Thursday, November 15, 2012

IU's Hulls Makes His Mark; Time for Tougher Tests

So Jordan Hulls has no chance of being the NBA’s No. 1 pick in next summer’s draft. Indiana’s senior guard likely has no chance at being drafted at all.

Is that a problem? Only if he’s counting on surpassing teammate Cody Zeller’s pro earning potential, which he certainly isn’t.

Hulls thrives with all the good-guy stuff that matters most. He’s a substance player in an often over-hyped world. He works hard, does the right things and makes everybody around him proud. What he lacks in all-blur quickness he makes up for in competitiveness, will and tenacity.

Take his becoming the 44th Hoosier to reach the 1,000 point club. He did it with, of course, a 3-point basket near the end of top-ranked Indiana’s 99-45 wipeout of really, really out-gunned Sam Houston State Thursday night.

He now has 180 three-pointers for his career, which ties Kyle Hornsby for sixth all-time at IU. He almost certainly will finish at least second in three-pointers, given that Tom Coverdale holds that spot with 200. He’ll have to go nuts to surpass A.J. Guyton’s 283 total.

Anyway, coach Tom Crean had an impromptu ceremony during a late-game timeout after Hulls had reached the 1,000-point mark, raising Hulls hand at center court. That surprised Hulls, who thought Crean was ticked at him for taking a bad shot.

“I had no idea why I was getting my hand raised. I had just shot a terrible shot. I didn’t realize till I got to the bench. It’s a cool accomplishment, but it’s not the most important thing.”

Hulls has always put winning over personal accolades, one of the many reasons why Crean wanted him in the program.

“That kid epitomizes what we’re doing,” Crean said. “He epitomizes what Indiana basketball is all about in so many ways. People from the past can identify with him. People in the future can see what can happen when you play in this program and grow up loving this program. But most important, he impacts our present. He thought I was taking him out because he took a long 3. I love it when he takes those 3s. We need him to do that.

“I’m proud that he got that. It’s an honor to coach him. We get on him. He has grown so much as a player.”


OK, enough of the patsies. Indiana (3-0) is the top-ranked team in the country and it needs competition worthy of its status.

The problem?

It might not happen for a while.

Bryant, North Dakota State and Sam Houston State were no match for the go-for-the-jugular Hoosiers, losing by an average margin of 41 points.

Next up is Georgia in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn. The Bulldogs (1-2) might be worse than the teams IU already has faced, having lost to Youngstown State and Southern Mississippi.

Next will come either No. 13 UCLA or unranked Georgetown. UCLA, with freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad ruled ineligible, is likely not as good as its ranking, although it was WAY to much for James Madison (a 100-70 blowout).

In fact, the only ranked team on the non-conference schedule is No. 11 North Carolina, which is awfully talented, but awfully young and has to play at Assembly Hall.

The only other realistic potential threat is Butler as part of the Dec. 15 Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis, but the Bulldogs looked terrible at Xavier the other night.

Plus, there aren’t any true road games. So will this leave IU battle tested enough for Big Ten battles, starting with conference-opening trips to Iowa and Penn State?

Maybe, maybe not, but given the way the Hoosiers showed no letdown against Sam Houston, given their talent and intensity and focus, it might not matter.

But that’s a debate for another day. For now, consider IU is playing to its No. 1 ranking. It is punishing on defense, overwhelming on offense, relentless in everything. It never lets up, regardless of the opponent or the score.

At least, it is at Assembly Hall, where the crowd fuels the fire.

Now it's time to see what happens away from Assembly Hall, and if Brooklyn won't be the same as, say, the Breslin Center, it's a start.

1 comment:

  1. What, no commentary on IU football? "Porous" was the word used to describe them in an article about the PSU game. Seems appropriate, but I would have added "pathetic".