ROSEMONT, Ill. – Jordan Hulls was accustomed to winning.
His high school team, Bloomington South, went 26-0 and won a Class 4A title his senior season.
Hulls and the Hoosiers didnt win a lot of games his first two seasons. Last year marked the turnaround for the program, as Indiana went 27-9 and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002. And IU is No. 1 in the country this season.
Indiana (1-0) faces North Dakota State (1-0) today at Assembly Hall as part of the Bloomington Regional of the Progressive Legends Classic.
Ive gotten more comfortable the last four years, Hulls said last month at Big Ten media day. Its been pretty crazy. The losing was good for me. I grew mentally and physically that way. And last year was a great year, reaping those benefits. Ive been able to expand my game in a lot of different ways.
The 6-foot senior guard averaged 11.7 points last season, up from 11 points in 2010-11.
Jordan Hulls has been a classic example of what you want your program to be from start to where it is right now, IU coach Tom Crean said. Hes never come in and wavered one day in his work ethic; you can probably count on one hand the number of days hes taken off out of 365 days a year.
Hulls shot 49.3 percent from three-point territory and gained a spot on the All-Big Ten honorable mention list.
Hes been through the hardest of days. Hes been through the programs rise and hes a huge part of why it is that way. Fortunately, hes got some things he can do that he does as well as anybody. One is shoot the ball. Hes heady in the sense he makes smart plays. Hes athletic enough to do a lot of different things and he knows he has to get better, Crean said. When youve got those kinds of ingredients, when youve got strengths, but at the same time, you are concerned about building on to the things you have to improve upon, that gives you a lot of energy to improve.
Hulls said hes become a more aggressive shooter.
Growing up, my dad never let me shoot. I was always trying to get the ball where it needed to be, he said. Finally he let me shoot threes when I was in the seventh grade and its been history ever since. I feel a lot more confident, a lot more aggressive. Im more mature. I know how fast the game is going. That was the biggest adjustment for me, the speed and strength of the game at the college level coming into my freshman year. Im not the biggest guy ever.
Ive come a long way and Im still trying to get better.