PARADISE ISLAND, The Bahamas – Trayce Jackson-Davis hasn’t walked away from too many games during his career where someone else was his team’s leading rebounder.
When it happened on Friday night at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, Jackson-Davis knew immediately where to tip his cap.
“Jordan Geronimo was huge on the glass tonight. He was really doing his thing,” Jackson-Davis said after Indiana’s 79-66 win over Serbian professional team BC Mega.
It wasn’t merely the fact that Geronimo bested Jackson-Davis by one, or that he grabbed 10 rebounds — six more than his best effort as a freshman at IU. What really stood out was that Geronimo put together his impressive effort on the glass in only 19 minutes.
Geronimo entered the game like his hair was on fire. On multiple occasions head coach Mike Woodson had to tell him to relax. But Geronimo didn’t. Yes, there were negatives to his high-energy play which prompted the reminders from Woodson. Geronimo committed a couple turnovers, and he ultimately fouled out.
But the story of Indiana’s win on Friday was that they played with more energy than BC Mega. And the player who stood out the most in that regard was Geronimo.
“We’re hungry,” Geronimo said after the game on Friday. “When you’re hungry, you have an extra edge to go after the ball.”
The roster says Geronimo is only 6-foot-6, but he can play much taller with his 7-foot wingspan and a 40-inch vertical leap. If he can stay on the court and play with a motor like he displayed on Friday, Geronimo can end up being one of the Big Ten’s top rebounders at some point in his career. That was clear when he pulled down more than a rebound every two minutes against a BC Mega team that has eight players his height or taller. The bottom line — Geronimo was hunting for the ball. He wanted it more than anyone else. And that is who he believes he needs to be right now to have an impact on this team.
“I’m going to be a hustle player and get the hustle points,” Geronimo said on Thursday after practice in The Bahamas.
That was in response to a question on whether he is going to expand his offensive game out to the perimeter after a freshman season where he scored most of his points at the rim but did shoot 4-of-10 from behind the arc. That limited sample size of perimeter shooting sparked some optimism that the New Jersey product could become a threat on the wing in Woodson’s 4-out system, and Geronimo enters year two more confident about that possibility.
“I feel a lot more confident in the three ball, and coach Woodson is somebody who has helped me with my confidence shooting the three,” Geronimo said.
Geronimo’s ability to expand his game offensively is his other ticket to the floor beyond the hustle plays. He once again gave reason to believe, making 1-of-2 from long range on Friday. His make gave IU an early 16-7 lead and perhaps the first inkling that the Hoosiers were going to give BC Mega all that they could handle. In the end it was Geronimo’s energy that they couldn’t match.
That Geronimo is even here in the Bahamas with this IU team seemed unlikely four months ago. Along with several teammates he put his name in the transfer portal soon after Archie Miller was fired, and many believed if anyone left, it would the freshman furthest from home.
But Geronimo heard what he needed to hear from Woodson when he was hired, and his conviction in his decision to stay has not wavered since.
“It just shows the kind of person that he is, how he is just honest from the beginning and keeps his word,” Geronimo said of Woodson. “That speaks a lot about him as a person and as a coach as well.”
Indiana and BC Mega will tip at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday at the Imperial Ballroom in the Atlantis Resort.
You can follow Sunday’s game on FIBA live stats here.
The Daily Hoosier will also once again host a live blog and discussion so you can interact with us and other fans.