IU ready to measure itself at Duke

Archie Miller played there.

Nearly a handful of times, in fact. Though, as North Carolina State’s point guard at the turn of the century, the annual trips to Cameron Indoor Stadium were ones that Miller would rather not remember.

“Not very many wins,” he said. “I know that.”

Nearly two decades later, there are some memories Miller can quickly recall from playing in one of college basketball’s most fabled venues. Those memories, however, have little to do with the pressure-packed environment or the raucous student body.

Rather, what Miller remembers most is the high level of competition found in those visits to Durham. The teams Miller faced were some of Duke’s best, ones with Jay Williams and Shane Battier, Elton Brand and Trajan Langdon.

It’s a similar challenge facing his Hoosiers today in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

“This team that we’re going up against (to)day really resembles and reminds me of some of the teams in the late ’90s and early 2000s that I played against,” Miller said. “Extremely talented, have great chemistry, play really, really hard. They really challenge you on both ends of the floor.”

Duke, which was ranked No. 1 overall until a loss to Gonzaga in last week’s Maui Invitational championship game, enters the week at No. 3 nationally.

In between IU’s two games last week, Juwan Morgan sat down and took in the Duke-Gonzaga contest on television Wednesday evening, watching as the Blue Devils’ lineup of projected NBA Lottery picks couldn’t quite seal the deal in their 89-87 loss.

“They are a great team,” Morgan said, “but I feel we’re a great team. So it should be a good game.”

It’s a game that presents Indiana with a meaningful opportunity, one that doesn’t necessarily require a victory for the Hoosiers to extract the maximum value. For IU, Tuesday presents a chance for the Hoosiers to measure where they stand as they begin a stretch of five consecutive games against teams ranked inside the top 60 by KenPom.com.

“It will be fun,” Morgan said. “It’s us versus them. I can’t wait to get there and the ball is in the air, the jump ball. There’s not really much more I can say. I’m just excited.”

Miller was both encouraged and annoyed after last November’s meeting with the Blue Devils at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. It pleased the IU coach to see his team rally from an uneven start to the season and go back and forth with the top-ranked team in the nation during a game that saw 17 ties and 16 lead changes.

Then again, it frustrated him to watch Indiana go the final 5:26 of regulation without a field goal, while making only 16 of its 26 free throws.

That IU team was still in transition mode, feeling out Miller’s style less than a month into the season. This time, a Hoosier squad with attainable aspirations of national relevancy are eager to test themselves against one of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s most talented teams ever.

In ESPN’s most recent 2019 NBA mock draft, Duke’s R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish are each projected as top four selections.

“I think all three guys are right fitting into the mold of what Duke basketball does, which is team,” Miller said. “I don’t see three guys or two guys, however you want to do it, sort of out there rolling their eyes at another guy. That’s the thing you’re always so impressed with with Duke, regardless of the team, is their chemistry. I think they have good chemistry.

“Those guys are playing their roles. They have great opportunities with expanded roles. They’ve been able to impact their team, in my opinion, with great attitude, great competitiveness. Obviously their talents and basketball ability is on display. I think everybody has seen how good they are. They’re playing team ball.”

Tonight, they’ll have one of the nation’s toughest venues on their side.

Duke has won an NCAA-best 141 consecutive non-conference home games, dating to a one-point loss to St. John’s on Feb. 26, 2000. Duke has also lost only nine games at Cameron Indoor Stadium since the start of the 2009-10 season.

Indiana’s last visit resulted in a 20-point loss on Dec. 2, 2015. Morgan is the only holdover from that team, though he didn’t play in that game while he nursed a foot injury suffered in that season’s trip to the Maui Invitational.

Only Miller knows the stage and the challenge that awaits Indiana on Tuesday night.

With a matchup against one of the nation’s best, IU is eager to see how it fares in its latest test.

“Competitors want to be in that environment,” Miller said. “The best want to play the best. I think our guys want to play well. I think our guys want to go down there and play our game, play tough-minded, take it step by step.

“Anyone that is a little bit worried going down there probably shouldn’t go. That’s just the way that works. I hope we have a mindset that our team takes the floor ready to go. That’s what a coach hopes for, the best, is the mindset. We’re working really hard to prepare them for that.”

3 comments

  1. Which IU team wins a national championship or goes to the final 4 first? IU men’s basketball or IU women’ basketball

  2. It’s a game that presents Indiana with a meaningful opportunity, one that doesn’t necessarily require a victory for the Hoosiers to extract the maximum value.

    That would never be a thought even entering the mind of Bobby Knight. Winning is the only value extracted…otherwise, it’s on to next game.

    Duke will extract value from playing Indiana…..as it was Coach K who extracted immeasurable value by playing and working under Knight.

    t- Tom Crean @ Georgia will get to a Final Four before either our men’s or women’s teams. I guarantee it.

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