IU downs Providence, 79-58, in Maui opening round

Report from Indy Star’s Zach Osterman:

Archie Miller had concerns coming out of Monday’s 79-58 dismantling of Providence.

He was concerned about the 35 minutes Race Thompson had to play in the first of three games in three days, at this year’s relocated Maui Invitational. He was concerned by Indiana’s perceived weakness on the glass — though pleasantly surprised by the degree to which the Hoosiers (2-0) held their own against Providence. He was concerned for all the reasons college basketball coaches ought to be right now.

But he was also, in his own words, proud of a performance that ought to set an early bar for IU this winter. This is how good the Hoosiers can be.

“Just really proud of our group,” Miller said at the start of his postgame comments Monday. “I thought they came down here really together and excited. I think we played that way. You got a chance to see that our older guys brought confidence to the floor.”

Race Thompson’s career effort — 22 points, 13 rebounds — headlined a commanding performance driven by the Hoosiers’ experience and marked by a noticeable poise. A team that so often struggled away from Assembly Hall last year can have no such excuses now, and no one looked in the mood to make them Monday.

Instead, IU dominated, virtually start to finish. The Hoosiers spotted Providence (1-1) the game’s first basket and then never looked back. Providence’s only lead on an afternoon that left Friars coach Ed Cooley shaking his head? 2-0.

“The word would be flabbergasted. I was beside myself,” Cooley said. “We were very sloppy, and they were the reason why we were.”

Thompson’s effort will get the spotlight, and deservedly so. But everyone should share the credit on a night when IU’s best player, Trayce Jackson-Davis, shot just 5-of-15, and the Hoosiers still ran a Big East team off the floor.

In total, four starters finished in double figures. Al Durham added 19 points, Rob Phinisee 11. Armaan Franklin was a layup short with eight points.

That backcourt steered a team that turned the ball over nine times to Providence’s 13, and enjoyed a plus-14 advantage in points off said turnovers.

Freshmen Trey Galloway and Khristian Lander flashed off the bench again. So did classmate Jordan Geronimo, a player whose ceiling has Indiana coaches excited. Jerome Hunter struggled with foul trouble — hence the minutes concerns Miller reserved for Thompson in particular — but the Hoosiers played through it. They played through everything Providence threw at them, and strolled past the Friars into the Maui winner’s bracket.

“The guys scrapped, man,” Miller said. “Played hard, and that’s why these tournaments are so fun. You get a chance, early in the year, to see what you’re made of, and hopefully we can build on it. We didn’t do everything right, but we did compete, and we played hard.”

Now consider all the times you couldn’t have said that about Indiana on the road last season.

Away from Assembly Hall, performances could be a crapshoot for a team that absorbed its share of blowouts in unfamiliar settings in 2019-20. Even in some of their wins, the Hoosiers could get flustered. It was a young team, and it showed.

It is not a young team anymore.

And on the evidence of Monday afternoon, it shows.

In the past six years, Cooley’s teams have consistently ranked somewhere between No. 25-45 in adjusted defensive efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy. They have recently been tough on the glass, especially the offensive glass.

On Monday, IU outrebounded Providence 42-33, better on the boards at both ends of the floor. The Hoosiers drew more fouls. They averaged 1.22 points per possession and allowed less than 0.94 at the other end.

By virtually any metric of effort or efficiency, Indiana was better than Providence.

“We just had a togetherness about us,” Durham said afterward, “a grittiness about us.”

We’re going to be dealing in small sample sizes for a while here, with precious few points of comparison. Don’t overreact to one result.

Maybe the Friars will turn out more pedestrian than expected. Again, our comparison points will remain small for longer than normal this season.

But it’s hard to ignore for now what IU did Monday. A group so often humbled away from home last season — a result common among teams that struggle with intangibles such as maturity and togetherness — left Assembly Hall after just one warm-up game and laid down a marker in the Maui Invitational.

The Hoosiers didn’t need their best player at his absolute peak to do it. They didn’t need an unlikely occurrence, like a blistering 3-point shooting performance. They played their brand of basketball and played it well. They locked the Friars up and shut them down, and in doing so laid down a baseline going forward.

This is what Indiana is capable of. These Hoosiers look capable of setting their own standard now.

 

23 comments

    1. Walton has to be stoned or completely burnt out. He sure comes up tons of disconnected garbage. He is a menace broadcasting.

  1. Just watched the game on replay. Nice win by the Hoosiers. They’re running some tight offensive sets early in the season. This might get interesting as they start warming up and hopefully some of these shots start falling.

