Yogi Ferrell as defensive stopper.
Could that be right?
When you think of Indiana’s freshman point guard, you think of offense. No, not scoring. He only averages 6.6 points on 34.9 percent shooting, just 24.2 percent on three-pointers.
But Ferrell runs the Hoosiers’ push-the-pace show as evidenced by his assists (86) and turnovers (36). He’s second in the Big Ten in assists per game (4.8 to Michigan’s Trey Burke’s 7.4) and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Remember, he’s doing that as a freshman.
Still, he can play a mean form of defense, and while he can’t quite match teammate Victor Oladipo in that regard, don’t underestimate him.
For instance, he had a huge role in IU’s 74-51 win at Penn State earlier this month. He defended Nittany Lions guard D.J. Newbill into 3-for-15 shooting and eight points, while helping to force Newbill into five turnovers.
Newbill, by the way, is 6-4 while Ferell is a GENEROUS 6-foot.
Anyway, Ferrell likely will get that assignment again tonight when Penn State (8-10 overall, 0-6 in the Big Ten) arrives in Assembly Hall. And Oladipo, at least, expects Ferrell to once again deliver defensively.
“He’s gotta do that not only against Penn State, but for the rest of the year. When he plays like that, it helps us. It slows down their guard, their point guard. It makes it tough for them to run their sets. We’re going to need him not only against Newbill, but for the rest of the year as well.”
Is that asking too much of Ferrell? Not if you believe IU assistant coach Kenny Johnson.
“Yogi is a very good defensive player,” Johnson said. “His defensive prowess is going to bare out as we go further and further into this season. Especially where we’re trying to go.
“His ability to pick up where our philosophy is on defense and his ability to dive into the scouting report, and if not take away his opponents strengths, limit them or force them into a high volume of shots to get their numbers, is very important for us.
“Yogi is someone who works at it each and every day. He has that great ability to move on to the next play very quickly, whether it be a good play or a bad play. He’s shown a maturity beyond his years as far as his willingness to take on the opponents, on certain nights the best player on the team.”
The No. 7 Hoosiers (16-2 overall, 4-1 in the Big Ten) need a victory tonight to keep pace with No. 13 Michigan State (6-1 in the conference) heading into Sunday’s showdown at Assembly Hall.
Figure they’ll cruise to a victory. After what happened the last time they played at home, last week’s loss to Wisconsin, there’s no way they don’t win, and win big.
It's WAY earlier, but ESPN's Joe Lunardi has come up with his NCAA tourney predictions. For now, he has IU as the No. 2 seed in the South Regional opening against Long Beach State in Lexington. He has Kansas as the No. 1 seed in that regional.
The other No. 1 seeds are Duke, Syracuse and Michigan.
Of course, a lot could happen in the next six weeks or so to move the Hoosiers up or down in the tournament.
But it's always interesting to think about.
Could IU defensive tackles coach Mark Hagen be headed to Texas A&M?
If you believe reports, he is.
While nothing official from IU has been released, 247Sports.com’s Texas A&M’s site has reported Hagen is going to be the linebackers coach at Texas A&M.
If true, that means Hagen is leaving a struggling Hoosier program in a yes, struggling Big Ten, for a SEC powerhouse that includes Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel. (EDITOR'S NOTE: This post originally had CHARLIE Manziel because of massive lack of sleep generated by the announcement that Manti Te'o's girlfriend didn't actually exist. Or, perhaps, because of stupidity. We're too sleepy to tell the difference)
Texas A&M is likely to contend for a national title next season. Let’s just say, Indiana will not.
Anyway, Hagen is a former standout linebacker at IU who has coached on Kevin Wilson’s staff the last two years. His duties also included special teams and recruiting coordinator. Before that he coached at Purdue.
It almost certainly would be a step up in salary and opportunity.
IU released a football video with Kevin Wilson talking with assistant athletic director Jeremy Gray about a variety of topics. The Hoosiers are in the middle of winter conditioning and preparing for spring practice.
IU returns 19 starters from a team that won four games last season, and could easily have won two more to become bowl eligible. Fourteen of those starters, by the way, are freshmen or sophomores.
The Hoosiers also have 16 recruiting commitments with signing day looming on Feb. 6.
Wilson talked about recruiting on the IU video. While he couldn’t get into specifics, he did provide insight into how the Hoosiers will approach these final couple of weeks. He said they could sign between 20 and 25 players by the time everything wraps up.
“We’ve got a good class on paper,” he said. I think we’re really be able to upgrade our roster with recruiting.
“We’re being a little selective,” he said. “You’ve got to be smart down the stretch and make sure you’re not being sold a bill of goods. Is he a good enough player? Academically does he fit? Is he a good fit for you? We’ve got a very good class on paper if holds true. We believe it will.”