IU’s fall continues with loss at Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — This felt like the bottom. But who can be sure?

Right now, the Hoosiers are finding ways to outdo themselves as their season-defining losing streak stretches to seven games.

A 66-58 loss at Rutgers illustrated for one final time in this lowly month of January all that is wrong with Indiana.

A toothless offense? Check.

Unengaged defense? Check.

Dumb fouls and a short bench unequipped to produce? Check and check.

It was all on display from Indiana inside the Rutgers Athletic Center, a place where the Hoosiers hadn’t lost since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten for the 2014-15 season. Instead of using Wednesday’s game as an opportunity to fix themselves, the Hoosiers crumpled — doing so in jarring fashion.

Five days after finding themselves on the wrong end of a 17-0 Michigan run to start Friday’s game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers (12-9, 3-7) meekly watched Rutgers (11-9, 4-6) rip off a 22-0 run spanning both halves. Indiana learned virtually nothing from its previous stumbles, going nine and a half minutes without a basket — a death knell for a team so utterly broken on the offensive end.

“Our lack of shooting and our inability to continue to score is something that has been problematic,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “You can’t be perfect on every possession defensively, and we had some bad possessions offensively early in that second half that gave them turnovers and gave them baskets. We are who we are. Hopefully each day we get a guy back, or maybe each game we get two guys back. I’m not real sure. What we have is what we have, and those guys have to understand that they gotta bring it. It’s up to our staff. Like I told them, we all gotta be better right now.”

That, of course, is obvious.

Even with subtle improvement, there’s a likelihood that IU’s current stretch gets worse yet.

From here, Indiana travels to face No. 6 Michigan State on Saturday night at the Breslin Center, an arena where the Hoosiers have dropped four straight and 21 of their last 22 games.

If Wednesday wasn’t the bottom, where is it?

“Going on the road is not easy in this league,” Miller said. “We’ve certainly had our fair share of January road games that haven’t been good to us. We have to find a way to look at the big picture and say we’re at the halfway point of conference play. They don’t really stop the season at the halfway point. They don’t stop the season until they basically tell you you can’t play anymore games, one way or the other. ‘Til that happens, I think we just have to progressing and do the right things and obviously try to play our best, get some guys some confidence.

“You get a guy back or two and the next thing you know, your depth gets a little bit better. But we’ll see. I think everybody in the whole world wants to see if we’re going to respond at some point in time. I think we will.”

That may be, but the Hoosiers looked no closer to offering a response on Wednesday.

It was a disheartening result for IU, which opened the game with vigor. Indiana thoroughly outplayed Rutgers across the first 15 minutes and led by as many as 10 points with four minutes left in the period.

The Hoosiers executed patient offense and matched stops with points. But a series of issues led to a shift in momentum, which IU failed to recover.

Romeo Langford missed the front end of a one-and-one with IU ahead by eight. Rob Phinisee committed two late, costly turnovers as Rutgers sliced into Indiana’s deficit. The Hoosiers also couldn’t sustain their stroke on the perimeter after starting the night 3-for-7 beyond the arc.

“Really, we just took our foot off the gas pedal,” Langford said. “We started off the game how we wanted to, really well.”

Making matters worse, Langford and Morgan sat the final two minutes of the first half with two fouls, forcing a mishmash lineup onto the floor. Indiana’s bench was a non-factor, finishing with only two points on the night.

The many gaffes and lapses added up to a 9-0 Rutgers run to close the first half. At halftime, Indiana’s lead was merely 29-28.

“I would say we missed a couple assignments on defense and got the crowd back into it, and then we just tried to get it back,” Al Durham said. “It’s like, we were just trying to fight back from it, but we missed a couple defensive assignments and that was really tough … I would love to see us learn from this, take a bigger step and really lock down on defense when we go through adversity like that. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board, go back to practice and just keep going at it every day.”

IU failed to reproduce its early effort at the start of the second half. The Scarlet Knights kicked off a 13-0 run that didn’t end until Langford sank a 3-pointer at the 14:48 mark.

All told, the Hoosiers went nine and a half minutes without a basket — without a point — to doom what could have been an opportunity to end this funk once and for all.

“I have to do a better job,” Miller said. “Our staff’s got to continue to do a better job and we’ve got to prepare them to do better. We’ve done it. We’ve done it in the past. We’ve dealt with a lot of odd situations this year. Confidence is a thing that can be shaken quickly. It’s hard to earn a win. It’s easy to take a step back. We’re gonna have to dig down, dig in and see what we’re made of. It’s not like we haven’t been trying to do that. At times we’ve been up against it. I feel like we’re gonna be alright here.”

Time will tell.

After Wednesday’s game was over, IU’s players milled about on an old practice court outside the visitor’s locker room. An open door, through which IU’s student managers loaded the team’s gear, allowed for gusts of January air to fill the building.

The night was cold.

And unforgiving.

