INDIANAPOLIS - There may not have been a hole in the lineup when IU sophomore defender Jordan Kleyn strained his groin against Michigan on Sept. 13, but there was just that little extra part missing.
IU junior Rece Buckmaster has slotted into Kleyn’s right back spot in the games since the injury.
He played there for most of last season and has experience there. However, with Kleyn in the lineup for the Hoosiers, Buckmaster is able to move into the midfield, and against the Butler Bulldogs Wednesday night, that proved vital.
Kleyn played the second half and overtime against Butler Wednesday night at the Sellick Bowl as No. 1 IU settled for a 0-0 draw.
The Bulldogs had a lot more of the ball in the first half. In the second half with Kleyn on the field, IU enjoyed more time on the ball.
“We really want to get Jordan back, he’s just not 90 minutes fit right now,” IU coach Todd Yeagley said. “Can we get him 65, 70 next game and get him back? Rico (Buckmaster) in the midfield for us gives us a lot of options.”
It wasn’t necessarily a tale of two halves, but they were different.
Whether it was the effect Kleyn had or not, IU played differently with Kleyn on the pitch.
Kleyn said the mindset changed in the second half.
While Kleyn redshirted last year, Buckmaster filled in at right back often. What Kleyn gives IU this year is a bit more of a physical and taller presence when the game is restarted.
That's a spot Yeagley thought could have been the deciding factor against Butler.
“I thought (Buckmaster) could create some attacks for us in the second half,” Yeagley said. "Jordan, isolated one v. one, it’s a lockdown. Rico is the same way. We don’t lose anything defensively, we get someone bigger on the field for restarts. I thought that’s where we could find one when you’re off a little bit in your attack.”
This year’s match was the fifth-straight year in which Butler and IU needed overtime to settle things. Last year it was IU who won in sudden-death. This year, it wasn't meant to be.
Yeagley called it his team’s worst game of the year.
For an in-state product like Kleyn, who comes from Plainfield, Indiana, there wasn’t much needed for him to get up for a game like this. Coming back from an injury or not, he was ready to go.
“This isn’t a hard game to get up for,” Kleyn said. “They’re obviously our in-state rivals so the adrenaline was really pumping in my veins. Getting back out there and getting some really good minutes for the first time since getting back from my injury, it boosted my confidence.”
Moving forward, Kleyn will play a pivotal role. With him on the pitch, it gives the Hoosiers more flexibility with Buckmaster and other players in the midfield.
“Just knowing that I can get back out here and continue playing is going to ultimately boost my confidence going forward,” Kleyn said.
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
More in Sports
Gutman leads the way as the No. 2 player in the country.
The Hoosiers are undefeated at home this season.
IU reflects on the defeat to Iowa and look forward to a tough matchup with Penn State.