Notebook: Point guards Hulls, Ferrell start together in season opener

  • 11/09/2012 11:58 pm in

The expectation became reality on Friday night when point guards Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls started together in No. 1 Indiana’s season opening win against Bryant. Much has been made throughout the offseason about whether Ferrell and Hulls — both small guards — can play well enough defensively to play on the court together.

The two guards passed their first test on Friday.

While it wasn’t perfect by any stretch, Ferrell and Hulls held their own on the defensive end in the Hoosiers’ 97-54 win. There were a few breakdowns on the perimeter — especially early — but the guards seemed to improve as the game went on.

“We just gotta play tough on the defensive end,” Hulls said. “I’m gonna have to guard bigger guys, and a lot of different players, honestly. Tonight I thought we did a pretty good job.”

Offensively, Ferrell had 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds in his collegiate debut, and Hulls added nine points and five assists. Ferrell regularly got into the lane, drew Bryant defenders, and kicked to wide open shooters near the 3-point arc, including Hulls.

But the duo’s offensive production wasn’t much of a surprise. If Ferrell and Hulls want to continue starting and playing alongside each other, they will have to continue to defend at a high level.

“I thought they did a very good job defensively together because, ultimately, that’s what the measuring stick will be as we go forward,” Crean said. “Yogi is ahead of his years defensively. That’s been a joy. And Jordan is a smart, savvy senior who’s continued to become more athletic, stronger, all those type of things.

“When those guys can lead the way defensively, then we have a chance to have a really good backcourt with those two. I think they’re going to be good offensively on the year. Some nights will be better than others. But the defensive part is gonna be crucial.”

Watford, Zeller post double-doubles

Senior forward Christian Watford had 15 points and a career-high 15 rebounds against Bryant, and Cody Zeller added a team-high 18 points and 10 boards. Both players were very aggressive on the glass throughout the game, something that will be a point of emphasis early this season with a thin front line.

Freshmen Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin will miss the first nine games due to suspension, and senior Derek Elston is still recovering from knee surgery.

“There’s no question we’re shorthanded on the front line. There’s no way around it,” Crean said. “We’re trying to mix and match and do a lot of different things. The players responded really well to that tonight.”

Watford, in particular, was impressive, especially considering he hasn’t always been a strong rebounder. He got stronger in the offseason, and he was more aggressive than usual. All but one of Watford’s rebounds came on the defensive end.

“I do think Derek Elston is in there sorting through jersey numbers because I’m not sure we’re giving the 32 back to him,” Crean said jokingly, referring to the fact Watford wore Elston’s jersey to honor him. “If Christian’s going to get his career-high in that number, we might just have to do it.

“He knows that’s an objective that he’s really gotta show up in. The next level wants to see that at a high level, we need that at a high level.”

Etc…

· Early improvements: Even in a rout, Crean said he thought his team made several improvements during Friday’s game. He was especially happy with the rebounding of Zeller and Watford, but he also mentioned Victor Oladipo’s 17 deflections and Jeremy Hollowell’s second-half production.

“It’s one thing to win. It’s a whole other thing to improve while you’re winning. I thought we improved inside the game tonight.”

· Zeller struggles at the line: Zeller has rarely had problems at the foul line. He shot 76 percent from the charity stripe last year. But the Hoosier big man made just 2-of-6 free throws against Bryant, accounting for four of Indiana’s five misses.

“You’re telling me, man,” Zeller said of his struggles. “I don’t know. I gotta figure something out. I’ll figure it out.”

· Ferrell likes up-tempo collegiate game: At long last, Ferrell and Indiana’s other freshmen finally played in their first collegiate game on Friday night. It didn’t seem to take long for the Park Tudor product to adjust to the new pace of play.

“It was a lot more up-tempo,” Ferrell said. “I feel like I kind of handled it well, just getting out and pushing the ball in transition. It’s a lot of fun. I know that’s what coach wants us to do, pretty much get out and run, because I feel like that’s when we can be the best. That change is pretty good.”

· Hulls plays aggressively: One of the more surprising things to come out of Indiana’s exhibition game against Indiana Wesleyan last week was the fact Hulls didn’t score a single point and attempted only one shot. The senior guard was much more assertive on Friday, hitting 3-of-5 shots from the field, all 3-pointers.

“Jordan has been very aggressive for us since last Thursday, and that’s what we need him to be,” Crean said.

· Creek returns to action: Redshirt junior guard Maurice Creek, who missed all of last season with an Achilles’ injury, returned to the floor for a regular season game for the first time since Jan. 15, 2011. Creek had six points on 2-of-3 shooting in 15 minutes.

“It’s good to see Mo back out there,” Hulls said. “We’ve seen him put in all the hard work. He’s doing a great job. He’s still getting used to the flow of the game, but I think he’s adjusting pretty well for us.”

