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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Perfectionist Hulls overcomes self-criticism to help lead IU to Sweet Sixteen

iu pregame

Nobody beats up Jordan Hulls like Jordan Hulls.

The IU junior guard has a history of screaming at himself after he’s done something wrong. His teammates sometimes have to calm him down when his temper gets the best of him.

However, it’s not because of a glass-half-empty mindset. He compared himself to the main character of the TV show “Monk,” who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Hulls is a perfectionist.

While the IU guard strives for perfection, learning how to keep his frustrations to a minimum has been a process throughout his career.

“Sometimes my head gets the best of me, and I get so mad at myself because I’m not doing the right things,” Hulls said. “I’ve just got to let the last play go and go on to the next one because I’m the point guard. I’m one of the leaders on this team, and I can’t let everyone else see that come out of me.”

This came to fruition in IU’s 63-61 win against Virginia Commonwealth this past Saturday.

Hulls tied a career-high five turnovers against VCU’s famous “HAVOC” defense. By night’s end, IU turned the ball over a season-high 22 times. To make matters worse, Hulls missed multiple open shots from 3-point range and finished with two made field goals.

A frustrated Hulls took the bench with IU’s season fading away. But with freshman guard Remy Abell playing in his place, IU pulled off the comeback win despite its floor general divvying out a season-low one assist to go along with his five turnovers.

“I promise you that if that happened in November or December, that wouldn’t have been the case,” IU senior guard Kory Barnett said.

But Hulls’ teammates have learned how to rally around him the same way he rallies around them.

“Me and Daniel Moore and some of the coaches at the end of the bench take him aside and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to be the leader. It’s more than if you’re hitting shots or not. It’s about your charisma and your facial expressions,’” Barnett said. “I think he’s taken that to heart.”

The difference for Hulls this year was not letting his frustrations carry over to the next game.

When IU returned to Bloomington on Sunday following the VCU win, Hulls had a few words for the Hoosier faithful who welcomed the team outside Cook Hall.

“I thought I’d make it interesting for you guys,” Hulls joked at the pep rally. “I tried my best to do that.”

Hulls’ ability to put a game such as VCU behind him is something junior forward Derek Elston said makes him who he is.

“He takes everything to heart,” Elston said. “If he doesn’t have a good game, he’s the first to say it. Nobody has to talk to him. He knows what he did wrong.”

Hulls dealt with the frustrations of a five-turnover night and shooting slumps. He said just because making mistakes is part of the game, that doesn’t mean he’s going to accept them.

“I’m not going to hit every shot, and I know that, but I feel like I spend so much time in the gym that I shouldn’t miss open shots,” Hulls said.

What goes on in Hulls’ mind and what his teammates see are two different things.

He might want to rip his hair out after he misses an open three. But Hulls is the floor general. He has underclassmen who turn to him for leadership when times are tough.
Even the seniors rely on the junior guard to be the glue that holds IU together.

“He’s made huge strides this season with leading this team,” Barnett said. “Just on the floor, after he misses a shot and not showing disgust or getting angry with himself. It’s just, ‘Hey, I’ve got to get my team ready to play defense and get stops.’”

Hulls might not be able to control what goes on in his perfectionist mind.

He couldn’t help but feel frustrated after a careless turnover. Hulls couldn’t stop himself from angrily high-fiving his teammates too hard when he came to the bench, which was a habit throughout his AAU days.

But Hulls has grown with his approach. He thinks twice before he shows his displeasure for the world to see.

He might not be perfect as he aspires to be, but Hulls did help turn 2010-11’s 12-20 team into the campaign that has now found IU’s first Sweet 16 in 10 years.

“He’s a huge part of this team whether he’s playing well or not,” Barnett said. “His expressions and his charisma on the court take it to a whole other level. We’ve got to have him in Atlanta.”

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