James Blackmon Jr. Archive

Montreal rewind: James Blackmon Jr.

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Welcome to “Montreal rewind,” our player-by-player recap from Indiana’s five-game tour of Canada. Today: James Blackmon Jr. Previously: Nick Zeisloft, Devin Davis, Troy Williams, Yogi Ferrell, Robert Johnson, Stanford Robinson.

A theme of our Montreal rewind series has been Indiana’s retooled backcourt and the most important piece of it showed in Canada that he’s ready to be a major contributor as a freshman.

James Blackmon Jr., who committed to Indiana before his freshman season of high school, later de-committed and then committed again last fall, stepped into a Hoosier uniform for the first time and immediately began doing what he does best: scoring.

Lauded as one of the top shooters in the country, Blackmon Jr. averaged a team-high 18.8 points in IU’s five-game tour of Canada.

Efficiency was a big part of his game on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) circuit and at Marion and his first performances as a college player were no different. The 6-foot-4 guard posted an effective field goal percentage of 65.3 and hit 13 of his 15 free throw attempts.

Most impressive about how Blackmon Jr. played on the trip was the variety of ways in which he scored and the fact that he didn’t force many shots. He hit nine 3-pointers over the five games, showed a solid midrange game and floater and also got to the basket in the halfcourt and in transition.

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Five takeaways from Indiana’s tour of Canada

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Indiana’s five-game tour of Montreal and Ottawa wrapped on Wednesday afternoon and the Hoosiers returned home to Bloomington with a 4-1 record, much needed experience and plenty to work on before the start of practice.

Inside the Hall was there for each of the five exhibition games and you can read all of our coverage from the trip at this link. But with so much to digest in such a short period of time, our coverage from the trip is not done.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from what we saw in Canada:

· It’s early, but the first vibe from this team is a positive one: One thing I tried to do with each of the games was not turn them into a bigger deal than what they actually were. It’s August, the competition was up (Ottawa and Carleton) and down (McGill, Laval and UQAM) and the game is different with FIBA rules.

That said, there just already seems to be a cohesiveness forming with this group that I never observed last season. That’s not to say that chemistry was the overriding issue with Indiana a season ago, but there’s value in having a group of players who genuinely like each other on and off the court.

Following Indiana’s final win in Montreal, both Troy Williams and Robert Johnson talked about the chemistry and how it’s coming along so far.

“Off the court, anyone can hang out with anyone,” Williams explained. “I can hang out with Stan (Robinson) and Devin (Davis) one day and then the next day I could hang out with Jeremiah (April) and Tim (Priller). We all get along with each other so well.”

“I think it is coming along really good,” Johnson said. “From day one, whenever we went out and did different things, we always did it as a team. From what they tell me, last year it wasn’t always like that, so from that standpoint it is good and it has helped bring us together even more.” 

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Film Session: Offensive options

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Due to FIBA rules, a 24-second shot clock and a whirlwind set of five games, drawing concrete conclusions about these 2014-2015 Hoosiers isn’t wise.

Still, the vibe is decidedly different from the disappointment of a year ago. New faces are in place. They’re hanging out a lot — and even staying present with each other during bus rides home instead of staring at their smartphones.

And so if a theme emerged from the Montréal trip, it’s this: Trust is building — both on the court and off it. On offense, no longer does Yogi Ferrell have to do it all. There are better ball handlers, playmakers and 3-point shooters up and down this roster. Move the ball, make the extra pass, play together and for each other. That’s the key. Because the potential for offense variety is vast; this group of perimeter players can mix and match all over the court.

In a special Montréal edition of Film Session thanks to the livestream against McGill, we’ll look at all this starting to take shape:

After a Robert Johnson missed 3-pointer from the right wing, Troy Williams blows past the McGill defenders to grab the rebound, going from the weak to strong side to grab the board:

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Williams throws a hesitation dribble at the McGill defender:

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The Minute After: UQAM

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MONTREAL — Thoughts on a 109-77 win over the University of Quebec at Montreal:

Indiana’s five-game trip through Canada came to an end on Wednesday afternoon and in a lot of ways, the game felt much like the first game of the trip for the Hoosiers.

The opponent had little in terms of size, IU was clearly the more athletic and talented team and once it took control, there was little doubt as to what the result would be.

Still, there were positives to draw out of the effort, particularly when you consider this team was playing its fifth game in six days.

The bounce back effort of Robert Johnson, who went scoreless on Tuesday, is near the top of the list. The freshman guard from Richmond (Va.) finished with 17 points, hit all four of his 3-point attempts and also added five rebounds, four assists and three steals. In his postgame comments, Tom Crean mentioned that he didn’t even realize that Johnson failed to score on Tuesday because he was contributing in other facets of the game.

Devin Davis also had a strong final effort on the glass, corralling a team-high 10 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. While Davis wasn’t consistent with his rebounding totals on the trip, he’s definitely worked on his body in the offseason and seems more comfortable when he catches the ball near the block. While he’s still undersized, the added strength should allow Davis to hold his own as he role continues to grow.

Troy Williams was also outstanding on this afternoon with a team-high 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists and said one of the reasons he’s more comfortable right now than he was last season is that his left hand is completely healthy. Crean has talked a lot on this trip about getting his team to understand that it’s often better to just make the simple play and Williams, with his elite athleticism, is a great example for a player where this should be the focus.

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The Minute After: McGill

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MONTREAL — Thoughts on a 96-69 win over McGill University:

Unlike Sunday afternoon in Saint-Lambert, Quebec and Monday evening in Ottawa, Ontario, Indiana received little in terms of a test as it returned to Montreal for the fourth game of its Canadian tour.

The Hoosiers, who came into Love Competition Hall on the campus of McGill sporting a 2-1 record on their trip, dominated the Redmen, who lacked the athleticism to contain IU’s array of perimeter options.

From a team perspective, there was plenty to like in this performance from Indiana. The offense wasn’t nearly as good as what we witnessed Monday night against Carleton, but it was still quite solid. The Hoosiers scored 1.10 points per possession with an effective field goal percentage of 54, while limiting the Redmen to .85 points per trip and an eFG percentage of just 43.3.

Indiana also did a solid job grabbing the shots that it did miss as evidenced by its offensive rebounding percentage of 46.1. And while the free throw rate (FTA/FGA) wasn’t as high as Tom Crean would like at just 21.3 percent, the Hoosiers did make 15 of their 16 attempts at the stripe.

On the downside of things, Indiana was sloppy with the ball quite often this evening and turned it over 23 times for a turnover percentage of 27.2. Crean said afterward that many of those were unforced and a film session with this young group will show far too many occasions where a ball handler went airborne without anywhere to go. These are the types of mistakes that haunted Indiana a season ago and are exactly the kind of mishaps that can be the difference in tight games when the regular season rolls around.

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Video: Tom Crean, IU players react to win over McGill

MONTREAL — Tom Crean, James Blackmon Jr. (21 points, five rebounds, two steals), Nick Zeisloft (15 points, six rebounds) and Tim Priller (8 points) met with the media following Indiana’s 96-69 win over McGill University on Tuesday night at Live Competition Hall.

Watch and listen to their postgame comments in the media players below:

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Video: Indiana vs. Carleton University highlights

OTTAWA, Ontario – Indiana’s five-game Canadian tour continued on Monday evening with a 95-85 win over Carleton University at the Ravens Nest.

Inside the Hall was there for all of the action and have edited together close to two minutes of highlights, which are available below. Please note that Big Ten rules prevent us from showing more than two minutes per game on the trip.

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