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  • shknqk

    We are becoming like Notre dame football fans. Without sin seems to be the standard and its hard to sit back and enjoy excellence if not perfection.

    There is some room for improvement, but I think you don’t talk about the smudge in the corner when looking at the Mona Lisa.

    I love the pace. It felt like they passed much more per possession but still shot much quicker. I bet we never got to 24 on the shot clock, but there was no isolation stand and dribble all night (as would have been in an NBA game)

  • shknqk

    We are becoming like Notre dame football fans. Without sin seems to be the standard and its hard to sit back and enjoy excellence if not perfection.

    There is some room for improvement, but I think you don’t talk about the smudge in the corner when looking at the Mona Lisa.

    I love the pace. It felt like they passed much more per possession but still shot much quicker. I bet we never got to 24 on the shot clock, but there was no isolation stand and dribble all night (as would have been in an NBA game)

  • cooper

    Hulls and Ferrell is not going to work against bigger athletic teams. They are both too short to guard a big two. They can both start but it seems Crean will need to figure out a way to get them both minutes while not always playing together. Maybe it can be as simple as subbing out in important defensive situations but holding your own against Bryant isn’t the same thing as holding your own against Big 10, UNC and tourney teams

  • At this pace yogi is a lock for B1G FOY. Gary Harris couldn’t play D or knock down open Js for MSU. Only thing that would have made last night better was a UK loss. after watching that game IU is clearly a much better team at this point in the season than UK.

  • Kelin Blab

    You can see Yogi’s impact on just about everyone he is on the court with…simple…HE WILL FIND YOU!

  • SCHoosier

    Lot to like..some not to like. Speed kills..but it can kill the “driver” also. IU played out of control at a helter-skelter pace at least 3 times in the game including the start (probably pumped up). Lot of TO’s bad shots and unproductive b-ball during those times…which would have cost them points/fouls against a better team. When they slowed it down and pounded it inside..they were great..as were some of the controlled breaks. I know they want to push it and the pace killed Bryants legs/shooting in the second half..but…!Yogi is a magician. Hoosiers have enuff to work on defensively to keep them busy for a while. Re: Yogi and Jordy in the same background. Watched some of the MSU game last night..tried to figure out who Jordy could guard in their starting line up…no answer. Guess it would be Harris with a lot of help.

  • Benhyoung14

    I’ve been saying for a long time that I liked Hollowell better. Can’t wait to see what Hanner will do.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    I know that Sheeladipo will be seniors next year, but based on Yogi’s demeanor and performance — on and off the court — tells me that it will be Yogi’s team next year.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    I know that Sheeladipo will be seniors next year, but based on Yogi’s demeanor and performance — on and off the court — tells me that it will be Yogi’s team next year.

  • JerryCT

    The pressure on D looked good so early in the year. My biggest surprises were Creek’s ability to move and Hollowell’s effort and positioning on defense.

  • Luke72

    Yogi being on the court is just flat out fun. If his game last night is any indication of things to come, hold on to your hat. Watford really put it all out there. For a first game of the season even though it was a team far less talented team Yeeha we’re back!!

  • ScoopGeoff

    Yeah I actually thought his demeanor was more impressive than his play. Thats a good point.

  • SCHoosier

    If you watched Yogi and VO jawing at each other..at times looks like he’s trying to make it his team NOW. Also..disappointed in Will’s ongoing whining about fouls called on him. Get over it..he’s gonna get a tech in some game when it really hurts..leave the ref baiting to Crean..cause B-10 officials aren’t going to put up with Sheehey’s histrionic whining.

  • SCHoosier

    If you watched Yogi and VO jawing at each other..at times looks like he’s trying to make it his team NOW. Also..disappointed in Will’s ongoing whining about fouls called on him. Get over it..he’s gonna get a tech in some game when it really hurts..leave the ref baiting to Crean..cause B-10 officials aren’t going to put up with Sheehey’s histrionic whining.

  • Derbus

    Very true! If IU is going to win another banner, then CTC must become magical in his player substitutions. A coach, a warlock, however you label him, it is pramount to our success. Take 2nite and add 3 more resources on the front line … I would not want to play us! Lol

  • b_side

    I agree that Yogi is a front-runner, but Harris will be right there with
    him. You can’t judge him on one game. Two completely different circumstances comparing Yogi vs. Harris last night:

    1) Yogi playing against vastly inferior competition in the friendly confines of Assembly Hall.

    2) Harris playing against a quality opponent (UCONN) on a freaking aircraft carrier.

  • Jethro Troll

    I disagree. There will probably only be a handful of instances when an opponent is really able to create a mismatch and take advantage of IU’s backcourt of Hulls and Ferrell. And fortunately, IU has the pieces to adjust when necessary. Still, we’ll see Hulls and Ferrell on the court together alot. And I think more times than not, the opponent is trying their darnest to matchup and adjust to what IU’s putting on the floor.

