IU turns away Eastern Michigan 87-67

Progress is becoming evident with this Indiana basketball team.

Even as they recalibrate to the expectations and standards of new coach Archie Miller, the Hoosiers are getting better. Indiana’s development took another step in Friday afternoon’s 87-67 win over Eastern Michigan before an announced crowd of 12,024 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Friday’s victory, IU’s final tune-up before Wednesday’s showdown with No. 1 Duke, was Indiana’s most encouraging performance to date. The Hoosiers (4-2) attacked the Eagles’ zone, enjoyed two great performances from their senior backcourt tandem of Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson and made 12 3-pointers on the day.

For much of this young season, growth has appeared in flashes. Although Friday wasn’t the decisive, 40-minute effort IU aspires to put forth, it was the most telling sign to date that the Hoosiers are carrying lessons learned behind the scenes and putting them on display during gameday.

“Everybody is getting comfortable with the offensive style, the defensive schemes,” Newkirk said. “We’ve just been practicing a lot. I think everybody is feeling more comfortable understanding that we’re all helping each other. I think it’s coming along.”

Indiana’s offense played steady, patient basketball against the EMU 2-3 zone during an energetic, entertaining first half. The Eagles’ zone was reminiscent of the zone used at Syracuse, where Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy served on staff for seven years.

But IU attacked with savvy, demonstrating its best approach to zone offense in recent memory.

“We’ve had carryover for a while where we started to get a little bit better,” Miller said. “We played against a lot of zone defenses, so we’re starting to get a little more comfortable. In the early part of the year, we went against a couple type of zones and how we have to play against it. So that’s been a positive. Defensively, we’re always trying to strive to take one step forward and not one back.”

The Hoosiers were keyed by their senior guards, another encouraging development at this juncture of the season. Johnson has shown signs of growth during the past week, while Newkirk has spent the early part of the season feeling out his shot.

Against Eastern Michigan (4-1), Newkirk played his best game of the season, finishing with 17 points, including five 3-pointers. He also finished with four assists with only one turnover.

Johnson posted a team-high 18 points, going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.

“They’re going to end up spearheading us through the rest of our season because of their experience level and the amount of games that they’ve played,” Miller said. “And I think tonight, those two guys were very efficient. I think you got a chance to see their ability to shoot the ball, which we haven’t been doing very well right now in terms of just making shots. But those two guys stepped in, they were ready to shoot and shot with great confidence. So really pleased with them.”

Indiana needed each of Newkirk and Johnson’s combined nine 3-pointers to match the early scoring output from Eastern Michigan’s Elijah Minnie. The 6-foot-9 forward had a fantastic opening period, hitting four 3-pointers and posting 17 first-half points to keep the Eagles close at halftime, when IU took a 42-37 lead into the locker room.

Eastern Michigan whittled its deficit down to one across the first four minutes of the second half, but a 19-3 run midway through the half helped the Hoosiers pull away.

It all added up to a 20-point margin of victory and Indiana’s brightest performance of the month.

“We definitely play hard,” Newkirk said. “Coach Miller emphasizes playing hard. Out there doing all the dirty things, I think we did a good job today.”

21 comments

  1. Glad to see Hartman back playing again. Hope he stays healthy for the remainder of his last season. That young man deserves all the best luck.

  2. Really encouraged seeing how the upperclassmen have responded. This is the best game Newkirk has ever had. The stat that really matter? 1 TO. He seemed confident, ran the offense, ball fakes, solid passing and hit the open shots.

    Seeing post entry passes brings a tear to my eyes. Instead of the ball being flung around the perimeter and this obsession with “reversing the ball”, we just see guys cutting and keeping the offense moving. They just shredded the zone EMU played. I’m feeling weepy.

    1. Thomas Bryant would have been “All-World” with 50% of the effort now being made to get the ball fed to the post. Zeller would have been “All-Universe.”

      Chalkboard: It’s a good thing.

  3. Glad to see Hartman back as well and fundamental basketball returning to Bloomington. I’m very pleased with just 8 turnovers and healthy bench production.

  4. In four weeks we’re seeing a better brand of basketball than we watched the last nine years. Love to see Archie holding guys accountable when digressing back to the sloppy Abby Normal hoops.

    Add in a healthy Hartman to the way the freshman are progressing and we’ll surprise those a-holes who already scratched this team off for March.

    Hard to imagine what a coach like Archie could have done with the talent from the ‘Everything Hinges’ years/movement. Probably would have two more banners hanging in Assembly based simply on cleaned up turnovers and a far superior defensive mindset.

  5. Not knowing how this team will fare over the next couple of weeks, it is great to see this team play the way it has. For the most part solid defense, diving for loose balls, great passing, unselfish basketball and crashing the boards. It is very apparent that Archie has his team’s ear and they are playing extremely hard for him. These are all the things that we saw this team do under a fellow in a red sweater years ago. They are not turning the ball over and are fun to watch, as opposed to the previous coach who ran up and down the sideline hand clapping and voicing encouragement. Another thing, this coach is not afraid to get in a players ass when they are not playing the way he wants, something truly lacking again from the previous coach. As long as we keep this coach and he continues to recruit the way he has this year, we are going to be enjoying this program for years to come. It’s good to finally have a coach we can be proud of! We don’t know where this season will take us but, if this team continues to play the way it has, win, lose or draw, they are going to be fun to watch. Go Hoosiers!!

