IU searching for leaders as No. 21 Iowa arrives

Indiana freshman Armaan Franklin has already grappled with his share of firsts this season.

In the wake of IU’s early-season injuries, the 6-foot-4 guard from Indianapolis picked up his first collegiate starts, before settling into a reserve role. Through the non-conference, he experienced his first shooting slump, only to snap out of it with his first game-winning shot versus Notre Dame.

There have been ups and downs, but now there’s a new kind of low at the freshman’s doorstep. The Hoosiers (15-8, 5-7 Big Ten) are on a four-game conference slide, the first such skid of Franklin’s college career. He wasn’t around for last year’s struggles, when IU dropped 12 out of 13.

“You’ve just got to go by the other players’ lead,” Franklin said. “They have been through similar things like this before, and you just kind of have to gain knowledge from them on what they know and how to get out of it and snap out of it.”

But that wasn’t the complete answer, and Franklin knew it.

Ahead of a matchup Thursday with No. 21 Iowa, IU coach Archie Miller has talked about the need for togetherness from this group, for players to take ownership of this team. At times, the Hoosiers have shrunk when circumstances have been difficult. That response won’t curtail a slide.

When Franklin and junior captain Al Durham faced questions Wednesday about the Hoosiers’ togetherness, about their search for vocal leadership, there was a sense of urgency on the subject. One of the more subdued members of a less-than-boisterous team, Franklin wouldn’t be the obvious candidate to become IU’s voice. But he understands it’s a challenge that’s in front of him.

It’s there for everyone in a Hoosier uniform.

“This is hard, being a freshman, to speak up,” Franklin said. “But that’s something I’ve got to work on, to get better at. For the betterment of the team, I’ve got to do it.”

Iowa (17-7, 8-5) presents a myriad of defensive challenges for the Hoosiers, namely big man Luka Garza. But most of IU’s worries seem internal at this point, driven by the manic nature of its play. This team has battled the league’s best. It’s also shrunk in the face of adversity.

Whether it’s a freshman like Franklin, or an upperclassman like Durham, the Hoosiers are in desperate need of leadership to steady the ship. “There’s no better time to emerge,” Miller said as he looked ahead to what amounts to a last stand for the Hoosiers at home, before they face down a long stretch on the road.

Win, and IU regains some relevance in the NCAA tournament conversation. Lose, and the Hoosiers’ slide threatens to permanently damage this season’s prospects.

“When you fracture and things don’t go well, it’s easy … to sit back in the shadow,” Miller said. “Sometimes you need some guys to really grab ahold of the jerseys and the reins and say, you know, ‘Who am I bringing with me? I’m not going to be part of the problem. I’m going to be part of the solution. Come with me. I’ve got this.'”

The third-year coach continued, asking the question he’d like players to be asking each other. “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you? Can I help you?” Miller said. “It’s more about us. How do we fix us?”

There are obvious issues on the court the Hoosiers have to solve. They need to get back to out-rebounding opponents. They need to avoid the mental breakdowns that have led to costly runs of turnovers in one half or another.

But as the losses mount, the focus has turned from Xs-and-Os to just a general question about this team’s rudder. At his radio show Monday, a fan asked Miller why this team seems to lack passion coming out of the locker room, and he couldn’t disagree with the premise.

Durham, the captain, takes responsibility for that.

“I feel like me being one of the older players, I’ve got to make sure that everybody is accounted for and everyone is, you know, doing their part,” Durham said. “Everyone has to step up in their role, step up and bring some energy to the table and make sure everyone is accounted for and everyone has each other’s back.”

While the frontcourt will be in the spotlight Thursday versus Garza, the Hoosiers’ ball handlers will play a major role in how this one goes. The fast-paced, high-scoring Hawkeyes like to get out in transition, and if IU can’t protect the ball, that plays right into the visitors’ hands.

For Durham, IU’s turnover woes come back to the mental side of things.

“I feel like we have to stay locked in for 40 minutes, not 20,” Durham said. “So we have to be able to carry over one 20-minutes and carry it over and not have 20 minutes of turning the ball over. … We have to start and finish like we want to.”

If they do that Thursday, the Hoosiers can get back on track and more solidly into the NCAA tournament picture.

But a bounce-back effort could mean even more. It could show that the Hoosiers are capable of working through adversity, rising to the occasion rather than shrinking.

Franklin, for one, believes the Hoosiers have displayed togetherness during this rough patch.

“You know, when you lose four straight, all you have is each other,” he said. “You can’t listen to the outside sources. You have to be in the room with each other and progress every day with one another.”

