Final Stats (31 games): 6.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.3 spg, .6 bpg, 40.4 % FG, 56.7% FT, 2.8 tpg.
There are expectations. And then there’s reality.
So it went for Jeremiah Rivers in his first on-court season at Indiana.
The expectations: He’s a coach’s kid. And as a coach’s kid, he’s supposed to be fundamentally sound, supposed to have a heightened feel for the game.
He’d transferred from Georgetown, and was part of their Final Four team. He may not have shown much offensive moxie, but that was of no matter: he could defend, possessed athleticism, and most important, he was the ballhandler the Hoosiers were lacking during their woeful 2008-09 campaign.
During the open scrimmage before that season, attendees praised Rivers as far and away the best talent on the court.
To quote the tired rallying cry of the Cubs, it was wait till next year on Rivers, when he was eligible to play.
Next year arrived this season. And it produced far different results than many expected. Instead of being the calming, mature presence IU needed, Rivers had the highest turnover percentage (a staggering 21.6 percent) out of himself, Verdell Jones (13.4 percent) and Jordan Hulls (14.8 percent), the primary ballhandlers.
He was oftentimes out of control and erratic. And lacking a high-percentage jumper, defenses could sag a bit on him, negating his ability to take it to hole. His free-throw percentage was a paltry 56.7 percent. He attempted five threes this season, and made none of them.
Yet, every once and a while, Rivers would dart to the basket for a pretty two or throw an on-point pass to a teammate for a score.
And lest we forget, Rivers is an above-average rebounder at the guard position and a solid on-ball defender. This is of value to any team.
When Crean decided to stop starting Rivers the last two games of the season against Northwestern, the team seemed to have its head on a bit straighter, instead of being out of the game from the start.
There’s still a way to find a niche for Rivers next season off the bench. If used right, he brings some solid attributes to the table. But as far as that calming presence many expected?
That ship seems to have sailed.
Filed to: Jeremiah Rivers