Flat start dooms IU in 69-55 loss at Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — If Wednesday’s encouraging performance was a glimpse at Indiana’s potential, Saturday’s game at Michigan was a reminder of what IU continues to be — a work in progress.

For these Hoosiers, there remains plenty of room for growth.

Indiana never recovered from a flat start at Crisler Arena, falling to Michigan 69-55 in both teams’ Big Ten season opener before a matinee crowd of 11,661.

Three days prior, in a 10-point home defeat to Duke, Indiana (4-4) illustrated what kind of team it can be when it rises to the occasion. The question was whether the Hoosiers could do it again, particularly away from the comforts of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

In the meantime, Indiana coach Archie Miller guarded against the optimism bubbling outside the walls of the team’s Cook Hall practice facility, recognizing his players hadn’t earned the right to take solace in a good effort against the Blue Devils.

Good effort alone doesn’t win basketball games.

“I gotta keep coming back to that point,” Miller said. “We lost the game to Duke. If any of that feel-good stuff creeps into your locker room and your bus, then you come out here and go 0-for-8 on layups.”

That’s exactly what happened on Saturday afternoon, as the Hoosiers dug themselves an early hole from which they couldn’t return.

Several poor offensive possessions, coupled with IU’s inability to stick with Michigan shooters on the perimeter put the Hoosiers in a 12-2 deficit four minutes into the game.

“Our offense was just stagnant,” Indiana forward Juwan Morgan said. “I think we weren’t moving the ball, everybody was trying to create for themselves, not create for others. And I think in the end, Michigan capitalized off that.”

Bad IU offense allowed Michigan (7-2) to quickly flip the court and get the spacing it wanted around the arc, and four minutes into the contest, the Wolverines had four 3-pointers. Michigan finished the day shooting 11-for-31 outside the arc.

“Our offense was a big reason why our 3-point defense in the first half wasn’t very good,” Miller said. “I think, just in general, just guarding the ball. They had us really spread and they made the right passes. (They had) 16 assists to 10 turnovers. They delivered it. When their guards penetrated, they sprayed the ball, they made the (extra pass) and they made it hard on us.”

IU didn’t score its first field goal until the 12:28 mark, when Morgan put back his own miss. By that point it was 16-4 Wolverines.

Morgan functioned as IU’s lone impact player early scoring 12 of IU’s first 16 points during his first 10 minutes on the floor. He finished with 24 points, a Big Ten career high for the junior.

Meanwhile, IU’s other four starters combined for merely 22 points.

“He was the one bright spot in the game,” Miller said. “He really battled. He was on the boards. He had to play a lot, a lot of minutes today just because of the mismatches that their frontcourt produced with (Mo) Wagner and Duncan Robinson in the game. They can really spread you out, so we knew we’d have to play that lineup. He was the one guy.”

Aside from Morgan, the first 20 minutes of action were as inept as IU has looked on the young season. The Hoosiers had only four first-half scorers when they returned to their locker room trailing 34-21. Six players, meanwhile, had turnovers. Senior guard Robert Johnson had more turnovers (three) than he had made field goals (two).

“We wouldn’t share the ball, over-dribbling and didn’t read the defense properly at all,” Miller said, diagnosing IU’s offensive shortcomings. “Then, when we did have opportunities in and around the basket, we were just very, very soft.”

Coming into the game, IU coach Archie Miller outlined three keys to a victory: rebounding, ball security and defending without fouling.

Of that trio of points, turnovers hurt Indiana most. After finishing with nine total errors against Duke, IU had nine in the first half on Saturday.

The Hoosiers dug in to start the second half, using a 12-1 run to get within five points on a conventional three-point play by Morgan five minutes into the period.

But just like that, Michigan regained control with a quick 8-0 run, taking advantage of more IU defensive breakdowns on the other end.

“That was pretty much a back-breaker,” Miller said.

Now, ahead of Monday’s 8 p.m. home game with Iowa, Indiana faces yet another quick turnaround. This time, the Hoosiers are left to reconcile two wildly different versions of themselves, while attempting to continue their growth.

“Coming into the game, I felt like we were confident,” Miller said. “I also felt like we were getting better. On the road, sometimes things feel a little bit funny. You have to be able to adjust and make winning plays.”

That’s a lesson this Indiana is still trying to grasp most of all.


  1. Have to be honest here and forgot this game was on. A group of us were out celebrating the IU soccer team’s win last night and we’ll into the night. Good news is IU is back in the College Cup.

  2. You could see this debacle coming from miles away. Get pumped up to play the #1 Duke team on your home court, lose a hard-fought game, then go on the road and fall flat. One small step forward, one big step backward. This is going to be a tough season and it will be particularly difficult to watch.

