After drawing a foul, Race Thompson went to the line early in the first half on Thursday evening. His second free-throw rolled off the front rim and smacked against the backboard before grazing the front rim again.
The ball seemed to be dropping into the hands of a Maryland player, however, as he always does, Jordan Geronimo attacked the glass.
Amongst the three ball-watching Terrapins emerged the lengthy arms of Geronimo. The forward, unable to fully grasp the ball for a rebound, smacked the ball towards the ground. Everyone’s eyes focused on the ball as it hit the floor and floated through the air of Assembly Hall for what felt like an eternity. The ball then made its way into the bottom of the net for a bizarre offensive rebound, bounce-in shot.
“I’ve never done that before,” said a smiling Geronimo on Friday afternoon. “The ball went up– people don’t realize when they box me out I still have an advantage because I can reach and just grab the ball over (them). And so, the ball was at a point where I can still grab it and the guy was still boxing me out, and so, I couldn’t really grab it so I just smacked it.”
Geronimo, who with a 7-foot wingspan can touch his knees while standing upright, could only give a quick shrug and go on his way.
“I saw the arc and I was like ‘that might be good’ and it just dropped in. And, I said ‘I’ll take my two points. Oh, well. Get back on defense,'” he added.
.@JordanGeronimo2 🤝 Jordan shrug.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 25, 2022
Not even his teammates could believe the shot. Trayce Jackson-Davis and Khristian Lander both covered their mouths in disbelief. Anthony Leal struck a huge grin before heading to the scorer’s table to check into the game. The shot reminded him of a shooting game from his childhood.
“That was crazy, it was nuts,” said Leal. “I remember we were on the bench like did that actually just happen. Like, that was unbelievable. That’s the kind of thing that you would practice playing H-O-R-S-E, or something.”
The extraordinary play was a relatively routine one by Geronimo but with a different result. The undersized forward at six-foot-six-inches always makes up for his height disadvantage with his length, athleticism and toughness.
Against Merrimack, he was being boxed out physically by a defender. However, Geronimo used his wits and hit the defender with a spin move to get to the loose ball. He then put the ball up for an easy score. That game he had five offensive rebounds.
In another instance against Wisconsin, Geronimo crashed the offensive glass, this time off of a Xavier Johnson miss, for the rebound. That time, he dribbled out to the corner before handing it off to Miller Kopp for a jumper and an assist.
The play on Thursday against Maryland was credited to Geronimo as an offensive rebound and a made second-chance layup. It was his sixth offensive rebound off a missed free throw this season.
“That’s the reason I smacked the ball because if I know if I can’t fully grab it, I’m just trying to create to where I could. Regardless of how that happened, in that case just smack it off the court. I’m just gonna try my best to create for my teammates and myself.”
The Newark, N.J. product is currently sixth in the Big Ten with an average of 12 rebounds per 40 minutes. He also averages 2.4 blocks per 40 minutes. The problem is he sees the floor for only 12 minutes per game because of the presence of Thompson and Jackson-Davis.
However, in that time the sophomore– with freshman eligibility due to the extra year granted– has shown flashes of his potential. Against Nebraska, Geronimo ended the game with 10 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from mid-range. He has also shown his range and is 6-of-20 on the season from deep.
His pogo-stick jumping ability also makes him a more than capable shot blocker. After converting on a jump shot in the same game, Geronimo hustled back on defense and leaped to block a layup by pinning it on the glass. His head nearly hit the rim while getting the block.
Assistant coach Dane Fife always encourages Geronimo to impact the game in his own way.
“When we’re stretching, he always tells me to do Geronimo things. Which is rebound, play defense, shoot an open shot if it’s there, always catch the ball with the seams when I shoot, and that’s really all I’ve been doing,” said Geronimo.
“I’m not really worried about playing time because I know that if I just do what I can, control that to the best of my ability, I know I’m gonna see the floor. So, I’m just trying to be consistent with that.”
Geronimo ended the game on Thursday with that unusual basket as his lone two points. He also added two rebounds in ten minutes. But more importantly, he did his part to help snap a five-game IU losing streak.
The Hoosiers have three games left in the season. They remain on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament. They know that they have work to do, and it continues against Minnesota on Sunday.
“We did have a sigh of relief at the end,” admitted Geronimo. “Everybody was happy we finally built a winning streak but it was kind of short-lived. Because now we have to keep going and get ready for the next game, which is Minnesota.”
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