IU rolls over Central Arkansas, 86-53

There’s a troubling trend developing with Indiana, one that has Archie Miller’s full attention.

Slow starts are a problem these Hoosiers are struggling to shake.

It happened again on Wednesday against Central Arkansas, when a sluggish opening segment made things unnecessarily difficult for an IU team that otherwise had little trouble dispatching its lesser foe in a 86-53 victory at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

The Hoosiers survived their lapses this time, because they were far and away the better team, one that simply needed time to develop traction before it pulled away. Indiana has also survived similar scenarios against comparable competition this month, roaring back with convincing second-half performances en route to building its current five-game winning streak.

But with only one more non-conference tuneup game before the second leg of Big Ten play tips off next month, Indiana’s second-year coach is eager to fix his team’s penchant for sideways starts.

“Clearly, the slow starts and some of our problematic starts definitely stems from our offensive execution and just being able to take care of (the ball),” Miller said. “So it’s a big concern.”

It’s been a full month since Indiana (10-2) last came out of the gates with gusto, opening a 13-5 lead over UT-Arlington by the first media timeout on Nov. 20. Since then, the Hoosiers have ambled their way through the opening segments of games.

In their last seven games, including Wednesday’s against Central Arkansas (4-7), Indiana has held only one lead at the first media timeout, finding itself outscored 68-44 in that span.

“We have to come out with a better mindset, being more aggressive and locked in defensively, focusing on the defensive side of the ball rather than the offensive side of the ball,” sophomore forward Justin Smith said. “Just really being ready from the get-go.”

IU has wrestled with a few bad habits at the start of games — poor shot selection and poor sense of direction, among them — though turnovers may be the most common theme.

There were five IU errors in the first three minutes of Wednesday’s game.

“Really careless,” Miller said. “We were really careless. Like I said, the first half, we weren’t ready to go. We almost looked like we were winded starting the game almost, and the standing around, the one-hand passes. … Just not detailed, and you know, we got through it and I thought we played a better game after that, but clearly the first four minutes our starting unit (didn’t) get off to a great start on either end of the floor.”

Luckily for IU, it had the firepower to make up for it.

Once the Hoosiers started getting stops, they stitched together scoring possessions on the other end.

Devonte Green, who took over the ball-handling duties after Rob Phinisee left with concussion symptoms, dropped in six 3-pointers. He finished with 19 points, grabbed nine rebounds and fed the offense with six assists.

Smith, too, thrived off the break and scored on each of his first five field goal attempts — three of which came in transition — to finish with 10 points.

After heading into the first media timeout tied at 19-all, IU came out of the break and outscored the Bears 14-0 over the next nine-plus minutes.

“I think it was just after the first TV time out (that things settled down),” Smith said, “because I feel like we went like six straight minutes, no calls, or just kind of up and down, and then once we got back to the huddle, we got settled down. We were able to kind of take a step back and really look at what we were trying to do defensively.”

Indiana, which led 43-27 at halftime, had little trouble the rest of the way. A 22-0 run early in the second half put the game away.

In addition to Green and Smith stepping up and sharing some scoring punch, Romeo Langford delivered a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds.

“Good all-around game for him tonight,” Miller said. “He rebounded well. He shared the ball really well and obviously he got his numbers in (the paint) and around the rim. Very complete game by him, and he’s going to need to continue to be that way, especially rebounding for us. He’s got to give us another added weapon on the glass, both ends of the floor.

“When he’s able to get a couple second shots, it’s big. Then, the way he can rebound defensively, that’s a big thing for our team because we are not the biggest team at times out there and we are going to play against a lot bigger teams.”

And overall more talented teams, too.

Miller said he wants IU to continue working on its 3-point field goal defense ahead of Saturday’s non-conference finale against Jacksonville after allowing opponents to shoot a combined 37 percent across the past three games.

“That’s got to get corrected here as we move into Saturday,” Miller said.

Consider it one of a few areas the Hoosiers are looking to address as the non-conference season comes to a close.

“All in all, it’s a win,” Miller said. “We’re going to watch the film and we’ve got to get back to work.”

19 comments

  1. Green committed only two turnovers? Will miracles ever cease?

    Couldn’t watch the game, so someone please tell me Phinisee’s injury is very minor.

    Smith is coming on. NICE!

  2. Looking at the game stats:
    50% Free Throw shooting tonight! Goodness gracious. It didn’t really matter tonight, but it’s going to matter a lot in the very near future.

    Langford had another solid game, but he missed all three of his 3-point attempts.

  3. I like Devonte Green very much. I enjoy watching this entire TEAM. Romeo is my favorite player, of course, but I really like Green’s demeanor. Put me in the game, Coach!

  4. This is not the game you applaud improved turnovers. This was a cupcake.
    Nor is this a game you applaud hitting wide open 3-point shots.

    Not much to be gauged in this one. This was a scrimmage.

    Hoping for a fast recovery for Phinisee. Phinisee is imperative for when there is a level of truly challenging competition and actual ball pressure.

    1. If I had my way as a so-called, non-paying customer/fan of college basketball played at IU, I’d much prefer a saturation of mostly higher level competition this time of year.
      The ‘general public’ works very hard for their rare time off given from a 9 to 5 during the holidays. I believe a nice way to give back to those hard-working and passionate followers of the program would be to actually give them some games worth watching.
      It was nice to get a couple conference games early, but they were more the usual bottom tier teams. We can’t really assess much against those teams.

