle for the Hoosiers both on and off the court.

ESSENTIALS

joey brunk

  • Height:  6-foot-11
  • Weight:  255
  • Position:  Center
  • Class:  Redshirt Senior
  • Hometown:  Indianapolis, Ind.
  • High School:  Southport

2019-20 STATISTICS

  • Minutes per game:  19.5
  • Points per game:  6.8
  • Rebounds per game:  5.2
  • Assists per game:  .6
  • Blocks per game:  .3
  • Steals per game:  .2
  • FG%:  52.2%
  • 3FG%:  No attempts
  • FT%:  44.6%
Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

Head coach Archie Miller on Brunk and Trayce Jackson-Davis —

“Those two guys in general are locker room guys,” Miller said this fall.  “They’re guys that everyone around the team respects and likes. I think when you have that type of relationship with two guys that play a lot of minutes, it speaks volumes. It gives other guys an opportunity to feel good about themselves and want to play with them and want to be around them.”

Miller on Brunk at his best —

“I think the big deal with Joey, he’s a thinker,” Miller said in March.  “He cares a lot about doing well. But I think he overthinks it sometimes. When Joe is at his best, he’s running as hard as he can and his motor is great on both ends of the floor in terms of trying to rebound.”

Brunk on what the team has to do to make strides —

“For us to maximize everything, we have to be confident and make plays,” Brunk said in October. “We have to be confident with the ball in our hands. Don’t get bogged down, run the floor. We have a good group and have a chance to have a lot of success.”

VIDEO

WHAT 2020-21 SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE

After starting 31 of 32 games in 2019-20, a popular question on everyone’s mind is whether Brunk continues to open games on the floor for IU as a redshirt senior.

To this point head coach Archie Miller hasn’t proven to be a big proponent of letting matchups dictate his starting lineups, so we should know right away to what extent the much discussed “playing smaller and faster” adjustment, and the expected emergence of Race Thompson, has impacted Brunk’s role.

Of course, crunch-time minutes are more important than starting the game, and the trend seemed to be established late in the 2019-20 season when Brunk saw 14 or less minutes in 7 of the final 9 games, and more than 16 only once in that stretch.

While Miller doesn’t like to tinker with his starting lineup, we do expect matchups to dictate Brunk’s overall role.

Several Big Ten centers have moved on, but IU will see Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson twice along with Iowa’s Luka Garza and Rutgers’ Myles Johnson.  Those are the kind of assignments where Brunk will be asked to bang on the block and keep Trayce Jackson-Davis out of foul trouble.

But by and large we suspect Brunk is going to be more of a rotational guy rather than a starter that sees big minutes.  With Jackson-Davis playing every minute he can, Thompson and Jerome Hunter seeing expanded roles, and Miller going all-in on playing fast, Brunk’s playing time is likely to mirror what we saw over the last 9 games of 2020-21.  On average, he saw 12.8 minutes per contest over that stretch.

It is worth noting that there were several aspects of Brunk’s game that were outside of the norm in 2019-20.  His field goal percentage dropped 10 points, and free throw percentage 20 points year-over-year.  Meanwhile, Brunk’s per-40 minute rebounds rose from 7.7 to 10.5 per contest.  His ability to return to his former efficiency numbers while continuing to rebound at a higher rate could impact Brunk’s role too.

What might Brunk’s 2020-21 stats look like?  We think he’ll be in the neighborhood of 14 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 4 rpg, .5 apg, .4 bpg, 55 fg%.

On the defensive end the question will be who Brunk can effectively guard in the Big Ten?  Does he have the foot speed to stay in front of guys like Kofi Cockburn and Trevion Williams?

There are some teams, such as Ohio State, Maryland and Nebraska, that really have no one that really plays on the block as a traditional big man.  Miller will have to evaluate the relative cost/benefit of mismatches on both ends when deciding how much to play his veteran big man.

But however it plays out on the court, Brunk can be a critical piece of this team one way or another.  Much of it just might be behind the scenes, keeping everything together, and helping IU finally return to the NCAA Tournament.

MORE 2020-21 PREVIEWS


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