  3. The first true road conference game knocked a few of our more senior guys right back into their old mindsets. Too much dribbling and way too many low percentage shots jacked up early in the clock. Better effort in the 2nd half, but still couldn’t throw the ball into the ocean.

    I don’t think this is going to be a difficult season to watch. I think they’ll get better. AM is doing everything a coach should to make these guys play better in the long-run. Today sucked, but we’ll see how the journey unfolds.

  4. There were not many selfish offensive possessions against Duke, but there were enough of them to lose the game. I don’t think our team will improve until Archie Miller sits some players and builds his team with players who understand how to play with team mentality. A fascinating season awaits us, as we will see exactly what we have with Coach Archie Miller. Frankly, I like the guy. I don’t see us winning a road game for the rest of the season and don’t think we’ll make the NIT. This is the worst IU team I’ve seen since the first year that Tom Crean came here. I do think Archie Miller can turn it around, but it’s going to take 6 years or so before we get competitive in the NCAA and have a chance to get to the Sweet 16.

  5. IU is not as good as I thought they would be this year. They need athletic length who can guard, shoot, and rebound. I like A.M. demeanor. The answer for him is recruiting. That means getting the nucleus (2 five star recruits, 2 high four star recruits, 2 mid to lower 4 star recruits, 2 mid to high 3 star recruits) at respective positions. Some of the higher stars have to be bigs. Needs to happen within 4 years.

  6. And by decimated to the NBA, you really mean D…um G League. OG is getting solid minutes. JBJ will never sniff the NBA. Bryant is struggling to find his way on to a Lakers roster that could use the help.

    Whomever gave TB and JBJ the advice that they were ready for the next level did them a disservice.

    Speaking of which, Troy Williams is still middling around in the G League.

    On the other hand, how about some Victor Oladipo? He is lighting it up this year. Orlando trying to make him into a PG want the place for him, nor was standing around watching Russell Westbrook play NBA Live. Maybe someone ’round these parts can swallow some crow and admit that he’s good? Naaaaah.

    1. Wait ’til clutch time(if the Pacers find a playoff game in the next decade).

      Crow? Plenty of crow to swallow around here. At least I didn’t defend this…ever.

    2. VO is lighting up everyone on both ends of the court and the Pacers actually look like an NBA team. Good for him and good for the Pacers.

      Narcissists cannot admit they are wrong.

        1. Wake up in a feisty mood, did you?

          Give me a call when he puts up numbers in six NBA title games against the best of the best in clutch situations…
          How moronic to pick stats out of hats to make asinine comparisons…But that’s the trend these days…Simply find some stretch of games to make empty comparisons.
          And Oladipo has no target on his back and very little respect from defenders….Never forget…even Dan Dakich stopped MJ. That’s how big of a deal it always was to anyone guarding the greatest ever.
          Please stop with the asinine habit of putting a name in the same sentences with the greatest ever when he couldn’t even put his team on his back enough to get past a Sweet 16.

          One season(or a couple months on the Pacers) and you boys are wetting yourselves…It’s just nothing more than the usual apologizing for Crean. …and for players who came to IU to as ‘narcissists’ merely knowing how they could use Indiana(and our notoriety/banners/stage) to showcase their individual athleticism and their star-searching Galileo coach while caring nothing of team pursuits.

          1. Harv, don’t get so upset. It’s just a game.

            Victor is good. It’s ok. His work ethic is strong and he continues to get better. In spite of this, you can still get fresh eggs in the morning. You can still get fries at the Trojan Horse.

            And no one is apologizing for Crean, silly goose.

          2. And why would I care one iota about his work ethic? He’s plenty rewarded for playing exactly what you describe; a game.
            Talk to me about some soldier serving in Afghanistan and his or her work ethic. NBA narcissists have more work ethic than a Trump bone spur….and it’s all for numero uno.

        2. The day we can stop slobbering over empty “everything hinges” slogans, the program “wreckers” and “thugs,” and the dumb BS building like “Olasheehey” will finally mark the day that we know we have something of a basketball program back at Indiana.

          I know guys who played h.s. hoops with Gordon Hayward and they don’t act with anywhere near the inferiority of a typical Indiana fan these days….

          Can we get some deep tournament runs and then slobber all over the greats who have passed through the McCracken revolving door before they mopped it up on mediocre NBA teams?

          We’re Indiana. We’re better than propping ourselves up on the backs of some raw talent that happened to get their groove on after learning basketball tiddlywinks from bozo.

