Thursday, January 20, 2011
Shoot Or Else – Hulls Hurts Badgers, IU Can’t Beat Them
It’s time for Jordan Hulls to be on a shoot-or-else leash. The guy is too accurate to be deferring. Yes, he’s a point guard, which means he’s supposed to run the offense and get the ball to the scorers.
The problem is, though, he just might be the best scorer. Christian Watford and Verdell Jones have higher averages, but that’s just because they shoot more.
In Thursday’s 69-60 loss at No. 18 Wisconsin, Hulls scored 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting, 2-for-4 on three-pointers. That’s no surprise. He shoots over 50 percent from the field and from beyond the three-point arc.
Coach Tom Crean wants Hulls to be more offensively aggressive. Hulls understands, but he also wants to get other players involved. So sometimes, he just disappears as far as scoring.
Against Wisconsin, he scored 10 of Indiana’s first 14 points, then didn’t score again until the second half.
That can’t happen.
To be fair, it was a season-high in shot attempts for Hulls. He hadn’t taken more than nine attempts in any game. The seven baskets were also a season high.
Still, he ought to take at least 15 shots a game. Make it a condition for starting. Granted, Hulls can’t launch bombs all over the court or without regard to the offense, but he has to be more aggressive.
Hulls has scored in double figures in seven straight games, averaging 13.3 points in that stretch. He averages 10.3 points for the season.
Anyway, the Hoosiers (10-9 overall, 1-5 in the Big Ten) gave the Badgers (14-4, 4-2) all they wanted. They jumped to leads as large as eight points, moved the ball well, shot well (51.0 percent), battled to a rebounding draw (26 to 26) and only committed seven turnovers on the road.
They seemed to play decent defense, but Wisconsin still shot 49 percent from the field. They had no answer for guard Jordan Taylor (28 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and forward John Leuer (20 points), but that’s true for most teams.
It’s been nine years since Indiana beat a ranked team on the road. That’s another indication of how far the program has fallen, and it started during the Mike Davis era. The Hoosiers also are 1-23 on the road under Crean.
But you know what, you can see they’re getting closer. Yeah, this has been a season-long pattern. Play well enough to be competitive, but don’t make the crucial crunch-time plays to make a difference. This time Indiana missed five straight shots and committed two turnovers down the stretch to give Wisconsin the cushion it needed.
Still, it suggests better days are coming. Remember, IU has done this without 7-foot center Guy-Marc Michel, who will never be confused with Bill Walton, but who would have provided a solid inside defensive presence. It also didn’t have Maurice Creek, who underwent surgery to fix a stress fracture in his right patella. It likely won’t have him back until next season.
Another the Hoosiers who will make up Creek’s 8.3 scoring average is Jones. He had 15 points against Wisconsin and became the 42nd player in IU history to surpass 1,000 career points.