Yogi Ferrell: James Blackmon will bounce back

It's been a tough shooting stretch for Indiana freshman James Blackmon Jr., but he's working to bounce back.

James Blackmon Jr. is a gifted scorer, a player that's always been able to dominate the game offensively, regardless of the level.

So when Blackmon suddenly stops scoring, people notice. When he struggles like he has in recent games for Indiana, well, people don't know what to think.

Some, including myself, wonder if he has hit a bit of a freshman wall. Others doubt whether he can do what he's always done against Big Ten competition, night in and night out.

Those that know him best, though, say there's no doubt he will return to form.

"What we've kind of been telling him is, 'You just gotta get to the next shot,'" junior point guard Yogi Ferrell said. "James is such a great shooter, obviously a way better shooter than I was my freshman year. Somebody like that, they can't be thinking about the past shot. They gotta be thinking about the current shot they're taking.

"I know James is going to bounce back well though. He will."

Through eight games, Blackmon was Indiana's most dangerous offensive weapon, and he did his damage in an ever so efficient manner. Blackmon averaged 19.5 points on 51 percent shooting from the field and 54 percent from beyond the arc through eight games. He got to the foul line 36 times during that stretch, an average of 4.5 free throw attempts per game.

Since then, it's been a struggle. Blackmon is averaging just 13.3 points per game on 34 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent from deep in his last seven. He's attempted only 19 free throws during that stretch, an average of just under three per contest.

In Big Ten play -- which has spanned only two games so far -- the numbers are even more glaring. Blackmon has scored only 16 total points in those two on 3-of-23 shooting and 2-of-10 from beyond the arc. He was 1-of-14 in Monday night's blowout loss to Michigan State.

In the days since that game, Blackmon hasn't hung his head. Instead, he's spent his days in the gym getting up extra shots.

"We practice yesterday, shot a lot in practice," Crean said. "They lift, he's right back out there shooting. I go out recruiting last night, get back in here around 9:30, he's out there shooting.

"I'm not worried about him. The last thing I worry about is him making shots. He'll make shots. I think he's really worked hard this week to improve all the things. Day after day, it's, 'How do you make guys complete players?' And he's working very hard at that every day. He knows he's not shooting it well."


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