4 things we learned from IU’s loss to Purdue

1. Indiana’s poor shooting is nothing new, but as the Hoosiers’ road swing continues, success from 3-point range is critical to opening up the offense.

Until Indiana knocks down shots, Big Ten defenses will continue to do what Nebraska and Purdue did this week: collapse, collapse, collapse. The Hoosiers are being dared to shoot right now and, as has been the case nearly all season, they can’t seem to knock down the open looks when they come.

With a better shooting effort both from 3-point range and the free throw line, IU would’ve had a chance on Saturday at Mackey Arena. Instead, the Hoosiers shot merely 4-for-20 from 3-point range and 7-for-18 at the line. Many of those attempts came from open looks. Purdue allowed Zach McRoberts all the space he wanted to try and take those shots, and he finished 0-for-4. The Boilermakers also had little interest in challenging Juwan Morgan beyond the arc. He responded by going 1-for-4 from 3-point range.

In theory, it’s pretty simple for Indiana. The Hoosiers have to knock down open shots. They saw plenty of them this week, and are bound to see even more as the conference season continues and teams continue to pack the paint and limit the drive. Indiana shot 17 percent (6-for-34) from 3-point range this week and is shooting only 28.3 percent in conference games this season. That ranks 13th in the Big Ten.

2. It was the first time all season that Romeo Langford didn’t play well. It probably won’t happen again.

If there was one player who was due for an off day, it was Langford. Until Saturday, the freshman had scored in double figures in each of the first 17 games of his college career. Not only that, his season-low scoring total was 12 points in the second game of the year.

Now, his season low is four points. That was Saturday.

Two early fouls called against Langford seemed to get the New Albany product out of any type of early rhythm — and rhythm is something Langford often needs to start scoring. He sat for 14 minutes in the first half, and while he came out of halftime intent on getting to the basket, Langford never heated up in ways he had so often prior to Saturday.

“I think he got into his head a little bit, just from the foul trouble,” senior forward Juwan Morgan said. “I think he was trying to play conservative a little bit. The second foul was a charge, if I’m not mistaken. I know myself, if somebody takes a charge off me, I’m kind of conservative, making sure nobody’s down there before I go. I’m pretty sure he was doing the same thing. I was just trying to talk to him throughout the game, saying, ‘You’ve got to stay with who you are. You’re a great driver. You know how to pass out of the drive, out of the double team. Just keep doing that.'”

Combine his lack of scoring with his three turnovers, including back-to-back errors that fed into four quick Purdue points late in the first half, and it was a rough go for IU’s most talented player.

Given Langford’s body of work up to this point, it’s not likely to happen again.

3. There’s a defensive regression that’s taking shape. It might be the most concerning development of all.

Indiana rightfully took pride in the way defense propelled it to a series of noteworthy victories during the first two months of the season. Since the new year — or, at least, since IU’s stretch of six road trips in eight games began two weeks ago — the Hoosiers have fallen off tremendously.

Purdue was the fourth consecutive team to score more than a point per possession against Indiana, setting the tone with baskets on each of its first four trips down the floor in Saturday’s first half. Through seven Big Ten games, IU ranks 10th in the league in adjusted defensive efficiency.

That’s a major red flag for a team that is being built to feed its offense through defensive stops. Defense is supposed to be the one thing this team can hang its hat on. Without it, Indiana doesn’t have a chance against the better teams in the conference.

The Hoosiers aren’t equipped to chew into sizable double-digit deficits, which Indiana found itself staring at early in the second half. Ryan Cline and Carsen Edwards heated up from 3-point range and Matt Haarms saw little resistance in getting to the rim, helping to build a Purdue lead that swelled to 19 points midway through the second period.

Indiana’s 2-point defense — once a strength — is now ranked 12th in the conference. Big Ten opponents are scoring on 52.7 percent of their attempts inside the arc against the Hoosiers.

Yes, Indiana’s offensive firepower is muted at the moment, But without the kind of tough, attentive defense they played early in the year, the Hoosiers are being exposed as the conference season wears on.

4. IU looked no closer to stopping its skid.

Indiana isn’t playing with great urgency or energy. The Hoosiers also don’t seem to have the chemistry required to quickly fix things on the fly.

Right now, IU looks broken. It looks lost.

