The Aftermath: Eric Gordon

ejgordon001.jpgFirst, a confession: I considered boring you with a press release from IU media relations later today with the news that Eric Gordon declared for the NBA Draft. After all, the easy thing would have been to just forget about Gordon and move on since his days in Bloomington will now be limited to the occasions in which he returns to Assembly Hall as a spectator.

But you can get the press release filled with quotes about how tough of a decision (actually, it was a no-brainer) it was elsewhere. Instead, let’s dive into the year that was at Indiana for EJ and ultimately, how disappointing it was.

Make no mistake about it. Gordon’s numbers were excellent for a freshman — 20.9 ppg — is certainly nothing to sneeze at. His shooting was marred by a wrist injury during the second half of the season and yet he still found ways to score by attacking the basket relentlessly. Major props for that and for playing through the pain.

With that said, Gordon’s judgment (or lack thereof) when deciding if it was the time to attack or when it was time to spread the ball around was troublesome. At times, he looked like a player that still felt he was playing against high school talent. The reoccurring scenarios that stand out to me: A) Drive into the lane where there was no opening and turn it over or B) Drive all the way to the basket, throw up a wild shot and pray for a foul. Neither were advisable decisions, yet neither were corrected throughout the season. It happened time and time again.

Which leads me to my next point. I will not blame this on Gordon, but more on the coaching he received. Anyone who watched Indiana closely this year could see exactly what was happening, yet no adjustments were made to try and free up Gordon for easier looks. Instead, we saw far too much one-on-one play and not enough structure. How many times do you remember Gordon coming off of a screen for a three-pointer? There weren’t many. The majority of the looks he got were looks he created for himself. And that’s just not acceptable, anyway you slice it. He deserved better.

Once Kelvin Sampson was given the boot, it became obvious that Gordon, like many of his teammates, was just ready for the nightmare to be over. His shooting percentage dipped to a dismal 32 percent over his final seven games and he committed 4.2 turnovers per game during that span. Was this partly due to the injury? Perhaps. But it’s also important to note how well Gordon played in Sampson’s final two games as IU’s coach. He scored 28 and 22 points, respectively, and IU beat two of the top four teams in the league.

So how will the Indiana fan remember Eric Gordon’s Indiana career? My guess is there will be mixed emotions amongst the members of Hoosier Nation. Some will remember him as one of the top talents to ever come out of the state and wear the IU uniform. And how can you not love the fact that he snubbed everybody’s favorite team, Illinois, to join the party in Bloomington?

Then, there were also those who will be left wondering what could have been had Gordon stayed and realized his potential. He’s far from a polished product that is ready to be an impact player at the NBA level and let’s face it, some will have a bad taste in their mouth about the team Gordon was supposed to help lead.

Ultimately, the young man is making a decision that, as I said earlier, is a no-brainer. IU is in a transition period under new leadership, facing potential NCAA sanctions and Gordon is a likely lottery pick. Those who were holding out hope that he might, just might give it one more try were holding out false hope. So in closing, we say goodbye to Gordon and thank him for the one-year we did get to watch him play, even if it ultimately ended in disappointment.

  • BTOWN40

    Gordon is like the hot girlfriend you had in high school, always teasin, but never quite letting you seal the deal and who ends up disappointing you in the end.
    Gordon started out doing no wrong, the competition was weaker and he had his way doing whatever he wanted to do. Once he got to the Big Ten he had his moments of greatness, but they were few and far between. A great scorer will find a way to get his points (Gordon), but a great player will make his teamates better (Bird, Magic, Jordan).
    The blame in all this falls on the coaching, Gordon was never asked to do more than what he already knew since he could dribble a basketball, which was one on one basketball.
    After the game @ Illinois Sampson was asked what halftime adjustments he made that led to IU's vicory his response was I told Gordon to shoot every time he got the ball.
    Do I like Gordon? Is he ready for the NBA? Should he go pro? Will he be a good pro? Is he a good kid? The answer to these questions is YES. Why do most of us go to college? To get a better high paying job once we leave. Gordon's game is suited for the NBA, why would he stay and risk another injury that could ruin his pro career.
    He will develop in the NBA where he should be. He will have a nice career probably on par with who most people compare him to Ben Gordon from the Bulls.
    So in closing I will say good luck Gordon, I just wish we could have hit a home run together instead of a ground rule double, damn those hot girlfriends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kelin Blab

    I don't blame EJ either and if you look at the players that improved under KS, I would have to say he improved the least and went primarily on his talents he bought to the table with him.

