Thursday, March 3, 2011
Rivers Finds Perspective In Defeat; IU Braces For Short Basketball Turnaround
Jeremiah Rivers still had his sense of humor. Indiana had lost again to spoil his Senior Night, he’d been among the Hoosiers unable to stop Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor (career-high 39 points) and he could find perspective in misery of a 77-67 defeat.
“The dude is a baller, man,” Rivers said. “He was hitting … you guys witnessed it. It was tough.”
Rivers is a defensive specialist who takes pride in shutting down scorers, but on Thursday night no one on the planet not in the NBA could have stopped Taylor, who was 7-for-8 from three-point range and 10-for-10 from the line. He finished one point shy of the Assembly Hall record for most points by an opponent (Michigan State's Shawn Respert and Terry Furlow had 40).
"Sometimes the basket just gets bigger," Taylor said.
Nearly every Hoosier had a shot at guarding him, but none took it as hard as Rivers.
“I take it personally,” Rivers said. “I was talking a little trash to him. I was trying to get his head out of making shots. I was trying to say something to throw off his shot.”
We offered a suggestion -- maybe you should have told him you loved him.
“I should have. I should have smacked him on the butt and winked at him.”
“The dude is good and their team is well-coached and they have good players. We have to step up. We’ve got to do a better job. That was embarrassing.”
In his last home game Rivers finished with six points, including just his second three-pointer in an Indiana uniform. He added four rebounds.
But it was his role as a defensive stopper that will most define his two-year IU run (he played his first two years at Georgetown).
“He defined his own role,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “He’s a hybrid guard. We have no fear in having him take on a 6-9 guy.
“I don’t know if he’s ever taken an off day here. There’s not a day when he hasn’t come in here. That puts him in a class like all great workers. Dwyane Wade was incredible worker (while at Marquette). Jeremiah is like that. His work ethic is above and beyond what we expect and the rules allow.”
Crean isn’t happy about the short turnaround his Hoosiers (12-18 and losers of seven straight) have before playing at Illinois (18-12). They have a noon tipoff on Saturday (11 a.m. Central time).
Some coaches might not practice. For instance, Northwestern coach Bill Carmody just had his players watch film when they had about 40 hours in a similar turnaround that ended with a win over Indiana at Assembly Hall.
Crean is not that kind of coach.
“We’re playing to win,” he said. “We’re not going to baby these guys. We’ve got to go play. It is what it is. We’ll go to school in the morning. Common sense would say let’s leave tonight, but we’re trying to do what’s best for the student athlete and what best is that they’re in class.
“Where does the student athlete factor in here? We’ll be in school and will practice and that will be it.”
IU guard Jordan Hulls said the short turnaround isn’t a problem. Of course, he’s young and probably bullet-proof.
“It’s unfortunate we have a short turnaround, but we’re all capable of handling it,” he said. “We’ll practice and be ready for Saturday morning.”