  7. IU’s success will be directly tied to Miller’s ability to recruit. He seems to be a good x’s and o’s coach, so it becomes a question of talent. His current team is so mediocre in terms of ability that it will be very hard to judge this year other than his ability to get them to play hard and as smart as possible. Archie will need two more years to assemble “his team”. The real noticeable change will be when the top players view IU as a premier destination and decide to attend.

  8. It almost felt like a Crean team playing at Northwestern.

    I said it over a month ago…..No shooters (Hartman is decent but it’s not like a guy who’s gonna drain one after coming hard off a screen…or while trailing on an accelerated break).

    The team has to play nearly flawless basketball to have a chance without more than a couple options in quality deep threats(or even mid-range for that matter).

    Add in the fact that we’re very thin up front…? I’m actually quite amazed we didn’t lose the last to games by 20 points or more. That’s simply all Archie. Better team ball…better team defense…better patience…better shot selection(though many don’t drop).

    I’m still holding out hope that one guy will step forward….and start draining shots with his eyes wide shut. Poor shooting is just as infectious as great shooting. What this team could do with a Coverdale…a Hulls….a Fife……a Moye….a Jeffries…a Wilmont….a Wittman…an Isiah(now I’m dreamin’)…an Alford?
    Maybe a Louisianian named Hornsby coming of the bench to Bayou a bucket….? This is Indiana, for god’s sake! If jumpers were bottled water, the Wabash would flow 100% Fuji. Where are our shooters! Can we have a Matt Roth heat-checking with high-arching longer range bombs than Kim Jong(translated: from Illinois)? Just give me somebody with some cojones and a fearless jumper! We are just one pure jumper with a set of rocks short of being a very competitive team.
    Dear Kyle Guy….Dear Carter Skaggs…Anyone unhappy? Anyone interested in a transfer? Does Roth still have one year of eligibility?

  9. Actually the shooters are adequate. Great shots missed yesterday were right under the basket. I counted 7 after I realized there were many bunnies that had already not fallen. What was the whole game total(?)I don’t know. The positive is the opportunities being created for inside offense. But yes in general the problem with yesterday was shots not falling. Of course including the continual FT mental block. I’m enjoying observing the transformation taking place.

  10. I also love the transformation in an offense taught the basic fundamentals of inside/post entry, but the balance provided by adequate perimeter shooting threats is simply not there.
    There is no equalizer or negative momentum stopper like the 3-point shot.
    Only the winner of a Kerplunk game gets fewer balls to drop through the cylinder than our Hoosiers.

    1. Balance is equally initiated with strong inside play creating opportunities outside the paint for good looks. Being successful on 5 of the 7 bunnies I saw missed underneath would have opened up more 3 point shots than the 7 attempted.

      1. True….But you have to knock down the open three. Are they not there…or are guys getting gun-shy? We simply haven’t witnessed anyone with a confident and consistent stroke. Maybe we’ll see some go down tonight.

        Season 3-pt stats:
        Johnson: 12-33 (He’s far better than this}
        Newkirk: 11-27 (Better than I thought)
        Green: 10-30 (Clank)
        Jones: 4-18 (Double Clank..Yikes. Wish him well)
        Hartman: 2-6 (Should improve)
        Durham 7-18 (Bright spot is from the freshman)

        But do we currenlty have a guy who can really get hot enough from the perimeter to command a lot of respect? Ever?

        1. The opportunities were inside against Meatchicken and the offense was executed as so. That’s why there were only 7 3 point attempts. They took what they were given. If the paint shots were falling the opponent would have had to adjust, then opening up the outside. Nothing bashful about #’s 30, 11, and 1 shooting 3’s when the look is good. 3’s aren’t more desirable than paint shots unless you’re Tom Crean or someone from Chesterton.

  11. I agree with Hoosier Hopeful. It will all come down to Archie’s ability to recruit. And it’s going to be a while before he’ll be able to out-recruit today’s elite coaches (Coach K, Self, Izzo, Calipari, and his brother Sean). In the meantime, this season is going to be painful.

  12. ^^^Completely agree. It is fun. And nothing will ever be as painful as the last nine seasons of basketball waterboarding.

    Goodbye turnovers! Hello turn over a new leaf!

  13. Fair enough, and to each their own. IU’s performance against Duke showed progress and therefor was somewhat enjoyable to watch. IU’s performance against Michigan showed the opposite of progress. I know progress is rarely ever linear, but IU’s performance against Michigan was a big step backward, and therefore, at least for me, painful to watch. But as the season moves on, no matter how much IU progresses, if they don’t win some games, most Hoosier fans will conclude that the season was painful. Crean’s first IU team made lots of progress that year, but it was extremely painful to watch guys in Indiana uniforms lose so many games.

  14. Hardly “a big step backward” (against Michigan)….is the way I interpreted it.

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