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Zach McRoberts Makes a Push for Big Ten Defensive First Team

Zach McRoberts is currently 22nd in the nation in steal percentage at 4.1-percent.

I'm going to let that sentence stand on its own as the magnitude of the sentiment is truly absurd. It's absurd and yet emblematic of the success that has kept this Indiana Basketball team competitive. McRoberts may simply be a walk-on, but his presence ever since entering the starting lineup against Notre Dame in the middle of December has been remarkable. The reason has been simple in nature.

Zach McRoberts is going to out hustle you.

Archie Miller was asked this past week about he gets the rest of his team to play as hard as McRoberts. His response was simple.

"If I had that answer, we would be really good," Miller said. "Zach is an impressive, an impressive kid. He’s an impressive player. I told those guys the other day… I don’t feel that there are three or four guys in the league that should be on the all-defensive team (over him) compared to what he’s been doing and has been asked to do. His hustle, his effort-level, how he impacts the game, is incredible. He’s just a good teammate, too. He’s really one of the bright spots in terms of our team’s improvement kind of correlates with him. (I) trust him as much as anybody out there right now.”

McRoberts has gone from an after thought to a matchup nightmare. His knowledge of the packline defense has made him the focal point to a defensive system that looks to create deflections and cut off penetration. McRoberts versatility defensively has helped Indiana shut down some of the prolific players in the Big Ten in a way that no one could have imagined when McRoberts was playing basketball freshman year at Vermont.

"We've been able to move Zach around from Bridges to Diop to Isaiah Washington," Miller said. "He's got great versatility, and he's got great instincts. Definitely, his length is something that gives him an advantage."

It's a development that may have saved this team from mediocrity and it's development that potentially deserves conference recognition. The 2.8 points per game won't stand out, but the 34 steals will.

Enjoy the video at the top of the page of Zach McRoberts out hustling everyone on the floor.

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