Devan Dumes certainly could make headlines last season. No, they weren’t always the kind you cut out and pin up at your desk, (or were they?) but Dumes’ confidence at least made for some memorable moments in a season mostly devoid of them.
So where did he go?
Last season’s leading scorer, it made sense when Dumes’ numbers came down in 2009 with the influx of fresh talent. And an injury to begin the season kept him from fighting for a starting place and visibly hindered his ability to get into an offensive rhythm once he was healthy.
But Dumes, who averaged 12.7 points per game last season, has seen that average fall by more than half, and his minutes-per-game average has been reduced almost as much. Worse, Dumes has lost nearly nine points off his overall field-goal percentage from last season to this one, and his 3-point shooting is down from 38.1 percent to 32.6 percent through 14 games.
Of course, none of this looked like more than an unexplained anomaly until Maurice Creek was lost for the season, cutting more than 16 points and the Hoosiers’ best offensive option out of the gameplan. And yet, in the two games since Creek’s injury, that open starting spot has gone to Jordan Hulls, not Dumes.
He’s had his moments, including a first-half performance against Michigan that included three 3-pointers and a pair of assists. And in fairness, while his points and minutes are down, Dumes’ rebounding and assist numbers have only decreased marginally, and he’s cut his turnover numbers — astronomically high at 3.1 per game a year ago — nearly in half.
But where he’s most valuable, Dumes just hasn’t been able to find the range on his 3-point shot, (which, you might remember, is actually rather deep) and some of his decisions around the basket have looked forced. Put more simply: Dumes just doesn’t look comfortable or in rhythm offensively.
The injury, which affected his minutes early in the season, probably kept him from carving out a place for himself in this offense before the mold hardened. And it’s understandable to think that going from starter to first or second bench option is going throw a wrench into things, too.
But Wednesday night, when the Buckeyes were scoring and Indiana wasn’t, the Hoosiers needed someone to stop the bleeding, someone to hit a couple big shots and open the game back up.
Dumes could have been that player — he was at times last season. And I promise you, Wednesday’s script will repeat itself more than once before this season ends.
It’s undoubtedly been a twisted road from Decatur Central High School to Ypsilanti, Mich., to Vincennes University to Bloomington, but this is Dumes’ last chance to find the magic.
It doesn’t matter how he does it, but he’d better do it soon.