Langford only getting better as Big Ten season continues

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — There were 39 scouts representing 20 NBA teams at the Xfinity Center on Friday, a bevy of professional basketball power brokers in attendance to grade the best players Indiana and Maryland could offer.

Romeo Langford didn’t disappoint.

The shift to Big Ten season hasn’t slowed IU’s star freshman, who continues to assert himself as one of college basketball’s best players. With a 28-point effort in Friday’s 78-75 loss to the Terps, Langford once again illustrated the natural finishing ability that makes him a coveted prospect for the next level.

Langford also proved that he’s only getting better.

“Langford is as advertised, being one of the top five kids coming out of high school in the country last year,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said.

Indeed, the 6-foot-6 guard has maintained a positive trajectory since the season started two months ago. In conference play alone, Langford ranks second in the Big Ten at 22 points per game. He’s also averaging 5.0 rebounds and two assists against league foes.

Langford is enjoying the best stretch of his season since the second leg of Big Ten play began last week against Illinois. In three games this month, Langford is averaging 24.3 points, while shooting 55.3 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from 3-point range. He has also connected on 26 of his 40 free throw attempts in that same span.

Langford has done so while adopting more of a ball-handling role, attacking off pick-and-rolls and creating space and opportunities for others.

“We’re going to continue to find ways to put the ball in his hands and do different things because obviously he’s a tough cover,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “The more he has opportunities to play in space, the better off our team will be.”

Against Maryland, Langford matched his career-best scoring effort — which he set on Jan. 3 vs. Illinois — while going 8-for-14 from the floor, 3-for-6 from beyond the arc and 9-for-9 at the line.

He was at his best in the second half, scoring 20 of his 28 points in the final period. Twelve of those points came in the final 3:18 of regulation. With that second-half blitz, Langford became the first IU player to score 20 points in a half since James Blackmon Jr. did so against UMass Lowell on Nov. 16, 2016.

“He attacked. He was aggressive,” Miller said. “He shot the ball well tonight. He was 9-for-9 from the line, he hit some threes to keep us in there late (and) he was good for most of the game. That’s kind of how he plays. I’m not saying he did anything I don’t really see every day. I think he’s starting to get a little bit more confidence, though, shooting the ball, which is a good thing because he’s going to need to continue to do that.”

Langford could be turning the corner with his jump shot, one of the most apparent weaknesses in an otherwise pro-ready skill set. After shooting merely 20 percent from 3-point range through IU’s first 12 games, Langford has made 40 percent (6-for-15) of his long-distance shots across IU’s past four contests.

Inside of that improvement, he continues to use a step-back jumper that is gradually becoming a more regular part of his game.

“It’s a big time move I’ve been working on from leaving high school to now,” Langford said. “It helps me create more space when I’m being guarded by bigger defenders.”

At the same time, Langford is staying true to his best quality — getting to the rim. Among the 388 players in Division I to take at least 50 shots at the basket in halfcourt settings, Langford ranks first in finishing efficiency at 78 percent, according to Synergy Sports.

“On the scouting report, we’re not supposed to let Langford drive baseline,” Turgeon said, “(but) he got baseline a couple of times. He’s terrific on (the) baseline.”

Against Maryland, the scouts saw as much.

“I was just there when my team needed me to step up and hit the shots I hit in practice every single day,” Langford said.

42 comments

      1. Rewatched the Maryland game. Romeo was double teamed for almost all of the game. He looked for open guys and passed to open men, who missed open shots, or their lane when open. Yet he still single handedly almost brought us back for the win.

        Romeo is just getting better.

        I was frustrated after the loss, but I think something is happening here. This team has a 2002 vibe to it. Health is really a problem, but Romeo is really hitting stride. I think Archie will take it from here.

        I was too emotional after the last loss. I think this team is on to something.

        1. 2002 vibe….? Wish I could agree. We may make some noise in the NCAA tournament, but it would take some upsets and an easier pathway to get anywhere near 2002.
          2002 was loaded with quality perimeter shooters. Coverdale, Fife, Hornsby, Moye, Jeffries could all shoot the three ball. Even Odle popped in one or two against #1 Duke.
          Go back and look at the Kent State game(the Elite 8 game after Duke) …I think the first half 3-point barrage is in the NCAA March Madness record books(certainly in Indiana’s record books).
          We really should have won it all…..Very talented team with a ton of grit as well. None with more heart than A.J. Moye.

