Moore ready when called upon

Juwan Morgan likes to tell a story.

It’s his own personal journey; the tale of how he went from a little-used bench player early in his freshman season to one of Indiana’s most important reserves by the end of that 2015-16 Big Ten championship campaign.

The transformation took hold because Morgan bought in to his own development, preparing himself to contribute when called upon.

“I didn’t play much, but whenever I got in, you have to be ready,” Morgan said. “You have to be ready to make the big play, regardless of what that is.”

Morgan tells that story now, hoping it resonates with his younger teammates.

Players such as Clifton Moore.

The sophomore forward is still trying to carve a consistent role inside IU’s rotation, building trust with his coaches all the while. For Moore, Monday seemed to be another positive step toward doing so.

Moore supplied Indiana with energy through his spirited play on the offensive end late in the first half of IU’s eventual 66-51 loss to Nebraska. As IU continues to search for more regular contributions from its bench, Moore’s effort was one of the few bright spots inside of an otherwise frustrating night against the Cornhuskers.

“Cliff got in and gave us some really good minutes, and I think he’s just really come along, just as a defender, as a rebounder, and just being confident in himself,” Morgan said. “I think you saw a little bit of it (Monday night).”

Moore gave IU five mostly good minutes off the bench, finishing as the only Hoosier with a positive plus-minus. Indiana outscored Nebraska by seven points when Moore was on the floor during the first half.

Moore, who scored five points and grabbed three rebounds, finished plus-four on the night. His drive to the rim with 1:55 left in the first half drew some of the loudest cheers of the night, and he punctuated that effort with a chest-bump with classmate Justin Smith.

Playing Moore only five minutes seemed to be one of the areas where Indiana coach Archie Miller erred on Monday. On a night when Miller’s team lacked overall energy and toughness, Moore was one of the few Hoosiers who looked eager to contribute.

IU could have used more of that.

“We probably gotta continue to work that front court depth,” Miller said. “With De’Ron (Davis) not being able to really go right now, we’re sort of searching, and I thought Cliff did a pretty good job when he was in there. He’s got to rebound the ball, but he had a couple good plays in there, and I think as things stand right now, we’re going to have to continue to kind of fire guys in there and see what they can do. Cliff gave us a pretty good spark in the first half.”

It’s not the first time Moore has done so.

Moore energized IU during a cameo in the Hoosiers’ Dec. 4 win at Penn State, where the 6-foot-10 forward scored three points, grabbed four rebounds and posted a block and a steal in five minutes.

Turning that short-shift production into a larger role is the next step for Moore. But before he gets there, the sophomore needs to patch the holes in his game, particularly on the defensive end.

Moore has been a defensive liability at times, such as during the final minute of Monday’s first half. After IU cut its deficit to six points in the waning moments of the period, Moore lost his man, Huskers forward Isaac Copeland, atop the key. When Moore came off, Copeland drained an open 3-pointer to put Nebraska up by nine with 40 seconds remaining.

“He’s where we’re at right now,” Miller said.

Moore is still trying to find his way on the defensive end, and until he does, his role is likely to remain somewhat limited. Yet, Moore is also a young player making strides toward proving himself when called upon.

Being ready for those moments will go a long way toward making sure more opportunities come his way.

“I think, going forward, he’s going to be huge for us,” Morgan said.

32 comments

  1. Moore may still have holes in his game, but, in my opinion, he is a better option over Fitzner and McRoberts. I believe he and Forrester should be getting those minutes on the court. In the short run it won’t hurt anything but will give players with a future on the team next year valuable playing time. Again, just my opinion.

  2. There are only 3 players (RP except for injury) ready and good enough when called upon. and not a couple other bigs are good enough or ready nor another gaurd nor another wing. IU is down to 3 players good enough and ready and that is when RP recovers.

  3. You’re right, t. There should have been a fourth.
    Justin Smith should be ashamed of how little he improved his game over last year. If not ashamed…If he truly tried to get better, then my bad…and he should be advised to join a track & field team. He’d likely already win many meets at high jump…..His multiple Fosbury Flops would be welcomed far more than the one giant flop up to this point on the Hoosier basketball team.