Teams are exposing Indiana’s weaknesses, leaving the Hoosiers without any traction as their losing streak stretches to four games.

Personnel-wise, Archie Miller tried to shake up his rotation, moving freshman shooter Damezi Anderson and sophomore forward Clifton Moore up the depth chart while leaving graduate transfer Evan Fitzner on the bench.

Anderson and Moore, however, didn’t do much to distance themselves from the knocks against them. Anderson didn’t attempt a 3-pointer in his five minutes, while picking up two fouls and struggling on the defensive end. Moore also struggled against Purdue’s size, a tough matchup for a player who provides energy but who is also still finding his way.

There were small bright spots. Rob Phinisee looked closer to getting back to where he was before suffering his concussion in mid-December. Justin Smith also showed some confidence on the offensive end, going 7-for-8 from the field.

But ultimately, this team appears to have too many holes and not enough solutions to patch them. The back end of the schedule is a bit more forgiving, but there are still a few weeks before the Hoosiers can get there.

6 comments

  1. So now not only are they not shooting it their playing defense either isnt supposed to be Mr Millers calling card?uh oh yeah great you can recruit in state to passify the die hards but it doesnt mean jack if you can’t coach em up in a way that they can improve this team is getting worse

  2. I cannot concur with your corrosive conclusion, BB. Romeo out cerrates our defense. I bet you did not read past item # 3, but if you can muster the motivation, you’ll read: “The Hoosiers also don’t seem to have the chemistry required to quickly fix things on the fly”.

  3. I give my opinion sir i dont worry about whether you or anyone else agrees with it thats not point of having one

    1. Rock- This coach doesn’t play on shallow emotions. He doesn’t sell “it’s Indiana” malarkey. He doesn’t major in grandiloquence or highfalutin carnival/ideology salesmanship which often results in wrapping naive followers/loyalists around a pinky. He doesn’t play to the “base.”

      A matter of fact, that was a clever spin move by brownbomber. Give him credit. His “pacify” the fan base reference is exactly how the last numbnut solidified his base guaranteeing far too much time at IU.

      Archie is a doer. He’s the last thing from a used car salesman. Thank God it’s about basketball again….Win or lose, it’s about teaching and accountability over condescension to those who know better and preaching to the naive.

    2. Brownbomber vs. The Rock

      This almost sounds like “pro” wrestling….Now I’m trying not to imagine what each of these dudes looks like wearing a slingshot jumpsuit.

  4. Let’s keep in mind that Purdue’s locomotive who makes the whole train go is a junior. Sure, he’s been coached up. Archie is dealing with a freshman superstar…and a freshman point guard who busted up his head enough to miss 4 games.
    Archie has to “coach up” a roster consisting mostly of freshmen and a mishmash of Crean ‘experiments in athleticism'(Green & Smith being the primary “athletes” without much basketball refinement/savvy). Smith is slowly showing some signs of basketball intelligence.

    It’s a ‘Company Pitch-in Roster’….Unless Archie would have completely cleaned house, he’s left with making the best of a team he did not build. This isn’t ‘Love it or List it” ….This is make due with what you must. Heart may be missing from this team…Experience is missing as well. Savvy and strong fundamentals is also missing in many on the roster not recruited by Archie.

    Chemistry and heart…? Hardest things to build in a team. Hardest things to find the root causes when they are lacking on a team.
    Do certain guys almost feel a sense of entitlement because they remained at IU and didn’t bail on Archie during the coaching change? Is Archie too loyal(less demanding) because they stuck it out?

    Bottom Line:
    -Injury to the locomotive(Phinisee) who makes the team chug on down the track.
    -Lack of maturity.
    -Freshmen still need some “coaching up.”
    -Natural conflicts of personalities and loyalties(superstar vs players of old regime and transitions into new regime).
    -Lack of basketball savvy in those Archie did not recruit(other than Morgan).
    -Demanding opening to the BigTen season(@ Maryland, @ Michigan, @ Purdue, a very strong backcourt in Nebraska’s team while our backcourt engine was very limited).
    -Unusual amount of injuries. (I hate that excuse because all teams have a certain amount)

    I would argue that much of the “brokenness” is the result of the normal aches and pains…and “breaks” occurring in a coaching change. Old playing with the new is difficult to turn into glue.

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