  6. They did a much better job of getting inside the zone… mostly with high post passes… what a concept! Anyway, now they need to add some back-screening so the zone can’t so easily recover to shooters on the weak-side when the ball is being reversed. Also were constant opportunities to throw over the top to the opposite block, but they don’t seem to be comfortable enough yet on the court to have the game slow down and really see what potential exists in any given possession. There was still a ton of non-probing, perimeter-passing possessions where nothing had happened and all of a sudden there were fewer than 10 seconds on the shot clock. Why does it seem that players believe the purpose of offense is to get themselves touches instead of getting the team the best shot. Everyone runs around in the zone offense with only a very rare high ball screen… it’s still frustrating to watch, but there definitely was progress.

    So the other thing that was still obvious was that opposing players just seem more comfortable and confident on our court than our players do… That turned around late in the game this time, but there’s still a guy or 3 on the other team who just seems to walk in with swagger and does what he wants on the offensive end… I was watching EMU players sashaying around the court during deadballs and free throws, when what I’d like to see/feel is some confusion or uncertainty and guys looking to their teammates to try to get on the same page.

    Meanwhile, with the occasional exception of Durham and Green, our guys look tentative and unsure of when to attack, and no one yet has taken the reigns.

    It’s nice to see RJ and Newkirk knock down shots, and obviously that needs to continue for IU’s success, but they need to bring some leadership and swagger more importantly. They need to be able to create offense for others and give others confidence as an extension of their own… It’s happened a couple times already late in shot-clocks that seniors have ditched the ball late in the clock to unsuspecting freshman who then need to rush a shot, instead of taking the onus to create offense on purpose.

    Happy to see Hartman play well… he was the spark and brought much needed leadership. Liked how Archie just used him in short spurts and took him out while his confidence was nice and high.

    Also, liked that Archie took Davis off the court after a couple positive plays. It seems counterintuitive, but I thought it was orchestrated a bit so he could feel some positive vibes from the staff and teammates as he finds his seat, instead of always stomping back in a fit because he got another BS foul called on him. He needs to be able to watch and get coached for stretches when his mind isn’t stewing on a negative play.

    Here come the big boys…

    1. Geoff, so right highlighting on the coaching positives Miller is displaying with individual ballers. Also was impressed with the impact he’s made on bench player McRoberts. His minutes were quality. Hartman’s presence increasing on the floor I hope helps to develop leadership from other starters but Creanism does linger.

  7. Sure watched some great guards on display in the Gonzaga vs. Florida game last night…Perkins and Chiozza..Wow. The PK80 tournament semifinals looked like a Final Four.

    Not in the PK80, but I don’t think I’ve seen MSU as deep and talented as this season.

    College hoops is loaded this year….

  8. Good points. I hope Newkirk isn’t now convinced he is a deep threat…unless he’s truly become one in the off season.

    Archie may still be ‘rehab coaching’ as far as the shot clock goes. What we consider a bad possession this season was considered an offensive philosophy over the last decade.

    I agree with what appears to be counterintuitive with the substitution patterns. While I never coached in D1 I had a philosophy regarding substitutions. I rarely pulled a guy after a single boneheaded play. He already knew he made a boneheaded play. I chose not to humiliate him at that moment. Confidence can be fleeting. If he needed to come out I’d wait a play or two.

    While his style of play is quite different, Morgan’s contributions remind me a bit of Tyler Hansborough of the Tar Heels. He’s always going. Big, big motor. That is really hard to game plan for. He may just hustle his way into the NBA.

    While I expect some heartbreaking losses this season I really like this team.

    1. Peyton….Carlton…Greyson…Damon.

      Are you starting a boy band? Or maybe you’re just into dudes whose names end with ‘on’…? Just sayin’….

      1. Ha! Right… where’d you get pic? It’s been circulating around my phone a bunch, but mostly from my friends screenshots…

  9. with Duke, Michigan, Iowa, Louisville, and Notre Dame looming in the future we will need to be patient. we may only win one of those games, maybe 2 if we play our best. it would be nice to win more than 2 but doubtful. we have gotten better and will continue getting better but we will not reach elite status this year. IMO we will not go to NCAA tourney but we will get an NIT invitation. next year we will start seeing 20 plus wins a season and soon, hopefully, a return to elite status. love those hoosiers!

  10. After watching Duke beat Texas in overtime, I fear we’re going to witness Duke put on a dunk exhibition. If IU stays within 20 points of Duke, it will be a “moral victory.” As for the the remainder of the next six games on the schedule, I don’t see IU winning any of those games. The easy part of the schedule is over, and now we’re going to see how this group of players handles adversity. I’d love to be wrong, but no matter how much they have improved, I just don’t see them having the talent to beat any of the next six teams on the schedule. I just want them to play hard, keep improving, stay healthy and not become discouraged.

  11. The Assembly Hall crowd can work magic….And if Hartman gets on a roll during a stretch and hits a few buckets against Duke? I think we’re in the Duke game until the final buzzer. Predicting a very big game from Green.

    Duke sucks.

  12. I think IU has a solid shot of beating Iowa. They lost to South Dakota state and LA-Lafayette I think. 1-4 is probably the outcome of the next 5 games. Maybe we can start gaining some traction soon. We really just don’t have the roster to compete this year. NCAA isn’t happening this year in my opinion, but a NIT bid may be a reality. If we can get back to the NIT after loosing our 3 best players that’s somewhat of a success.

      1. Here’s my, fairly obvious, happy, happy scenario.

        Morgan could become a monster if he maintains his focus. I really think he could.

        RJ becomes a 15/5/3 guy. He’s had a ton of games with better stats but sometimes he disappears. That suddenly stops.

        Smith, Durham, and Green play with consistency.

        Davis, too. He’s a baller.

        Colin seizes the moment and plays healthy. Soon to be a Lifetime movie.

        At this point anything is possible. If it happens this might be why…as most Hoosier third graders will tell you.

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