James Blackmon Jr. vs. The Marty Simmons Rule


Earlier this season, James Blackmon Jr., was the talk of the college basketball world. The freshman sharp shooter was shooting close to 50% from the floor and 46% from behind the arc during his first nine games as a Hoosier. In his last five games heading into his disaster of a night vs. Purdue, he was shooting just 28.6% from the floor and 32.1% from three-point land. Then came the Purdue game that placed Blackmon in the stats column with a 4-of-13 split and 1-of-5 on three balls.

Blackmon couldn’t buy a bucket, and as I always say if you can’t buy one, you better steal one. Blackmon did neither, and the one triple he did knock down was probably on layaway.

So why was Blackmon Jr. so effective early this season but struggling now?

The Marty Simmons Rule

Sure, playing on the road in the Big Ten is tough no matter who laces up, but let me introduce you to the Marty Simmons Rule.

Marty Simmons is the current head coach at the University of Evansville. Simmons played two seasons at Indiana before transferring to play for Jim Crews and the Purple Aces at the University of Evansville back in the 1980s.

In those two years under Coach Knight at Indiana, Simmon’s was an All-American type of player before the Big Ten season, but barely a factor in Big Ten play. A fall ball all-star, his game went cold when winter and better opponents came around.

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When Simmons transferred to play for the Purple Aces, he was again a top scorer, but was playing against smaller schools. Simmons wasn’t the first player to do this, but he was one of the most obvious. Thus the name, The Marty Simmons Rule. Not a knock on Coach Simmons at all as he was a great player who did what he could with his talent level. He was a solid player and is an even better coach, but that’s the reality.

Players can look great playing against cupcakes in November and December, but when January comes around there is a Darwin like separation between the men and boys. The Big Ten legacies aren’t built in the fall, and surprisingly they aren’t always built in March. They are made in the grueling months of January and February.

The legacy of some of the best players to ever play in all of college basketball were built on snowy nights in Columbus, Ohio and stepping up (literally) to the court to play the Golden Gophers in Minnesota. They were molded and carved in West Lafayette and Bloomington on Tuesday nights.

The legendary status of the elite players like “Big Dog” Glenn Robinson, Jimmy Jackson, Michael Redd, and Calbert Cheaney came in the claw’em out, no layups allowed, Big Ten regular season games.

Now of course, I am not saying that Blackmon Jr. won’t pan out with the Hoosiers, but right now he looks like the freshman he is.  Let’s just hope he turns into a big time Big Ten player and not another victim of the Marty Simmons Rule.