News and Tribune

March 22, 2013

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Yogi smarter than the average freshman

Ferrell takes advantage of JMU defense


DAYTON, Ohio — James Madison couldn’t possibly prepare for everybody. The

16-seed Dukes knew they’d give up a good amount of size against top-seeded

Indiana on Friday afternoon so they figured they’d help off of Indiana’s

least likely offensive star.

“We were gonna leave Yogi when the ball went in the paint,” James Madison

coach Matt Brady said of Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell.

On paper, that may have seemed like a decent plan for the undersized

Dukes. Ferrell entered Friday’s NCAA Tournament second-round game

averaging just over eight points per game.

But, in practice, Brady’s idea was a disaster. Ferrell scored Indiana’s

first nine points in an 83-62 win over James Madison at the University of

Dayton Arena, and things were pretty easy for the Hoosiers from there.

Ferrell got to the basket for three consecutive layups to start the game,

then knocked in two 3-pointers against a relaxed zone. He scored 14 of the

Hoosiers’ first 18 points, and assisted on the team’s other two baskets.

The freshman point guard looked like a tournament veteran.

“We were undaunted by his 3s, it was the speed at which he put the ball

down,” Brady said. “He just blew by our guys. He gets so low to the

ground. When you get low like that, you’re hard to stay in front of.”

Once Ferrell broke down the James Madison defense early and trashed

Brady’s game plan, he got his teammates involved. Ferrell scored only two

more points to finish with 16, but he added eight rebounds and six assists.

“He’s always on the attack,” said Indiana forward Will Sheehey. “He makes

everyone so much better when he drives in the lane and kicks, gives

everyone else open shots. I know I always benefit off Yogi’s drives.”

Added Victor Oladipo: “The stars were out, the lights were on, and he came

to perform. He did a great job for us.”

Sheehey said that when Ferrell arrived on campus last summer, he was

“Hollywood” and thought rather highly of himself. It didn’t take long for

the older players to put him in his place.

“He grew out of that quick because we brought him down to Earth,” Oladipo

said. “Reality set in when we started doing conditioning and he wasn’t in

front of the pack.”

Ever since then, Ferrell has stayed pretty quiet and worked. His freshman

numbers won’t jump off the page at you, but Ferrell has quarterbacked this

team from the very beginning of the season until now.

Only three teams in the last 20 years have won a national championship

with a freshman point guard (Arizona 1997, Syracuse 2003, Kentucky 2012).

The Hoosiers are hoping they become the fourth.

“He’s a star,” Brady said of Ferrell. “I helped recruit and coach Jameer

Nelson for four years. He’s got some of Jameer’s qualities. He’s got that

same burst of speed. Jameer’s probably a little better long-range shooter,

but he seems to have the leadership skills that Jameer had. He seems to

have control of that team. It’s fun to watch.”