If Hoosier fans had a wish list for the 2017-18 season, one thing that would likely rank high on that list would be the health of Juwan Morgan and Collin Hartman. We documented Hartman’s rollercoaster ride, which has added a new twist already this season with a groin injury that has forced him to miss the first two games and possibly more. Morgan has battled the injury bug during his time at Indiana as well:
- Freshman year – A shoulder injury that flared up during several games and ultimately resulted in post-season surgery.
- Sophomore year – A foot injury on a freakish collision with an official that caused Morgan to miss time and nagged him all season.
Fast forward to his junior year and bad luck has struck Morgan again. This time it is an ankle injury. The extent of the injury isn’t clear — and it may never be based on IU’s track record of disclosing details of injuries (or lack thereof). Nevertheless, ankle injuries generally take 1-2 weeks to heal at least, so we certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see Morgan miss a game or two. Archie Miller seemed to suggest the same in his interview after the Howard game, stating that he didn’t know if Morgan would be able to go on Wednesday.
Coming into this season, Indiana was already very thin on its frontcourt, at least insofar as proven commodities go. Now, with Morgan and Hartman potentially out Indiana is virtually in frontcourt crisis mode. They may be able to get by against teams like Howard, but they will be seriously tested against teams with talented frontcourts.
Enter 23rd ranked Seton Hall. The Pirates are led by Center Angel Delgado, who is a double-double factory and a Big East Player of the Year candidate. He’s averaging 13.5 points and 10.5 rebounds thus far this year and had 27 double-doubles last year. Seton Hall has other talented frontcourt players including Desi Rodriguez, Michael Nzei and Ismael Sanogo. The Pirates are long and deep.
Next Man Up
On the optimistic side, with every crisis there is opportunity, and the Morgan and Hartman injuries may present an opportunity for 3 Hoosiers in particular who would all see their minutes significantly boosted:
- Freshman Justin Smith will likely get the start if Morgan cannot go, and he should see major minutes. After a quiet season opener, Smith posted an impressive stat line in the Howard game with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He has a combination smooth/athletic look to his game along with an impressive physique that collectively makes him appear to be an upper-classman. Those attributes will be tested against Seton Hall, but Smith will have an opportunity to gain national exposure if he performs well against the Pirates.
- Senior Freddie McSwain is the team’s leading rebounder at 7.5 per game. What is particularly impressive is that McSwain is doing it in only 13.5 minutes per game. Can he average 15 rebounds if his minutes are doubled? IU could certainly use that production on Wednesday.
- Freshman Clifton Moore has the height to back up De’Ron Davis at center although that doesn’t appear to be his natural position. Moore will likely be called upon to do just that, as well as give breathers to Smith and McSwain. Moore has an impressive wingspan that he has used to pick up a couple blocks so far this season. IU is going to need more where that came from, at least until it gets Morgan and Hartman back.
Main photo credit – 247sports.