Hoosiers look to draw confidence from Seton Hall loss

Before Indiana can cultivate identities on both ends of the court, it needs confidence.

Archie Miller believes Wednesday’s loss at No. 22 Seton Hall can be used as a starting point.

During IU’s encouraging first-half performance, Miller saw the Hoosiers’ collective confidence building. Even amid turnovers and imperfect play, the Indiana coach recognized signs of life from his group.

They fought through an early deficit to take a slim lead late in the half. They received continued development from their underclassmen and demonstrated the fight that Miller wants to eventually see in larger doses.

Wednesday wasn’t a win, but it was evidence of Indiana’s capacity to improve.

“If we can get a group of people trying to improve and build on some of the good things we did here, then we’ll start to string together maybe longer stretches and become a deeper team,” Miller said. “That’s the goal.

“Right now, we’re early in the season and chemistry is a big thing, especially when you have two sophomores or two freshmen out there at times who have really never played together, and a new coaching staff learning everything new.”

Miller spent the quick, two-day turnaround leading into the Seton Hall game as an opportunity to build his players’ will.

Friday’s season-opening loss against Indiana State exposed the Hoosiers as mentally soft. Sunday’s game against Howard illustrated a team that was still unsure of itself.

There’s no overnight fix for a disconnected team, particularly one that will likely spend much of this season adapting to Miller’s motion offense, while also attempting to put his pack-line defensive principles to good use.

Right now, Miller can accept the learning curve. In the meantime, however, he wants to see a team that doesn’t back down, no matter how many warts appear on its surface.

“We just talked about being in the fight,” senior guard Robert Johnson said about Miller’s early-week message. “I think guys did a good job of coming out ready to compete with a lot of energy and matching their intensity. I think in the first half, we did that.”

The second half? Not so much.

But at this point, Indiana will take the good with the bad.

IU’s underclassmen continue to impress.

Junior forward Juwan Morgan (ankle) and sophomore guard Devonte Green (thigh) each suffered injuries in Sunday’s win over Howard and neither player participated in any team activities until Wednesday’s shootaround.

So Miller started freshmen Justin Smith and Al Durham in their place. Both rookies continued to supply hope, while occupying starter’s roles for the first time in their young careers.

Durham played 29 minutes, posting 10 points, one assist and zero turnovers.

Smith also had 10 points in 31 minutes, grabbing four rebounds, including three on the offensive glass.

“This is a very inexperienced group,” Miller said. “When you look out there, if you told me that Justin Smith and Al would play about 30 minutes a game at Seton Hall, that would be hard for me to believe. But they’re doing it. That shows that some guys are getting better.”

Against Seton Hall, Miller saw a team that felt good about what it was doing while stringing together positive possessions on both ends of the court beginning midway through the first half.

Confidence is earned, Miller said. On Wednesday, the Hoosiers began to stake their claim.

“It wasn’t going to be pretty,” Miller said, “but you’re on the road against a tough team and you’re fighting. If you turn that into a 40-minute game against anybody you play, you’ll feel good about it.

“… We’re up against a curve and up against a heck of a schedule. (Wednesday was) a really good way to speed you improvement up. If you really evaluate the game and you teach the game better to our players and you give them some confidence in some of the things we did well, then hopefully Sunday we’re better than we were (Wednesday).”

4 comments

  1. Surprised at the non-attentiveness of the players during the National Anthem. Some with their hands on their hearts, some with arms folded, some with arms handing down, etc. I would have thought that Archie would have their attention better for this.

    Buzz Williams set his team a couple of years ago on what he expects during the National Anthem:
    https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-adk-adk_sbnt&hsimp=yhs-adk_sbnt&hspart=adk&p=buzz+williams+nationalanthem#id=1&vid=a5fe69fab590e356bf11d130b3db2128&action=click

    Wish the IU players looked better in this line. Disappointing!

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