Last year’s Indiana team struggled to find leadership throughout the season. This season that should not be the case as the Hoosiers have five seniors on their roster. Over the next few weeks I will be doing a series analyzing IU’s five seniors. Today we will take an in depth look at Josh Newkirk.
Last season was Newkirk’s second season at Indiana. However, it was the 6’1 guards first season playing for the Hoosiers as he sat out the 2015-2016 season after he transferred from Pittsburgh. As a junior Newkirk was a starter except for two games. Newkirk averaged 9 PPG, 3.1 APG, and 3.1 RPG. Newkirk shot 47% from two point range and shot 38% from 3 point range. Newkirk played much better in the second half of the season. Josh started looking more comfortable shooting the ball in the second half of the season as well. Josh shot 44.6% from three point range over the final 12 games of last season. Indiana has to replace some of the shooting they lost with the departure of James Blackmon, and it would be a big boost if Josh is able to shoot the ball like he did during the second half of last season.
I believe Newkirk is a very important key to Indiana’s success this season. Last season Newkirk averaged 2.2 turnovers per game. Some of that can be credited to the offensive system he was playing in, but at other times they were simply a product of Newkirk making some poor decisions and trying to do too much. Josh should fit into Archie Miller’s system much better, and another year of experience should help him make better decisions as well. Last season Newkirk had to play off the ball a good bit because Indiana was also starting Johnson and Blackmon. Newkirk is a pass first point guard, and it is important for him to have the ball in his hands, and last year’s lineup didn’t allow him to utilize his strengths nearly enough. When James Blackmon injured his knee last season there was a need for Newkirk to do more ball handling, and I felt Josh played some of his best basketball of the season during that time. While Blackmon was injured, Newkirk scored 27 points against Penn State, and then followed it up with a 22 point performance on the road at Wisconsin. Those two games really propelled Newkirk to a strong finish to the season.
This season look for Newkirk to do a lot of creating in the offense. Newkirk is pretty athletic and has nice speed. Those attributes should allow Josh to beat defenders off the dribble and get to the basket. Last season Newkirk led the team with 108 assists, and I would expect those numbers to go up this season if Newkirk is able to get into the paint and cause opposing defenses to collapse off shooters. Josh Newkirk will definitely be an important piece on this Indiana team, and it will be very interesting to see the growth he has made throughout the off season.