Despite Undefined Role, Zach McRoberts Aiming For Daily Improvement

Stu Jackson, Staff Writer
The Hoosier

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Jordan Wells / TheHoosier.com

In his first season with IU, Zach McRoberts was called upon to do a little bit of everything, whether it was diving for a loose ball, snagging a critical rebound making the extra pass to an open teammate.

The walk-on redshirt junior guard still doesn't know what his role will look like under new Indiana head coach Archie Miller, but he's more concerned about daily improvement over the summer rather than defined responsibilities.

"We are still working to define that role, but I am working every day to get better at whatever they ask me to do," McRoberts told IUHoosiers.com in a Q&A published Thursday afternoon. "That changes from day to day, but I'm just following Coach Miller's lead working on my game every day."

McRoberts joined the program in May 2016 as a walk-on and emerged as a valuable contributor off the bench for IU over the next year.

By January, the Carmel (Ind.) High School product carved out a larger role for himself. After averaging 10.2 minutes per game off the bench through Indiana's first 13 games, the number jumped to 12.1 over the course of the remaining 17.

His playing time shot up partly due to the loss of forward OG Anunoby to a season-ending knee injury at Penn State on Jan. 18. From then on, McRoberts played further up in the forward rotation than he previously had.

Within that stretch of 17 games came a three-point, five-rebound, three-assist, two-steal effort in a critical 82-75 home win over Michigan State on Jan. 21. It encapsulated exactly what he brought when called upon off the bench - the ability to do a little bit of everything.

"I think it was a great experience to be part of the basketball team at IU and get some valuable minutes," McRoberts said when asked about moments that stuck out from last season. "I love being around the guys. That has been the best part of the experience, just being around everybody."

McRoberts always looked to make the extra pass and was reluctant to shoot the ball at times. He attempted one or more shots in just 17 of the 33 games he played in last year, but also finished with 29 assists and just 8 turnovers - the fewest mistakes made out IU's core rotation of 10 IU players who played at least 11 minutes per game.

His offseason is centered around both physical and mental growth of his game.

"In the weight room, everyone just wants to get stronger and quicker. On the court, that can transfer to offense and defense," McRoberts said. "In terms of basketball, I just want to get more consistent and confident with my shot and that's been good so far. I just want to build upon what I did last year and be more of a threat on offense and defense and rounding my game out."

Much like this summer, his mindset toward his offseason conditioning is the same mindset he'll carry with him on the court this upcoming season.

"I think no matter what, I'm going to play hard when I'm out on the court," McRoberts said. "I just want to compete, play hard and try to make a difference.

"It doesn't matter what people think about me, I just want to make a difference any way I can."

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