Eric Gordon: Drugs Ruined IU’s Final Four Shot

Eric Gordon doesn’t play for Indiana anymore. In fact, he hardly played there at all (funny thing about the whole one-and-done college basketball trend). Still, now that he’s out of the picture, and now that the coach who brought him there, Kelvin Sampson, has been quite unceremoniously deposed, Gordon is opening up about exactly what ruined Indiana’s hopeful 2007-08 campaign: Drugs.

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(No, Eric Gordon wasn’t high, he just looked like it after losing a tooth.)

That’s right, Indiana was rolling toward a Big Ten title, and then, well, it found marijuana. And acid. And, well, probably cocaine, too. Gordon doesn’t spill the specifics about which drugs players were using, or about who was using them. All he says in an interview with the INDIANAPOLIS STAR is that the drug usage was so widespread it left him so uncomfortable that he spent much of his time off the court at a family friend in Bloomington, just to get away from the rest of the team. The interview confirms what L. Jon Wertheim had previously written in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED back in early November, accusations that had since been shirked aside.

Gordon makes it clear that former Indiana captain D.J. White was among the players who wasn’t using drugs, which isn’t particularly surprising. Throughout much of last year, as Sampson’s web of recruiting violations collapsed around him, White and Gordon were two of the only players who performed like their head was screwed on straight. Or at least thinking straight, as the case may have been.

“Sometimes it felt like it wasn’t even a real basketball team because of all the turmoil that went on,” said Gordon. “I was just thinking about that the other day. It was so crazy that all that stuff threw off a good season and made it a waste, basically. It was really tough for us to be around each other all the time off the court because we were so separate.”

Former interim coach Dan Dakich, the man who replaced Sampson when he was forced out in midseason, isn’t saying anything. Neither is Sampson, of course. But another former Hoosier, guard Adam Ahlfeld, confirmed Gordon’s story.

Reflect to the 2007-08 season, and it becomes clear that the drug use must have been absolutely horrendous for it to register this strongly. Think about it: Gordon is saying drug use, not one of the worst in-season, recruiting violation crackdowns, was the factor behind the Hoosiers’ collapse. Indiana switched coaches in the middle of the season, but Gordon still thinks that drugs were more detrimental to the team’s success. That’s astounding.

Naturally, new coach Tom Crean is trying to move on. Knowing Tom Crean, they’re probably progressing quickly, too. Still, it’s hard to overlook the monumental collapse that tomahawked Indiana’s season and the team’s legitimate shot at a run deep into the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Then again, perhaps we should be testing former Indiana players for another skill: being productive while high. How could they possibly run and shoot while taking drugs? Or shortly after taking drugs? Did they have a coping food/tool that was that efficient? If so, where can we get some?