The Daily Hoosier spent the week down in The Bahamas in connection with IU basketball’s foreign tour and had several opportunities to see the team in action. Since nothing was televised and not everything was public, we are going to go player-by-player in jersey number order to share our thoughts on what we saw and what to expect from Indiana’s 2021-22 roster.
Jordan Geronimo told me it was coming the day before the first game in The Bahamas.
“I’m going to be a hustle player,” he said.
A lot of guys say that, but Geronimo backed it up. Convincingly.
No one brought more energy on the floor in The Bahamas than Geronimo, and he now has everyone rethinking where he might fit and what is possible for his sophomore season at Indiana. His head coach knows as well as anyone that the 6-foot-6 New Jersey product has an incredibly high ceiling.
“Here’s a young man who hasn’t played a lot of basketball, it’s obvious,” Mike Woodson said after game two. “But I think sky’s the limit for him. He’s just gotta slow down and really start thinking the game, and I’ve got to help in that area to put him in a position where he can be successful.”
Woodson’s remark precisely dials in on where Geronimo seems to be right now. His effort in The Bahamas left me thinking to myself “wow” on several occasions. At times there were nine guys on the floor, and then Geronimo going a different speed. He would come out of nowhere, fearlessly projecting himself into the fray to snare loose balls. That’s how he ended up with 17 rebounds in 38 minutes of playing time over the two games. He wanted it more.
But that extra gear can be his own worst enemy, because as Woodson suggests, certain aspects of Geronimo’s game are still raw. Perhaps most notable in that regard is when Geronimo handles the ball on the move. As a dribbler, passer or scorer off the bounce, he is at times too sped up, and thus susceptible to turnovers, or his 1-of-7 effort from two-point range at the Atlantis Resort. Geronimo can of course finish with a dunk, but if he needs to put up a floater or make adjustments at the rim, his efficiency drops off considerably.
Where Geronimo was efficient was from behind the 3-point arc. He said prior to Friday’s contest he is much more confident with his perimeter shot than he was last year at this time, and he looked the part, making 2-of-3 over the two games. He didn’t get a lot of open looks, but he was ready to shoot and didn’t force shots that weren’t good opportunities from deep.
If you count last year’s 4-of-10 effort he is up to 6-of-13 (46 percent) in an IU uniform from 3-point range. Geronimo gets good elevation on his shot and has a high release, which makes him difficult to defend. He also sprints the floor incredibly well meaning he will find his spots in transition and be difficult for opposing defenses to locate at times. For now Geronimo is mostly just a catch-and-shoot threat from long range, so again, skill development will be essential as Big Ten coaches will no doubt scout him as someone who needs to be forced to put the ball on the floor.
Another encouraging sign from Geronimo was his performance at the free throw line. He only had four attempts, so there is nothing to go overboard with, but his three makes were nearly as many as his total for his freshman campaign. Did you know Geronimo was just 5-of-18 from the stripe in 2020-21?
Geronimo didn’t garner defensive headlines during the trip, but he was a bigger factor than the stat sheet suggests. Beyond an electrifying block in game two and two steals, he was a real presence on the ball on the perimeter, where his 7-foot wingspan and quickness made passing angles difficult. More than a couple of those 39 BC Mega turnovers were bad passes that Geronimo influenced, both in the half court and in transition, where again, he sprints back and makes things difficult.
It isn’t an art that many focus on, but Geronimo’s ability to close-out on shooters is a sight to behold. His effort, 40-inch vertical and that plus wingspan all combine to close gaps that seemed more comfortably open to opposing shooters just an instant earlier. BC Mega’s 26.5 percent shooting from three over the two games wasn’t all about Geronimo, but he had a hand in many of those shots, at times literally.
Because he still needs to develop from a skill perspective, it would seem that Geronimo’s highest and best use right now might be as a stretch-four on offense who can switch onto just about anyone on the defensive end. That is an attractive combination for Woodson, who is looking for long players who can do both of those things. On that latter point, you will likely recall Geronimo guarding All-American Luka Garza last season. That was another limited data point, but he is strong enough to defend in the paint, and he has the lateral quickness and length to be effective on the perimeter.
Of course Geronimo is going to have to prove that he can shoot the ball consistently on a much larger scale than what we’ve seen to this point if he is really going to start chipping away major minutes from Race Thompson and Miller Kopp, but he has at least shown that he is clearly in that conversation. If Kopp and Thompson hold up as starters, Geronimo could be the first off the bench to replace either of them.
What Geronimo doesn’t have to prove is that he will bring energy to this team. And because of that, he seems highly likely to one way or another be a part of the regular rotation in 2021-22.
JORDAN GERONIMO’S STATS IN THE BAHAMAS
- Game one: 19 minutes, 4 points, 1-5 FG, 1-2 3FG, 1-2 FT, 10 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 turnovers, 0 blocks, 1 steal
- Game two: 19 minutes, 7 points, 2-5 FG, 1-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 7 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 turnovers, 1 blocks, 1 steals
- Averages: 19 minutes, 5.5 points, 30% FG, 66,7% 3 FG, 75% FT, 8.5 rebounds, 0 assists, 1.5 turnovers, .5 blocks, 1 steals
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