Verdell Jones III and Jeremiah Rivers Must Step Up For The Hoosiers

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2010

There are many reasons why the Hoosiers have failed to win in their past three games.

Some can point to the lack of a big man down low who can consistently score and grab rebounds.

Some can point to the missed free throws throughout the game.

But a huge reason for the current losing streak is the lack of leadership.

Verdell Jones III and Jeremiah Rivers are two of the most experienced and talented players on the squad.

Yet in the last three games, the two of them have looked lost on the court, and have not found a way to step up.

Verdell Jones III may be just a sophomore, but he has played in as many games so far as most juniors, and has been a starter since the beginning of last season.

This season he began to make strides, and was really stepping up, but his play has faltered recently.

In the three recent losses, he has committed 12 turnovers (while recording eight assists), and has seen his scoring mark go from 22 to 13 to just seven points in the last game at Michigan.

He is also a combined 1-14 (7%) from behind the arc, and in the past two games has only stepped to the line seven times, going 4-7 (57%).

But if those offensive numbers look bad, they are much better than Jeremiah Rivers numbers.

Rivers has certainly improved Indiana as a whole, and so far has done a great job with his energy, strong drives to the hoop, and excellent defense. 

But with half a season gone, and plenty of game film on him, the rest of the nation has seen that he doesn't possess a jump shot, or even the ability to make free throws. 

Opposing teams are forcing him out of the lane, and are making him need to pull up for shots, or dish it off to a teammate, who is not always so open.

Like Jones, Rivers, in the last three games, has turned the ball over more times than he has created assists (11 turnovers, 9 assists), he has failed to hit free throws (4-9, 44%) and he has failed to play like the junior that he is.

One such example was in the last game against Michigan. Rivers stole the ball, and ran towards the hoop, but didn't run so fast, and a great hustle play by Zach Novak forced Rivers to the line, as he wasn't able to get a layup or dunk up.

Rivers then proceeded to miss the two free throws, and that kind of sums up his season so far, as well as the teams play this season at times.

Indiana needs the two of these players to step up and play like the leaders they were born to be.

With the Big 10 season in full swing, it's time for the Hoosiers to play with the confidence and poise that the fans and coaches know they possess.