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.


  1. Hulls gets all of his points by himself. I have yet to see a play designed to get him open. I agree that Jordy is the key to our offense, but VJII and CW are going to have to start looking to him.

  2. I agree with this column but feel like Crean's substitution patterns in the first half killed the team momentum. Correct me if I'm wrong but why did he remove Hulls after only 4 minutes and hitting 4 of his first 5 shots? He launched a long 3 that might have been uncalled for but in my eyes others who are less accurate have done that and haven't been removed...there was a stretch when Daniel Moore was in and they really only had 1 scorer on the floor which made the offense that much easier to guard during a stretch where they needed baskets to quiet the crowd and regain momentum...they look better but I feel Crean's x's and o's are sub par...

  3. There is no point in having a shooting guard that doesn't shoot. Rivers/Jones should be designated the point guard, and Hulls a shooting guard. Then if he doesn't shoot, take him out of the game because he is just hurting the rest of the team.

  4. I enjoyed the way IU played last night, high energy and force most of the night but they still waste too many possessions.They don't have the talent to play their way out of bad trips on the offensive side. They were right there last night but let too many get away. I feel most of the wasted trips happened when they had leads. It seems they aren't mature enough to play smart for 40 minutes. A good example is when Jordan Hulls jacked-up a 30 footer early in the shot clock after he hit a few earlier. I understand the impulse but Indiana could have used a long possession, make the Badgers work, possibly get a better shot and really put the pressure on. Verdell scores fairly well but he has a real problem with wasted possessions. He forces the action when it is clear he has no chance of making a positive play. After all my bitching, I still feel it is just the little things with this team if they continue to play with force and passion!

  5. With regards to the second commenter, he most likely took Hulls out early because he was the only one working hard to get shots and wanted to send a message to the rest that they need to step up and not rely on Hulls.