IU senior guard Yogi Ferrell was named one of 10 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the best point guard in the country, earlier this week.
So far this season, he’s run a convincing campaign for being near the top of that list, one that includes Maryland’s Melo Trimble and Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis. Ferrell has often been the glue that holds IU together on the court during his career, and no more so than during this season.
He’s averaging a team-high 17.4 points and assisting on 5.8 baskets per game.
IU Coach Tom Crean said what makes Ferrell such a great player and leader is the way he gets better inside the game.
“He figures out the game, he makes adjustments, he listens, and he brings his teammates with him,” Crean said.
There hasn’t been a more important part of IU’s 9-1 start in conference play. Ferrell and IU will try to move to 20-4 overall against Penn State on Saturday night.
Ferrell has started every game of his college career, including 23 games this season. He’s averaging 34.1 minutes per game, by far the most of any player on IU’s roster. Junior forward Troy Williams is next at 25.6 minutes.
Ferrell scored six points and had four assists during a 25-0 first-half stretch that helped the Hoosiers beat the Wolverines against Michigan on Tuesday. Much of that run was due to stops on defense leading that turned into transition baskets.
Crean said even if Ferrell isn’t guarding the ball, he’s a huge part of their success on defense — and the one who makes their transition run.
Michigan Coach John Beilein said his team spent practice time preparing for Ferrell’s speed on the break.
“It’s hard to match up and match out at full speed when Yogi’s running a 4-second sprint down the court,” Beilein said.
In his ninth year as head coach of Wolverines, Beilein has seen Ferrell play more than once and couldn’t say enough about him.
“Yogi Ferrell is as good a point guard as there is because he can shoot off the bounce, he finds people, he’s playing team ball, and they’ve got shooters everywhere,” Beilein said.
When his teammates aren’t making plays, he steps up to make them. When his team is down at the end of a game, it’s his shot.
Near the end of regulation against Wisconsin — an eventual 82-79 loss in overtime — Ferrell hit a three to give IU the lead.
It’s not uncommon for Ferrell to be the one at the free throw line at the end of close games and to put the game away. He’s shooting 82 percent from the foul line on 102 free throws this year.
This season saw Ferrell become IU’s all-time assists leader, and he’s currently seventh on the school’s all-time scorers list.
“The way he’s growing as a leader, the way he’s growing as a player, the things we ask him to do on the court, they just continue on,” Crean said.