2015-2016 Player Profile: Yogi Ferrell

  • 10/23/2015 7:50 am in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’re taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster this month. Today, we conclude our look at Indiana’s roster with Yogi Ferrell.

Unlike previous years, there’s no debating Yogi Ferrell’s role as he enters his final season of college basketball.

Ferrell is Indiana’s best player. He’s a legitimate contender for Big Ten player of the year and a potential national player of the year candidate. And if the Hoosiers are to meet expectations, Ferrell must maximize his own potential in every facet of the game.

Statistically speaking, it’s hard to expect a ton of improvement from IU’s point guard. As a junior, he took 197 3-pointers and made close to 42 percent. He improved his turnover percentage by nearly four percent. He hit a career-best 86 percent from the free throw line. He was one of the nation’s premier guards and deserving of the first team All-Big Ten accolades he received.

But is Ferrell ready to be the centerpiece of a team that wins big?

His former teammate, Victor Oladipo, now of the Orlando Magic, wants to see Ferrell develop into the guy who holds the Hoosiers together through adversity.

“He’s just got to keep improving and he’s got to keep those guys intact,” Oladipo told Inside the Hall earlier this month. “He’s got to make sure those guys aren’t doing anything crazy and keep them together because it’s going to be hard.

“The Big Ten is not an easy conference and it didn’t get any easier. He’s just got to get through all of the storms. There’s going to be some storms because that’s just how the Big Ten is. Nobody is going to win every game. He’s got to be smart and bring those guys together as a leader because whether he likes it or not, he is one.”

Player driven leadership was a staple of the Indiana teams that won 56 games in two seasons from 2011 to 2013. But when the key pieces of those teams departed, that player driven leadership took a step back.

As recently as late August, Tom Crean essentially said that the Hoosiers still have a long way to go in that department. At Big Ten media day, Ferrell said he did hear those comments from Crean.

“That was just a little message towards us that somebody better start stepping up,” Ferrell said last week. “So I feel like as seniors, we work on that every day. He always tells us that anybody can be a leader. Everybody on this team has a voice and I feel like everybody has to listen to someone.”

Now the challenge for Ferrell becomes putting those words into practice. His talent and ability to make winning plays has never and shouldn’t be questioned. There aren’t many, if any, better point guards in the country.

But there is something to Oladipo’s comments about getting through the storms in what is a long season. There will be ups and downs, but being able to meet adversity head on and respond appropriately can make a good team a great team. Even if he’s not labeled as the leader or captain, as IU’s best player, Ferrell needs to be that calming presence when the Hoosiers hit an inevitable rough patch.

Bottom Line: If the Hoosiers are to meet some of their goals – winning the Big Ten, a deep NCAA tournament run being chief among them – it needs an even more polished version of Yogi Ferrell. Statistically, his improvement may only be incremental in his final season, but exhibiting growth as a leader both on the court and in the locker room is a key in his final season. If he can do that, Ferrell has a chance to write the final chapter on one of the best careers for a point guard in program history.

Quotable: “It’s a big year for him. He can do a lot of big things, a lot of great things, go down as one of the best players to ever come out of Indiana.” – Oladipo on Ferrell

Previously: Thomas Bryant, Juwan Morgan, O.G. Anunoby, Harrison NiegoTim Priller, Robert Johnson, James Blackmon Jr., Troy Williams, Collin Hartman, Max Bielfeldt, Ryan Burton, Nick Zeisloft

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  • sarge

    I know other teams probably think Yogi has been in the league for a decade, but as a fan of the Hoosiers it seems like just yesterday this guy was just a recruit I was hearing so much about. He has been everything he was billed to be and more. It has been awesome seeing his game transform while being the consistent player we have seen start from day 1. He will go down as one of the greatest to wear the jersey, and I have appreciated his effort in every game. If you doubt this guy’s heart, check out the game at Maryland last year after he missed what would have been the game winning shot. He and the other guys on this team put it on the line for us every game. Have a great season Yogi, it will be hard to find another player to fill your shoes.

  • N71

    Cornerstone guy, best player, point guard, Indiana kid…can’t say enough. People will be talking about him here in Indiana for decades to come.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I just want to see him be a solid leader. If he does that, this team can go as far as they want.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Yogi is not a perfect player (this post has been up for more than an hour and “fourputts” hasn’t criticized Yogi’s defense yet…shocking!) but he has had an awesome three-year career and I truly enjoy watching him play. He’s going to break many school records that I didn’t think would be broken and there are very few point guards I would trade him for. Yogi has improved every single year and I’m excited to see what he’s added to his game during this offseason.

    If he can lead (yes, lead…something that hasn’t really been seen so far) this team to a very successful season, I think he will be remembered as a “pantheon” Hoosier. Good luck Yogi and I’ll enjoy watching your final season.

  • Gregory Spera

    This team goes as far as Yogi can take it.

  • Lance76

    They have offense and are aware of the need to step up the defense. I wonder if the development of JBJr for the next level will allow Yogi to play off the ball more. I would not want to play a game of “horse” with Yogi.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    I am not sure what can be said about Yogi that hasn’t been. I am however curious how many opponents ankles he has broken with his quickness.

  • straight no chaser

    I think Yogi can take it to the next level by being a fantastic leader on defense. I hope he has internalized Vic’s advice. Having said that, I don’t think Yogi can maintain the same offensive intensity while also reaching a new level on defense. So will he assume that defensive role and relegate some offense to other players?

