BLOOMINGTON — De’Ron Davis demands the ball.
This is a very good Cream ‘n Crimson thing.
Davis plants his 6-10, 240-pound body near the paint at Assembly Hall, posting up hard against a Wisconsin defender to create space. He extends his right arm, body language screaming for somebody, anybody, to get him the darn ball.
And so the Hoosiers do. The result — Davis scores 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, and grabs two rebounds in 18 minutes. It is not his career high – he had 14 points against Southeast Missouri State – but that was Assembly Hall fodder brought in to be … well … fodder.
Add the eight points and eight rebounds he had in 18 minutes three days earlier against Louisville, and it suggests that one day, perhaps next year, perhaps the year after, Davis could really be a Big Ten force.
For now, though, the freshman out of Colorado flashes promise.
“It’s just being strong, and being strong in the post,” he says. “You know, carving out space.”
Few Hoosiers carve better than Davis. Don’t be surprised if you see more of it.
“We’re going to have to be able to do that at times,” coach Tom Crean says. “There’s no question that it was effective.
“One of the first things that stood out about De’Ron (when we recruited him) was his ability to pass. He has great feet and great eyes.
“He’s got to get in shape. We told him two months ago, by January you’re going to feel like a totally different player. He’s starting to feel that.”
Davis averages 6.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in 13.3 minutes. He has more assists (17) than turnovers (15) which is more than veteran teammates OG Anunoby, James Blackmon and Thomas Bryant can say.
Davis is far from a finished product. Down the stretch against Wisconsin on Tuesday night, he missed a layup and a free throw, turned it over, committed a foul. In the last 86 seconds, he was replaced by Bryant, a veteran who has struggled to play to his potential.
Perhaps that will change Saturday, when the reeling Hoosiers (10-5) host Illinois (11-4) in the last of their three-game Big Ten-opening home stand.
IU has lost three straight, including last Saturday’s non-conference loss to Louisville that was in between defeats to Nebraska and Wisconsin that jeopardized its chances of repeating as Big Ten champs.
The turnaround, Crean says, doesn’t require massive change.
“It’s the defense. That’s what it is. Turnovers have been an issue, but the defense is what has to pick up.
“It’s not the scheme. At times it’s the urgency. At times it’s the technique. Some of it is just the quick-moving, quick-minded, being-in-the-right-spot, do-your-responsibility type of thing. That’s all it really is.
“We’ll get there.”
Illinois split its first two Big Ten games, losing at Maryland before coming back home to beat Ohio State. It is led by forwards Malcolm Hill (18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds) and Leron Black (10.5 points, 7.2 rebounds), and guard Tracy Abrams (11.5 points).
Still, IU’s No. 1 priority is fixing its own problems.
“This is a hard-working group,” Crean says. “They’re resilient. They have been resilient. We have a long season to go. That’s what we have to focus on.”
UP NEXT: Illinois at Indiana
TIPOFF: 5 p.m., Saturday
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