Miller believes IU has rediscovered its confidence

Archie Miller’s feet were in February, but his mind was in December.

Sitting inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall after Indiana’s 75-73 double-overtime win over No. 19 Wisconsin on Tuesday, the IU coach was in a reflective mood. So he conjured up better days, and how the team he just watched grind its way through a narrow conference victory reminded him of the squad he saw so often during the first two months of the season.

Through Miller’s eyes, the similarities were distinct. There was a solid and tenacious approach to defense, an offense just good enough to get by and an overall willingness to weather runs and rise to the moment, even amid the chaos.

“It was great to see that we didn’t lay an egg,” Miller said.

Since a lopsided and concerning loss at Minnesota on Feb. 16, the Hoosiers have played with vigor, approaching their late-season slate with hopes of salvaging something from the mess they created during an awful run through the Big Ten schedule.

Although Indiana is — and will remain — a clearly flawed and imperfect team, the Hoosiers seem to have rediscovered one of the most important qualities of all.

Their confidence.

“They’re using their energy level and their effort to give them confidence, which is what we had at one point in the season,” Miller said. “We weren’t always perfect on offense, and we weren’t shooting the ball well, but the one thing we had is we had a confidence about us that we can compete and we can play hard and we can defend, and we’re doing that again.”

It all may be too little, too late for an IU team that is only a few days removed from snapping out of a skid that produced 12 losses in 13 games.

Miller’s second season in charge, even when viewed through the lens of a rebuilding project, has been a significant disappointment up to this point, and the Hoosiers could very well see Romeo Langford, one of the most productive freshmen players in program history, leave school after one season and zero NCAA Tournament games.

But there are still three regular season games left to play and a future to build toward. And at least during the past week, the Hoosiers have appeared eager to make the most of what’s left of their season.

“It’s hard,” Miller said. “Negativity, losing, all that stuff isn’t fun. But I think our guys have taken a pretty good approach. We’re coming down the homestretch. We only have so many opportunities to practice right now. Can you utilize your practice and have a great day competing? When you leave the gym as a player or a coach right now, do you feel like your team is struggling? I think we’re playing harder. We’re more committed to the process again.

“I think just in general you’re starting to see the team sort of resemble itself a little bit just in terms of how you can muddy things up, (and) how you can play hard when things aren’t going well. I think, once you get that going, hopefully your defense-to-offense can create some things for you. You can get some easy ones, which we did at times (on Tuesday), and that’s the thing you hope for.”

Two months ago, Indiana approached the second leg of the Big Ten season looking like a team capable of winning the close games this conference so often produces.

Entering January, Indiana was 4-1 in games decided by a single possession. Overall, each of the Hoosiers’ last seven wins against high-major competition have comebacks from two-possession deficits.

Last week’s games against Purdue (48-46 loss) and Iowa (76-70 overtime loss) developed similarly to so many inside of Indiana’s season, with the Hoosiers positioned to steal a win late in each contest.

On Tuesday, that elusive victory arrived. Miller’s hope now is that such a familiar kind of win can help the Hoosiers develop momentum once again.

“Our attitude is good right now,” Miller said. “I don’t leave practice saying these guys aren’t all there right now. That’s not the case. We stay with that. We have more opportunities down the line here to see if we can’t get a couple more.”

24 comments

  1. You know it’s been a really tough season when the head coach’s comment about getting a win is, “It was great to see that we didn’t lay an egg!”

    Ouch!

  2. For most of the season, when they face any kind of adversity, they crumble. They have proven they have skill-they destroyed Marquette at home and won against MSU on the road. They haven’t consistently done it and overall effort has been pretty much $hit all year. Good teams find a way to win. Conversely, bad teams don’t. They had enough talent to finish in the top 6 of the league (even with injuries). This isn’t like Crean’s first 2 seasons. Even those teams played with heart. I can’t even finish most of the games because of poor effort and poor attitude of this team. I sick of most of the posters making excuses for this team. They are soft, spoiled losers. Is that clear enough for you?

