BOZICH: JMU Coach Loves Indiana -- and Young Jameer Nelson
DAYTON, Ohio (WDRB) – Take another look at the scouting report that James Madison had for at least making Indiana squirm Friday:
Do not let Cody Zeller beat you. Double team Christian Watford or Victor Oladipo. No three-pointers for Jordan Hulls.
What about Yogi Ferrell, Indiana's point guard?
Who? Ferrell is a freshman. Freshmen point guards are supposed to hyperventilate in March. Take a chance with somebody. Why not Ferrell?
"We were going to leave him," said James Madison coach Matt Brady. "We are obviously undersized. We were going to leave Yogi when the ball went into the paint."
First, the Dukes left Ferrell. Then Ferrell left the Dukes in his rear-view mirror.
Jump shot. Layup. Layup. Three-pointer.
Timeout, James Madison. IU 9, JMU 0.
Assist for a Zeller dunk. Three-pointer. Layup. Assist for a Zeller dunk. Ball game.
Indiana led, 18-5. Indiana won, 83-62. Indiana convinced Matt Brady that the Hoosiers had no issues with a rookie point guard. If Ferrell continues playing the way he played Friday, Brady believes Indiana can win one, two … several more games.
"There's no doubt in my mind they can win the whole thing," Brady said. "I don't see any holes to stop them from doing what Indiana wants to accomplish."
Brady assisted at St. Joseph's in 2004 when the Hawks were ranked Number One with a fabulous point guard named Jameer Nelson.
Before the game, Brady saw an Indiana point guard that his team didn't have to guard. After the game, Brady said he saw a young Jameer Nelson.
"He's got some of Jameer's qualities," Brady said. "He's not a lot smaller than Jameer. But he's got that same burst of speed. Jameer's probably a little better long-range shooter. When you get low like that, you're hard to stay in front of."
"He seems to have leadership skills that Jameer had innately. It wasn't something he had to develop. He seems to have control of that team. It's fun to watch. I didn't enjoy it tonight. He's got terrific talent. He's got great speed. He's really unselfish. And he's terrific on defense. He's a star really."
He was a star Friday. All Ferrell did against James Madison was threaten to post a triple-double in his first NCAA Tournament game: 16 points, eight rebounds (a season high), six assists.
After Ferrell's crazy offensive start he started deferring again. Four of his teammates scored at least 10 points, another had nine and Remy Abell, the Eastern High School grad, had seven. IU coach Tom Crean liked that better than anything else Ferrell did.
"To be able to play as many people as we did today was a big deal," Crean said.
Of course, there is an expiration date for the pats on the back. Ferrell will have to be a star again on Sunday because Temple has a point guard named Khalif Wyatt that many consider one of the best in the position in the country. He led the Atlantic 10 in scoring and scored 31 points Friday as the Owls eliminated North Carolina State.
Is Ferrell ready for the assignment?
He looked the part Friday. Chances are that Oladipo, IU's best defender, not Ferrell will guard Wyatt, who has a sore thumb on his left (non-shooting) hand.
Je'Ney Jackson, Indiana's strength and conditioning coach, said Ferrell has been preparing for this moment since he arrived in Bloomington last summer after leading Park Tudor High School to consecutive state titles.
When Ferrell arrived, he could not bench press 185 pounds a single time. Now he can do it seven times and max out at 225. His lower-body strength has also improved. Ferrell arrived able to squat 225. Now the number is 275.
"It helps him a lot," Jackson said. "The culture of our team when he goes to the weight room to see how those guys lift weights, you have to buy into it or you're going to look silly."
Ferrell does not intend to look silly. He certainly did not Friday.
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