Surprised by Yogi’s stat line? You shouldn’t be

IUJMUITH0003DAYTON, Ohio — Yogi Ferrell is often ignored and overlooked because, frankly, you can’t talk about everybody at the same time. Ferrell happens to play on a team with guys named Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller with a coach named Tom Crean. There aren’t enough headlines to go around.

But if you spend any amount of time around the Indiana program, you know how important Ferrell is to this program. How valued he is. How loved.

Ferrell’s first-half burst against 16th-seeded James Madison in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday was probably viewed by some as a coming out party of sorts. His name was trending on Twitter nationally by halftime. He finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

“I helped recruit and coach Jameer Nelson for four years,” said James Madison coach Matt Brady, a former assistant at St. Joe’s. “He’s got some of Jameer’s qualities. He’s got that same burst of speed. Jameer’s probably a little better long-range shooter, but he seems to have the leadership skills that Jameer had. He seems to have control of that team. It’s fun to watch.”

Ferrell’s performance on Friday was impressive, but what is often forgotten is that Ferrell has been one of the steadiest forces on this team all year long. He’s quarterbacked the Hoosiers from the start, despite his youth and inexperience. When Ferrell comes off the court, the team doesn’t function nearly as well on either end.

“He’s always on the attack,” junior Will Sheehey said. “He makes everyone so much better when he drives in the lane and kicks, gives everyone else opens shots. I know I always benefit off of Yogi’s drives.”

Crean, Oladipo and Zeller have gotten the majority of the credit for Indiana taking the next step this season, and rightly so. But don’t forget about Ferrell, who has quietly become one of the nation’s best on-ball defenders and more efficient point guards.

“The stars were out, the lights were on, and he came to perform. He did a great job for us,” Oladipo said.

Sheehey described Ferrell as “Hollywood” when he stepped on campus for the first time last summer. He thought highly of himself, perhaps too highly, and had to be put in his place.

“He grew out of that quick because we brought him down to Earth,” Oladipo said. “Reality set in when we started doing conditioning and he wasn’t in front of the pack.”

Ever since then, Ferrell has stayed pretty quiet, and simply worked. His freshman numbers won’t jump off the page at you, but Ferrell’s growth and production have been every bit as important to Indiana’s success as any other single factor.

Friday’s performance was just another step in Ferrell’s development. When it was clear early on that James Madison was going to play off of Ferrell to help on Christian Watford and Zeller in the post, Ferrell made them pay. He’s not normally the team’s first scoring option, but he had no problem being it when the Dukes dared him to be.

“We were gonna leave Yogi when the ball went in the paint,” said James Madison coach Matt Brady. “We were undaunted by his threes, it was the speed at which he put the ball down. He just blew by our guys. He gets so low to the ground. When you get low like that, you’re hard to stay in front of.”

Only three teams in the last 20 years have won a national championship with a freshman point guard (Arizona 1997, Syracuse 2003, Kentucky 2012). If Ferrell continues to play like he has lately, the Hoosiers just may become the fourth.

“He’s a star,” Brady said. “I don’t see any holes to stop them from doing what [the state of] Indiana wants them to accomplish. At St. Joe’s in ’04, we had the No. 1 team in the country. That St. Joe’s team was great, but that Indiana team has all the answers. They have size, athletic ability, they play really hard, they run so many sets, and they share the ball as well as the St. Joe’s team I was a part of.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.mason.9279807 David Mason

    Sure is outstanding to have a true PG at IU. Yogi is serious about doing well. I posted before that at the practice on Thursday Yogi was serious. Everyone was taking care to do the job…but Yogi’s focus is evident. It comes through each game that he is going to be responsible to run the offense. He passes well. He anticipates. He isnt sluggish. He is quick.
    And, on offense, sometimes he has a little hesitation to his drive…when he lets the defense know he is going to drive but then slows or looks away for a split second…then he is past the defender and on to the bucket. Smooth move. Love the fake.
    But against James Madison, he was given a lot and just took it. Thanks Yogi!

  • Jesse Turpin

    I’m just impressed that he can put up those types of numbers against guards that are 5 inches taller than him. I wondered how he would handle that pressure, but it sure didn’t look like he had any problem with that matchup.

  • Luke72

    At his rate of development we may only have Yogi for one more year! Anyone who ever played point can see that he not only has the skills but his the smarts to play with the best of the best!

