Yogi Ferrell had some bad games, and suddenly it’s time to worry. The senior guard wasn’t himself for a few nights, and the sky is falling.
On an afternoon when nearly everybody struggled mightily in the second half, people chose to focus on the miscues of IU’s most reliable player.
IU Coach Tom Crean thought it was odd, too.
“We don’t really talk about slumps,” he said. “It’s not a real issue. He’s not in one.”
He’s right. Ferrell has been the rock of this team all season.
During a trying stretch when IU was trying to adjust to losing sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr., Ferrell was the one dominating each and every game and keeping the ship afloat.
The rails could have fallen off easily back in January, but having an experienced star running the show allowed other Hoosiers to grow while still winning.
Now, Ferrell, IU’s all-time assists leader, has had three straight games shooting 30 percent or worse, and he isn’t getting the benefit of the doubt.
People need scapegoats, sure. Just keep things in perspective.
There is something people are missing lately, and it’s something big.
If IU can’t compete — and other people can’t step up — when Ferrell is struggling, what hope does this team have when tournament time comes around? The big issue is that the success of IU often stems from whether Ferrell is on his game or not. That is especially the case on the road.
If this team believes it has any championship hopes, it can’t be dependent on the play of one star. Complete teams win championships.
Multiple players step up when one or two have an off night on championship teams.
This isn’t a call out of Ferrell’s teammates. They certainly stepped up last week in an impressive home win against Iowa.
It’s just that the attack should not be on Ferrell.
Don’t forget all of the games where the IU offense became stagnant around Ferrell, so he had to put the team on his shoulders.
Jan. 26 at Wisconsin comes to mind.
The offense had no movement, no substance, and Ferrell went into beast mode and put up 30 points to push IU into overtime.
After the Sunday loss at Michigan State, Crean said other guys weren’t making plays.
The team shot 32 percent from the field in the second half.
He admitted Ferrell pressed too much and should have gotten to the foul line more.
But Ferrell was one of many players struggling Sunday.
There’s a reason Michael Jordan has six championships and Allen Iverson has zero.
Jordan had a long list of people stepping up on his off nights, Iverson didn’t.
IU is a team capable of a long run, no doubt about it. Just remember that its success can’t be dependent on whether Yogi Ferrell is hot that night.