Dare I say it: is EJ in a slump?


I know, I know. For many of you, saying such a thing is simply blasphemy.

But if you’ve been watching the same games I have over the past few weeks, you have to admit that Eric Gordon has been a little off his game. For whatever reason (maybe it’s the tougher competition of the Big Ten and UConn, maybe teams are learning how to guard him better) he just hasn’t been the lights-out scorer he was in the first part of the year.

Consider this: in the season’s first 14 games, excluding Kentucky because he didn’t play due to injury, Gordon went an astounding 37-83 from behind the 3-point arc, or 45 percent. In the last five he went 9-32, or 28 percent. Excluding the Penn State game last Sunday, he’s only made four 3-pointers in his last five outings. Very un-EJ-like if you ask me.

His shooting from the entire floor isn’t much better. Over his first 13 games, he made nearly 50 percent of his field goals, going 84-169. The last five have been a different story: 27-62 for only 44 percent. His points per game is also reasonably lower, 23.4 through the first 13 contests and 17.0 in the last five.

So, is there really something here, or are we just being too hard on him because of his tremendous start and the pressures surrounding a phenom like Gordon? Honestly, I think he may have hit the wall that some college freshman run into during this part of their first college season. “The dog days of winter” is what ESPN College Basketball analyst Jay Bilas calls them, saying that some freshman struggle at this point in the season after getting out to hot starts much like Gordon.

I do think he’s in a bit of a slump, and it’s something he and Indiana will need him to get out of very, very soon. They’ll face the cream of the Big Ten in the coming weeks, and there’s no question they need their star guard to be on his A game.

Firstly, from my point of view, he needs to play within himself. I’m alright with the 3-pointers he takes, as long as they’re good looks well into the shot clock. But I do think he needs to change his driving mentality, because oftentimes he just goes in there at full speed hoping for a blocking foul. Sure, he usually gets the call. But why not just pull up from ten or eight feet and drop it in? He’s the best shooter in the conference, and I can’t recall the last time he shot a true jump shot where he wasn’t fading away.

He’s fully capable; I’d still say he’s the best two-guard in the nation. And, like Bilas said last week on his weekly chat, if I could have anyone in the country take a last second shot, I’d choose Gordon (with Texas’ D.J. Augustine a close second).

That’s my thoughts on the issue. Do you agree? Disagree? What are the main things he needs to do during this brutal stretch the Hoosiers have coming up?


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with most and cannot disagree with the rest. Maybe a slump? How about? … the preseason feast is over. The real games have begun. Game pressure and competition are at a different level. The impressive stats were mostly against teams that we were expected (and did) beat. No slam against Eric. He is a special player. I do agree that he is pressing a bit. His coach should recognize and fix this among the offensive scheme. Same with Ellis and Crawford. These guys are rookies. DJ is doing his job. I feel we need the coach to make a difference now. Change what is wrong and keep plugging. The coaches are the first to say it is the kids that play. This is true. So a coach must do their job. Recognize and make changes as need. Is Sam up to the challenge? We are still undefeated in Big Ten and sport a good record. No reason to sell the car, however there is a need for a tune-up. Good teams promote high expectations. In summary, it may not be fair to tag “slump” on Eric. This is a team thing.

  2. I 100% agree. He is a great player, but he is struggling. Yet, the media always focuses on him. DJ deserves much more credit than he gets. Sampson needs to step up to the plate and coach like so many claim that he can. I think Eric is in his own slump. Others have shown they can step up (Crawford against Uconn) but they are not given the chances they need. There should have been a lot more substituation occuring against Uconn, but Sampson just let them play on and stay in the hole. I think Sampson, along with the media, put too much on Gordon’s shoulders and refuse to give anyone else a chance or even credit they deserve when they get an opportunity while Gordon is on the bench taking a breather. Sampson needs to step up or get out.

  3. I also totally agree. Part of it is him, and I also think part of it is Sampson not running enough plays to get him open off the ball. I think that if IU ran plays for Gordon like Duke used to run for JJ Redick (not comparing the players, hear me out), like a bunch of off the ball screens that allow him to catch and shoot or drive right away, that will help him produce better because it is hard to take an entire team without any help. he is not lebron or d-wade, so he cant have that type of pressure on himself. also, i think he just needs to not try to do everything. his assist to turnover ratio is not good and i think sometimes he can be reckless. if he plays more within himself, he will be much better

  4. I just don’t see why everyone slobbers over him.

    Yes, he can hit the deep ball.

    But the guy is a turn-over machine.

    And I’m a little tired of the circus shots.

  5. He always tries to do more than he’s able to do whenever he is on national TV — CBS and ESPN, not BTN. As a result, he always plays poorly. He needs to quit trying to impress the big audience and let the game come to him rather than force it.

  6. everyone needs to relax. he’s 18(maybe 19 now?). hes a kid. im all for the discussion of his poor play, with the preface that we keep it in the context of the fact that he is a kid. it is unfair to hold that against him. so by all means, voice your opinion on his circus shots or his attempts at impressing big audiences. but put yourself in his shoes for just 5 minutes.

    and by the way, the way he has handled the pressure, the media, and all the other crap of being eric gordon is beyond commendable.

  7. EJ is trying too hard to make up for other problems on the team. I would love him to stay but the reality is that he will be a better pro player than college. In the pros with the shorter clock and lack of palming or traveling calls he will be difficult to handle.

  8. Guys, Laffy is tired of the circus shots. Cancel the season, take away EJ’s scholarship. I can remember one shot that EJ has taken where I thought, that is a terrible shot. And that is the “circus shot” against UConn where he drove the right baseline and had no where to go and he threw it up. Other than that he takes deep threes that are bad shots for most players, but not him.