          We need more grit and more outside shooting punch to be anything comparable to 2001-02 runner-up team.
          We could be a sleeper…and given the right bracket and upsets make a little noise.

  1. “It’s a big time move I’ve been working on

    He actually said “big time move” …? With NBA draft night coming soon, I suppose we’ll give any 19 year old a pass knowingly on his way to a bigger night than any could ever be winning a silly banner.

    1. Here’s the thing…Romeo puts ‘big time moves’ on guys all the time. He is just so frickin’ good that it always looks like an effortless uncontested layup.

      He is not always wide open. He just makes it seem like he is.

      1. Again, pay attention. I didn’t say his moves aren’t “big time” or seemingly/surprisingly effortless. I just think it’s sort of cute that those words came out of his mouth. He’s 19.
        It sounds much like how an adolescent would describe putting ‘big time’ moves on a first date in a movie theater….
        Don’t get me wrong…I don’t see anything in his game to suggest “chosen one” braggadocios/outwardly hot dog behavior. That’s why I thought his words were surprising and cute in the interview. It was also cute that it wasn’t edited.
        It shows that with all that money and even greater fame soon coming down the pike, he’s still a kid. That ain’t such a bad thing.

        We hurry/steal kids out of their youth/innocence/immaturity/inquisitiveness so exhaustively fast to simply feed our own hunger for entertainment that it’s almost a form of societal abuse…but that’s a whole other topic.

  2. I have a theory on Romeo’s 3-pt. struggles….along with why the struggles are now beginning to dissipate.

    The theory is tied to something I’ve been noticing more and more as I’ve seen him play and in close-up photos…It’s his muscle development in the upper body. I was expecting a kid out of high school still a bit cut like Oladipo when he arrived at Indiana. Romeo must have hit the weight rooms with a vengeance before entering college. This is no Micheal Penix. Look at the pectoralis minor muscle bulging out of Romeo’s uniform in the above photo taken by Chris Howell.

    Hitting the weight rooms along with supplements(hopefully no PED’s) put on bulk that tweaked his jump shot ever so slightly. He’s adjusting to the bulk as his playtime increases. He got his body ready for the NBA…but the shot now needs to adjust/readjust and conform with his new thicker body and muscle mass.
    It had nothing to do with confidence…It had nothing to do with poor form(his form is beautiful)….It’s merely the minute details of how the body and the stroke is working around the added bulk on the arms and under the arms.
    Hell, even the kid’s upper arms are rivaling Karl Malone’s.

    I get it…He wanted to get his NBA body ready. He wanted to bang and absorb contact when going to the rim. But with bulk comes some resistance to the easy flow in the shoulder/chest/arm all part of the shot. The more he works through it,
    ‘the better it gets.’

  3. That’s not anything I really said…Pay attention.

    He bulked his body up and it takes some time to adjust. I didn’t say it took anything away from his NBA level skills. The NBA(and college for that matter) contains bigger, stronger and longer athletes with each proceeding decade.
    For a young man who speeds up that transition, it may, momentarily, take away some of the finesse in a shot.
    Of course, athletes have found huge advantages in PED’s dating back to the East German women’s Olympic swim team. There are huge competitive, strength and stamina advantages to placing more testosterone into the body.
    I’m not suggesting Romeo is taking any PED’s . He likely just worked his ass off in the weight room. It could genetic factors as well…Some are “late bloomers”…and some not. One thing is for certain, he has a man’s body to go along with his man’s game.
    All the above being said, let’s not pretend to be naive with just how much PED’s have been abused in professional sports while in a backdrop of silence and denial by athletes(Lance Armstrong…anyone?).
    Anyway, compared to many college kids I’ve seen, Romeo has a body transformed and ready for the rigors and demands(long seasons) in the NBA. The lengths of seasons make college look like child’s play. Take a good look at the photo above…Those are some unbelievable pectoral muscles. Arnold would be impressed.

  4. I know that Langford has impacted every game he has played in. My question included against best teams that resulted in wins. (that IU has played).
    It was a win loss question.

