4 storylines for IU’s game vs. Nebraska

1. Rob Phinisee’s role
After missing three games due to a concussion suffered on Dec. 19, the freshman point guard was cleared to return for Friday’s game at Maryland. Phinisee played 17 minutes off the bench, working his way back from a three-week layoff. Phinisee fully participated in only half of a practice before making his return, IU coach Archie Miller said, and needed time to shake off the rust. Is Phinisee ready to play starter’s minutes against Nebraska? That’s not clear, and it’s likely that Phinisee will still require time to regain his form. Either way, simply having Phinisee available extends Indiana’s depth and gives the Hoosiers someone capable of making game-changing plays.

2. Bigger boost from the bench
Had Phinisee not drained a couple free throws late in Friday’s game at Maryland, Indiana’s bench would have gone two straight games without a point. Indiana’s reserves combined to play 52 minutes on the floor against Maryland, but struggled to offer much production. Injuries, of course, continue to play a factor. Miller admitted after the game that he erred in playing De’Ron Davis, who is still hobbled by an ankle injury suffered on Jan. 3. Zach McRoberts is still recovering from a nagging back injury, and Phinisee is trying to regain his conditioning from his extended layoff. IU really needs more from Evan Fitzner, who hasn’t scored since the non-conference finale on Dec. 22. Maryland outscored Indiana by 24 points when Fitzner was on the floor on Friday.

3. Better defense
Defense will be the key to securing a win against Nebraska, which boasts an offense ranked ninth nationally at KenPom.com in adjusted offensive efficiency. The Cornhuskers, who come to Bloomington averaging 79.2 points per game, have scored at least 70 points in 14 of their 16 games. James Palmer Jr., who is averaging 19.5 points on the season, has eight 20-point games, while Isaac Copeland Jr., who is averaging 14.3 points, has eclipsed the 20-point mark in three contests this season. IU will hope that its defense settles in after a pair of rough outings on the road. At Michigan last Sunday, Indiana allowed the Wolverines to score 1.26 points per possession. At Maryland, the Terps managed 1.21 points per possession against the Hoosiers.

4. Homecourt advantage
As tough and competitive as the Big Ten has shaped up to be, defending the home floor is imperative for teams this season. Especially IU, which enjoys one of the best homecourt advantages in the nation when Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall is rocking. Indiana finds itself dealing with its first stretch of adversity, as it attempts to bounce back from back-to-back losses. The Hoosiers are 10-0 in Bloomington this season, while Nebraska is 1-3 in true road games. KenPom.com gives IU a 57 percent chance of winning.

4 comments

  1. I did not realize how limited Fitzner has been. I mean, he hasn’t set the world on fire but I didn’t realize he has been posting goose eggs.

    Wow.

    I hope he has the talent but the situation to display it has not occurred. Obviously, the guy should know how to play D1 basketball.

  2. Thus far I’ve been really wrong on Fitzner. I thought he could bring us more roaming to the outside (especially the occasional boost in perimeter shooting when Romeo is in some of those double teams). Guy has a sweet stroke….Just really lacking in aggressiveness and confidence right now.

    Quite the chunk of season still remaining….Confidence is a strange animal. See a couple go through the net and the world is right again.

  3. Nebraska has an offense ranked 9th nationally….? And I’m Robert Redford.

    As brilliant as your statistic making Fitzner look really bad(outscored by 24 against Maryland while Fitz was on the floor), you have no qualms about a sample set or competition level played while pointing out Nebraska is ranked 9th in adjusted offensive efficiency?
    Adjusted for what and against what? I have the most handsome looks in my family adjusted against a handsome bowling ball…..

    I hate most stats….Give them to me when a career is over. And please stop comparing them against different decades…as many do to compare Jordan to contemporaries.
    All the stats in the world would have never put Loyola in a Final Four last year. And why do they suck so much this season with basically the same team? You’ll give me stats to explain it(because they are results) but they’ll rarely answer why.

  4. Easy to believe if Deron Davis had not been rehabbing a debilitating injury over the off-season Fitzner would not be receiving mail in Bloomington. Considering youth and injuries there are only 6 maybe 7 Hoosiers who can get it done on the court this year. Tough year and I hold Miller and staff in even higher regards for the success their management provides this season.

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