    Al D looked awesome today.

    And Race! My guy! Where did that sweet baseline jumper come from? Didn’t expect to see that.

    This team is going to be fun to watch this year.

  2. Big Ten season is going to be brutal this year. Right now 3 Big 10 teams in the top 5. If you finish in the top 5 of the Big 10 this year it is a major accomplishment. Texas will be this teams first real test. Hopefully they are up to it.

  3. Well, this is now another game with pattern we’ve seen for going on the 4th year. The team just can’t freakin’ shoot. I don’t get it. I’ve never seen a worse shooting program in my life. It’s exhausting watching so many open looks clang off the rim. Solutions?

  4. Halftime stats:

    21.7 FG%
    0-4 from 3
    2 assists
    9 TOs

    How many times have we seen this? :::grumble grumble grumble::::

  5. DD, I had the same exact thought watching yesterday’s game, and it became even more obvious watching the first half of today’s game. IU’s players are just not good shooters. And based on what I’m seeing this week, we’re not likely to become one any time soon. In fact, I don’t think any of Archie’s IU teams have been good shooting teams. Maybe Galloway, once he gets used to the speed and size of the college game, will find his stroke.

    Lander looks like a very talented High School player, but he’s a year away from being a major contributor. He’ll learn a lot this season. Thompson is a MAN and was most impressive last night. I expect he’s going to have a great season.

    While this team’s defense will give opponents fits, unless they can improve their shooting, they will be fortunate to win more than 20 games this season. It will be another mediocre season.

  6. Field goal average, one every 4 minutes first half? Not looking much better so far in the second half. Texas looking very good, fast hands and engaged. KenPom has Texas ranked #9. Is it possible that comments by Walton are being broadcast through the building? And Texas team wearing ear plugs? IU a step or two slower.

  7. Hello Northwestern Hello Minnesota Hello Illinois Hello Nebraska Hello Penn State Hello Hello Rutgers Hello Iowa…We are IU men’s basketball…Can we join your 500 Ball Club?…Because IU men’s basketball will have a 500 win loss record against you guys. IU is not recruiting complete players. Several incomplete players. Meaning besides not playing defense…how much good does it do to recruit players who can do a lot of athletic things but are not good shooters with defense on them including scoring in traffic and are not good free throw shooters. IU men’s basketball has lost many recruiting battles for complete players who can among other things shoot their basketball. And IU men’s basketball has lack of ability to creatively compensate and develop players and team.
    Yes DD negative…because it’s not going to happen this season. Boring, flat, nothing to be excited about for men’s basketball.
    I remember Andre Patterson game against Duke during Thanksgiving break tournament. Patterson was great in IU victory and that was his best game of his career. Patterson never came close to that performance again. In a much lesser way reminds me of Race Thompson and win over Princeton.

  8. This is unacceptable. I get that it’s early and teams haven’t had time to practice. But this team has 2 McDonald’s All-Americans. Two Mr Basketballs in Indiana. One hasn’t scored a single point against D-1 competition yet. Over and over and over. Can’t shoot. Can’t score. Then when they can’t score, they just roll over and die in a blowout. With all of this talent on the floor, Indiana is shooting less than 25% FROM THE FIELD.

    I know that it’s early, but this trend is not looking good. I’m questioning the ceiling of this program. Given that we have zero recruits coming in for the next class.

    And, yes, I’m reacting emotionally early in the season. But, I’m sick of watching terrible basketball.

    There’s no way a team this talented should shoot less than 25% from the field.

  9. IU men’s basketball should hardly ever lose to a good southwestern Texas basketball team let alone a blowout.

  10. We made 11 baskets today. ELEVEN. Are you kidding? On national TV.

    Year 4, Archie. I like you, but something is really wrong.

  11. Rob Phinisee is probably the 2nd best 3 pt shooter on our team. In two games: ZERO attempts. Insert famous Gretzky quote here.

    TJD didn’t play well at all. Those 17 points are deceiving. He got 6 of those late. He’s bigger, better and more talented than anyone on the floor guarding him today, and he was irrelevant.

  12. As good as the Big Ten is this year and if IU plays like this, it could be bottom 2 or 3 this season. I think if Archie doesn’t hit 20 wins, he is gone after this season. New AD will want to put his own stamp on the program.

  13. Conclusion: BOZO the Clown could coach better than Archie Miller.
    Post game: methodical analysis, no emotion same o same o. Like shoe salesman selling the wrong or right size Thank You IU for my salary. The difference is millions of dollars for the wrong game plan.

