Hoosiers wilt in 78-75 loss to Terps

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — So much for the slow starts. At least, those of the first-half variety.

Weeks of introspection led to this, an opening stretch that was equal parts purposeful and powerful — the kind of assertive early-game effort that so many previous contests lacked. For the first 13 minutes of Friday’s game at Maryland, this was the Indiana team that Archie Miller has spent the better part of two months trying to shake from its game-opening funks.

The Hoosiers created their own momentum on both ends of the court, rode it to a double-digit lead and appeared poised to seize a meaningful road win in a conference where such victories seldom come easy.

Then, it all went to waste.

Out-manned and overcome by Maryland’s size and length, No. 22 Indiana gradually wilted in a 78-75 loss to the Terrapins before an announced crowd of 15,017 at Xfinity Center.

A 9-0 Indiana run to start the game went for naught. So, too, did a 14-point advantage built midway through the first half. The Hoosiers were outworked on the boards over the course of Friday night, while Maryland’s duo of guard Anthony Cowan (24 points) and forward Bruno Fernando (25 points) carved their way to whatever they pleased.

Cowan and Fernando answered IU’s strong start to regulation by helping Maryland to a 16-0 run early in the second half. That spurt served as the tipping point to Indiana’s second consecutive loss, muting the Hoosiers’ strong start and leaving IU looking for the formula that will lead to more consistent 40-minute efforts.

“We started off really aggressive, how we wanted to,” IU freshman Romeo Langford said. “Second half, we kind of let our foot off the gas pedal. They hit us in the mouth first and got on that big run. It made it hard for us to come back.”

While far from a must-win game for Indiana (12-4, 3-2), Friday was an opportunity to prove a few things.

For one, it was the type of road trip that could’ve boosted Indiana in its pursuit of a top-four finish in a competitive Big Ten. A January loss at Maryland (14-3, 5-1) certainly doesn’t end that mission, but this is exactly the kind of road loss that IU might lament in March.

On another level, Friday was a chance for the Hoosiers to answer their coach’s call for better starts to games. Through the first two months, Indiana rarely opened games with the toughness and tenacity needed.

For a change, this night was different.

Indiana locked down on both ends, doubling down on Fernando early in regulation to keep him in check. On the offensive side of the floor, Devonte Green, Justin Smith and Al Durham accounted for 12 of the first 14 points for Indiana, which also enjoyed the return of point guard Rob Phinisee. The freshman played 17 minutes, finishing with two points and two assists.

Having a healthy Phinisee seemed to give IU a needed jolt, with the Hoosiers knowing there were additional reinforcements on a bench that has underperformed as injuries haven taken their toll.

By the 6:59 mark of the first half, Indiana’s lead was 14. But across the rest of the period, that advantage slowly chipped away.

A wave of momentum gradually shifted in Maryland’s favor, with Cowan and Fernando combining for 10 of the Terps’ 13 points in the final seven minutes of the period.

At halftime, Indiana’s lead was eight. After Juwan Morgan opened the second period with a layup, the Terps made their run — scoring 16 straight points and sending their arena into a frenzy.

“They’re gonna make runs when you’re playing on the road,” Miller said. “I thought Anthony Cowan really took it upon himself and really started to attack. He was making straight runs at the basket, back part of the first half. Then in the second half, we had a really hard time in containing him off the dribble. Transition defense. Things got out of whack to start the first four minutes of the second half. We had a couple shots blocked, (and) had a couple really tough jump shots that I thought got us unorganized. Then they were able to capitalize on that. I think they had a 16-2 run to start the second half, which we were unable to dig ourselves out of. We hung in and did some good things, but the inability to get first-timer rebounds eventually overwhelmed us.”

Maryland’s size, length and general will to take over on the glass eventually won out.

The Terps outrebounded the Hoosiers 42-25, with 18 of those rebounds coming on the offensive glass. IU had few solutions, with De’Ron Davis (ankle) cleared to participate, but not quite healthy enough to play like himself. Davis managed only four minutes.

