Eric Gordon is a good basketball player.
Oh, how I’ve waited so long to type that sentence.
I’ve been waiting 393 days to say that, ever since Gordon decided the heck with Illinois and said he was going to play his college ball for his homestate Hoosiers. In his first game in Cream and Crimson (excluding the first fifteen minutes) he more than lived up to the hype. 33 points on only 15 shots? USC’s O.J. Mayo (who shoots about 200 times a game) couldn’t get ten points in 15 shots.
“He’s a monster,” Kelvin Sampson told reporters after the game. “EJ’s going to play hard every night. You watch him in practice every day you tend to take him for granted.”
Well, I don’t think IU fans will be taking a talent like Gordon for granted any time soon. The amazing thing watching him is his utter even-keelness; he never gets too high or too low. I think in Chris summed it up perfectly in his season preview in today’s paper:
“His game is tinged with mercenary fervor. As soon as he scores, he looks to make a defensive play. As soon as he does that, he looks to create a basket either for himself or a teammate. Gordonâ€™s game is relentlessly void of hesitation.”
True, EJ was a little fired up after a few questionable foul calls on him tonight. But for the most part, how many of you haven’t chuckled to yourself after you see him hit another three-pointer, and simply run back downcourt like nothing special happened?
Oh, and don’t give me that whole “it’s only one game” argument. He could have had 40 tonight if hadn’t played so poorly the first fifteen minutes. Big Ten games will prove tougher for him to get his points, but believe me, he’ll find a way. He can shoot from anywhere. He can drive. He makes 90 percent of his free throws. He’ll find a way.
I was trying to think of the last IU player to have this kind of impact, this early in his career. Way before D.J., or Bracey Wright, or even Jared Jeffries. AJ Guyton? Even Calbert Cheaney, or Damon Bailey?
I know I’m throwing out some big names in Indiana basketball history there. Trust me, no one has more of an appreciation for IU history than yours truly. But I really think this kid is that good. It’s amazing, because how much are people talking about D.J. White? Not as much as I thought they would. Don’t get me wrong, D.J.’s a great post presence and absolutely essential to the Final Four aspirations of this team. But consider this: if you’re an opposing coach, who do you design your defense to stop, White or Gordon?
After tonight, I think it’s pretty clear.