    1. Chet,
      Would like to dismantle this logic first or should we wait patiently in line for others who are more than likely to step in?

      1. Well it looks like I’ll have to be impatient JH and explain life to you.

        Point 1 – You say this team is talented enough to finish in the top 6 of B1G. To a team which cannot shoot any better than this team has talent is either ignorant or disingenuous, take your pick. The team does have talent, but overall it is not a talented team. Certainly not enough to be in the top 6 of the B1G.

        Point 2 – By your logic I guess Hoosier National has been lamenting the last 44 years about the end of the 1975 season. Certainly one injury should not have kept a team with so much talent from winning a national title. Most consider the ’75 team to have been much more talented than the ’76 team due to the presence of Steve Green and John Laskowski.

        Point 3 – Please tell me of any team at the stage of the game rebuilding team talent which could have afforded the loss of JH for the entire season, RT for most of the season, DD, RP & ZM for significant portions of the season, and fared any better? Outside of JM & DD, AM inherited nothing from TC. Even with as good a game as he is having today JS has been marginal at best as well as AD & DG. AM had no choice but to salvage the recruiting of JS, AD, & CM and there has been very little production from the last of those 3. Besides that look at what the loss of one player has done to a team built to contend for a championship, stocked full of 5*s and a HOF coach, temporarily at Duke (Depending on whether or not Zion decides to return this year) .

        So I ask what should I call this drivel you have put out? Should I call it for what it is?

        1. Omitted the word say as in. “To “say” a team which cannot shoot any better than this team has talent . . .”

    2. Crean’s Decade:

      Individual effort? Yes..but often inconsistent.
      Team defense effort? Often terrible.
      Basketball IQ? Not so much outside of the Indiana kids (Zeller, Yogi, Hulls, Elston, Hartman).
      Talent? Some pivotal/”everything hinges” recruits responsible for most success. Athletes? Yes, but the remainder of rosters either very raw or high potential/”upside.” Rarely matured/refined skills upon arrival. Usually took 2-3 years if it was going to happen.

      Archie’s Second Season…?
      Heart of the season hampered/stymied by major absence of only viable point guard.
      Left with the Crean recruits not of matured/refined skills or high basketball IQ. He has improved their overall defensive awareness but the offensive games are still rough around the edges.
      Lack of inside dominance. Toughest skilled positions to lock down in terms of recruiting. Simply landing a top inside player can drastically change hopes/momentum(e.g. Zeller).
      Romeo? Simply not enough ‘refined’ talent around him. Not enough recruiting cycles to really create the match-up problems or complementary pieces to exploit a defense(another perimeter threat and the ‘key’ big with array of skills).

  3. Listen to Don Fischer’s interview on Dackich radio show. Fischer sums it up better than anyone. It is a great breakdown of IU basketball. It Is a good listen.

  4. You are just so smart aren’t you. I guess no one can have opinion except you and Chet. You arrogant assholes

  5. Oh wait. Think about it’s shift about to start at Taco Bell. Chet just made Assustant Managet

    1. What is a managet? Does it have anything to do with an assustant?

      I believe the Hoosiers already responded for me.

      1. You know Chet, there is a reason why we ought to avoid cow pastures. Don’t know about you but I’d recommend we both just let it lay.

  6. In all the years of been around here, I don’t think I’ve seen a commenter get owned as thoroughly a Jeff H just owned himself.

    I didn’t know it was cool to call other commenters a-holes. Hmmmm. Goodbye Jeff. Enjoy your hiatus.

  7. I apologize to all employees of Taco Bell. I don’t wish it upon anyone to work with Chet or Think about it.

    1. Goodbye Jeff. When the dust settles and the columns get written, you’ll see how easy it is for your IP to get placed on hold.

      We’ll welcome you back if you go and decide you can have a conversation without calling people a-holes.

      Granted, we can write all your comments for you. I created an auto generator:

      “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh….”

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