    Why does everyone slobber over him? Well, every major expert in college basketball says he is a top 5 pick in the Draft whenever he comes out. Larry Bird says he could start for the Pacers when he was a Senior in high school. He’s got unlimited range, can take it to the basket and draw contact with anyone, is a physical lock down type of on the ball defender. Yes, he turns it over more than most would like. He’s a freshman. I bet if forces another shot, Laffy will begin calling him the next Bracey Wright though the two have nothing in common except the ability to shoot from deep. Lay off the kid, he’s only the best combo guard in the country.

    As for the slump, he may be, but a player like him will likely break out in a big way soon.

  9. Laffy, no one is saying he is god’s gift to earth or God himself. Most would agree, however, that he is a fantastic player. I’m sure every coach in America would go along with those sentiments. But then again, according to your description of his game he can hit the deep ball and turns it over a lot. With deep analysis like that, no wonder you’re such a guru.

  10. Please copy and paste where I said that YOU said cancel the season.

    Let’s resort to name calling like 10 year olds. Way to go.

  11. For those of you expecting KS to “step up and make some changes,” could it be possible that he is forcing the kids to do things that may not look so good now so they can learn and be more effective later when tourney time comes around? I remember many of Knight’s really good teams had “slumps” in mid year, but always learned how to play through tough situations and came on strong toward the end of the season. In 1981 everyone was screaming for Knight to bench Landon Turner, then when the end of the BT season and tourney came he was a MONSTER! Let’s wait and see how the whole season plays out and not kill KS because he is teaching a very inexperienced kids a lot of basketball very fast!

  12. I will agree with Laffy on a couple of things. Yes he can hit the deep ball and yes he is turn over machine. It appears to me that he plays worse in front of a national audience, is it that he trys to make the nightly ESPN’s Top 10?!? I don’t know, the thing I do know if we play the same way we did against UCONN this Thursday the same outcome will happen. I will disagree with most when they say “KS needs to run plays”, that will be a first, I don’t think driving into the paint and dishing to the wing is a “play”, what happened to making plays off of the screen?!? EJ is a special player granted, or nobody would be talking about him, but until we start running some resemblence of an offense and quit this “one on one” mentality we will never be what we as FANS want us to be.

  13. WAIT…….I am not second guessing KS. I DO see some pretty obvious consistent problems that need changing. Things that are obvious to a hack fan like me. Maybe coach does have a grand plan and this is part of the process. Not for me to judge. I am only observing and commenting. I do think the ball is in KS’s court (no pun intended) for this team to improve. EJ may be in a slump. Adam Ahlfeld may have girlfriend issues. Who knows. You make some good references to past maturation. No doubt it will be interesting to see February play out. I have full confidence that KS will teach and preach these guys to a strong season. In any case, I will remain a Hoosier fan.

  14. Bill, you said “Cancel the season. Take away his scholarship” right after you cried about my circus shot comment….then cried about it some more.

    Yeah, you weren’t referring to me. (dws)

    10 year old are those that act like drama queens every time someone offers criticism.

  15. The only thing you offered is absurd criticism. Referring to you and saying you said something are two entirely different things. Criticism is one thing, but to bash a player that 99.9% of coaches would say is the best 2 guard in college basketball is somewhat ignorant. Your post implied that all he does is shoot long threes and turn it over, which is the only reason I felt the need to “cry” about it. If that is all his game amounts to in your eyes, then you need to watch games more closely or learn more about the game of basketball. Have a grand day.

  16. Why is it “absurd” to point out he’s a turn-over machine?

    And like others have said, he tends to showboat while on national TV.

    And so what if 99.9% say he’s the best two guard?

    That doesn’t mean he’s without flaws.

    Just admit you’re a drama queen with the “cancel the season” nonsense.

  17. Laffy is entitled to his opinion, even when he’s right, which is now.

    The one of the most memorable moments last year for me was the Duke game when the “stars” got benched and we played with Errek S and company and almost won. Until KS gets these guys attention with a similar approach it will probably not get better.

    The Sampson offense often looks (to me) like the MD offense, only with more than one ‘Bracey’ on the floor at once.

  18. “And like others have said, he tends to showboat while on national TV.”

    You see him force a shot and now he showboats on national TV? I’ve never seen him showboat one time. Please provide an example. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen him fist pump. You got guys like Michael Beasley throwing up gestures that look like gang signs after hitting shots and others that scream at guys after dunking on them. Gordon trots back down the court. You wouldn’t know whether he just airballed a three or threw down a facial on somebody.

    As for the Bracey MD offense, I will say that it looked like it against UConn. That game was played selfishly by the entire team. As Bassett said, they played selfishly and took shots they don’t normally take. Other than that game I don’t see any similarities. But I do know that after each loss, IU fans will say things like that. That’s just how fans are. The Bracey offense was ran entirely through him because there weren’t any other threats, especially the year when Moye played the ‘4’ spot all season.

    This team can and should go through DJ a good portion of games. But if he’s not hitting that 15-17 ft jumper like he has all year (except UConn) then it changes things.

    WW, thanks for the commentary. If pouting or pompous describes my last few comments then by all means I am that. I’d call it intelligence.

  19. Laffy, if sarcasm = drama queen, then yes I am. Of course he has flaws, as does Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Kobe, Tiger Woods….well after the Buick maybe not Eldrick. That said, to say he takes deep threes and turns it over a lot does do a little bit of disservice to his all around game. Your initial post makes it seem like that is ALL he brings to this team…which is why I had a problem with it. If you are just pointing out two things he does then fine, I can’t disagree.

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