  14. Here’s a theory. They say a team takes on the personality of its coach. You see it with IU Football and how the players feed off of TA’s energy and excitability. But Archie’s a pretty boring guy, especially boring in his interactions with media. I wonder if he’s boring to his players? He seems like a good guy, but he’s just boring. He gets fired up on the sidelines at times, but other than that, there’s not a lot of personality on display. Same goes for his players. Both of these last two games were really boring. IU played good defense against Providence, but there was nothing exciting about the way IU scored. And today, I just didn’t see any passion from any of IU’s players.

    I have no idea why, but I believe Archie’s IU teams are the worst shooting teams in IU’s history. For the first two seasons, we could (and did) blame it on Archie inheriting Crean’s recruits. Then injuries were the excuse. “Wait till he gets his recruits and his players are healthy” was the argument used in is defense. Well, these are his recruits and they’re all mostly healthy, and they are still terrible shooters. Time will tell, but this roster may be worse than the one Archie inherited.

    It’s just speculation, but I’m wondering if the style of play Archie coaches is why he’s losing so many of his targeted recruits. I don’t know the reasons, but as DD stated above, ” I like you, but something is really wrong.”

  15. Because the same concerns have been displayed over more than 1 season and knowing and witnessing Miller’s product at Dayton I’m looking behind Miller. These IUBB teams more times than not look listless, drained and tired. Of course it’s AM’s responsibility but I’m strongly wondering about S&C Coach Cliff Marshall. Yes you can recruit talent that isn’t good shooters. But nobody bats a 1.000 getting all bad shooters for program commits. There’s been enough turnover with assistants that they are unlikely teaching poor shooting instruction. Tired players don’t defend well, don’t rebound well, don’t block out, frequently in the wrong position and don’t shoot well whether in close, from 3 and at the line. I’m certain Coach Miller addresses shooting in sufficient amounts in practice. There’s something else working or not working. The team played today like they were suffering from bad hangovers. Effort was so weak compared to yesterday.

  16. Unless I hallucinated, didn’t #22 Jacquez Henderson play several minutes at the end of the first half? It seemed odd, unless Miller was trying to send a message?

    I thought it was clear that success this year is dependent upon the freshmen. Since they are freshmen, I’ll wait a few more games before I give up on them.

  17. So, just some other data points on shooting. College kids can’t shoot anymore.

    Kentucky shot 14% last night from 3. Duke shot 21%. IU was 20 yesterday.

    Do we need to move the line back in? Or is this just a trend of kids not knowing how to shoot anymore?

    1. How did Creighton shoot last night?

      34-59 .576 / 3pt. 11-22 .500

      Of course, they were playing Omaha.

      Being only 2 or 3 games in may have a lot to do with it. Rust atop a drastically changed environment. Things are very, very different. It will be a season of the fat asterisk (as is the case in football). No fans. No cheerleaders. No band. No fight songs. No crowd to juice guys up. Nothing feels clutch without the noise. No sense of a huge rivalry game when the opposing crowd isn’t booing everything you do. Some guys live to be the deliverer of daggers in hostile environments.
      It’s Twilight Zone basketball. It’s going to be tough to adjust and stay focused.

      On the flip side, there may be some credence to your claim that guys just can’t shoot the ball anymore. Speed of game? Athleticism being far more coveted than sharpshooting skills? The idea that shooting can be fixed/improved while athleticism has ceilings and are more god-given gifts? The NBA’s total influence on the college game making kids believe too early their athletic gifts translate to natural ability at shooting the ball (at a pace rarely practiced with repetition and comparable speed)? Free throws (ability to convert) can change an outcome, but do free throws make ESPN’s Top-10?
      Basketball is now a trapeze act on overdrive. The knife thrower tossing his myriad of sharp blades at the beautiful girl strapped to a spinning wheel is now looked at as boring.

      Long live Matt Roth, Jordy Hulls, Steve Alford, Randy Wittman. Long live pure releases and great postures. Long live ‘Around the World’ and consecutive free throws made. Long live the only avenue a slow white guy who couldn’t dunk with a mini trampoline could once make a college team.

  18. It’s too early to tell, but the combination of that embarrassing performance against Texas, the chronic shooting woes, the listless performances and the recruiting whiffs Archie had with the Class of 2021 suggest that this program is stuck in first gear. The sky may not be falling, but a blind man can clearly see that something is wrong with IU Men’s Basketball.

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