With guards out, forwards in spotlight vs. Gannon

One of the biggest positives Indiana coach Archie Miller took from a closed scrimmage with Marquette was the potential depth of his team, when healthy.

“When” isn’t exactly now, though.

As the Hoosiers head into Tuesday’s 7 p.m. exhibition with Gannon, guards Devonte Green and Rob Phinisee, who sat out the Marquette contest, are both sidelined with injuries.

Green, a senior co-captain, is dealing with a hamstring issue. Miller said Phinisee’s injury is related to his lower abdomen.

“We want to make sure we’re putting him in a situation where he’s confident,” Miller said of Green. “Rob really hasn’t been a part of anything that we’ve done here in October. To ask him to play tomorrow night would be sort of, I would think, unfair a little bit.”

That weakens the Hoosier backcourt significantly, especially since junior Al Durham is also dealing with a “ticky-tack” injury suffered in the Marquette scrimmage. Durham didn’t play the last nine minutes of a 72-69 defeat to the Golden Eagles.

That’s where freshman Armaan Franklin has stepped up. The Indianapolis Cathedral alum was IU’s only true guard down the stretch versus Marquette, finishing with 14 points. He could continue to play a big role early for the Hoosiers.

“He’s dealt with his own ankle and some illness here early, but he is doing a good job,” Miller said. “He’s ahead of schedule in terms of his learning curve. He’s a smart guy. He’s very coachable.”

Miller has talked about playing “big” at times this season, and, without Green and Phinisee, the exhibition may be his first chance to do so. If Durham plays the point, Damezi Anderson and Jerome Hunter, both 6-foot-7, could play alongside him at the two spot.

IU’s posts will also have to play a role in compensating for the backcourt’s injury bug.

“I feel like we got to continue to do what the coach is preaching, and that’s run the floor hard on both ends,” forward De’Ron Davis said. “With some of our players being down, our backcourt players, we need to, as frontcourt players, put pressure on the defense in the middle of the paint.”

Davis, sitting right next to Joey Brunk, a grad transfer from Butler, pointed to the Hoosiers’ renewed depth at the forward spot.

Just in practice, the 6-foot-10 senior from Colorado relishes having a 6-11 redshirt junior to work against.

“Even though J-Mo (Juwan Morgan) was an outstanding post defender, he was still shorter than me. So if I got to a spot, I could just shoot over him,” Davis said. “With Joey, I need to pick and choose what I need to do around the rim and pick and choose my moves.”

On the other end, Davis said Brunk went at him with a “running skyhook” in a recent practice.

“I was like, ‘Whoa,'” he added. “You can’t block that.'” 

Beyond Brunk and Davis, players like Trayce Jackson-Davis (6-9), Race Thompson (6-8), Justin Smith (6-7), Hunter, and Anderson should give Miller his pick of players at the forward spots.

He called it a “by-committee” approach, and they should be able to get plenty of work versus Gannon.

“Now, you got to get chemistry, who can play together,” Miller said. “From a defensive standpoint, early in the season, learning our system, and doing things the right way, that’s a big part.”

Miller specifically pointed to Thompson, a redshirt sophomore who missed significant time last season with a concussion, as someone who has absorbed the Hoosiers’ defensive system.

“Very integral part of that scrimmage defensively was Race’s ability to be a great team defender, physicality around the basket, where you’re supposed to be,” Miller said. “So some little things go into that rotation and stuff as well, you know, being real accountable.”

Jackson-Davis will also be thrown “into the fire,” as Miller puts it. Indiana’s 2019 Mr. Basketball has not only impressed Miller with his even demeanor but also his teammates with his lefty skill set.

“He has an ability where if you think he’s going left, you know, you think you beat him to the spot or whatever — seems like he just kind of keeps going up, keeps elevating, his arms keep stretching out,” Brunk said.  “Sometimes you’re thinking that was a pretty good effort on defense. He just kind of beat me out.”

That’s good news for the frontcourt.

As far as the backcourt, it’s wait-and-see for Miller and Co.

“We’ve been kind of rolling with what we have. We have some guys playing at, I would say, multiple positions right out of necessity, so we are getting chance to kind of tinker with some things,” Miller said. “But going into tomorrow night, we’ll have another week after that before we get kicked off. So we’ll hopefully get more information as we keep going.”

11 comments

  1. What’s with all the injuries for IU men’s basketball? Is this a coincidence or an indication that something’s fundamentally wrong? Is the off-season S&I program screwed up? Are practices too hard or too physical? I can’t believe the number of IU players that have been sidelined due to injuries over the last year.

  2. Knight had less injuries when he was kicking and choking guys….

    When’s the next ESPN special investigating the explosion of injuries across ALL sports? This is certainly not just an IU thing. Too many demands on kids…Too much off-season work. Too long of seasons. Too long of games with review. Too long of commercial breaks for television contract dollars…Guys are on the field or court longer and longer. They get cramps..Muscles get cold and stiffen. Nobody cares about the amateur athlete or the concept of “student athlete.” Work them like mules. NCAA doesn’t care. They just care about finding scapegoats like Sampson and Wilson…or finding ways to keep the real scuzzballs off the hook and out of investigations so the money from so-called “elite” programs continues to flow.

  3. Does Jeremy write/cover/videotape stories for HSR anymore? Where’s Hall Pass? Where’s Hoosier Morning with my morning coffee?

    It’s Blau…Blau…Blau ….Blau…Blau…Blau so much that it’s no wonder I developed IRRITABLE BLAU SYNDROME.

  4. Not sure about all the injuries surrounding the program, but did see something very exciting in the article. Said that Brunk is developing a running hook shot. If JB can become proficient with that shot, it can be devastating. As DD said, “Can’t block that.” Seems to me Kent Benson developed that shot back in the day.

  5. tai I couldn’t agree more. Hook shots so effective to neutralize good D. Also guards and wings could so fluster opponents with Big O – Jerry West style 12-16 ft. pullup jump shots. Just makes more for opponents to practice for.

  6. HT boys is there any way to increase the time lapse of the security captcha before it times out before hitting ‘post comment’? Many times between typing a post and doing other business and tasks on line and then going back to finish typing a comment it times out and you’re caught in the captcha security. Then it is start all over creating the post for the 2nd and on occasion 3rd time depending on circumstances. Any help for it?

  7. Who knew that we were a football school?

    Gannon is punching the Hoosiers right in the mouth. I get that it’s an exhibition, but jeebus. This is pathetic so far.

  8. Is IU FB sucking all the oxygen out of the air in Bloomington or are we witnessing a case of reduced expectations about this year’s men’s BB team. I know practice started earlier than normal this season, but I’m not getting the impression that A) things with the team are going very well, and B) anyone’s very excited about this team’s potential this season.

    I’d love to read some responses.

  9. I’m damned exited for IUBB this season. Looks to me to be positive upward movement from last year. Exhibition game production very near what was expected with 2 starters sitting out and a 3rd on the floor participating for the 1st time in a month. Team hit near 70% foul shots. Repositioning many players during 1st months practice and early season games will very well payoff for the BB squad just as it has for the FB team shuffling OL around during Fall camp. Next game Tuesday night. Order the pizza ahead.

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