Indiana also missed the defense and athleticism of Justin Smith. IU outscored Maryland by 22 points when Smith was on the floor, but the sophomore forward missed chunks of the game while weathering foul trouble.

It was a significant factor in Maryland outscoring IU 51-40 during the final 20 minutes.

“Justin’s foul trouble seriously hurt us in the game, him not being in the game defensively and doing some things that he’s able to do for us hurt,” Miller said. “Without question, I wish we would’ve been able to get him a few more blows and play some other guys. It just comes down to feel. De’Ron probably shouldn’t have even been in the game. That was probably my fault. I probably set him up to fail.”

On the offensive end, IU failed to reproduce the balanced effort it enjoyed in the first half. Morgan and Romeo Langford accounted for 28 of IU’s 40 points in the second half, while the rest of the team went merely 3-for-14 from the field in that span.

Langford produced 12 of his career-high-tying 28 points during the final 3:18 of the contest, making a game that had otherwise slipped away seem closer than it was.

Indiana started well, but wilted as a good opportunity went to waste.

“All in all, our guys played hard,” Miller said. “Played together, for the most part. We gotta pick ourselves up. It’s a long year and it’s a tough league. We have Nebraska on Monday night, so we’ll try to push forward on that.”

36 comments

  1. As usual, the stats don’t lie. They hit 1 more 3 than we did on 8 more attempts; due to the 18 offensive rebounds. What I saw was a lot of guys, 3 to be exact, watching Romeo & Morgan play.

    We are who we are; We are Romeo & Morgan, soon to become + Phinisee.

    Prototypical Big Ten road loss. If you don’t play for 40 min., you will lose. We can’t seem to put 2 half’s together. This result is no big surprise other than we only lost by 3 after 40 min.

  2. ^^^Wrong. It’s not an accurate sample to judge anything.
    Phinisee was activated but it’s going to take some time for him to shed the apprehension and regain full confidence after being out for four games with what must have been a pretty serious concussion.

    With a healthy Phinisee, Morgan, and Romeo…this is a pretty decent team. The variable to move this team from pretty decent to very good is the one I identified at the onset of the season. This season hinges on Smith living up to his potential. We see flashes, but then he crawls back into his shell(no terrapin pun intended). He made some nice plays…including a sweet little baseline jumper. Ticky tack dumb fouls…and inconsistencies still hampering his game.

    1. You are proving my point…this team will become something else when Phinisee gets his legs back. He, Durham & Green make a good 3 guard rotation. Hey were something else when he was playing 25-30 min a game. We lost this game because we couldn’t rebound on their end. And that led to them taking 8 more 3s and making 1 more than we did. (Go watch the postgame presser if you dispute those facts.)

      Smith COULD be a difference maker, but it’ll come in spurts. At most he’ll give us 2 good games in a row. He’s more athlete than basketball player. Modern day Troy Williams.

      We are missing a neutralizer in the middle. That is the biggest gap I see. Davis seemed to have that potential but he seldom can put 5 good min. together without being a liability. Fitzner is a joke. He’s nothing but a big that can shoot the 3. Crean would’ve loved this kid. Fits his mold. Looks good on paper, can shoot & cant play a lick of defense.

      1. Phinisee was my point at the beginning of the season while most were only drooling, rightfully so, over Romeo.

        Postgame pressers are coaches saying what they have to say. Archie is more honest than most though.
        The 3-point comparison is weak because most for the Hoosiers came from one guy as desperation attempts in a late game scenario where the team was losing fast ground. They went down for Romeo last night. He padded his stats and the finish looked closer than it was.

        Justin Smith is better with the ball in his sleep than Troy Williams.

        But, again, there isn’t much to judge from last night’s game. There is no “brilliance” to be found. There is no presser to take much. It was our only viable point guard’s first game back…on limited minutes after suffering a pretty severe concussion.

        It would have taken near perfect games from everyone not named Phinisee to win on the road. Teams play very hard to protect their home courts in this league. It’s winning on the road that determines weak sauce from hot sauce.