    I will remember EJ for the excitement I had before the season and early on, but also the frustration I had for most of the season as I yelled….”set a damn screen for the kid”

    Nevertheless his decision is expected and a no brainer. I hope the next EJ we get will ultimately have this same opportunity but be more prepared for it by his coach.

    Thanks EJ for the fun, excitement, and what you did to Illinois. To see Bruce WHiners face as he walked into assembly hall or when you banked in a 3 from deep, it made your decommittment worth every blog, camera photo, news report, and Eric Gordon chant.

  • Kelin Blab

    If only the Pacers can keep losing………

  • recker

    It was not at all like we expected. The year was actually not very fun to watch. Gordon jacked up alot of shots but it seemed to offense was part of that. It seemed they never played like a team from day one. The best I saw them play was when DJ went out vs Michigan State. Great ball rotation that game.

    The bottom line is I hate the NBA these days and what it has done to college basketball. I do not even watch the NBA anymore. I hope in the future we can get top talent but would love guys like Tyler H from North Carolina that we can keep around three years at least. Duke still gets top talent but the last few years they seem to have gotten guys who stick around. Hopefully we can do that in the future.

  • recker

    Still the bottom line is when they say the best player ever to play for IU since Thomas I doubt he will be thought of like that. This team just never played liked one and just quite. Despite the points he put up he probably will not be remembered as one of the greats.

  • BTOWN40

    good point, and the way the season turned out I would have rather had McCamey (sp) from Illini for 3-4 yrs than Gordon for one. Supposedly McCamey decided against Indiana once Gordon was coming. I guess there wasn't enough balls in the gym for them to share the same court.

  • BTOWN40

    Like I said great scorer ? yes great player that makes his teamates better? Not yet

  • BTOWN40

    Anybody know when his press conference is?

  • dabig

    He may well have NBA talent, but I didn't see much of it during the handful of games I got to watch. After the start of conference play, his FG percentage was barely 40 and his three point shooting percentage was 28. In March, when the games really count, those numbers were 33% FG and 13% from three. These are numbers against mostly what was a mediocre conference this year. I don't even want to think about his pathetic turn over and assist numbers. I, for one, won't miss seeing him drive into the lane to have the ball stripped clean before he even got a shot off.

  • hoosiergal

    EJ came to IU because of the tradition and history of IU. He came to IU because he believed in a coach. After all that has happened in this past season, can anyone blame him for taking his chance to move on. Good Luck EJ!

  • tberry

    I wish him well BUT I am glad he is gone. I'm not sure we would not have been better without him. Last years team was much more of a team and was much more fun to watch.

  • xxBHxx

    Good article A.

    Biggest let down ever as an iu fan… I thought this guy was going to do incredible things when he got here. In all my years of being an iu fan i've never seen a bigger dissapointment than this season.. and that includes ej. I just remember being so excited to see my team seriously compete again. I hate you Sampson.

    Some one please hit me with one of those Men In Black light thingies and make me forget about gordan and this whole season like it never happened.

  • http://www.cannotfalter.com tacojohn

    I'm happy that EJ is moving on to a new set of fans who might appreciate him. Frankly, the way IU fans treated the kid down the last stretch of the season was embarrassing. A bunch of armchair coaches and GMs claiming that a player who we heard was nothing but coachable, hard-working, and mild-mannered, was all of the sudden selfish, and a cancer. Add to that the idea that a bunch of college basketball fans who profess hatred for the NBA suddenly knew, with certainty, whether Gordon was ready.

    I'll remember Gordon's career at IU as a fish out of water. He was an immense talent who had no business being in college. IU fans always wonder what might have been if Josh Smith had come to IU for a year, but fortunately, he was spared what Gordon was forced to endure. As a player, far too many of our fans are pointing to the last 7 games as the “real” Eric Gordon, which is laughable. The first 26 games or so was the real Eric Gordon.