  4. I think a lot of people are still losing site that this team still has quite a few of Crean’s players that really don’t fit into CAM’s system. He is trying to use them but they just aren’t what he needs nor wants. I think that frustrates Archie to a degree. He may be losing some of the guys, but I would bet those are Crean’s guys.

  5. Except for three players the talent is not there. There are major level bigs. I don’t count JM as a big. JM and Langford and RP need a couple of excellent bigs to play with.

  6. Skim milk has more cream than we’ve had ‘major level bigs’ over the last decade (outside of Mr. Everything Hinges).

    The state of Indiana has produced dozens of high level bigs over the last couple decades….Nearly all went elsewhere. Many to Duke and UNC. Some to OSU…and UK. Some to Michigan and MSU. Many to Butler and Purdue too. Butler doesn’t have their Final Four runs without Matt Howard….The dude was the perfect college big. Savvy..Relentless on the boards….and fundamentally sound; a machine providing the rock in allowing the other flashy future NBAers to shine and exploit (Hayward, Mack).

  7. I agree. If you want to be elite the recipe is not going all over the country to fight for a 3 star or low 4 star big (sometimes not even that) and then schedule enough cupcakes to win games and making out like those cupcakes were such great teams as in a pharmaceutical sales (use to be used car sales job or maybe Florida swamp land sales job) job before your season gets competitive and eventually falls apart. Plus those bigs becoming frustrated and a lot of the team follows forgetting about college ball focus thus becoming a farm school for underdog players trying to make it to the NBA or alternatively Europe. Then, it didn’t take long after Syracuse game ( IU was struggling toward end of that season after being scouted and lack of development) after Z and company for high level bigs didn’t want to come to the TC IU program.

  8. AM will have to get some high level bigs or IU will continue playing with a handicap against the really good teams (currently, it doesn’t have to be that good of a team). IU gets physically beat up not just with injuries but by play execution. Yes, Jackson Davis 6’8” or 6’9” next year. Great and Cathedral around 6’4” with good frame, however IU loses JW. So some more high level physical bigs needed. Duke, MSU, Michigan, Kansas, Kentucky…..

  9. Yes t, and how is Archie going to recruit the best bigs in the country going against Duke, MSU, KS, MI, AZ and KY? That’s the point! Archie has proven he’s a good recruiter, but he’s not considered an elite coach just yet and IU has not been amongst the elite basketball programs for decades. There may be six to eight really good bigs coming out of HS each year. How does IU get those top bigs to sign over the coaches and teams recognized as elite?

    Not having an effective big and not being a good 3-point shooting team puts IU at a huge disadvantage, and there’s only so far a good defense can carry a team. Archie’s going to have to recruit either very good 3-point shooters or a very good big man. Hopefully he’ll recruit both. But this year’s roster has neither and I’m not seeing any on the list of recruiting targets in the next two years. Otherwise Archie’s going to have to recruit guys that he believes can be developed into becoming stars (like VO).

    1. Would Thomas Bryant be a senior this year(along with Anunoby)…?

      How would you like Bryant, Morgan, Anunoby, Romeo and Phinisee?

      Recruiting quality players isn’t the issue…Finding any who want to experience championships over gazillions in cash is the challenge. We never were a wholesale house for shelves of McDonald’s All-Americans. We get the great talents sporadically and most don’t stay beyond two seasons.

      We’ll have some chances as a longshot with a far better coach. This season is still young….You just never know how things can gel with a couple upsets and a good dose of confidence.

  10. bterry61, I agree with your comments posted above. And I think Archie deserves criticism for not playing Moore longer in against NE. We may have found one of Archie’s blind spots this week. I mean, during five minutes in one game, Moore scored more points than McRoberts has scored in two months, if not all season. McRoberts hustles, plays good defense and does a good job on many little things, but he’s a liability on the offensive end of the floor. He appears to have anxiety attacks every time he considers attempting a shot. Other teams know this and therefore can focus on IU’s other four players while on defense. I assume Moore can be motivated to do all the same little things while working hard on defense, so why not give him 10-12 minutes in a game that was a lost cause almost from the start?