  3. Morgan is a power forward having to play center because of the lack of talent with IU’s other bigs. Davis and Fitzner are marginal players and Clifton Moore can’t play at this level. That is probably IU’s biggest deficiency. Romeo was great except for late shot clock fouls. He displayed NBA star power last night. Phinisee will need to get his stamina back. He is a steadying force but he is not a super quick guard like Cowan. IU could not stop him. This was a game I though IU would win. Seems most of the remaining games will be challenging. They will certainly have to rebound better. They got killed on the boards.

  4. I think we are all just tired of watching average to above average basketball. We have some nice pieces but overall just a very incomplete team. I think that will mostly sum up this year. I think Archie is a really good recruiter and a solid coach. I loved watching his Dayton teams. They were suffocating on defense for ALL forty minutes. I was hoping he would bring that play like your hair is on fire mode to Bloomington.

  5. I fully admit that I erred in my 2nd half prognostication! “Crumbled” is a good adjective for my well-deserved status from my 1st half brilliance. To reiterate: I was wrong. I’ve enjoyed all the comments. Bottom line: I am not always right.

      1. ‘Blasting’ in Assembly is weak sauce. I’ve learned in my ripe old age that wins there mean little.
        Winning on the road is the sign of a quality team.
        Going to Elite 8’s is what 9 Midwestern quality teams did a collective 25 times over the last 8 years. We were not one of those quality ripe teams.
        Home wins against Nebraska and Sweet 16’s is a trip to a candy store….not worthy of the real candy stripes.

  6. I can’t believe some of the season conclosury statements some of this blog’s pundits make. Goodness gracious, it’s only mid January. Between injuries and youth being served, we have not even seen what this team really is. Let’s take a brief spin in IU basketball history. Exactly where was the ’81 championship team on this very date in 1981?? Now, I harbor no disillusions. This team is not capable of winning it all. But I firmly believe, barring further injury (fingers crossed, we’re talking IU here), come March this team will be a force to be reckoned with. Look at what Coach Miller did with last year’s collection of misfits.

    This team had a frustrating loss last night. And it will have a few more. But there’s plenty to be optimistic about. Romeo is still a Freshman who is getting better and better. A healthy Justin Smith gets better. A healthy Rob Phinisee gets better. Youth people, youth! In Archie I trust.

    1. The Hoosiers have lost 4 games to 4 good teams. Two of them they could (likely should) have won.

      The other two were to the #1 and #2 teams in the country.

      Archie has been pulling this off with smoke and mirrors because he damn sure doesn’t have enough players.

      We likely won’t see a couple guys this year because redshirting seems to make sense. But, I’m with you. There is no telling what this team might look like in March because we have not even seen all the parts yet.

      1. I really don’t know where the “likely should” have won comes in….It assumes your opponent played at the top of their game.
        Bottom Line: Wins and losses are what they are. “Would have,” “could have” and “should have” put 5 more championship banners in Assembly(’73, ”75, 92, 03…. and let’s give Crean one for good measure and forgiveness).

        Archie is no different. He will be judged on wins and losses. He won’t be judged on bad timing, recruits bolting to the NBA prematurely, injuries…or the fact that the last coach lost so much ground for the program.

        The assembly of this team looks like a company lunch pitch-in. One person could actually cook and brought what appears to be a delicious appetizer(Romeo)…Some of the offerings you’re afraid to taste. A glance at one mushy casserole offering in a 1950’s tupperware container makes you instantly nauseous. There’s a bag of generic blue chips…corn chips. They look safe. And then you have the iffy Green guacamole going surprisingly fast. I’ll pass…

        That’s your 2018-19 Hoosiers: A ‘Company Pitch-in’ Roster.

      1. 1981? I remember what I had for lunch on the day of that Texas loss. Hmm? Texas…Southern theme? 9-5…? There may have been a hit movie of similar vibe around that year. Dalai Lama in Bloomington…Dolly Parton was making a livin’.