    I'm just happy for the kid to move on to a place where he'll have the time to work on his game, play with players of comparable ability, and play a game more suited to his own. I may be driving the Eric Gordon Apologist Bandwagon, but I'll always say the same thing: he was too good for college.

  • CutterInChicago

    That seems a little over the top. Andrae Patterson, Charlie Miller… that entire recruiting class?
    Eric was an outstanding 18 year-old freshman basketball player. But he's an 18 year-old freshman and the NBA drafts on potential (or as I like to say, “Tremendous Upside Potential – TUP” and apologies to The Sports Guy and Hubie Brown).
    Gordon has tons of TUP. He's lightning quick, big and strong and when his shot is on, its outstanding (but Steve Green, Steve Alford and Jay “Silk” Edwards were as good in many ways).
    But he's an 18 year-old freshman, ONE year outta high school.

    As for the year being a disappointment, I will give you that one. Its strange, I think Sampson was a better coach with Davis' talent than he was with his own. They year before was a pleasant surprise. This year, unfulfilled promise and a tragic ending.

    Bring me some Crean for my Crimson!

  • xxBHxx

    too good for college?? thats laughable at best. if he can't handle adversity at the college level what makes you think he can handle it at the pro level. pros have to endure injuries all the time. greg oden – too good for college

    if he was too good for college he could've won A game in the tournament.

  • Disco_Briscoe

    Whoa TJ…thats some load of crap. I havent heard people put Gordon down like you say but the truth is that he didnt meet expectations or grow over the season and thats mainly due to how he was coached. I put most if not all blame on Sampson and his coaching staff. He did three things all season. Drive to the basket, pull up for a deep three, or make a foul shot. I think the fans of IU basketball appreciated EJ a lot and maybe too much hoping he can be our Beasley and be a man amongst children but he wasn't and again probably not his fault. If he was too good for college then he shouldnt have had any problem getting to hole and finishing with a college defender on him. I wish the kid luck but his game isnt ready and if I were in his shoes I'd jump to the pro and take the money too. What if that wrist injury or any injury took away his shot at making millions…

  • JamesHardy

    Last I heard, he was supposed to announce his decision on Monday.

  • easy

    I don't think it's all that fair to hate on a FRESHMAN that much. It's not his responsibility to come in here and lead. He did his part, and in the last half of the season he struggled. But he is a tremendous talent, he just needs to be polished a bit, or reined in if you will. I hope he has a great NBA career and I've always though he could be a Gilbert Arenas-type player (if he refines his game a bit, particularly ball handling).

    I hope he has a great NBA career. I hope he continues to be a part of the IU program by coming to some games. He is a great kid, always really friendly to me. I really hope the Pacers get him and he develops into the best player he can be. An All-Star! Thanks EJ, good luck.

  • JerryCT

    It seems that every school struggles to “fit in” a one and done player into their team play. EJ and KS were no different even though I expected more from both.

    We were losers w George McGinness and winners after he left………….of course a new coach , BMK, might have had something to do w that.

    To me this is the parallel……Ej leaves after 1 season, we get better, we have a new coach.

  • easy

    Assuming we have enough players to field a team. Maybe I'll try out…

  • BTOWN40

    It's not about HE, it's a team game. Gordon is good and will do just fine in the pros. I blame Sampson, there was no screens set for Gordon, only thing Sampson called for him were 2 plays and they were the CHUCK 30 footer, and the dribble drive into traffic off my knee, chest, and chin out of bounds.
    Think how much more potent IU's offense would have been with movement using Gordon as a decoy sometimes, he could have easily dropped his turnover rate, upped his assist rate, all while averaging the same amount of points. He was never coached to do any of this. Kelvin Sampson screw you, you messed up a potentially excellent season

  • BTOWN40

    I'm right behind you easy. You can play point, I'm like Calbert Cheany except I'm white 5 foot 11 with no left hand, slow can't even guard my shadow, but I can shoot baby, from anywhere in the gym