    1. Strange, every time I see McRoberts with the ball in his hands there is an opponent guarding him.

  11. something that is hard to believe IU has never won the big ten tournament. If AM cannot recruit like I stated IU is going to be the likes of Illinois or Nebraska who currently leads the series. Who would have thought??? AM has to recruit 3 point shooters along with bigs, wings, ball handlers, and they have to be players that can be taught defense and have loyalty, pride, love for IU, team and self. That is what elite is. That’s what BK did when he got to IU and it didn’t take long. That’s what you see in Duke etc. If AM cannot do this then IU will be just another Illinois and in a few years AM will take his money from a lucrative contract and go elsewhere. Then, a new coach of glitz and glamor promises will sign another lucrative contract.

  12. Moore, Smith, Durham were Crean recruits Green, Morgan, Davis, also Crean’s, Langford, Anderson,Forrester, RP,Fitzner, Hunter and Thompson are AM recruits, with Hunter and Thompson outwith injuries it will take CM one to two years to have his roster in place, if the results don’t come around, these always a Steve Alford for some of you to think about. With Romeo coming to IU, this season’s expectations were placed sky high by the fans, the injuries this year the expectations aren’t coming true for the. I U fans. I watch the games in person and can”t turn the game off.

  13. It’s amazing Smith had offers from Villanova, Wisconsin, Xavier….He’s not playing well enough to be worthy an Ivy Tech offer.
    He mentioned he chose IU because of academics being important….Hope he’s taking that seriously because his basketball career is going nowhere fast.

    1. H, your basketball analytical skills are non existent! Justin has played well in our wins and well defensively in all of our tough games. His improvement from last season is undeniable. Yes I would like for him to up his ppg from 8 to 12 and his rebounds from 3.5 to 6. But he is working hard!

      1. I’m not suggesting mine is the word of God…It’s my opinion. I’ll leave yours to be ‘the undeniable’…and ‘the irrefutable’ word as your posture always suggests.

        I’m not seeing offensive improvement. And he gets lost a lot of time in help defense and on backcuts(some of that is probably coaching).

        He is an extremely strong rebounder …where his 48″ vertical surely helps some. Though I have seen guys with 12″ verticals have a great nose for the ball and supreme skills at boxing out an opponent.

        I’m just trying to light a fire under Justin…as if in some fantasy world of anyone caring what I think on the Indiana basketball team. Same as you, Mr. Word….Same as you.

  14. Check out Don Fischer’s basketball magazine for the players academic majors Smith is listed as a business major, compare his major with the other players majors, other than McRoberts,

  15. I don’t think we have 3 very talented players, just 2. But Purdue has only ONE very talented player (#3), unless that Freshman Center continues his amazing progress. And it’s AT Purdue…..

    1. I wouldn’t have talked so much about Smith if I didn’t like him….Tons of great ballers from Chicagoland. I continually referred to him as the ‘X-factor’ for this team early in the season and a key lightning bolt of potential to make us truly dangerous in terms of matching up against us.

      My disappointment is because I just expected more evolution in his game over last season. I expected it on behalf of his own effort and on behalf of a full slate of coaches who could work with his inside game. He has balance issues and footwork issues when he gets in traffic. He needs to take his time and not force himself into poor positioning deep under the cylinder.
      He works better from 5 feet outside the paint. He was known as also being quite the perimeter threat in high school. We haven’t seen much of that “threat.” So…..so…so much potential. I only hope that is someday realized….Someday this season would be nice. Maybe a breakthrough game is in the making. I thought it was going to arrive sooner.

      Who is going to stop Carsen Edwards? Can Phinisee stay with him?

      Could be a long afternoon if Mackey’s pet zebras with whistles get Morgan in early foul trouble.

    2. Top anagram for ‘AT Purdue’…?
      Rat due up.

      Phinisee going back to his backyard in West Lafayette-to-have-a-banner…? Purdue fans will change his name to a dog named Boo.

      RP is a very talented player….He was stymied of his momentum by the concussion. He’s got enough time to get his confidence back for the stretch run. No freshman I’ve seen in years plays the point guard with his composure.

  16. I really like Smith. He is becoming the kinda player we talk about. A talented player who will be here 4 years honing his skills vs. 1 and gone. Each season contributing more.