  • BenJW

    Military base not a carrier.

  • BenJW

    Military base not a carrier.

  • baukev55

    It’s Yogi’s team right now, and it’s great! Never have I seen a freshmen lead that well. His basketball I.Q. is off the charts! He knows how things should be done and the team looks so much more fluid when he’s out there. I would take him over Trey Burke any day of the week. He’ll make a fantastic coach someday.

  • Jethro Troll

    This is a guard driven game, especially in today’s game, and IU has their elite PG now. Yogi adds another dimension to this already potent offense. He looked really into the game, and extremely comfortable leading this team.
    IU is an elite offensive unit. There is so many weapons, that Watford didnt even take his first shot until late in the first half. Anyone else notice that on IU’s first second half possession, they worked to the ball down to Wat on the block to get him in the game? Good job Crean!!
    I dont think this team is going to be an elite defensive unit, but I dont think they have to be to win with this high powered offense. They just have to be good. If I was Crean, I would key in on becoming a really good rebounding team. Limiting the opposing teams to one shot will go a long way to being a good defensive squad.

  • Jethro Troll

    In an aircraft hanger.

  • I agree. One game is way too early to tell. I was judging Harris on his ability to hit open shots. Open is open regardless of opponents. I was surprised he did not get benched due to his complete lack of effort on defense.

  • Derbus

    Well, w/ Jordy on the bench, CTC can have Will, Hanner, or Jeremy on the floor for a taller, lockdown defensive unit. There will be times when we need to. What flavor is Jordy’s Kool-aid btw? Lol

  • b_side

    I think you’re selling our opponents short. In the non-conference schedule alone we’ll have trouble with Gtown/UCLA and UNC. I’m not familiar enough with Georgia to comment.

    Regardless, we have 2 games against the likes of MSU, OSU, Michigan and Minny. That’s at least10 games total against tough backcourts. Heck I’m not even sure we want Jordy trying to guard Terone Johnson for long stretches vs. Purdue.

  • Jethro Troll

    Wow!! Really dude? I didnt even make a Jordy reference, and you felt like you needed to go there? Whatever floats your boat, I guess.
    I just dont believe our backcourt will be as much of a problem as alot of people on this board think it will be.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I liked it. We have so many guard combinations it is vicious. I would not want to be another team preparing for Indiana. The versatility, and range of the talents of our guards is tremendous. Just plain amazed about how stacked we are from top to bottom and we still have 3 guys to join the lineup. Go Hoosiers!!!

  • What are we doing handing out Sweet Sixteen Rings?

  • shknqk

    And did anyone see anyone have a head down bc of not getting shots or taking bad shots? I mean some didn’t shoot well but shot selection was beautiful.

    Feels like this team has extraordinary trust and respect for each other. Hope it’s sustained under pressure, but CWATs boarding and not shooting til end of first half strikes me as the kind of selflessness, bball iq and effort that hangs banners.

  • SCHoosier

    I hope he found Noah after the game and told him that: “U come here big fella and I will find you.!!” anybody hear anything about his visit went. I hope he missed the football game….men vs boys (we had the boys):

  • Don’t forget….According to Penn State head coach Pat Chambers, PSU has “best back in the country”.

  • The good news is that our other guards in the rotation have good height for guards: Oladipo 6’5″, Abell 6’4″ & Creek 6’5″.

  • IUMIKE1

    If I have any criticism of Harris it is that he tends to slack on D some of the time. I have seen him play a few times and at times he looked like he could care less about even the basic fundamentals when it came to the defensive end of the game. Think he was good enough at the high school level to negate that to a great extent by his being more naturally gifted athletically than most of the players he guarded. Also think that Izzo will get that corrected even if it means Harris watching while sitting beside him.

  • marcusgresham

    I thought there were times when they did exhibit “elite” defense. I think of the shot clock violation and the kid dribbling straight out of bounds because he couldn’t get past Oladipo when he tried to drive. There were other examples, but I can’t think off the top of my head.
    Part of the reason the defense won’t look as stout as others is the pace at which the offense plays. Wisconsin holds teams to low scores because they hold the damn ball as long as possible. IU will have games when they’ll take more shots in a half than some Badger opponents will get in a game.

  • marcusgresham

    That shimmy on the baseline where he faked out the two guys and buried a short jumper was amazing—Yogi’s faster when he’s not going anywhere than damn near anyone else in the country is in a dead sprint.

  • marcusgresham

    Ugly, I agree, but at least with Coach Wilson you can see hope. I don’t envision losses like this so much in the future, whereas in the past they were expected.

  • marcusgresham

    Ugly, I agree, but at least with Coach Wilson you can see hope. I don’t envision losses like this so much in the future, whereas in the past they were expected.