    1. He purposefully manipulates statements, t. He does it all of the time with my posts. I understood perfectly what you said. e.g. Was Romeo’s impact enough to make up for other poor play/deficiencies on our team to get us over the top against upper tier/best teams we’ve faced.

      Will it be enough without other guys really stepping up their games as well? We need more than just Romeo getting better. We need a healthy Phinisee. We need a smarter Green. We need all to drain better percentages from the perimeter. We need Justin Smith to play closer to his potential.
      Without others getting healthier/better and impacting games, Romeo’s upward progression is still likely not enough. He could come back next year ….to enjoy a deeper and healthier roster. Like that’s gonna happen….

  5. SEC is getting a lot better in basketball…… @# 3 Tennessee …@ #11 Auburn…#18 Kentucky all in the course of one week for Tom Crean. Life’s a bitch. Then #14 Mississippi State…and @ Arkansas to name a few more very tough games.
    Is the SEC getting stronger than the BigTen in basketball too?

    And guess what, Tom? You can no longer dodge UK. But you’ll do better at Georgia because you no longer have to recruit homeys from Bloomington and dorky ‘everything hinges’ dudes from southern Indiana..

  6. Chet, I think H4h meant that Romeo is adjusting, not that he can’t play ‘muscle bound’. And I agree with H4h on this.

    Romeo’s very obvious improvement bodes well for us Hoosier fans! There is no way Romeo is around next year; he most deservedly deserves to be paid for his exceptional ability!

    But other TOP players will see this and come to I.U. We will never be a “Kentucky-type” or “Duke-type” program of one and doners….but we’ll be able to build TEAMS with (at least) one exceptional player.

    When I saw Romeo play in High School, I said, “He’s not as good as Isiah when I saw Isiah in High School, BUT HE’S CLOSE. He’s very close”. (this statement was the highest praise I could give Romeo, as Isiah was the best High School player I had personally seen…I have not seen every player on earth, obviously).

    I now think Romeo is just as good as Isiah was in his Freshman year. (and I was at all those games). I say that because Romeo is completely and utterly exceptional in Offense and equally and perhaps even more dominant defensively.

    We are living in a moment, people! I stand by my earlier statement that we will be in the Barney (trouble) against ANY team with a very-good-Big-Man (as Juwann is GREAT but NOT a Big Man. But I think Romeo can potentially carry us to a win in ANY game, must like Jordan could do.

    I repeat: We are a very good team when the ball is in Romeo’s hands, and I think Archie is going to put that ball in Romeo’s hands always and forever for the rest of this season.

    Good times!

    1. Go to Google images and type in his name. Look at the countless pictures of Romeo as a senior and now.

      There is not a lot of difference. He was big and strong in high school

          1. Please tell me where I was playing the “victim.” I had a theory about Romeo’s 3-pt. struggles. Say what you will, it’s a fact how much these guys are thrown into the weight rooms. And if you’re pretty certain you’re heading to the NBA in six months, your body being ready for that strain/rigor needs to be on an accelerated curve.

            Until his last game, there are multiple theories available as to why he was only shooting 22% on his triples. I believe my theory plays to his favor more than any of the following:
            a. His form is lousy.
            b. He is not confident with his shot
            c. He’s never demonstrated a superb 3-pt shot
            d. The college backcourt defenders are giving him trouble in the halfcourt
            e. Some guys just can’t shoot the ball…though they may have oodles of other basketball/athletic skills.

            What’s to not like about my theory. What do you prefer…? He’s just been cold for 14 games?

            I think his shot is improving because he’s adjusting to a more muscular frame….

            Anyone who apologized for a coach as basketball IQ challenged as our previous 9-year exhaustive affair (as many of you did) made yourselves terrible victims. You should have demanded more from your alma mater.

            Thanks, Rock. You seem to have understood. And no, I don’t see the same body in high school. He wasn’t frail…but he didn’t have definition and enormous pectoral muscles evident above. That’s new. That’s heavy upper body workouts in a weight room. I think it’s great that he put in that sort of time. Oladipo didn’t transform his body until he joined the Pacers(there are plenty of before and after pictures)…Maybe Romeo is using the same trainer? But good on Romeo for taking on the challenge to get LeBron(esque) muscle tone to get out of the gates fast in the NBA.