  • JamesHardy

    My take is….EJ was a victim of his “potential.” The media circus that followed him after his de-committment to Illinois, his father being on the screen after EVERY made basket, the turnovers, the huge start to the season, the “ass/arm raking” that took place EVERYTIME he drove to the rim, the KS comment after the Illinois game, the wrist injury, the officials that appeared to have the mindset “I'm not letting this kid become bigger than the game!”, …..these are all things that an 18 year old KID…and i repeat KID, had to deal with this year. I know adults that can't handle a freakin SHOPPING LIST and this KID had to try and help restore a “storied program” back into the national spotlight….all while dealing with a coaching staff who didn't feel the need to help him develop.

    GET OFF EJ'S NUTZ PEOPLE! You want to assign blame for him going pro…you want to assign blame for the SOAP OPERA that was the 2007-2008 season??? Start with the following….

    1. Former IU President Adam Herbert (and his Merry Band of Trustees)
    ~ are they not the ones responsible for the hiring of Kelvin Sampson?

    2. Kelvin Sampson
    ~ Is he not the one who couldn't follow BASIC guidelines that outline recruiting?
    ~ Is he not the one who said….”I told him to shoot it EVERY time he gets it…”
    ~ Is he not ultimately the individual that is responsible for the development of the
    players within the basketball program?
    ~ Is he not the one who sacraficed MORALS for WINNING?

    3. Jamarcus Ellis, Armon Bassett, and Jordan Crawford
    ~ are they not the ones who showed IU nation that THEY are more important than
    he “TEAM”?
    ~ are they not the IMMATURE parties in this whole situation?

    4. Dan Dakich
    ~ I don't blame him as much as I used to. The “inmates” ran the “asylumn” for WAY
    TOO LONG. As he became the 'new sheriff' in town, he was met with resistance by
    players (see #3) who were too accustomed to having it THEIR way (see #2 for the
    blame there).

    If some of us would remove our heads from our anal cavities…we might see that EJ poured his heart and soul out EVERY game for the “GLORY OF OLD IU.” All he did was go out and play hurt…further risking injury and MILLIONS of guranteed dollars. Instead of hammering the guy while he's struggling with a decision that NONE of US will EVER have to deal with, why can't we just wish him the best and thank him for the SWEAT and COURAGE he gave to this program…who cares if it was only for a year?

    STOP BEING SELFISH PEOPLE!

    Thanks EJ…best wishes in your future adventures! And know this…You've got a fan for life in ME. Keep your nose clean kid! It's been fun! GOOD LUCK

  • JamesHardy

    “from anywhere in the gym”

    That's good…cuz you'll need that range from the 3rd row of the upper deck as you're watching the game from the balcony!

  • http://majorbeef.wordpress.com redandy75

    I think with good coaching Gordon will have a good chance of being successful in the NBA. He has tremendous potential that is for sure, and I see him going in the mid-late first round.

    I seriously wonder if Sampson/Dakich didn't coach the kid as hard as the others because they knew Gordon would be one and done, and they knoew even with no coaching he'd put up 20 points a night and they were cool with that. He definitely had the green light from the coaching staff to chuck it up from anywhere and drive wildly in the lane. Any other player doing that would be lashed severely for it! Could you see Taber swooshing through the lane each time he touched the ball? He'd be BENCHED for even hinting at it!

  • HoosierSmitty

    Gordon will be fine in the NBA, but he'll never be a superstar. Superstars have the “it” factor and I just never saw “IT” in Eric Gordon. He finds ways to score and has an NBA body, but he's stuck between PG and SG and there's no inbetween position.

    Moving on…Do you think Crean is going to buy Sampson's house, or did someone already snatch it up? It does have a replica Assembly Hall floor in it….

