Hoosier Scoop Sage Take of the Day, Oct. 31, 2012


The question has festered in Indiana University basketball-oriented internet chatrooms for months now, prompting much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Who starts at the point for Indiana this season, senior Jordan Hulls or freshman Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell?

Once that cyberspace battle line was drawn, combatants on both sides ferociously entered the fray determined to offer no quarter. Each side questioned the other’s intelligence, sanity, motives, loyalty to IU and ancestry. And those were the more polite exchanges. It seemed strange that, given the level of vitriol sometimes employed, they were technically on the same side in that they all were purportedly Hoosier fans.

My take on it: Way too much ado about nothing.

Because, here in Bloomington, we’d seen this sort of situation involving Jordy Hulls before. And we’d seen things turn out pretty well, suffice to say.

It was the autumn heading into the 2008-09 season and Hulls was the star senior point guard of a preseason No. 1-ranked, Bloomington-based team. And one of the reasons for that top ranking was the arrival of a brand new, star backcourt partner. The younger guard was named Darwin “Dee” Davis, Jr., who was transferring from Bloomington High School North to Bloomington High School South for his sophomore season.

Davis was a terrific, mercurial talent, a really fine all-around player, if not quite the shooter Hulls was. He was quicker than Hulls, with a great handle and tremendous court vision. He was more purely a point guard. But South had already experienced significant success, in previous seasons, with Hulls running the show.

So the situation begged the question. Who would play point?

The answer: They both did, in a sense. More precisely, they shared ball-handling and distribution duties at first, with Hulls gradually shifting to more of a shooting-guard role, at which he excelled. Davis eventually became the primary floor general, but Hulls remained the face of the team, its go-to guy. Hulls still incorporated point-guard aspects into his play, still dishing some sweet dimes, but also moved well when off the ball to unleash his lethal jumpers.

Hulls is a team guy. Period. He’s already shown that he’ll share duties, or alter his role, to accommodate the best interests of the team. Whether the talented newcomer carving out some time at point guard is nicknamed “Dee” or “Yogi.”

It’s a college context now, of course, a different level of play (and South didn’t have anybody resembling Cody Zeller on its frontcourt.) There could be issues on the defensive end, perhaps, if Hulls and Ferrell are oncourt together against a team with some bigger perimeter players. But there should be no worries on the offensive end. It just means better ball-handling and better passing, all around, with both of them on the court, and with Hulls freed up more to torment foes with his near-50 percent firing from 3-point range. The same sort of thing happened down the stretch last season when Victor Oladipo started handling the ball up top more. Hulls will get more and better looks with Ferrell out there. It should be fun to watch.

So not to worry, Hoosier fans. It serves well to remember how things turned out the last time Hulls made this sort of transition, accommodating himself to an additional point guard in the best interest of the team:

South played 26 games Hulls’ senior season. It won 26. It posted an unbeaten championship campaign. South won it all.

Nice precedent, right?


  1. Good points, Jordy can blend in to the role that is required. Looking forward to him leading the nation in three point fgs.

  2. Let me give a “Hallelujah.”

    I was initially of the mind that Hulls starts with Sheehey. After watching the scrimmages, my mind is totally changed. Hulls starts with Yogi, and Sheehey maintains his role from last year.

    First, Hulls and Yogi have both made each other better defensive players. That’s not near the worry it was.

    Second, the Elston injury, along with whatever Perea’s foot problem is, has changed the situation. The ability to bring Sheehey off the bench and match-up 2-4 is just too valuable now. And he has a nice complement with Hollowell in this regard, too, who, along with Hulls’ on-ball and Yogi’s off-ball D, has been the surprise of the scrimmages, imo. And to some extent the same with Etherington, who is more athletic than is appreciated.

    On the offensive end, though, wow are Yogi and Hulls a dynamite combination…they really, really complement each other, including on the break.

  3. That’s fine from an offensive point of view but last year an opposing B1G coach called Hulls the worst defender in the league. How do we compensate for his lack of defense?

  4. Teams didn’t do a very good job of exposing Hulls if that was the case. They sure did a great job of picking on VJ3 though… Hulls was an above average team defender last year – talking, helping, sprinting to cut-off points, taking charges… Unfortunately he doesn’t recover well to his man to contest shots and he is a slightly below average on-ball defender. But on the plus side again, he is an exceptional transition defender – I remember several occasions where Jordy single-handedly thwarted 2-on-1’s and even 3-on-1’s.

    So, “how do we compensate for his lack of defense”, is a non-sequitur…

    The beauty of the team this year is that if there are unfavorable match-ups anywhere on the court we have a versatile, athletic, and experienced bench that can be called upon.

  5. In addition to Geoff’s comment, as I mentioned, it’s very obvious from the scrimmages that guarding Yogi has improved Hulls’ on-ball defense (just as Hulls has been great for Yogi’s off-ball transition to man-to-man). Hulls also had another summer of conditioning to improve strength and quickness. He’s also arguably our best off-ball defender. It’s just not the defensive issue I thought it would be, except for teams that are going to throw a really tall back-court at IU. Then you adjust.

    Above all, Hulls is the clear leader of the team. You just don’t want your main leader coming off the bench. Starting matters to the psychology of a team, despite the cliches.

    Plus, the injuries to Elston and Perea change the dynamic of substitution logic. Unfortunate, of course, but they just do.

    Yogi and Hulls together create far more for opposing defenses to worry about than they do for IU to worry about relative to opposing offenses.

  6. That is a good thought. Guarding Yogi has to be better practice than last years offerings of Moore, Jones and Roth.

    I am with Chet, what coach?

  7. I don’t think this will be an issue and I think it will depend on the lineup of the team IU is playing coupled with how hot Hulls hand is at the time (you can’t take the guy out when he is just draining 3’s at will).
    Hopefully Hulls has tightened up his D and we are able to comfortably play Yogi at the point and Hulls at the SG.
    That’s a deadly combination when Yogi has the option of driving and then either dumping to Zeller or dishing it out to Hulls for an open 3!

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