  5. Indeed slow starts will bite this team in the Big Ten. We are who we are by now. The way I see it, if you keep running the same squad out there and the same results keep coming, a change needs to be made. The TO problem is pervasive in the starting 5, & every night that is Morgan, Romeo, Phinisee, Smith & either Durham or Green.

    My attempted solution would be to change up the pregame warm-up routine. I haven’t attended a game in person for a while, but my bet is the slow starts begins there. Archie is smart enough to figure that out. This team needs to ratchet it up and get sharp in the pregame.

    As for Green and Smith….indeed they looked better tonight. And because of that my blood pressure was much lower than normal. But I DO NOT like Green’s approach to the game at all. He’s a hot dog. (Ref. behind the back pass on a 2 on 1 fast break.) When his shot goes in he’s a player. When it doesn’t he’s a liability; a prototypical Crean recruit. Smith just happened to be in the right place at the right time 4 times so he scored tonight thanks to the selflessness of others. Let’s see what he does vs. Michigan, MSU, Purdue, etc….. I think he has a lot of promise, don’t get me wrong, but he’s really has a ways to go. Both of these kids just aren’t smart basketball players and I don’t think college basketball smarts can be affected much at the ripe old age of 19 or 20. You either have them or you don’t by now. (Ref. Romeo)

  6. I’m guessing you have ceased the “yoga during commercial break” routine that I had (perhaps mistakenly) thought you had recommended, AWinAZ!!

    And yet, your blood pressure should be increasing during IU Games!!!

    And: I Won’t Back Down! I remain 100% committed to Devonte Green as a key cog in this upcoming Big Ten competition. We NEED someone who can drain ’em from outside; and Devonte’s demeanor is exactly what we need to compete at the highest level. He’s vastly improved from “the Crean years” and is making a huge effort to fit in to Archie’s system…..time will tell but I think last game was the harbinger of the future! Go Green!

  7. If Phinisee is out for an extended time, I U will have problems at the guard position when the Big Ten season starts, take 30 minutes a game out of your line up and you started with only three guards in your rotation.

  8. Based on what I’ve heard and read, Phinisee will be back in time for the Big Ten season to resume. They’re being cautious as they should with any type of head injury.

    Devonte green would be a much more valuable contributor to this team if he embraced an “addition by subtraction” mentality. If he subtracts the stupid, high risk passes and careless ball-handling from his game and sticks to the fundamentals, he would be much more valuable to this IU team. Up until this last game, in spite of his skills he’s been more of a liability than an asset. He can fix it, and must fix it, if he wants to get significant playing time beyond this season.

  9. I completely and categorically disagree with your assessment, Podunker!
    Clearly, Green has committed and is a key cog in the upcoming competition.

  10. Rock, I respect that and I hope you’re right. But I’ll remain skeptical until he produces more performances like the one he did against Central Arkansas. I’ve just seen him make way too many passes that were just totally careless, even stupid, that lead to turnovers. No question he has the talent. He just has to resist the temptation to do try to be “show time.”

    1. And there’s only one ‘showtime’ on this Hoosier team. He’s worth more green than Green and has the showtime name ..and the showtime Hoosier state owns the roots of his claims to fame. Romeo be thy Hoosier name.

      And if you’ve listened to how Rock nearly crumbles into pebbles when merely speaking of Romeo, it’s supportive of a Green who should quickly understand and relinquish any temptations in dazzling a team into turnovers, disruptive chemistry and confusion of roles.

  11. Green has more cool swag than a dangerous rope bridge. There are times he’s simply beautiful to look at. Just don’t test ‘the swag factor’ with too much load or you’ll be flirting with the floor of a canyon.

    Archie has smartly placed the confidence in running the team in his steady starting freshman point guard. It was a pretty fast determination. Phinisee plays with the poise of a senior. He is the main pathway through the mountains to a desired championship destination. But there will be games where a rickety bridge can be a very useful option to outrun a hungry lion or wolverine who’s run you off the best path.

  12. Out of curiosity I looked at the Butler roster. You know, good ‘ol Indiana born and bred Hoosier boys.

    Butler has exactly three… THREE…players from Indiana on their roster..

    I was a bit surprised by that.

  13. Yup, it’s been going down since Stevens left town. But it was primarily two Hoosiers in Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard who carried Butler to their back-to-back Final Four/Championship games. Much like McGary for U. of Michigan, Howard was never going to excel as an NBA pick…but he was a beast of a college player. He was relentless on the glass and very fundamentally sound in his post play(supremely schooled in the game during his Connersville h.s. years).
    Mack was also instrumental for Butler….He’s one stone’s throw from Romeo’s New Albany stomping grounds(Louisville). I’m plenty content with plucking the needed talent that brushes our borders. Remy Abell also from Louisville.

  14. And let’s face it, Butler’s Baldwin went into ‘showtime’ mode in the game against IU…Although a phenomenal talent, he often abandoned the higher b-ball IQ in favor of forcing things and attempts at backing down Phinisee time and time again.
    He went for hero ball instead of really sticking with the good ‘ol Indiana born and bred Hoosier way/ ‘Butler Way’ that epitomized the Stevens years.
    You would have never witnessed one guy attempting to take over on so many final plays of a game if coached by someone like Stevens. And I’m hoping we don’t see too much hero ball with Archie.

    Your talent is only as strong as the confidence and involvement of your supporting cast. Nobody cares about a supporting cast in the NBA…and it is a mirroring of such a mentality that can easily ruin a promising college team.

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