Miller just wants to see his players lifting each other up.

“This time of year, man, doesn’t matter who you are. If you hear a voice that’s a positive thing, that’s a great thing,” Miller said. “Whether you’re a freshman or first-year player or whether you’ve been here two years, I don’t really care. If you hear the right things out of guys’ mouths and they are about the right things, you can’t put a price on that.”

19 comments

  1. I agree Rock. I think the problem(s) well chronicled on this forum are spot on. This team is void of real leadership. Hell, I even forgot Durham was a so called “captain”. He certainly hasn’t shown it. I don’t see him grabbing jerseys, chewing butts or teaching by example. I see lots of confusion, stupor and endless bad shots from him. I’ll give you this though, he can make things happen and drives the ball harder than anyone on the team on occasion. But usually this seems like we’re already down 8 or 12 or 20 pts. by the time he gets P’O’d.

    The problem with a young team is that the elders don’t respect them. And face it, these elders don’t have any prior proven arrows in their quills. Why should anyone listen to them….because they’ve been through 12 losses in 13 games before?!?! It is a preposterous theme in my book. What is there to know? How to win 1 of 13?!?! Pure insanity.

    So there we have it. The void in leadership is indeed real and the team itself feels and knows it. The captain is clueless with no record of 4th qtr. or last possession comebacks. The freshmen are afraid to speak up. Seems that everyone, including the coach, is hanging on any positive comment from anybody.

    We’re screwed.

    1. Awz,
      You are right, we’re in a bit of a pickle. An amazing confluence of circumstances has lead to this point. However, I maintain there is a way out, if he can get to where we need him to be. Yes, I am again speaking of Jerome Hunter. I have said it before and will say it again, “The fortunes of IUBB will rise and fall, not only this year but did last year, on JH returning to form. He is the proverbial “X-factor” H4H has been searching for. As for the lineup, go to the future, go to your underclassmen.

      The real issue is when will JH be able to make that major step up in his performance we believe he once had the capability of doing? At that point, if he is what I think he is, he will seize the reins of leadership of this team. Some panned the photo of JH’s huge smile a few weeks ago. To me, it was the first light of a potential dawn, and judging by their reactions, I think his teammates thought so too. JH may have been the bigger recruiting coup for CAM than RL. Sadly, with the illness, his potential has been severely limited thus far. However, if he can come back from all this, what a story that will be!

      1. I really would love to completely agree with you, thinkaboutit.
        I do believe that’s a bit too much investment in one player. True leaders and true “X-factor” guys on a roster must have an all-business, killer instinct. Does Jerome have that instinct? Has anyone recruited by Archie to this point have that instinct?

        Teams tend to get lost during the course of a season when they don’t have that identifiable ‘anchor’ to keep some from going adrift….It’s not missed when cruising through cupcakes in the early non-conference and while other teams are also finding themselves in juggling of rosters and lineups part of any team formation. But then you hit walls….And when you hit those walls or have a couple difficult losses, who is the “main man on the maple”…rather the “main man on campus” to keep the glue strong and hold a team together through thick and thin? Do you think that can be Jerome Hunter? Let’s be honest…

        There has yet to be one Hoosier since Yogi Ferrell who can assume that sort of role….I was hoping it might have been Romeo. I was so ….so….so far off the radar to have believed he could have changed the leadership culture. Culture isn’t just about not cheating and maintaining passing grades in a classroom. I see culture as caring about the name on uniform and caring about your teammates enough to show some fire and heart.

        Jerome has plenty of talent…TJD has plenty of talent….Phinisee has plenty of talent….But where is the guy on this team with the fire in his belly? There was a stretch of 4 or 5 games where I thought I saw those traits emerging from Joey Brunk….and then someone, or something silenced it…and he shrunk into a shell.

        Archie is responsible for the personality of a team just as much as the talent and their individual abilities. I’ve seen zombies with more personality than this team collectively displays of late. The “X-factor” missing from this team is a personality and hunger ….There appears to be little investment in the name on the jersey. The front of the jersey just as well be blank as the blank faces many of our Hoosiers play the game. Talent alone doesn’t fix that. Show me a Damon Bailey…or a Calbert Cheaney….or a Steve Downing….or a Yogi Ferrell who ever played with such seemingly low levels of fire and investment…..

        This is not a talent problem…It’s not a problems solely the result of roster gutting because of injuries. Some of it could be the dysfunction of ‘holdovers’ with the same lack of fire (as upperclassmen) that is now present in Archie’s own recruits.
        I expected more out of Indiana kids…That’s why I pushed for a coach who would first look to within our own borders for the ‘heart’ and ‘fire’ I thought homegrown talent would bring. I’ve been more than disappointed.