  • ronb

    I find it alarming how IU,Stemler,Gordon,the media,parents,doctors,trainers,team mates,and all the coaches comment and lie about injuries to players. Stemler looses his shot and we hear he is fine then the season is over and he needs surgery. Gordon looses his shot and we hear he is fine then after the season is over he has a broken bone in his wrist that may require surgery. Why? Is it to protect the kids? Is it to protect the University? Why can't we get the truth? If you have worked with kids,watched films and coached you could see that these 2 players changed their shooting motions. Also in EJ case he could not go to his left. Other teams and coaches picked up on it and over played EJ on the right so he would be forced to go left and increase the chance for a turnover. Who and why were they not honest about these injuries? I am not saying that both players are not to blame. They continued to play and tell us they were ok while the fans and the team suffered through terrible games. I don't get why?

  • xxZPxx

    I think most of EJ's troubles and downfall came because of his wrist. I have been justifying his play because of the reason all along. EJ was freaking amazing in those first 10-12 games. Unbelievable. His shooting percentage was ridiculous and he was the player we all expected him to be. But after that wrist injury is when the downfall occurred, exactly. You'll probably want to argue that those first 10-12 games weren'y against good competition but he was DOMINATING those games. Against Western Carolina he hit his first 5 treys and was averaging 28 points a game. I dont care who you are playing, those are star numbers.
    Summing up my point: EJ is a baller and in 3 years he will be very productive in the NBA. His wrist was the main factor in why he struggled the second half of the season but as many people have said, he played through the pain and still was able to contribute. I'm not worried about the turnovers and the poor decision making. He is 18 years old and was asked by Kelvin to take over games and do what he wanted. Thats a tough spot to put an 18 year old. EJ's character and his ability will turn him into a star very soon, just give him time.

  • http://matthewjenks.blogspot.com/ Matt_J

    Bracey Wright?

    No, I don't think that this was one of the biggest letdowns in Hoosiers history.

    No, instead, I think that Big A had it right in that Gordon was never developed as a player. And the team didn't work with him (minus DJ trying to work a good inside out game with him and the other guys standing around on the perimeter), except for Taber, who was always out setting screens, as if he knew what a motion offense was or something or that he understood the concept of team.

    I can't blame Gordon at all for the last 10 games or so. Coming down the stretch, he already knew that Sampson was gone, Dakich was doing whatever, and that there would be a lot of questions coming up in the next few months about the program. No one else on the team wanted to play like they wanted to win, so why bother? Go out, go through the motions, don't get hurt, and go collect a big paycheck.

    I wish him well. Maybe he'll end up in Charlotte, and I can go watch a game of his. Of course, if Michael Jordan gets his hands on him…yech. I hate to think what will happen.

  • http://matthewjenks.blogspot.com/ Matt_J

    I didn't realize that Gordon averages 78 points a game. Apparently, he was expected to win every game he ever played.

  • BTOWN40

    Montgomery to Cal haha good thing we didn't wait any longer

  • http://matthewjenks.blogspot.com/ Matt_J

    Carolina doesn't really have an issue fitting one-and-done players into their system. As much as I don't like them, you have to admit that Roy has figured the system out and goes out and recruits with the notion that his players will jump to the NBA early.

    I always think back to the interviews with Davis when Jefferies was thinking of making the jump, and he kept telling the media that they had a plan in place to address that. The plan was apparently to use George Leach? Roy seems to have a plan and then he follows through on the execution, which is why we have to deal with this crap of UNC being good every year because they are a good team, rather than Duke, who is a good name.

  • Disco_Briscoe

    Eric Gordon is no better than Ben Gordon…Do you think Ben is a good pro?

  • easy

    Yeah but it's cursed…

  • easy

    Yes

  • ALH_00

    Thanks EJ…this was one of the most anticipated seasons of basketball for me. And, overall you didn't disappoint. I still have a cross-over, split the defenders floater and a monster one handed dunk etched in my memory (I can't remember the opponents as it was early…I think UNCW was one). Your dunk against Arkansas was also mesmerizing.

    I wish you all the best and hope that you keep working hard, because your talent is sick.

  • Kelin Blab

    EJ was a better player in High School than college and in High School he made his team better…..because his High School coach is a far better coach than KS. I have watched this kid get better until he got to IU.

