IU unsure if Langford will be back

Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford share a hotel room when Indiana travels.

Last Friday morning, as the Hoosiers prepared to check out of their downtown Chicago accommodations following a one-and-done trip to the Big Ten Tournament, Morgan sensed something was wrong with his teammate.

“When he tried to get up when we were leaving, I could just hear him grunting and stuff,” Morgan said.

The reason? A back injury suffered a day earlier in IU’s loss to Ohio State had become an issue Langford couldn’t shake. It apparently was still a problem once the Hoosiers returned to Bloomington, and in the five days between the Big Ten Tournament and Tuesday’s NIT opener against St. Francis, Langford didn’t practice once.

Whether he returns for Saturday’s noon tipoff against Arkansas at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall — or ever dons an Indiana jersey again — is not clear. The Hoosiers are hopeful that their leading scorer will be able and willing to return to the court at some point this postseason.

But right now, it’s no sure thing.

“Romeo would like to come back,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “There are short turnarounds right here with these games, so I don’t necessarily know if one day is going to make a lot of difference for him. Maybe it takes us into that second week. But hopefully he starts to feel a little better (and) he can start to move.”

Even with a sore back, it’s fair to wonder if there’s more at play with Langford’s absence. He’s projected as a lottery pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, and with these NIT contests short on meaning, it could be wise for Langford to protect himself from further injury risk.

After Indiana’s 89-72 win over St. Francis, Miller shot down the idea that Langford was saving himself for the next level. Miller went so far as to say that had IU been in the NCAA Tournament, and not the NIT, Langford still wouldn’t have played on Tuesday.

“He wants to be out there and play,” Miller said. “He’s very uncomfortable with the alignment, or whatever is going on with him which popped (or) sort of spasmed out on him during the Ohio State game. We’re hopeful we can get him back.”

In the meantime, Indiana carried on without Langford’s scoring touch on Tuesday, leaning on Juwan Morgan’s 28 points, along with the steady contributions from across its backcourt.

Al Durham poured in a career-high 22 points, marking only his second time scoring in double figures since Feb. 16. Not only did he tie his personal best with three made 3-pointers, but Durham connected on six of his eight shots inside the arc and made a noticeable effort to get to the rim.

Devonte Green also gave IU a jolt in the first half, drilling a pair of 3s and posting a team-high nine points, 12 overall. Rob Phinisee also played 29 minutes with only one turnover.

“I thought all of our perimeter guys, from an offensive standpoint, did a pretty good job,” Miller said. “Al in the second half, Rob and Devonte, I thought, drove the ball much more than they did in the first half. Devonte pops in another six assists, Rob has four to one, so you get ten (assists) to three (turnovers) from those two guys; that’s a good sign.”

As the intensity turns up in the latter rounds of the NIT, and the level of competition increases, too, Indiana would also do well to see its most talented player on the floor.

Will the time off before Saturday’s second-round matchup with Arkansas allow Langford enough time to rest and heal? That remains to be seen.

If the Hoosiers win that contest, they’d advance to a quarterfinals matchup, which would be held on either March 26 or 27. Might that be enough time?

As Indiana continues with the postseason, it will hope that an extended run through the bracket might provide Langford with a chance to return.

“He’s definitely getting better,” Morgan said. “He’s been doing all the things we have to do, as far as treatment goes. When he gets better, we’ll have him back.”

37 comments

  1. Let the decision makers involved with Romeo call the shots, he played more minutes than any other I U player this season and has already played minutes being banged up this season already. Speculation about another person’s motives, reasons of playing or not playing in an also ran NIT tournament game is totally off base. Romeo gave IU and it’s, fans a big boost by signing to play for IU, for which I am a happy IU fan.

    1. I knew we belonged in the tournament ahead of St. Johns. All politics in the Selection room. St. Johns is getting destroyed by a team from the weak Pac 12. Hurley and Mullins…All Establishment politics. Arizona St. lost to Vanderbilt for god’s sake.

