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Michael Durr regaining his conditioning and figuring out new role

After transferring from the University of South Florida, Michael Durr’s Hoosier career got off to a slow start.  But now a regular in the rotation, he is trying to find a rhythm in his new home.

When he first arrived in Bloomington, Durr was sidelined with a knee injury. As a result, he missed both exhibition games in the Bahamas against BC Mega. Durr was expected to return in time for the season opener but was held out of the game. He made his season debut against Northern Illinois and scored two points on 1-of-4 shooting, and added an assist in 10 minutes of playing time.

Through eight games this season, Durr is still working his way back from the injury and regaining his conditioning. He is also still figuring out how to play with his new teammates on the fly.

“I feel like it’s coming along well. It’s still a process but it’s coming along well and it’s just gonna continuously improve day-by-day and game-by-game,” said Durr said at a Friday media availability.

When the center was at his best last season, he was a key contributor to his USF team. Durr averaged 8.8 points and finished fourth in the AAC with 7.9 rebounds, and eighth in blocked shots with 0.9 per game. He finished on a high note with 13 points, 13 boards, and two blocks in the AAC Tournament, and is looking to get back to that level of play.

“Play hard, rebound at a very high-level, defend ball screens at a high-level, alter and block shots, score down low, hit open shots when I have them, just play my game,” said Durr when asked what should be expected out of him when he’s at his best.

“When I’m all the way right, back in 100 percent shape, you guys are gonna see that.”

Fans have seen some of those qualities already in the limited playing time that Durr has gotten. After getting the ball on the wing, Durr faced up and collected himself for a smooth 15-foot mid-range jumper. He also showcased his post moves by faking inside and spinning toward the baseline for the right-handed baby-hook off the glass.

Indiana’s first 7-footer since Cody Zeller, Durr finished with four points on 2-of-3 shooting with a rebound in 10 minutes against Wisconsin.  He can play a key role for IU, providing much needed size off the bench as IU looks to avoid letups when Trayce Jackson-Davis leaves the floor. But, after starting 85-of-87 games in three seasons for the Bulls, he has struggled at times with his new bench duty.

“Honestly, it’s been tough because it’s just something, I mean this is my fourth year of college, and it’s something that I’ve pretty much never done in college,” said the Atlanta, Ga. native of coming in as a reserve.

Stuck behind preseason All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson, Durr’s minutes were bound to be less than what he grew accustomed to. Last season, the big man averaged 26.4 minutes per game in a starting role. Now, he has 7.9 minutes off the bench to make an impact. He’s still trying to figure out how to maximize his time on the court.

“When starting you’re always in the game, you don’t have to catch up to it. You’re already in the flow of the game, but now it’s like, okay, I have to catch up to the game and come in ready,” said the seven-footer.

“Every moment counted before then, but every moment really counts now because you don’t have time to work your way into the game. You have to come in and make an immediate impact.”

So far, Durr is averaging 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds during his time on the court. On a per-40 minute basis he’s at 8.9 points and 6.3 rebounds, still a healthy margin behind his career norms, although his assists are well above what he’s produced in the past.

He’ll look to use the next few weeks to continue to round into form and fully adapt to his new role.

“It’s just something that I’m trying to adjust and try to perfect,” said Durr. “Doing all I can when I’m in and just do all I can to help the team win. It’s been tough, but I’m going to figure it out.”

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