BOZICH | Johnson (!), Morgan (!), Hartman (?) definitely probable for Indiana
Will Robert Johnson, Collin Hartman and Juwan Morgan, Indiana's three injured players, be available against Chattanooga? Yes. Probably. Stay tuned.
DES MOINES, Iowa (WDRB) – The public practices on the day before NCAA Tournament games unfold like workouts you see at Midnight Madness events.
Fans scream at every dunk. Players laugh and launch crazy shots. Coaches huddle with network TV personnel. Autographs are signed as teams exit the arena.
The Indiana basketball team checked all those boxes during their workout Wednesday at Well Fargo Arena, the one that followed the Hoosiers’ legitimate practice earlier in the day at Drake University.
But Indiana’s workout was one that should be reviewed frame-by-frame because coach Tom Crean has three guys whose health and performance will be scrutinized during every dribble of the Hoosiers’ East Regional game against Chattanooga Thursday night.
Zoom in on these three items:
Collin Hartman’s tender right arm.
Robert Johnson’s sprained right ankle.
Juwan Morgan’s strained left shoulder.
Then ask all three guys if they will play against the Mocs.
“I’ve gone full speed this week,” Johnson said. “I’ve gotten stronger.”
I’ll take that as, “Yes.”
“Yes, sir,” he said. “I feel 100 percent, but obviously with my arm like that it’s probably not 100 percent.
“But with the help of my strength coaches, they’ve gotten me to where I’ll be able to go."
Finally, Mr. Hartman?
“Yes, sir,” he said. “Of course. Of course.”
Of course, I also watched Johnson, Morgan and Johnson perform during the public workout. Johnson bounced across the floor, participated in every drill and jumped off his healing ankle. I expect Johnson to play.
Morgan drove down the lane and took a few hits from the football blocking pads that the IU strength coaches use to simulate contact around the basket. I expect him to play.
Hartman did not look as resilient. He wore a gray long-sleeve shirt under his red warm-up top that appeared to cover an elastic bandage on his right arm. He participated in some ball-handling and shooting drills. He shot layups. He did not shoot jump shots.
Crean said that Johnson was “definitely probable.” He said Morgan has practiced all week. He said that Hartman has “some lingering effects,” from the fall he took against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament last Friday.
“Everything’s good,” Hartman said. “Just been getting treatment. Tim G (IU trainer Tim Garl) is working his magic. Ready to go.”
Stay tuned. Hartman started 21 games for Indiana. Although he averaged only 4.9 points, he has been Crean’s most versatile perimeter defender. Hartman has averaged nearly 22 minutes per game. He's a leader, a guy who never has to be reminded to give effort.
Johnson made 15 of his 22 starts during Big Ten play after IU lost James Blackmon for the season to a knee injury. He is the team’s fifth leading scorer, a guy who made 43.6 percent of his three-point shots.
Morgan gave Indiana nearly 10 minutes per game during Big Ten play. His averages don’t remind anybody of Kent Benson, just 3 points and 2.5 rebounds during conference play, but he scored a dozen points against Nebraska and can defend multiple positions.
“Rob’s a big piece,” said IU forward Max Bielfeldt. “He’s started just about every game when he was healthy. Losing him was really, really a tough blow.
“Getting him back would be awesome. Even though we did win some games in the Big Ten without him, it wasn’t easy. He’s definitely a huge piece of this team and very valuable.”
Johnson said that if he played, he was not certain if he would start or serve as a sub. If there has been a benefit from the injury, Johnson said that his overall body is not as sore as it was before he was injured in the closing minutes of the Purdue game Feb. 20.
“My legs as a whole are feeling better,” Johnson said. “So when I’m back out there I’ll be back in the groove.
“I definitely think me playing would help us or give us a better chance to win just for the simple fact that just another guy out there is going to help defensively, help follow the game plan and get other guys involved.”
“I think coach is working on some stuff with him,” Bielfeldt said. “He’s been going with the trainers and doctors.”
They’re all been going with the trainers and doctors. It’s definitely probable that they will continue to do that for as long as Indiana keeps playing.
Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.