Saturday, February 09, 2002

New season, outlook for Indiana's Moye

Frustration gives way to solid play for sophomore

Enquirer wire services

        BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A.J. Moye admitted there were times last season when he considered transfering from Indiana University.

        The former Mr. Basketball of Georgia, considered a top-20 prospect nationally, struggled with the transition from high school senior to college freshman. He averaged 3.3 points and less than 10 minutes a game.

        Moye said at one point he was so entrenched in IU coach Mike Davis' doghouse that he “had cable, my own phone and meals delivered there. I was in pretty deep.”

        A year later, as Indiana (15-7) prepares to face Louisville (13-8) at 1 p.m. today in a nonconference game at Assembly Hall, Moye's outlook on life and basketball has changed considerably.

        “Last year for me was all about selfishness,” Moye said. “But I've come a long way since last year. I'm a different person. Last year I was a kid. I had never been out from beneath my mother's wing. Now, I feel like I've grown up as a player and as a person.”

        It didn't help last year that Jared Jeffries was enjoying a banner season that included being named Big Ten freshman of the year. But that, said Moye, helped him put things into perspective.

        “Yeah, J.J. was playing, but Jared is a once-in-a-lifetime talent,” Moye said. “To compare yourself to J.J. is unfair to both of us.”

        I was a kid and a kid is going to be frustrated. I'm in a transition to manhood now. There were times last year when I could have quit, I could have pouted, but I stayed determined. I think that has paid off for me.”

        Moye's current situation is proof. He has become one of the Hoosiers' most valuable players off the bench. In his last five games, he has 32 points and 20 rebounds, and has averaged more than 15 minutes.

        For the season, he's averaging 5.5 points and 3.7 rebounds.

        And he's one of the most popular players with IU basketball fans, because of his carefree attitude and his ability to get loose balls and offensive rebounds despite being just 6-foot-3.

        Moye said he's a successful rebounder because he wants the ball more than his opponents.

        “Guards are lazy and big men aren't very smart,” Moye said. “Big men try to out-jump each other, and guards would rather not go to the boards. I'll just throw you out of the way and get in the mix.”

        Moye's energy on the court, especially when it comes to rebounding, has stood out the last few games. Against both Minnesota and Iowa, Moye has had putbacks at the buzzer, where he's been able to sneak in the lane and make a play.

        “Moye is back to his old self,” Davis said. “He had about a month off where he just kind of went through the motions. But he's really busting his butt right now and that's the Moye that we need.”

        The fact that Moye has been able to play at all is remarkable. He has had a shoulder injury since high school that has gotten progressively worse. Moye described the injury as a partially torn rotator cuff, one that will require surgery after the season.

        “I've never wanted the end of a season to get here so soon, and yet last so long, because I want our team to go a long way in the NCAA Tournament,” Moye said. “But I'm in pain, a lot of pain. No one knows how much pain I'm in.

        “I wake up sometimes and my shoulder is like in the middle of my back somewhere. It pops out on any little thing. If I come in and just want to shoot, by the time I'm halfway done, it may be a little bit out and I've got to pop it back in.”

        Moye has been criticized by some fans for wearing a red or white T-shirt under his jersey. The T-shirt is actually to cover up a shoulder harness he wears.

        “You can put the rumors to rest once and for all that A.J. is hiding some obscene tattoo or something like that,” said IU trainer Tim Garl. “He has a brace, and it has velcro on the end, and the T-shirt is the only way to protect other players from getting hurt when they bump into him.”

        Moye plays through the pain and said right now, everything is worth it because Indiana is winning.

        “Winning helps make the pain go away,” Moye said. “I'm just happy that I'm able to contribute and that we're doing well as a team. It's all about winning for me. That's all I really care about.”


        Coach Gale Catlett indefinitely suspended guards Lionel Armstead and Tim Lyles for an unspecified violation of team rules.

        Armstead, a senior, has started all 21 games this season and is the team's third-leading scorer, averaging 10.7 points per game. Lyles, a junior, tore a knee ligament in September and hasn't played this season.

        The suspensions are the latest setback for the Mountaineers, who have lost 11 of 12 games, including nine in a row to tie a school record set in 1936-37.

        During the streak, Catlett missed two games with a viral infection.

        With seven games remaining in the regular season, the Mountaineers (8-13, 1-8 Big East) are in jeopardy of failing to have a winning record for the third time in four years. The school record of 19 losses in a season was set in 1998-99.


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