Phinisee, Green to play together at times in IU backcourt

At times, Indiana will have two point guards on the floor.

It’s one of the many lineup combinations Archie Miller plans to try as the first month of the season unfolds.

Freshman Rob Phinisee and junior Devonte Green shared the backcourt during three segments inside of Tuesday’s season-opening blowout of Chicago State, with Phinisee manning the point and Green playing off the ball. Right now, it’s part wrinkle and part necessity, a look Miller will look to deploy fairly often as the season begins.

“Quite frankly, that will happen a lot here early in the year,” Miller said. “It will be something that we’ll definitely try to work out where those two guys can play, because you have two pretty good ball handlers.”

Indeed, Phinisee and Green give IU two creators capable of penetrating defenses and attacking off the dribble. That’s part of the intrigue in playing the two together. Another part is simply sheer necessity.

With Al Durham nursing an injury at the moment, Indiana is short on true guards not named Romeo Langford. To spell Langford, or even just show a different look, Phinisee and Green will be paired together.

The good thing is it seems to work. Green scored 15 points in Tuesday’s opener, occupying more of a scoring role when sharing the floor with Phinisee. Three Phinisee passes turned into scoring opportunities for Green, including two that helped Green draw contact and go to the line.

Although Green’s efficiency wasn’t ideal — he made only one of his six attempts from 3-point range — IU wants the junior in position to hunt for his shot while playing off of Phinisee.

“Devonte, he’s a real good scorer as well as a passer,” Langford said. “But I felt like scoring is his main thing. And Rob can pass the ball really well. So just letting Devonte play without the ball for a little bit, when they’re both in the game at the same time, opens the court up even more for guys like me and Evan and J-Mo.”

While Green nursed a thigh contusion last week, Phinisee made a push to take control of IU’s starting point guard role. Across preseason contests with Loyola Chicago and Southern Indiana, and the regular season opener against Chicago State, Phinisee has provided Indiana with a steady playmaking presence in charge of initiating the offense.

Although it seems Phinisee is making the position his own, there’s still a valuable role for Green, one of the most skilled and creative playmakers on the roster. Green, it seems, might even be better served by coming off the bench, allowing him an opportunity to read the flow of the game and assert his unique style as needed.

When they’re on the floor together, it gives Indiana multiple ball handlers able to penetrate defenses and attack off the dribble.

“Hopefully, in time you see those guys as being able to be attack mode,” Miller said. “Al will fit right in with those guys as well, whether he’s playing the point or playing with one of those two guys.”

At one juncture midway through Tuesday’s second half, IU played one of its most intriguing lineups of the night featuring two point guards in Phinisee and Green, along with two bigs in Evan Fitzner and De’Ron Davis.

Miller seems to have depth, versatility and a long list of options with which he can play this season.

Finding ways to utilize both point guards is one of the many that the second-year coach is eager to tinker with early this month.

“Devonte can play with Rob,” Miller said. “We have that ability to do that. And it gives you two guys off the dribble, I think, that are your best creators. … Without question, those two guys will play together.”

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