Hoosiers hanging hat on defense

Not long after Indiana’s Dec. 4 win over Iowa, Archie Miller turned on his computer and went hunting for statistics.

The IU coach turned to the advanced metrics made famous in recent years by college basketball statistical guru Ken Pomeroy, looking to find where the Hoosiers ranked in adjusted defensive efficiency. Immediately following that 77-64 victory against the Hawkeyes, Miller located Indiana at No. 197 nationally — far from where he wanted it.

But that ranking, as ugly as it was, also provided inspiration for Miller and his team moving forward.

“I wrote down on the little stat sheet after we played Iowa that the whole goal with this team with 197 was to get to 100,” Miller said. “I thought if we could get under 100, our team would really dramatically improve defensively.”

Between that early-December win over Iowa and this afternoon’s 2 p.m. rematch at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, IU has jumped 146 slots in the national adjusted defensive efficiency rankings to No. 51 in the country.

Now, with three games remaining in the regular season, the Hoosiers are on to their next objective.

“I said to myself the other day, ‘If we finished the regular season under 50, it’ll be one of the more remarkable improvements a team has made, just from the start to the finish,’” Miller said.

Adjusted defensive efficiency, which measures points allowed per 100 defensive possessions, is a statistical category highlighted on Miller’s coaching resume.

Miller’s Dayton teams of years past showed marked gains in that area, improving across each of his first five seasons at the helm. The Flyers peaked at No. 15 nationally in 2016, allowing .94 points per possession.

This year’s Indiana team is yielding .988 points per possession for the season, and leads all Big Ten teams with .983 points per possession during conference games.

That’s right, the same IU program that ended the 2016-17 season dead last among Big Ten teams in adjusted defensive efficiency (1.12 points per possession) in league games, now leads the conference.

“We hang our hat right now defensively on being able to stop the other team and finding ways for our defense to create offense, so to speak,” Miller said. “I thought that was the case (in Wednesday’s win over Illinois).”

During IU’s current three-game winning streak, the Hoosiers have allowed only 55.7 points on 32.7 percent shooting from the field and 25.9 percent shooting from 3-point range.

In Iowa City, they’ll meet a Hawkeyes bunch that has been all over the place this season.

With Wednesday’s 74-59 defeat at Michigan, Iowa clinched its first losing regular season since coach Fran McCaffery’s debut campaign with the Hawkeyes in 2010-11. It was Iowa’s fourth consecutive loss.

For all of Iowa’s warts this season, especially on the defensive end, it has had little issue scoring. The Hawkeyes rank third in the conference in that department (79.4 points per game), though they did post only 10 points in the final 14 minutes of Wednesday’s first half.

Defensively, Iowa is a mess. It’s allowing a league-worst 78.3 points per contest and ranks last among Big Ten teams during conference play in adjusted defensive efficiency (1.18 points per possession), effective field goal percentage allowed (57.1 percent) and 3-point percentage defense (41.6 percent).

“They play extremely fast and their offense has really, really improved as the course of the season has gone on,” Miller said. “… They’ve played more multiple defenses here, a lot more zone. We could see a lot of zone. The biggest thing with them the second time around is how fast they are and how good they are offensively at home.”


  1. that “report” I got from The Tennessean”for Vanderbilt. The report suggests that Romeo is a one and done ; lists him as the #5 NBA Mock Draft. Vandy’s record this year is 10-16 and they will add at Least 2 freshman (3 if Romeo commits). IM not so sure they would compete for much in the SEC or even NCAA next year. only advantage for Romeo would be playing alongside Darius Garland. Question would Archie and IU benefit from a “One and Done” player or recruit a juco transfer that can shoot ???

    1. I think Romeo could have a huge impact for the Hoosiers…even for one year. He is a talented guard with great scoring skills. Good chance he’ll be a regular on Sportcenter.

      If he signs with Vandy it will be the last we’ll hear of him until he announces for the draft. Vandy will remain irrelevant in the world of college basketball. He’ll never have a highlight played outside of the Nashville affiliates. Vandy hasn’t won their conference in this century. They only won it 3 times last century.

      He can be on a team that has all their games televised in major markets playing in sold out arenas or he can be on a team that might get their game against Kentucky on a major network and you’ll be able to hear the echoes in their ancient arena with their 4,500 fans who really don’t care about or understand the game of basketball to begin with. I’ve lived in Nashville.

      That is the choice he has to make.

  2. Would love him to come….but I don’t think it’s ‘ make or break’ in the manner Zeller was for Crean.
    Archie is going to land all future recruits(hopefully, many from the Hoosier state) who desire to improve their hardwood studies as students of the game.
    No longer will Indiana simply exist as a mini version of UK….serving only to be a rest area or pit stop for narrow thinkers and narcissistic basketball desires only.
    The candy stripes once again represent team basketball, valuing possessions, and essential defensive purpose….If that’s not in the mindset of a recruit, why waste a year on trying to convince/revamp/change a kid who’s been on a one way track of being a one and done for all his ‘man about town’ years in high school?
    I don’t know Romeo enough to know what he actually desires….but most one and done’s don’t care that much about banners. They care about freedom to play their own style….and monopolizing minutes.

  3. One of my favorite Romeo stories was his response when a coach told him to ditch the public school and go somewhere colleges will ‘find’ him.

    He responded, “If you’re good enough they will find you.”

    1. I also love the fact that he stayed in a public school…..

      Fun Fact: Did you know Alex Bizitch from ‘Inside the Halitosis’ went to New Albany High School? It’s about the only thing I can hold against Romeo.
      Let’s hope Bizitch doesn’t try to sabotage this for us somehow…..He was one hell of a Crean apologist.

  4. We keep discussing Vandy as a choice for Romeo. But isn’t Kansas still in the mix?

    The way IU is playing right now has to increase the odds that Romeo will play for IU.

  5. What did you say about this team having terrible shooters…and that shooting would not improve…….and that this was simply a very bad team?
    How does crow taste right now? Crow….? Rhymes with Romeo.

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