In his sophomore season, Indiana guard Jordan Hulls, the 2009 Indiana Mr. Basketball from Bloomington South, emerged as a full-time starter and became much more of a scorer and a more integral part of the offense. On a full-season basis (here is his Yahoo page, with game log), Hulls nearly doubled his scoring (6.4 to 11.1), dramatically increased his number of shots per game (5 to 8), and held steady on three point shooting (40 to 41, a modest increase). Hulls nearly doubled his assists per game (1.5 to 2.9) with only a modest increase in turnovers (.6 to .9 per game). His excellent free throw shooting got even better, going from 80 to 91 percent.
As with Christian Watford, however, the grind of the Big Ten season seems to have had an effect on Hulls, and the apples-to-apples comparison of his freshman and sophomore seasons in Big Ten play. Here is his StatSheet page with Big Ten stats only. First, Hulls playing time and role in the offense (possessions used increased from 13 percent to 19 percent) increased. Early in the season, when Hulls was plugging a long at greater than 50 percent shooting from three point range, the constant cry from here and other quarters was that Hulls needed to shoot more. Obviously, Tom Crean and Hulls saw that as well, and Hulls was more aggressive as the season transpired. As would have been expected, Hulls's percentages dipped, but the extent of the drop made his season a bit more of a mixed bag than it could have been.
First, it is obvious that Hulls became more comfortable taking the ball inside and trying to create his own shot. In his freshman season, 85 of Hulls's 113 Big Ten field goal attempts were three pointers. In 2011, Hulls held close to steady in number of three point attempts, but he had 177 field goal attempts overall, meaning just over half of his attempts were from inside the arc. (Also, while most IU fans heard all about this as the season transpired, he was 35-35 from the line in Big Ten play this season, which is incredible). He improved his two point shooting percentage from 45 to 54 percent. Unfortunately, despite what felt for most of the season like a year of great progress for Hulls was dampened statistically by a late-season shooting slump. Hulls actually declined pretty significantly in his three point shooting percentage in Big Ten play, from 38.8 to 34.9. His last really impressive three point shooting game was the game that in many respects ended it all for the 2011 Hoosiers, the come-from-ahead home loss to Iowa. At that point, Hulls was 22-53 from behind the arc, about 41.5 percent, but he shot only 7-30 from deep in IU's final seven regular season games. Still, considering the increased share of the offense shouldered by Hulls, his sophomore season has to be considered progress.
IU fans justifiably are excited about the arrival of Cody Zeller and Austin Etherington, but neither will provide Hulls any help at the point. Hulls is a reliable ballhandler and a great shooter. The big question mark, of course, is whether Hulls can be a productive ball handler. Will he develop the strength to continue taking the ball inside to create his own shot? Can he become more of a distributor, and improve his number of assists and his ability to get to the line? It will be fun to see Hulls as a senior with a true point guard, Yogi Ferrell, but absent a late 2011 addition, improvement at the position in 2011-2012 will have to come from Hulls himself. Given his improvement from year one to year two, I think that is a realistic possibility.