  • SCHoosier

    It was very important for Yogi..in his first NCAA game to play like that. Taking it to the hole …dishing and defense is what the Hoosiers need him to do. Glad to see him hit a couple of outside shots…cause he was only 3 for the last 20..and every team is gonna pack it down until Yogi proves he can score. Two shots made does not signify the arrival of the next Alford..so I hope Yogi does his thing and does not fall in love with the 3 pointer. The TV guys rightly criticize him every game for leaving his feet on passes..and if he keeps it up..some game its gonna cost IU dearly when they can least afford it.This kid has a boatload of talent..and he sure changed the scouting reports for the rest of the tourney which opens it up more for everybody else… Great job Yogi!

  • SCHoosier

    Barkley and the other hired mouths..ended their pre-game comments by wondering how “IU’s little guards were going to handle JM’s big athletic guards.”. Seems the question should have been asked the other way around,.

  • http://twitter.com/hoosiersmitty HoosierSmitty

    “It’s fun to watch (as he dices up our entire team like a seasoned chef)”

  • http://twitter.com/hoosiersmitty HoosierSmitty

    CBS is really disappointing me with their “experts.” Barkley is comical at best. Seeing them try to make something out of a game that was going to be one-sided made me laugh.

    This game was no contest from the start, as it should be when you’re truly a No. 1 seed. Hi Kansas and Gonzaga.

  • IUMIKE1

    Yea, he also went on and on about how great and underrated New Mexico and it’s conference was and how overrated the B1G was. Oops, looks like you were wrong on both of those Charles, you were just tuurrabblle. Barkley can crack me up with some of the stuff he says at times but he can also say some of the stupidest things at times as well.

  • JohnFromBeyond

    I know it’s kinda a “rule” to not leave your feet while passing, but that’s only if you don’t know where you’re going with it. If you’re inside with the bigs and you have a target, I think it’s OK to make a jump pass to get more clearance.

    I’m not saying that Yogi ALWAYS knows where he’s going with it, but often he does. I’ve cringed many times in the middle of one of his jump passes and then bingo he hits Hulls or Watford outside for an open jumper. I’ll take one missed jump pass per game if he can give us 6+ assists and double digit points.

    He has a 2-1 assist to turnover ratio. That’s good but not awesome. I don’t think his main problem is the jump passes, it’s when he tries to force in a pass from the outside past too many bodies. I’m sure he’ll only get better and better as he matures and starts making more shots.

  • chiswede

    They’re all terrible. I love how each one of them has a different sleeper pick, all of which are horrible. If I could never hear another word out of Seth Davis and Doug Gottlieb, it would be terrific. At least Barkley pretty much admits he has no idea what he’s talking about and is funny to listen to. Those other two are just tools.

  • chiswede

    They’re all terrible. I love how each one of them has a different sleeper pick, all of which are horrible. If I could never hear another word out of Seth Davis and Doug Gottlieb, it would be terrific. At least Barkley pretty much admits he has no idea what he’s talking about and is funny to listen to. Those other two are just tools.

  • marcusgresham

    …and he still has no idea what Mario is doing.

  • JNo

    I think the article said it best. The Dukes sagged off and Yogi took advantage. And you know his teammates where loving it.

    I hope he continues to play at that level for the rest of the tournament. Very few teams can stop all 5 of a line up.

  • WisconHoosier

    “He grew out of that quick because we brought him down to Earth,” Oladipo said.

    Can you imagine being a freshman and having Victor Oladipo waiting for you on the practice court? Oh my.

    I hope that’s what Yogi does to the freshmen next year, and that the freshmen respond just as well, with hard work, instead of pouting.

    What a great team this is. Win or lose the NCAA, it’s a team for the ages.

  • WisconHoosier

    “He grew out of that quick because we brought him down to Earth,” Oladipo said.

    Can you imagine being a freshman and having Victor Oladipo waiting for you on the practice court? Oh my.

    I hope that’s what Yogi does to the freshmen next year, and that the freshmen respond just as well, with hard work, instead of pouting.

    What a great team this is. Win or lose the NCAA, it’s a team for the ages.

  • marcusgresham

    If Yogi doesn’t, Sheehey will.

  • HOOSIERS135

    KID CAN BALL.That’s all that needs to be said.

  • Ole Man

    I just hope this doesn’t go to Yogi’s head and that he let’s the game come to him in turns of shooting.
    The last thing we need is for him to attempt to take over as the primary scorer.

  • Oldguyy

    Just to put things in perspective, Trey Burke’s A/T ratio was 1.6 last year as a freshman.

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