Perhaps the Indiana Hoosiers have figured out the best way to use Christian Watford.
Watford came off the bench for only the second time in his career on Thursday night and thrived in the role in a 99-45 win over Sam Houston State in the Progressive Legends Classic at Assembly Hall.
The senior shook off a shooting slump as if were a bad cold, pouring in 23 points to go along with six rebounds and two steals. Watford was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line.
In the Hoosiers’ first two games, Watford shot just 33 percent from the floor and scored a total of 21 points.
It’s not easy for a player to take on a new role, especially as a senior, but Watford didn’t seem to mind the change.
“Like I said, I wasn’t too worried about it. Just give 100 percent on both ends of the floor and everything else will take care of itself,” Watford said in a story on the school web site.
Maybe the Hoosiers should keep Watford as a the go-to guy off the bench. Heck, if he is going to play the way he did against Sam Houston State, it certainly can’t hurt Indiana’s cause.
Indiana head coach Tom Crean was certainly impressed with what he saw from his veteran star.
“He played with as much energy as anybody on the court tonight,” Crean said in a story on the school web site. “It showed up in his numbers. I’ve got to believe he feels good about the way he played.”
Crean is right. And look, the ultimate goal of the Hoosiers is to win a national championship. Teams don’t win titles unless players are willing to sacrifice for the good of the team.
Watford did that on Thursday night and it paid off. And if he continues to come off the bench down the road, I really don’t think Watford is going to care as long as the Hoosiers continue to win and maintain their status as a contender for the national title.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.