      Langford doesn’t want to leave IU being known as Ro-meow. In like a lion…Out like a kitten. Sort of the way our season went.

    1. You do not have to even go to college to be eligible for the NBA draft. You just can’t sign right out of high school.

  2. T: its a possibility given the fact that he has been resting his back for a week. The NBA season is 80+ games and between now and draft he will have skills evaluation for 60 invitees that he will work on his skills.

  3. My point is lingering back pain problems temporary or long term or how durable is Langford even if he is drafted for future ability. To what extent does risk go up?

  4. Beat OSU & I bet he would be playing….in the big show. Frankly, I’d prefer to play kids who want to play anyway, for the right reasons. Plug Jager in, for example.

  5. Just so you know, have a few folks close the program. RL can hardly bend over and tie his shoes right now.

    The internet sucks.

  6. For those of you who have not experienced a back injury (I am 2 surgeries in), even a strain, you cannot do normal activities with such an injury. You certainly cannot play basketball with, for instance, a lumbar strain. You can’t even fake it.

    That is, statistically, the most likely injury. If so, he should heal just fine but it is a terribly painful injury. If that is what he is dealing with and he plays we should all applaud him. I can’t imagine.

    I had a lumbar strain when I was about 30. I could barely breathe. It was far from the worst injury I have encountered but it was horribly painful.

    1. Chet you are absolutely correct.

      This is also why I was not too happy with those who criticized Zach’s play being off this year. Unless one has encountered back problems themselves, there is no way you can understand how badly it will effect everything you do. It is not just a mere ache or pain, it can be debilitating beyond the words to describe it. I just hope both Romeo and Zach’s back injuries do not lead to chronic conditions because it gets worse as we age.

  7. It says a lot about Zach to even finish out the season. Some entrepreneur somewhere better hire him. He’s got the makins.

  8. Just saw that state of Indiana basketball genius Bryce Drew is back on the market. The establishment wouldn’t let him win a single conference game.

    1. His brother must be the genius…He just defeated Syracuse. Hmm? Syracuse? Why does that name ring a bell? Must be a bell in a different timezone….lol.

      There’s good brother coach…and bad brother coach.
      You’ve got your Scott …and then you’ve got your baby brother, Bryce.
      You’ve got your Sean….and then you’ve got your baby brother, ? uh-oh.

      Establishment? You need to consult Goeff in Maine and ask how that new Celtics coach is working out. I think we was mentored by Chris Mullins…..lol

      So much for those great Quad 1 wins against Marquette and Louisville. Minny slaps Louisville around….Murray St. destroys Marquette. But then again, what would Murray St. be without Morant? Probably about the same as Vanderbilt without Garland…or Indiana without Romeo.

      Wonder if Duke or MSU fans compare how great their basketball programs compared to that old basketball powerhouse of prestige and tradition known as Vanderbilt? How do you know your program has hit rock bottom? When Crean apologists go out in the schoolyard and push around a Ball State…or a Loyola…or a Vanderbilt. This is our new measure of flexing our strong backs. We go after longtime power conference teams with huge enrollments and storied basketball traditions…My god….You people have become Purdue. Take a cold shower and dry yourself off with a BigTen Title towel….

      1. I love how Harvey will write a novel, or a series of novellas, in order to say that others are spending too much time on a topic.

      2. I just heard Bryce has already been named the new head coach of Bowling Green’s bowling team. He’s in negotiations with Mitch McGary to take the assistant bowler position. Details are coming in rather sparingly….while they work to strike a deal.
        Harvey “The 10th” Frame of Chesterton, Indiana has been named the new equipment manager. He’s been called a perfect ‘gutter man’ for Drew and Mitch. He’ll be splitting his duties between buffing balls and airing out the team ball bags. A father figure of sorts to all who love the lanes less traveled, he brings over 20 years experience hanging out in Chesterton’s most famous alleys. This story will be updated.