  17. I like Smith too! Western Suburbs of Chicago…that’s where I’m from! Gotta love it. I’d like to see him improve a little and hope he will.

    Still, he’s most certainly not a ‘very talented player’ THIS year….

    Phinisee is from West Lafayette, of course. Should be an amazing atmosphere in Mackey Arena on Keady Court this Saturday!!!!!!

  18. And let’s be brutally honest ….as we all sit at our computers or with our phones/devices. “Very talented” is quite the relative term/phrase.

    Compared to Romeo Langford, a lot of guys’ complete games look rather stunted. But to play Division One basketball, or make the cut to merely possess a spot on the bench at any BigTen school, requires “very” high levels of talent at the game. It’s a talent possessed by the most minute fraction of the basketball playing population.
    I think what our roster lacks are a couple very “specifically” talented players…We lack a consistent ‘lights out’ perimeter shooter. We lack another narrowly defined and specifically designed talented post player to complement/support Juwan.

    You can have NBA talent on a roster ….You can have tons of it…as many UK
    rosters have possessed over the last decade. How many championships have they won with all the “very talented” phenoms and lottery picks? It’s specific and situational talent(shooter, clutch performers, workhorses, guts and grit and glory performers , fundamentally sound ‘college only’ studs) intermixed into your singular(or paired) superstars providing the true rare ingredients to banners.
    Alford was never going to be a pro? Was he very talented? Moye was never going to be a pro. Do we get to a Final Four without his guts and heart…and his talent? Abernathy? John Ritter of Goshen, IN on the ’73 team? The names go on…and on….and on. Very talented compared to Romeo’s complete game? No. Specifically talented and full of moxie, savvy, heart and composure while still being far and above the skills of 99.9 % of high school varsity seniors from the entire state? Yes.

  19. Romeo is perfect for the NBA…He’ll only get better with time and development. He’ll have all the resources in the world to hone every skill to even higher dimensions. He is a truly great ‘overall’ talent right now.

    But does he have unmatched specific talent? Is he an unmatched outside shooter? Is he a passer on the level of Larry Bird? Does he have an unstoppable turnaround jumper? What is his best specific talent in the game…right now? Is it his baseline move to the rim? Is there no room for improvement within those specific talents? He’s got it all….but “all” is as relative a term …as “very talented.” All includes an awfully(all fully?) lot. When it comes to a team, some parts of ‘all’ can be better served by guys with very specific complementary talents.

  20. Phin, Langford and Morgan are “very talented” players. I see Smith as having the potential to become one. But that does not make up for this roster’s deficiencies, which are outside shooting ability and their lack of size/length in the paint.

    Based on recent results, I’m thinking this roster might win 20 games this season, at best. Going to be a tough slog the rest of the way.

    1. I agree with Podunker….What? Wait. I don’t want to agree with Podunker.

      I must find someplace to disagree. We’ll win more than 20 games.
      I fear we’ll fail to get into the NCAA tournament….But if we somehow sneak into the tournament as a “bubble” team, we’ll enjoy the surprising results. I believe Archie will shine most as a tournament coach. He’ll overachieve …and get teams barely ranked to deeper runs. He’ll have his teams prepared and playing at their highest levels in March rather than on the skids as we witnessed with many of the “highly ranked” and “outright” conference warriors under the last regime.
      Archie is made for March Madness…..

  21. I don’t agree with either Podunker or H4h on this one. Phinisee is not of the caliber at present…maybe in 2 years..but now he’s not a factor of production. Oops, have I made a prediction??

  22. I would concur with that opinion if he had not missed four games and has really not been himself for the last two. What I saw before the injury/concussion was a very skilled probing-style point guard…and one who was not afraid to take the ball to the rim …and take/make big shots.

    And I’ll take a healthy Phinisee running this team over any alternative on the roster…Romeo is better than sliced bread, but he’s not built to run the team…nor is Green.
    We’re probably not going to the postseason…but we’re not going there a lot faster without Phinisee.

  23. Wow…Aaron Henry on MSU is incredible. There’s another Indiana top recruit missed. I think you would judge him as “very talented,” Rock.

  24. Indianapolis, and yes, he had a very good game last night. Nebraska is for real, but Michigan State has many strong players.

Comments are closed.