Talking basketball in July? Why not?

Indiana basketball assistants Tim Buckley, Steve McClain, Kenny Johnson and Calbert Cheaney met with the media on Tuesday, and the big story out of that was Buckley’s defense of the program from a Wall Street Journal article labeling the Hoosiers as
underachievers.

The article’s notion was that, based on IU’s regular-season success (29 wins and an outright Big Ten regular-season championship) and that Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were selected second and fourth overall in the NBA Draft, the Hoosiers should have done better than a second consecutive loss in the Sweet Sixteen.

Buckley acknowledged that coaches and players were disappointed that their season ended in the first game of the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. But given the way the program had to rebuild when Tom Crean took over as coach in April 2008, Buckley blasted the notion that IU underachieved.

More on that in my story for the Post-Tribune. Here are a few other tidbits from Tuesday’s press conference transcript:

• Buckley said there’s no sense of entitlement from the highly touted incoming freshman class.

“I think that some of the guys who are highly credentialed are sometimes acting like walk-ons who just want to learn and make the team, and they have that great energy and spirit about them,” Buckley said.

• Without Will Sheehey and Yogi Ferrell on hand to serve as leaders, it’s been up to other players to set the tone.

That’s a good thing, Buckley said.

“It doesn’t allow them to just lean on those two guys, and they have to step outside of themselves a little bit, and I think that’s a great advantage as you go on down the road,” he said.

“It has allowed some young players to go ahead and be vocal, to go ahead and know that’s the expectation, and it has also allowed Jeremy (Hollowell), Hanner (Mosquera-Perea) who would probably take a little backseat to Will and Yogi right now, to go ahead and step up and be that returning veteran even though they are only sophomores,” McClain said.

• Buckley’s assessment of the freshman class:

On Noah Vonleh: “Obviously, physically, he’s college ready. He’s very strong, very powerful, he’s very polished around the basket and explosive. He’s going to continue to develop his perimeter game.”

On Stan Robinson: “I think (he) fits the motor part, where he’s going to come in here and give you everything that he has on a consistent basis. And sometimes he’ll go too fast, but it’s a lot easier to try to slow guys down than it is to try and speed them up.”

On Troy Williams: “Spectacular athlete, but as good a passer as he is an athlete. And it’s really neat to watch when he’s playing in 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 situations where he finds the open man. He kind of sees things maybe a play ahead.”

On Devin Davis: “I think he’s kind of a hybrid, a mismatch type guy. He’s more athletic than he looks; he’ll just go up there and dunk it and kind of surprise you at times.”

On Collin Hartman: “(He) is a knockdown shooter, and he’s going to continue to expand his game a little bit. But the one thing he can’t get away from is taking those shots when he’s open.”

On Luke Fischer: “(He) has gotten bigger and stronger already; I think he’s already put on seven or eight pounds since he’s been here. He has to continue to improve … but he seems more comfortable at this stage of his development than maybe some of the other big guys that we’ve had at this point and time.”

• The six freshmen aren’t the only newcomers, of course, as transfer Evan Gordon will be a factor at guard this season as well.

“He’s a physical guard, he’s someone who’s very prideful, and he comes from a family that works,” Johnson said. “So he’s used to putting in the extra work that we all talk about. … He’s blended in seamlessly.”

• Cheaney believes the experience of playing with other players from around the country as part of USA Basketball’s World University Games team will help Ferrell and Sheehey, and help them define their roles as leaders.

“You’re playing against great competition every day,” Cheaney said. “And you get to see where you’re at as a player.”

McClain went to the practices in Colorado and said it was fun to see the two Hoosiers take the challenge.

“I saw a couple guys there, and I’m not going to name names, that acted like they were too good to play hard, too good to dive on a ball,” McClain said. “I saw our guys taking charges, I saw our guys doing little things to help you win.”

• Plenty of talk about the NBA and Oladipo’s growth as a player from a lightly recruited prospect to the second overall pick. Some notable quotes:

“Without question, Victor and Cody are the exact blueprint on how to make yourself better as a player,” Cheaney said.

Johnson said that Robinson, who knew Oladipo from the Washington, D.C., area, had asked all the coaches and graduate assistants about Oladipo’s routine. “It’s like they’re trying to follow that blueprint that’s been set forth, for not only Victor but guys like Will and Jordan (Hulls).”

The full press conference transcript can be found here.

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