          1. You looked it up …the same as I looked up the answer to when the last time Indiana beat a top-5 on the road. You pay attention. Don’t like it do you?

    2. Romeo is still a Freshman who is getting better and better.

      Yup…Agree. And by the time his better and better matures just in time for a team to capitalize on an Archie Miller well-coached Hoosier roster wine, he’ll be dust in the wind. Bottle corked. One and done….Back to square one and smashing grapes.
      Sure wish we could age a good grape more than one year.

  7. Well said t. Most of our fan base is ok with good now. It is kind of sad. OkieHoosier has to rationalize from the past to feel good. Overall pathetic when you accept good

  8. My favorite moments in last night’s game were mostly admiring Archie sitting in a chair. I don’t know why….I really have no idea why it had such a calming effect on me. Tension lifted off my shoulders.
    It’s a coach being a coach at a basketball game…He’s calm while I’m the one wound. He’s not some meth head who just robbed the ‘7-Eleven’ running a wall to wall race in his pitch-black living room hoping the cops don’t show.

  9. 1-2 on the road & well on our way to going 4-6.

    Going out on further limbs here is my future predictions;

    W NEB
    L @ Purdue
    W @ NW
    W MICH
    W @ Rutgers
    L @ MSU
    W Iowa
    W OSU
    L @ MN
    W Purdue
    W Iowa
    W Wisky
    L MSU
    W @ IL
    W Rutgers

    & maybe MICH & MSU swap results.
    14-6 total league play……and that’s a stretch!

  10. My biggest concern is whether this team can get healthy enough this season to be a better team by the end of the Big Ten season. We have Hunter(already a redshirt), Thompson, McRoberts, Davis,, also Forrester out and the players that aren’t ready for a role in the rotation Moore and Anderson. Fitzner not strong enough to play inside. If Romeo Langford declares for the NBA his one year at I U might result is his personal growth and not overall team success for this year. Our front court and guard depth is weak.

  11. Hey Jeff H: here’s what I think is pathetic. A weenie arm-chair coach who probably wasn’t a DI college athlete and who has nothing better to do in life than whine and moan over every loss by a team of players ages 18 to 22. Gain some perspective, you might actually find there is some joy to be had in life.

  12. In defense of Davis; the Physical healing is over but it will take a year for the mental health from that injury to heal. “playing in shape” is only endurance. “mental health” is when he stops “protecting the previously injured leg by over-compensating and THAT creates injuries. Fitzner is a bust. He is the basketball version of “the curious case of Benjamin Button”..the more he plays the worse he gets. I can see why he lost he starting position as a senior; comes to Indiana and skills and abilities continue to deteriorate. I wish we had any news on Race ‘s injury because I’m starting to think of Emmet Holt/ Devin Davis. with Race going the way of Davis. We knew Forrester was going to be a year away

    1. While it wasn’t particularly painful I had issues recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon for the reasons you alluded to. It gets in your head in a way many other injuries don’t.

      It took me a good year to walk with a normal gait.

  13. Reading a lot of ridicule aimed at Fitzner….At five games into a BigTen season, I’m not sure if it’s reasonable to call him a “bust.” If he is a bust, then it’s on Archie for a poor assessment.
    He was shooting with a lot of confidence before Green was worked back into the lineup. He wasn’t brought in to be anything but a supplement to major deficiencies in our perimeter shooting.
    I believe he can still contribute….and hit some timely shots.

  14. I thought this roster was supposed to be so much “longer” and had so much more “size” compared to last year’s team. We just saw what Big Ten “size” looks like.

    Improved FT shooting, but not enough of them.

    Injuries are killing this team. Even if the guys get “healthy,” they’ve lost so much practice time and in-game experience, with the exception of Phin, their seasons are all but over. Still be a significant improvement.

    O.K., maybe IU wins 22 games this season. Don’t think they’ve got the firepower to win 24.

  15. Ron- Borrowing an entry from Chet as a response to your sighting…

    While it wasn’t particularly painful I had issues recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon for the reasons you alluded to. It gets in your head in a way many other injuries don’t.

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