39 comments

  1. I think Archie would make them worse. I know Romeo played against weak competition in high school but he could shoot from the outside. Now, it is gone. Either wrist injury is worse than what they are saying or ????

  2. I’m TIRED of this negativity!

    If they had allowed us to end the game after the end of the 1st half, we would have won this game (by one point, but it still would be a win).

    I liked the camera work showing Justin Smith barking at Aljami Durham. And then Aljami barking back at Justin. Proves my point

  3. Where is Jimmy Chitwood when you need him? Tom Allen now has a better record against Rutgers than Archie Miller.

  4. Having to listen to John Crispin pontificate about everything including what players are thinking only worsens the already bad experience.

  5. Jeff…not only did Romeo play against weaker competition but he could intimidate thru reputation. He has had shooting problems from the day he stepped on campus for Hoosier hysteria,,,,the injuries have hurt with consistency but Fitzner is a bust; IM sure St Mary’s said “thanks for your 4 years but go play someplace else. Justin Smith shows NO improvement on his jump shot ..its as if hes not interested in developing one. Demezi Anderson was recruited for his shooting BUT in his high school highlights it was pointed out he has a strange release on his shot. Mount said in an interview , when he was in high school he took a summer job at the swimming pool because it was next to the basketball courts ..he would take his lunch hour and shoot 200-300 jump shots I cant see where ANYONE on this team has shoot 200-300 jump shots this season.

  6. AM better start looking for another big man to go with the. center Grove recruit I don’t see a future forMoore at I U, even if Devon is ready to play next year, Fitzner is too weak tp play under the his shot making is gone and our guard rotation is weak. Fred Glass has a good view from behind the I U bench to see the I U flagship basketball program perform tonight, I saw Hunteron the bench no sign ofGreen.

  7. “Miller time” sure didn’t last long….Maybe we should have went with a craft beer?

  8. I would like to know the reason Devante Green is not with the team. This is a public institution and I don’t think it should be allowed to simply throw a player off the team without an explanation of the reason why.

    1. Could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I saw Green on the sideline during a timeout…Matter of fact, I think I recall him giving Phinisee a hand-slap of encouragement. Green was there. He just didn’t play.

    2. Green isn’t off the team. He’s suspended indefinitely. He has now missed three games. If he plays Saturday at Michigan State, I think the reason for his absence will be clear.

  9. Meanwhile, Kelvin’s Houston Cougars are 20-1 and ranked #13 in the country (CBS has them at #7 just behind Michigan).

  10. This is a bad loss. Makes you wonder how Brooks and other remaining recruit options are looking at the current state of IU basketball. Archie has to shoulder much of the blame for this and other recent performances. His recruits, other than Langford have contributed very little. Phinisee, after a decent start, now shows flaws in his game that do not bode well for the future. Anderson and Forrester have contributed nothing. Fitzner was a bad decision. The list goes on. The cupboard looks bare.

  11. the good news is that we can really make a splash Saturday if we upset Michigan State at their home court!

  12. I’ll go back and find my post about 7 games into the season, perhaps after Arkansas. I thought at the time this team would be on the bubble come March and win 20-some and lose over 10 games. It turns out that was optimistic. But I also thought this team would beat teams it shouldn’t and lose to teams it should beat. And that IS who we are.

    I didn’t see this game (on the road for work), but can see from the box score that we couldn’t shoot it again. And because of that our assists were only 7, or vice versa. 23 of our 60 shots were 3 pointers. I see that increasing as teams continue to sag off us because we simply can’t shoot. We do not have 1 assassin that can bury anybody, or stop a run. Some teams have 3 of those types. We have 0.

    The frustration here, from the fans to the players, were lured into false expectations. I know I was. I thought with Romeo, Hunter and Phinisee coming in we’d be a lot better, coupled with Morgan, Davis, Green, Durham & others. Then we ran off a 12-2 spurt to begin the year and visions of sugarplums danced in my head.

    I have a saying; “the key to happiness is no expectations”. I violated my own philosophy.

    It is unrealistic in this league this year to count on 3 freshman to drive the results. It is equally unrealistic to count on a stud forward like Morgan to carry the load. And who knew we’d have this extensive list of injuries? Chalk it up to it just being “one of those years”.

    This team will emerge again, at some point this season, and beat someone we shouldn’t beat, gain confidence and roll off a winning streak. We’ll have a hot night from behind the arc. Shoot 20 3’s and hit 10, for example. It is very likely. But knowing what we now know in all facets of the game, this team is a hodgepodge. And Archie is only in year 2 with only 1 of his recruiting classes. Let’s see where we stand in two years with a seasoned PG, a couple shooting guards, and some depth. The mark of improvement lies in the year to year record of a team. I suspect Archie will get us over 17 wins this year, and continue to grow that over the next few years. I give him credit, he is still being honest and not blowing sunshine up anyone’s Levi’s. He gets it, teaches it and I trust he will put his doubters to pasture when given time.

    Patience my dear friends. And low expectations.

