by Kent Sterling
Yogi Ferrell. Mentioning anyone or anything else as a reason for Indiana beating Michigan this afternoon is silly.
Yogi Ferrell shot, led, and defended like a champion today. He asserted his considerable will and accurate bombing from outside the arc as he propelled the Hoosiers to another win over a ranked opponent after a tough loss.
The team defended well, but you can’t win if you don’t put the ball in the bucket, and Yogi put on his work boots today to score 27 points.
The Hoosiers have lost to Northwestern and Nebraska while beating Wisconsin and Michigan in one of the strangest seasons of the last 30 years in Bloomington.
Ferrell hit seven of eight from beyond the arc, and bailed Indiana out of several possessions as they ran the shot clock all the way down before Ferrell launched a bomb.
The fans in Assembly Hall appeared uneasy through the first half, lustily booing Indiana coach Tom Crean when he removed either Big Ten freshman of the year candidate Noah Vonleh or Ferrell. They cheered just as loudly when the two returned.
And they were right to.
During the two-minute period four subs joined Stanford Robinson in the first half, Michigan enjoyed it’s only effective run of the game – a 6-0 streak to take a 13-10 lead with 10:10 left.
So Indiana moves to 4-5 midway through the conference season, and 14-8 for the season, while Michigan suffered its first conference loss of the season.
The Hoosiers will travel to Minnesota next Saturday to play the Golden Gophers, who are also 4-5 in the Big Ten. Go ahead and try to figure out what the hell is going to happen in the Barn.
Every time the timing feels appropriate to write off the Hoosiers as young and inept, they win a huge game against a tough opponent, and every time it looks like Crean has the Hoosiers playing well, they lose to what was believed to be a Big Ten bottom feeder.
It’s maddening, but it beats being predictably bad.
The Big Ten continues its overall schizophrenia as the team thought to be good loses to teams thought to be bad.
Today, the insanity paid off for Indiana. Thursday, it went against them as they lost to Nebraska.
Back to Ferrell, who flat out put the Hoosiers on his back and earned them a win that appeared unlikely after what happened less than 72 hours ago in Lincoln.
He’s certainly no stranger to exhibiting greatness in a sea of mediocrity. He was far and away the best player for Park Tudor during his time there, just as he is at IU.
As Indiana fans discuss the possibility of Vonleh jumping to the NBA, and the dearth of size that would result next season, they need to start pondering a future without both Vonleh and Ferrell. Yikes.
Ferrell can handle, distribute, shoot from distance, and competes every night. He’s not going to intimidate anyone in the pros with his size, but it’s not hard to envision Ferrell in the league.
That’s the price of success, I guess. When players turn in a transcendent performance – as Ferrell did today – fears of losing him dance in fans’ heads just as they did in 2013 with Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo.
Fans had only one question for Crean about Ferrell, “Why did he only play 37 minutes?” Surely, if he can play 37, three more won’t kill him.
The mysterious, magical, disappointing, and thrilling 2014 Big Ten season continues with yet another impossible to predict result.
Maybe today, fans should be content with the win, and not spend too much time fearing the future. Plenty of time for that after whatever might happen over the next six weeks.