Ellis Is Indiana's Mr. Everything
January 23, 2008
By Terry Hutchens (Indy Star)
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Jamarcus Ellis prides himself on being Indiana's defensive stopper.
But when IU played at Iowa three weeks ago, it probably wouldn't have mattered who or how many Hoosiers guarded Justin Johnson down the stretch.
Johnson scored 19 of his game-high 29 points, including six 3-pointers, in the final two minutes before the Hoosiers escaped with a 79-76 victory.
Ellis guarded Johnson most of the game before being substituted out late. He returned in time for Johnson's final three 3-pointers, including one from just inside the half-court line.
"It got to a point where everything he was putting up was going in, and you just never know," Ellis said. “Home teams are going to take care of their home court, and I'm sure that's what he was thinking. We could have very easily come home from that game with a loss but we were able to do enough things right to hold on for the win."
Ellis said after watching film he thinks he can play Johnson a little differently when No. 7 IU (16-1, 5-0 Big Ten) meets Iowa (9-10, 2-4) tonight in Bloomington.
"When you have a guy who is that hot, you just can't even let him touch the ball," Ellis said. "You need to get up into him and chase him all around the court and make it very, very tough on him. Looking back, that's what I would have done differently and that's what I'll try to do better this time."
Ellis continues to be Indiana's Mr. Everything. He has scored in double figures seven times, has had at least seven rebounds 12 times, and has handed out five or more assists in 10 games. The 6-5 junior said he enjoys providing whatever the team needs.
"I like having the multidimensional role," Ellis said. "I'm always looking for ways to make my teammates better. If it takes hitting a shot, that's fine. But if I can drive and get them the ball or make a good pass to the perimeter, that's what I want to do, too."
IU coach Kelvin Sampson is most appreciative of Ellis' expansive skill set. He constantly gives his junior guard praise and affirmation. At times, he's quick to kid with him, too. In the news conference after Sunday's 81-65 victory over Penn State, Sampson said Ellis was great except for a late 3-point shot that the IU coach felt was unnecessary.
With Ellis sitting next to him, Sampson said, "When you're shooting 5 percent from the 3-point line, there's a reason why you're open. He said, 'But coach, I was open.' Well, you're going to be open for the rest of your life."
Ellis is actually shooting 23.3 percent from 3-point range, hitting 7-of-30 shots.
"(Ellis) is a really good basketball player and he does so many things for us,'' Sampson said. "That's why, if I would have guessed before the season what player would lead us in minutes, I would have said it would be him just because of his versatility.”
"He's a kid that just knows how to play. He has never been a dynamic scorer, but his teams always win."