  13. Archie and the other I U coaches look like they are suffering from shell shock. I now know how fortunate I was to have witnessed the I U Knight times at I U. I U basketball is a long way from the elite times during Knight’s 70’s- 80’s run, the total I U athletic program is now an also ran in the Big Ten Conference. Rutgers basketball team just manhandled and pushed I U off the glass and Rutgers is an also ran in Big Ten Basketball, so I U welcome to the bottom of the Big Ten Basketball.

  14. I still say Chris Mack should have been pursued harder than I think he was. I am not sure if Fred was afraid he wouldn’t leave his alma mater, obviously he was, or Fred didn’t think he was the right guy. I think Fred didn’t go after Mack hard enough and that will ultimately be his downfall. My son goes to U of L and I told him after they hired Mack that before my son graduated they would either win a national title or be in the championship game. I don’t think that is too far off watching that program and the recruiting he has done.

  15. J. Price if that’s reason for the three game suspension, I have heard from good sources Green wasn’t the only one on the team.

  16. What did he do? Get a haircut not approved by the Coaching Staff?? I’m mystified, IU South and Jeremy…..but I look forward to seeing or hearing why the indefinate suspension for Devonte Green.

  17. Sounds like he did some Mitch McGary reefer….Don’t do it during the NCAA tournament or it will get you a full season suspension. Or did they change that rule?

  18. Do they still call it reefer…? Roach? Joint? Weed? Grass? What’s the appropriate lingo today? It’s been too long.
    I used to call it Hills Brothers home dried….(long story).

  19. This team is not worth commenting about. Season over.

    But I do have a question: Did any of Tom Crean’s last four IU teams ever produce a 7-game losing streak?

  20. Maybe it’s already time for Archie to bring out the cue cards….?

    Don’t think Tom Crean ever had a year with a starting (or his ‘only’) point guard missing four straight games….and then not being nearly 100% for the next two or three. Yogi was pretty solid…and pretty fortunate.

    A team without a point guard is already a train wreck. And Crean left no point guards in the recruiting pantry. Empty cupboard…other than Phinisee.

  21. t….. thru my high expectations for this team..i had forgot and have been reminded this is AM’s 2nd year. Justin Smith and Cliff Moore Cream recruits and appears to have been recruited for athleticism and not for basketball skills. Then add all the impact injuries this team has had. the inconsistency of practice that leads to training has hurt. Shooting has ALWAYS been this team’s Achilles Heel. I believe AM KNOWS basketball ….he WILL recruit basketball players and NOT JUST Athletes.

  22. Silver lining: Butler, ND and OSU are all struggling as mightily as IU.

    Very…very interesting Kent Sterling show today. Kent Sterling had a long interview with Malcolm Moran (Director of National Sports Journalism Center for IU and IUPUI). Mr. Moran had some great insights regarding Romeo, IU’s heyday in basketball, The Big Ten conference, Archie Miller…and the changing landscape of college basketball.
    If there’s a way you can access a replay or podcast of today’s Sterling show, I’d highly recommend giving a listen.

  23. (to be blunt) IF Green was suspended for smoking reefer (and how do all of us know what THAT is?) that is pure hypocrisy. And, yes, it is NOT surprising that ‘other players’ are doing that *(as well as most IU students)* (as well as most of us blogging). Not me, though. Not anymore, anyway. Too old. I hope, however, when I am dying, that I am allowed to lessen any pain with the use of that herb. MIght have to move to a more civilized place on the planet……I wonder if any NBA players smoke reefer. What absolute B.S. if that was the case.

    1. It was the case under the last two coaches…and part of the witch hunt with Kelvin’s group of thugs. I didn’t hear anyone outraged over team suspensions/dismissals then. Wasn’t that the main reason Devin Davis and Stan Robinson were kicked off? And Davis was still likely suffering many of the side effects centered around a near-death event resulting in severe brain truama.

      But I agree….Weed is pretty minor. Maybe they need to get high before games to take the edge off the jump shots?
      I think it’s far more dangerous/unsettling to hear of new players with bottles of vodka sitting at a convenience store parking lot (especially if the one who is buying is an ex-player who has been previously cited for intoxication behind the wheel).

    2. I buy grass-fed beef in hopes of getting high. I haven’t noticed much difference, but I’ve been told the cows tend to enjoy the slaughter house more…..

  24. Last 10 games (Butler, OSU, ND):

    Butler 3-7 (currently 3 straight losses)
    ND 3-7 (currently 5 straight losses)
    OSU 4-6 (lost 5 of 6 of most recent conference games)

    Last 5 games combined record (Butler, OSU, ND): 4-15

    NCAA tournament hopes fading fast for the three aforementioned Midwestern teams rarely left out of the brackets.
    Good news for Archie on the local recruiting trail…? They can’t all go to Purdue.

  25. NOW I know the reason for these meandering posts, H4h! Look, you have to make muffins out of the pasturiezed beef in order to attain enlightenment.

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