        Go convince Mac McClung to transfer and become a Hoosier. Go find some fire and some guys not from Indiana who act more like “Hoosiers” than some of those from our state masquerading on this team.

        Lastly, did any of you see the Rutgers coach nearly bench his entire starting five for the second half against OSU because he thought there was no heart or effort being exhibited in the first half? That’s what coaches with backbone do when they witness dysfunction, heartless effort and selfish play destructive to a winning culture.

        1. How do we bench our starting five ….when we barely have one? Archie rotates this lineup faster than paint mixer at the hardware store.
          The “starting five” is merely for fashion statement and public address announcement purposes only.

          And there may rest a major part of the problem….No solid identifiable roles as starters. “Starters” aren’t just those present for barely two minutes after tip-off. I don’t know how leadership evolves when subgroups and ‘the five on the floor’ change so frequently….and so interchangeably.

          There is no ‘Starting Five’ to punish…or relegate to the bench for poor play or lack of investment. Archie would have to bench the entire team because our roster is basically a handful of pick-up sticks.

          THERE! I HAVE IT! All of you basketball geniuses couldn’t see it if it were slapping you in the face. There is a leadership problem because leaders don’t evolve from a mixture never a mixture! The ‘five’ prime ingredients are changed too frequently. Minutes are so vastly distributed between the first 8 or 9 on our bench that no leavening can occur to discover a leader. BINGO!

          leavening
          /ˈlevəniNG/
          noun

          1. a substance used in dough or batter to make it rise, such as yeast or baking powder.
          “during the 18th century yeast was abandoned as a leavening for fruit cakes”
          2. a quality or element that permeates and modifies or transforms something for the better.
          “underneath the frills and fuss there’s a leavening of serious intent”

          Summation: Underneath the frills and fuss of our equal distribution of talent divvied in multiple minutes between multiple players, there is little opportunity for the “leavening” of a leader…or the “leavening” of a collective brotherhood in a true subgroup known truly as “STARTERS.”
          NO STARTER YEAST = NO LEAVENING = NO LEADERSHIP = BINGO!

          All great bread…and great teams begin with LEAVENING! Stir in one direction…Don’t break the gluten. Allow the ingredients the needed time to bond and begin the chemical reactions to rise in the oven of a complete season.

          1. It’s not that we need Crean recruits to be “LEAVING.” Maybe no subgroup on this team has had the proper chance for “LEAVENING?”
            The problem may be that Archie has not made the hard decisions necessary to build a true first and foremost STARTING FIVE.

            You can’t just hold one person responsible for a team playing poorly….If that is YOUR STARTING FIVE, then they all must be responsible collectively.

            I would also argue that “Starting Five” used to be far more than the name implies. A starting five was always more than simply “starting”…It was often the “Midway Five” …the “End of Half Five”…the “Beginning of the Second Half Five”….the “Crunch Time Five.”

            And if things went south..and a team wasn’t looking like a team, then that “Starting Five” was held collectively responsible in taking ownership/account of the product on the floor.
            I would argue that even a most “Singular” leader cannot evolve…or leaven on a team without a “Primary Five.”
            We have no “Five”….We have no Super-sub. We have only pick-up sticks. And, thus, leadership is impossible.

            Can this really be the total fault of “holdovers”….? We don’t build teams anymore. We don’t build great bread. We build ‘Pot Luck Stew’….

  2. 1. We have been hearing about a “lack of leadership” in this program dating back to well into the previous coach’s tenure. At this point it is like shooting and ballhandling – a chronic deficiency that has not gotten better through multiple coaches and recruiting classes.
    2. There is no such thing as “searching” for a leader. People who fill that role in almost any walk of life do so as a matter of their nature. Especially in sports, leaders emerge as a matter of personality. If we don’t have any leaders by now, we won’t have any this season. Nor will we have any next season unless one of the freshmen can fill that role. I do think that Anthony Leal has that nature, so if he can contribute on the court, perhaps he will emerge as a leader.

    1. WM,
      Great comments, and I agree with you assessment of Leal. I also think that Galloway will fit that bill as well.

      One thing to consider regarding your remarks about the leadership on the current roster. I think AF spoke to that issue from the underclassmen’s perspective on leadership. I hope I am right but I think there is a natural born leader already on the roster. However, in order to fully gain the leadership of a team the player must be able to do so both on and off the court. Unfortunately, until Jerome Hunter can fully emerge as an on-court leader, he will not be able to assume this role. His game must continue to recover back to what it once was and beyond.