  • Jrod

    Let’s hope!

  • Arch Puddington

    I am weary of the word “leadership.” Not only is it so vague as to be nearly meaningless, it bothers me that our coach talks about it at every turn. There is only one true leader on this team, and he is paid several million dollars per year to be good at it.

    Here is what we need out of Yogi:

    1. Lockdown, impenetrable defense.
    2. Being calm in big moments at the end of close games.
    3. Always being in the right place at the right time and always behaving appropriately on and off the court.

    The idea that leadership is about calling guys out or a bunch of rah-rah stuff is silly. It comes from watching too many NFL films about guys like Ray Lewis. If Yogi takes care of his own business and performs up to his abilities, that will be leadership enough.

  • straight no chaser

    LOL, absolutely! But I hate to disappoint you because our coach sees himself as a facilitator, not a leader.

  • straight no chaser

    Sorry, had to ask this. But are we staying home this Halloween? LOL.

  • SilentBob

    Again I agree to an extent, but you do need some guys with some personality and fire. Doesn’t nescarily have to be in your face like Ray Lewis, who is a personal favorite of mine, but you do need someone with a commanding presence. Tim Duncan would be a good example. His personality isn’t high intensity, but when he gives you that “mass murderer” stare he has, you know it’s time to get down to business.

  • Arch Puddington

    One cannot simply mandate “leadership.”. As you point out, a good bit of it is just personality. No one had to tell Ray Lewis to be what he was, he just was. CTC has been harping on this issue for years, but has really taken it to a new level over the last two years. Will Sheehey was one of his more or less open targets, as if he was supposed to be a leader just because he was a senior. For all of his bravado, Sheehey was never that kind of person. It’s not clear that Yogi is, either, but the demand keeps being issued.

    Staking the success of the program on the willingness of players who aren’t natural leaders to lead is frankly ridiculous. Even to the extent that teams need leadership of the sort you describe, that doesn’t mean they actually have it. Teams need good shooters, too, but not all have them (see IU, 2013-14). Teams need good defenders, but not all have them (see IU, 2014-15). It is pointless to ask players to give something they don’t have, and poor coaching to blame them for not having it,

  • Young Hoosier

    He’s actually going to have to guard someone this year. And if he does… he has good potential. Though he is pretty much peaked. But I think he can be our own Kyle Lowry.

  • TampaHoosier

    You make it sound like leadership is only possible if you are born with it. I don’t think there would be so many management books, workshops, seminars, etc. if that were the case. It may be easier if you have a natural ability, but it absolutely is a learned trait.

  • TampaHoosier

    Facilitator is not mutually exclusive from being a leader. In many cases, that is the type of leadership that is required. Eliminating obstacles that prevent someone from reaching their full potential is a very effective leadership style if you have the right resources.

  • Arch Puddington

    I agree that it can be developed, but only to a certain extent. It’s like shooting or any other skill. Everyone can get better, but that doesn’t mean everyone can master the skill to the same level.

    My point is that by CTC’s own admission, his players aren’t developing it, yet he keeps calling for it. He either unable to help them develop it or unaware of their limitations, or both. As I said, if it isn’t forthcoming, it is his job to provide it.

  • straight no chaser

    I agree. I follow the same approach as a professor when I can. But your students have to be of a certain caliber to prosper and grow within such a teaching/learning paradigm. I don’t think we are there.

  • SilentBob

    Big time agree. However I think Yogi is a much better leader than fans, and his own coach, give him credit for. But that’s just an opinion. Cause really what makes up a good leader is so often an opinion.

    When coach made that “if I had a good leader I would have named him 10 minutes ago” comment, I tried not to look into it too much. Maybe he was trying to inspire, maybe he was just venting, maybe he was just trying to shift the blame off himself. I don’t really know. I don’t really care.

    Maybe he just meant responsibility and accountability. But you really can’t blame what Emmitt did on lack of player leadership anymore than you can a lack of coaching leadership.

  • sarge

    I don’t believe any 21 year old, no matter what they are trying to accomplish in life, has peaked at such a young age.

  • MK

    I couldn’t disagree more. Teams need players to be leaders. Just playing is not enough in my opinion.

  • Arch Puddington

    I did not say that we don’t need leadership. I said that expecting it from players who are unable or unwilling to provide it is poor coaching. Think how silly it would be if he kept running plays designed to get a player open who can’t shoot. You can wish the player could shoot better and try to help them improve, but if they simply can not do what is being asked, why would a coach keep running the same play and expect different results?

    As I said elsewhere, just because a team needs it doesn’t mean it will get it. Even to the extent that leadership is a teachable skill, not everyone has it in equal abundance. And if, as our coach has said repeatedly over the last two years, we haven’t been getting it, then one of two things is true: either he can’t develop it, or he is unable to recognize that it isn’t forthcoming. Either way, the steady stream of public comments about it is serving no good purpose.

  • Young Hoosier

    When it comes to sports, someone can peak early. There really isn’t much higher for Yogi to go. Until he plays defense. That’s when he’ll peak.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    SNC, See why some of these stupid posts should never be replied too. YH is now an agent on when every player peaks. Hell even Black Jesus/Michael Jordan started his acceleration of consistent huge numbers when he was 24. Have a great weekend.

  • MK

    That’s a lot of words