    For a coach to struggle for 50% of the season to find a decent 4 man to play, all the while you forced DT, STemler, and Mike White down our throats….reflects KS coaching ability that many of us overlooked at times. While ignoring the lack of growth of Brandon McGee and Kyle Taber. I refuse to believe at NO POINT during the season Brandon McGee could have NOT have helped us while I watched Mike White and DT miss lay up after layup and Lance Stemler look lost at times.

    WIth coaching, McGee could be a stud and I hope he stays and allow Crean to develop his game and I hope KS gets banned from coaching at the collegiate level, CYO, and Girls 6 on 6 Iowa basketball for at least 5-10 years.

  • ALH_00

    I liked what Crean had to say…I'll be involved as much or as little as you'd like in making your decision re: NBA and the aftermath…but you'll always be a part of Indiana Basketball.

    EJ does appear to be a great kid, and his experience with adversity this season may be of great service to our players down the road. I hope he stays close to HIS team forever and is willing to give a little back by way of mentor to future athletes who don the cream and crimson.

  • xxBHxx

    cute.

  • JerryCT

    Venomous truths , but truth none the less

  • MillaRed

    I think we can torture ourselves with all of this thinking but the fact is the program was going through this turmoil regardless of what EJ did or did not do. That in itself is just plain sad. Not only is he headed for the NBA but he is bolting from Bloomington without looking back. It makes you wonder if he would rather have stayed at Illinois.

    I also agree he was never coached well at IU and that certainly includes Sampson. He never made any adjustments with the wrist, the personnel, the flow of the game etc. If you truly want to put a date on when he started hurting the team it's the day he stopped playing defense. Have we forgotten what he's capable of doing on defense? When is the last time we called his name on D? There is NO reason whatsoever EJ should not have achieved a status of Big Ten DEF POY consideration but that didn't happen. He just didn't have the tenacity in the second half of the season.

    I give him a lot of credit because the kid handled everything as well as a freshman could. Everyhting crumbled around him and for that I'm just embarrassed.

    Thanks Coach Sampson for giving EJ an illustrious college career at Indiana! What a joke you are.

  • http://bradzurcher.wordpress.com bz

    i really feel like if ej stayed another year, he would have (finally) received some superior college coaching and could have refined his skills turning himself into the top overall selection of the 2009 draft. he would have make much more money with going #1 and would have raised his game to a level that he would have been a starter for most nba teams (and an all-star for the pacers). if i were in his shoes, i would love to say that i would have seen reason, realized that i need more coaching and need to get better, and that the money will be better next year. but…i just don't think i can say that. the turmoil that is iu basketball right now, the rapport with yet another new coach, the lack of championship talent, and the millions that are being waved in my face right now are just too much to turn down. though i wish he would have staid, it is with selfish motives.

    how will i remember him? it depends on what his nba career becomes. if he's a perenial all-star, i'll brag about all the times i watched him on tv, how he was one of the greatest players to go to iu. right now, i see him a blip on the iu screen. i will never truly appreciate what he did for iu basketball because of the horrible, tumultuous, depressing, (etc, etc, etc) year this has been. no matter what he becomes at the next level, i will always follow his name with a slow shake of the head, acknowledging what might have been.

  • http://bradzurcher.wordpress.com bz

    sorry. perennial, not perenial.

  • http://bradzurcher.wordpress.com bz

    i criticized his game over the final month of the season. it doesn't mean i don't appreciate him. it means that for as much pub as he gets, as great as his game is, as uninjured as he said (over and over) that he was, he was supposed to improve throughout the season (he didn't) and should have been at his best in march (he wasn't). if he didn't want the pressure that comes from playing in front of us “unappreciative,” then he should have gone to indiana state or bowling green.

  • JamesHardy

    and with all that being said…I sure wish he'd stay to play for Coach C. It sure would be fun to see. Have we heard anything about the possiblility of allowing AB and JE back on the team?

  • Kelin Blab

    Now when KS gets another coaching job I will be there to BOO the hell out of him.

  • easy

    By when do you mean if? =)

  • Kelin Blab

    If pac man jones can make it rain and start a riot in a strip club…..and have a GOOD team actually want to trade for him……KS WILL get another gig and I WILL find him and boo him in my “Crean and Crimson” shirt.

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