      The problem with CAM’s predecessor you mentioned was his system does not easily develop leaders on a roster. TLC’s system was primarily designed to be a quick pass through to the nba. Not going to be able to develop the leadership necessary to hand a banner that way.

      1. I see Jerome Hunter as very talented…Not sure if he’s a natural leader anymore than Justin Smith. There are very few natural leaders playing at the “next level.”

        Find the guy with the most floor burns…..Crean pushed most his natural leaders off his teams. e.g. Abell…Roth….Creek. He found some high b-ball IQ/semi-leaders in transfers (Beilfeldt, Zeisloft).
        He found the best of all leadership in a point guard, Yogi Ferrell, who was part of the “Movement” proceeding Zeller’s commitment.
        Simply having the motor and the will to win that Yogi possessed was enough leader for me.

        But Crean’s teams (much like Archie’s bad habit) suffered by mass substitution patterns and the difficulties he had in benching kids he was emotionally attached (e.g. Verdell).

        Sadly, I don’t see any natural leaders on our team. Given the proper environment(hard decisions to stick with a tight starting rotation throughout much of a game), maybe somebody emerges and those traits I’m missing arrive from behind the veil of disjointedness a team of pick-up sticks.

    2. Weatherman- Good stuff. But see my posts…Leaders also need the right environment to experience leavening. Too many subgroups becomes dysfunctional to the inherent traits/characteristics of a true leader to emerge.

      Crean and Archie have similar dysfunction in fostering leaders. They play their rosters like it’s a handful of pick-up sticks. I don’t know if that’s a product of the times…? Because a kid gets a scholarship, does that mean an entitlement to get so many minutes on the floor? Does a ‘Bill of Rights’ mean a coach has to provide a ‘Bill of Playing Time Minutes’ to the point there is rarely any cohesiveness or most imperative subgroup(FIVE) on a team.

      I think it’s tough for natural leaders to be leaders when teams experience disintegration via multiple substitutions and rotational experiments throughout a game, multiple games, and then culminating in the same methods throughout a season. Is there an affirmative action clause in the ‘Bill of Rights’ forcing a coach to nearly equal out playing time minutes for all on a roster with scholarships?

      If there are no garbage time minutes reserved for “garbage”….then maybe it’s garbage time throughout? Nobody deserves to be called “garbage,” but hard decisions need to be made….There must be games where you allow five on the floor to become the foundation of your team. No leader can function without such designations.

  3. “When the shots are not falling it exposes a lot about your team” Geno Auriemma.
    In B1G play the Hoosiers are 12th in FG% defense, 12th in 3 – point FG% defense, last in turnover margin, last in assist / turnover ratio, and 11th in FT%.
    Improved defense, less turnovers, and better FT shooting will go a long way. If a player doesn’t want to work hard on the defensive end he should be glued to the bench. Archie needs to grow a set. The coaching staff also needs to be better at in game adjustments.
    This team is solid on the boards and has shown glimpses of offensive promise.
    If Coach Miller can’t fix the defense they will be NIT bound.

  4. Think and Weatherman, both excellent points. I believe that JH can and will be the leader next season. He has had to “get comfortable and secure” knowing that whatever his problem was last year is over. His hard work to get back on the floor has earned him the respect of his teammates. The underclass men act like new hires into an established business (afraid to speak up EVEN if the Boss says its ok…the co-workers send a different message. Justin Smith is the conundrum for next year, unfortunately he learned it was OK just to FLASH his athleticism . Last year with all the injuries he had ample opportunity to develop a midrange shot but hasn’t. It seems to me that Archie recruited for defense first ( your offense comes from your defense) thinking shooting would correct itself. I think that whomever speaks up or leads by example; Justin will defer to and that is the problem with him this year..he defers ALOT to his teammates ( defense ,offense, and leadership)

    1. I going to agree with The Swartz and tjT’s comments.

      Of particular interest to me was the Geno Auriemma quote, “When the shots are not falling it exposes a lot about your team.” It reminded of something CAM said last season during the practices leading up to the opener. He had just awarded JH the gold jersey and was asked why. CAM’s response was to the effect, “He made shots.” I think that tells us everything we need to know about his lost value to last season’s team and what his continued progress means to this year’s team and beyond.