        1. You’ve just been given a lesson in self-depreciating humor….Try it, you may like it. My guess is that you’ll throw more gutter balls, but what is the worst that can happen? Strain your back while taking your shoe size too seriously? Step away carefully before you try it…Your mighty size upon the earth forgot the delicate anthills now ready to collapse below you.

      3. IU whipped L’Ville. Minny devastated IU. What’s hard to understand about the Gophers tournament W vs Louisville, answer; nothing, for all of us -1.

  9. …and just like that the Vanderbilt basketball dynasty ends before it started…

    I said they would not compete for a conference title but to go winless using the excuse you are down one player is pretty pathetic. In the 5 games he played Garland was averaging more turnovers than assists.

    Vandy fans would probably be pretty thrilled to be playing in the NIT.

    1. I don’t know …nor care what Garland was averaging. He’s been absent the Vanderbilt lineup for the near entirety of the season but I suppose he’s foolishly projected to be a Top-10 ….by the same “geniuses” placing Romeo somewhere around the same.
      Drew should have just called Adidas or some Louisville hookers…and maybe he lands more than the unemployment line.

  10. Yeah, like we would compete for a conference title against UK or Tennessee….Hell, we’ve become such chicken sh___s we won’t even get near the historic border rivalry game against UK.

    We secured one of the most coveted recruits from the state of Indiana. They lined up for blocks at New Albany High School gym just to watch him say “Indiana.” Now he sits on the bench while we doodle around in a Bloomington NIT game……But let’s pick on Vanderbilt for being losers…or maybe we should kick Tiny Tim in the groin for having polio. Good Lord, to think the candy stripes…and fans of the candy stripes used to mean fearlessness in picking on someone your own size. I guess if you’ve become 5′-8″ and need a step stool to touch your banners….you tend to look for nice stories from small places to hurl your big spit.

  11. For those of you who have not experienced a paper cut (I am 2 paper cuts in), even a tiny paper cut, you cannot do normal activities with such an injury. You certainly cannot play basketball with, for instance, a thumb paper cut. You can’t even fake it. Signing an NBA contract is nearly impossible.

    That is, statistically, the most likely injury. If so, he should heal just fine but it is a terribly painful injury. If that is what he is dealing with and he plays we should all applaud him. I can’t imagine.

    I had a paper cut when I was about 30. I could barely breathe. It was far from the worst injury I have encountered(blogging hemorrhoids or a torn hangnail being far worse) but it was horribly painful.

  12. You know it’s a bad day when the “Recent Comments” window shows that all the comments are by Harvard.

    1. Speaking of no ability at self-deprecating humor, there goes another member of the snidely AARP drive-by club now.
      What is this, Irritable Bowel Syndrome Day?

  13. Here’s what is nonsense….Thinking not having a guy who is projected to go top 6 or top 7 in the NBA on a team like Vanderbilt wouldn’t have a devastating effect on a season.
    We barely won a game without Rob Phinisee in our starting rotation for god’s sake…and this is a massive university with massive recruiting potential and basketball lore/tradition. We lost12 of 13…I mean, it’s really not that different than Vanderbilt other than we GOT PHINISEE BACK. Without Phinisee, it’s my guess the losing would have continued. Yes, there are guys that important to even relatively good teams.

    And what’s the greatest nonsense of all is the fact Romeo had Vanderbilt on his final narrowed list. Why was Vanderbilt even on his list? You guessed it: Darius Garland.

    I’m sure Byrce Drew would have equaled our fabulous stretch and won 1 of 13 games with Romeo and Darius.

    Vanderbilt commit Darius Garland, who is the top-ranked point guard in the 2018 class, is good friends with Langford and sat behind him during Saturday’s contest.

  14. Is the irritable bowel syndrome back?

    Just wait until football season. You’ll have irritable bowel with Irritable Bowl Syndrome.

  15. You really need to take something for that….Sounds like you may have a bowling ball obstructing the bowel.

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