            My other main point: This article is a fine piece on Romeo. But our last concern is Romeo even if he wasn’t getting “better.” He’s realizing a vast amount of his potential…Archie needs more of the same out of the rest of his roster. We need our team to get better….with Romeo rather than simply because of Romeo.

          1. “He purposefully manipulates my statements”. Boohoo! JP to the rescue. Can anyone say ‘Victim’?

  7. Yeah, who are you to come in acting like “Father Knows Best”? H4h can certainly take care of himself, and Chet has often stated he agrees with Harv. And even if Chet does not sometimes agree with Harv, this site would be immeasurably worse without him and we all know that. “Wearisome” applies to only one pos(t)er in my opinion…….

    1. Sure, Harvey isn’t always wrong.

      Sometimes he is even insightful.

      Hoosier Clarion and I agree on very little but the obvious. We seem to co-exist. There is plenty of obvious.

      I have nothing against Harv. The Scoop isn’t exactly eaten up with content. The more the better.

  8. There is another theory…A step-back jumper/3-pointer allows you to gather your lower body and square the shoulders. It’s implemented while the ball is already in your hands for more than the nanosecond of cutting around screens, etc.

    Defenders are top talents in college ….You’re not getting as much time coming off screens so you may be releasing a bit faster than in high school(slower defenders). Your hips may not be squaring fast enough and you’re slightly off-balance.
    The step-back allows for getting space while staying squared up. Even the best strokes/forms need a lower body in sync with the upper.

  9. I think we can rest assured that our basketball team is getting plenty of iron in their diet.

    Is there a point of diminishing return? Could the weight training have effects on basketball players losing a bit of finesse that would not be as evident or as detrimental in a football player? Could it have an impact on free throw shooting? Can an athlete quickly adjust to added strength within the intricacies of fine tuning the components of a jump shot or release honed over the course of many, many years?
    It’s not that the strength and explosiveness won’t be paying great dividends down the road, but is there a varying slope with regard to finesse and muscle memory catching up to the added muscle mass? It’s easy to get caught up in body image…Getting ripped is the trend.
    Just think of how many more clutch buckets and bombs Bird could have drained if he would have been ripped.

  10. Harv! Are you referencing (the economist) David Ricardo (“food production becomes increasingly costly as population grows and forces recourse to less fertile (and more distant) soils” – the theory of diminishing returns)??????

    If so, recall that Ricardo discounted the role that innovation in agriculture was going to play (fertilizer enabling soils to be more productive).

    I hope I’m not being too opaque with my allegory (to put it clearly, I think players MUST develop their body in order to be on the floor effectively in College, and in order to be on the TEAM in the professional realm).

    1. I was referencing a bowling alley. As the ball is repeatedly returned to the bowler. pins diminish. But pins will also return to a point of successful diminishing to the 10th pin.
      Your brilliance confounds. Maybe I should have went with counterproductive returns….until the athlete’s intricate and honed skills adjust (I think I used “adjust” about 10 times above suggesting that fast and vast strength/added power is a necessary but also a potential bump in the road while finesse returns).

      The finesse is diminished/decreased until the added bulk, weight, power in the athlete sets the new level of optimal intersect points for skills, movement, finesse to adjust to the newly carved athlete/body/mind. But is there a confusion point? Is there different intersect point for each athlete unique to his/her comforts of strength/mass meets optimal points of finesse vs. power? Is there a point when accelerated body change is challenged to maintain finesse and freedom of movement within a time frame needed to adjust?

    2. But will the use of excess fertilizer contribute to greenhouse gasses which push climate change detrimental to crop production? Is there a point any innovation is “diminished” under the confines of a variable not limitless in its size or manipulation(e.g. the earth)?

      But your brilliance still confounds….and your vocab abounds.
      Harv’s ‘rope-a-dope’ shall only endure blistering opaque punches for so many rounds.
      Foreman had the muscles and the mass…Ali finessed George into a robotic weak mess.
      Painted his canvas with trickery and finesse.
      Soon Foreman’s face stamped and stunned. His biceps massive now like jello.
      And to rest his time in this battle history as the final bell sounds.
      Foreman’s Goliath frame in pools of sweat and humiliation in thy 8th round finally drowns.

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