      I still say until more shot makers and leaders come onto the roster, IUBB will rise and fall on Jerome Hunter’s ability to return to form. H4H has picked up on a particular point and I agree about the similarities. Much like MP on the IUFB side, the entire dynamic of the team changes when they are healthy and in the game. Sadly, we’ve only seen a small sample of what these 2 athletes could become. Here’s hoping both will stay healthy and develop to their full potentials.

  5. I hope Franklin does start piping up strongly. I also hope he is challenged by an upperclassman. This puts the responsibility on the rest of the team to choose the leader they believe in. If that challenger is Green the rock in the road is removed.

  6. A rolling stone gathers no moss, HC! Green has the ability to roll with the punches and morph into our Leader! He did against Florida State and somehow the team did not react accordingly, or maybe flawed coaching strategy said, “OK, that was great, but let’s make our team into a defensive juggernaut.” (error).

    Maryland changed mid-season after a debacle against Northwestern and went back to “playing”…threw out the sets and “just played”.

    We have a team that we all think has some talent, but they are not playing together.

    It’s NOT working (it IS work, however, and not fun). Great coaching admits the error (think IU 1981 in the NCAA tournament when Bobby Knight took off the reins and allowed Isiah to lead our team to Glory).

    I truly see Devonte Green leading our team to glory. (with a little help of that Garza being removed from the floor due to at least one offensive foul early and at least one foul by being in the proximity of # 4 when he has the ball).

    I’m not hijacking a prediction! I’m MAKING a prediction (don’t bet on it).

    I’m telling it as I foresee it. And no matter if my prognositications are in error –as often happens- or are Amazingly Accurate (as usual), I do hope we Beat Iowa tonight!!!

  7. I see a lot of commenters…falling on their swords (their last year and early season comments/opinions on who they believed to be prominent/integral/imperative to the team’s success).

    Our coach needs to find his own advice….Most here are stubbornly invested in their swords. Everything hinges on Green…Everything hinges on Jerome…etc, etc.

    Stubborn are our geniuses…..

    Regrettably, my hat (sword) was hanging on Joey Brunk. I thought he could bring the necessary mindset to change the culture of this team. I was wrong. Something got to Joey’s heart and he has faded. Cut his hair. Cut himself at the knees…Just when he was getting major confidence, some other “talent” and other “faux leaders” emerged. You can’t keep talent down. But you can keep leaders down. I disagree with this fantasy that leaders can function in any environment.
    End of tale, Joey. You were my sword to make this team right. You should have never cut your hair. Somebody got to you. Somebody demanded you back off the gas. Somebody may have even suggested you play the game dirty. Swords, swords…and more swords. Egos forever falling on their swords. Next leader hero? Michael Penix. End of basketball season. Football coming soon….More swords. More BS. More experts….

    It’s just a shame our coach can’t be as much an expert as all of us. If he only read Scoop, all our problems would be solved.

  8. What does a rolling stone in Georgia gather…? Wow…We think we have problems?

    I advocated rather strongly for Frank Martin…and for Brad Underwood. Archie sort of came out of the woodwork for me. Anyway, you think our team is lost and in disarray. My goodness….South Carolina just destroyed Georgia on their home court. I’ve rarely witnessed such mortuary for a stadium/crowd. I was watching some of the game and could actually hear Crean’s clapping when the Bulldogs were down 20 with four minutes to go. I could hear the three claps….over the absence of zero noise and thousands of empty seats. Wow….just…wow. I couldn’t help myself from going into a bit of a giggle tied to a sort of pity. But he’s got all the money in the world, so I’m sure it does buy a certain amount of happiness and validation.
    But Archie better get it together real soon because Dayton won’t take him back…Money ain’t everything. Silence is very painful to the heart. Instead of watching film of Iowa, maybe Archie should watch some film of South Carolina vs. Georgia…..because (a) he might pick up some clues on how to play like warriors on the road and (b) he might see a glimpse of reality to where you get spit out when you fail at Indiana as a relatively semi-known coach. The future ain’t pretty, Archie, if you get this wrong. Hope you like your wife a ton….Might be a lot of time at a Florida condo. Even the basketball jobs at football schools aren’t that easy to find.

  9. On this site and many others I suppose think, if, could, should, only, he, know, do, what, when, where, would, why, who, circumstances, situations, effort, play, hard, shoot, ball, handling, defense, rebound, oh, boy, recruit, leader, and the names/words are endless summed up into one word and name changes to HOPE.

    Recently, AM being ask/questioned on his radio show as fan critiques team and seems there’s a lack of coherence in what to do. Example: in his third year post Army…How would the General BK responded to that 39 year fan of IU basketball demonstrating the General’s leadership???

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