Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2012-2013 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Christian Watford.
Watford (36 games): 12.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 43.2% FG, 48.4% 3PFG, 81.1% FT in 27.9 minutes per game.
They said Christian Watford, for all his talent and scoring ability, despite the biggest shot in Indiana hoops in some time, was too inconsistent.
Watford would disappear when he was needed — missing shot after shot during Big Ten games. His effort waxed and waned like the moon.
But in his final season in the cream and crimson, Watford shed that reputation. It didn’t start that way. He had trouble fitting into the Hoosiers’ uptempo transition style. Against North Carolina in Bloomington — perhaps the most dominant, entertaining performance by Indiana all year — Watford decided to play outside the team construct and hunt for shots. He had a dunk that looked nice, but it would be the only shot he’d make all evening (1-of-9).
Play like this simply wasn’t going to fly.
Slowly, Watford found that conforming to the construct of IU’s efficient offense had its benefits. He wouldn’t be the one scoring at the rim in transition. He wouldn’t be the one bringing the ball up the court, either. But Watford’s trailer 3-pointer off the left wing was deadly. If we scratch Remy Abell’s 48.5 percent mark which came on just 33 attempts, Watford led the team in 3-point percentage (48.4 percent on 125 attempts). And for a team that made it a point to get to the line often, Watford would use his ability on the block to get the charity stripe (a team-high 81.1 percent mark) or score otherwise if the foul didn’t come. (Though, he wouldn’t always find success there. His shot fell 55 percent of the time at the rim, tied with Yogi Ferrell for worst among IU’s rotation players.)
As the Big Ten season rolled along, Watford’s numbers were a model of consistency. Not only did he score in double-digits in 17 of the 20 games, but he was strong on the boards as well, tallying eight or more rebounds on seven occasions.
Rebounding like that doesn’t come without consistent effort. Watford was finally bringing it game in and game out. He also hit one of the biggest shots of the season, a runner and-1 in the lane against Michigan State up in East Lansing that helped the Hoosiers win there for the first time in 22 years.
With the 2012-2013 season complete, Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo have decisions to make in the near future concerning the 2013 NBA Draft with both players projected as lottery picks in most projections.
Here’s our latest edition of Draft watch, with a focus on the decision making process for each player, as well as a look at the stock of Christian Watford:
· Analysis: Zeller’s final game of the season, and perhaps his Indiana career, was fuel for those who believe he’s not ready to jump to the NBA. He struggled to score against the length of Syracuse and had more of his shots blocked (5) than made field goals (3). But as alarming as that performance may have been in the eyes of some, the complete body of work for Zeller is still quite impressive. His scoring and rebounding numbers improved from a season ago, despite a dip in efficiency, and he was excellent in transition and at getting to the foul line. Whether he’s ready to be a regular rotation player in the NBA is up for debate, but his position as a lottery pick is not. That’s a proposition that’s hard to pass up for any player.
· Expert opinion: “Some scouts love him, many don’t. His stock is a bit more volatile [than Oladipo]. Not sure where he lands and whether he’d be better off returning for a year to add strength and a jump shot to his game.” – ESPN.com’s Chad Ford.
Tom Crean, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls addressed the media Wednesday afternoon at the Verizon Center before Thursday night’s Sweet Sixteen matchup with the Syracuse Orange.
DAYTON, Ohio — This was the type of game Indiana rarely finds a way to win. The pace slow, the play physical, the score low, the game ugly.
We’ve seen it too many times before. Butler. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Wisconsin again.
Temple gave the top-seeded Hoosiers everything they could handle on Sunday afternoon in Dayton. They had them on the ropes, had them frazzled. Their dream season was quickly slipping away.
But this time, Indiana found a way — an ugly, low-scoring and physical one — and the Hoosiers are moving on. They won a game in a way they never can. Now, the Hoosiers are more dangerous than ever. Now, they have won in every imaginable way.
Indiana 58, Temple 52.
“It was just a matter of time, the way our guys approached it, that things would break for them,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “If we just continued to defend, if we continued to get good shots and good ball movement and get the ball inside out on offense … That’s exactly what happened.”
What made this one different? Well, it’s really quite simple: Leadership. This team’s seniors have been through it all. They’ve lost too many times to Wisconsin and Wisconsin-like teams to let it end their collegiate careers.
Jordan Hulls, who took a brutal hit to his shoulder in the first half only to come back and hit big shots later, made sure his teammates never quit. He took control in the team’s huddles during timeouts.
“He said, ‘We were down by five with 52 seconds to go at Michigan,'” associate head coach Tim Buckley said of Hulls. “He said that with two minutes to go in the game.”
“Jordan kept saying, ‘We’re not done, we’re not done,'” Yogi Ferrell said.
Hulls’ words were important, but his actions were even more so. He was clearly in pain — he constantly grimaced late in the first half — but he refused to remain on the bench in the biggest game of Indiana’s season. Hulls wanted to be on the floor.
DAYTON, Ohio — Watch and listen to what the IU players had to say inside their locker room of the University of Dayton Arena following the Hoosiers’ 58-52 win over Temple in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
High-definition quality video is available in the embedded media players below: