IU Take-aways: Indiana 79, Princeton 54

Hoosiers are taking care of the ball.

Indiana senior Devonte Green had a simple explanation for the Hoosiers’ nine turnovers Wednesday versus Princeton.

Being smarter with the ball was a start.

“And I think we just are making more shots,” Green said. “So it’s not that many turnovers to go around anymore.”

A confident group of shooters, led by competent distributors, is converting opportunities at a higher rate thus far. The Hoosiers have hit 54 percent from the field through five games, as opposed to 45.7 percent last season.

The turnover rate is down, as well, from 12.4 per contest last season to 11 per game in this year’s smaller sample.

Even if the Hoosiers haven’t faced an elite defensive team yet, they have faced some full-court pressures from Portland State and North Alabama. The Tigers were trapping the post, which could have complicated things.

While there is no guarantee the Hoosiers keep shooting like this, sharing the ball will take them far. IU’s 19 assists versus Princeton included a couple of doozies, such as an alley-oop to Trayce Jackson-Davis on an inbounds pass and multiple flicks from Green to Joey Brunk in the post.

In two games, Green has just two turnovers to eight assists. Junior Al Durham dished out six assists to zero errors against the Tigers. Those are impressive ratios.

“Obviously it’s a lot more fun to play when the ball’s moving around. It’s not just sticking in somebody’s hands,” Brunk said. “And we play three-on-three and four-on-four in practice and it builds those habits of finding each other off screens and sharing the ball and being unselfish.”

Brunk brings physicality in paint.

The redshirt junior’s production offensively was encouraging, hitting 7-of-11 from the field. He worked to get into position for those Green passes and was rewarded for his efforts.

“I thought in our previous games he’s tried to play the right way. But in many ways, we need Joe to be selfish down there,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “He can score the ball with either hand. He’s got good feet.”

But defensively is where Brunk may have made the biggest difference against the Tigers. Richmond Aririguzoh came into Wednesday’s contest averaging 17 points and 7 boards but was limited to just four points by IU.

Brunk, like Green, was a plus-29 against the Tigers. On both ends, he was able to keep the Hoosiers pushing ahead.

“I mean, he’s a problem down low,” Green said. “He has such a presence and when we get it to him, it forces a double team, or just focus so much on that, everybody else, it opens up the floor.”

Green appears confident with his shot.

The 6-foot-3 senior has rarely lacked confidence. But following the struggles of his junior season and the delay heading into his senior campaign, there was reason to wonder how Green would respond.

After a 2-of-8 performance versus Troy in his 2019-20 debut, he was a ball of energy and excitement versus Princeton.

“He’s a guy that’s, to me, driven to be aggressive,” Miller said. “With that aggressiveness, you have to find that meeting of allowing him to, one, be aggressive, and then, B, not allowing him to self-destruct, so to speak, and get down on himself or worry about it. Move on to the next play.”

Green hit 5-of-8 from the floor, including a couple from distance. He wasn’t afraid to make something happen when the shot clock was winding down.

His offensive bravado just adds another element to the Hoosiers. Right now, he’s bringing it off the bench, but he replaced freshman Armaan Franklin to start the second half, which is when IU started to pull away.

“Definitely feeling a lot more comfortable,” Green said. “I’ve been out for a while, but it feels good to be back, and I feel comfortable out there with my team.”

What’s next?

Louisiana Tech, 8:30 p.m. Monday, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

The Bulldogs (3-1) have claimed wins over lesser opponents but did push Creighton in a 82-72 defeat.

There isn’t just one player to focus on defensively with Louisiana Tech, which has four players averaging between 10 and 11.8 points per game. Kalob Ledoux leads them, and he’s a willing 3-point shooter.

In his first two games, Ledoux hit a combined 7-of-17 from deep. He’s connected on two of his last 14 3-pointers.

Louisiana Tech will also test the Hoosiers’ ball-handling. The Bulldogs force 19 turnovers per game.

3 comments

  1. I sure hope Archie is correct (and not just faking out future scouting reports), regarding Joey Brunk’s ability to score with either hand. That’s not what I saw during the Princeton game. However, while I am personally not enamored with Archie’s staff (especially that loud-mouth who screams defensive instructions when our team is playing defense), I AM enamored with Archie and am going to “take his word for it” unless my initial assertion regarding Joey Brunk’s ability to score with either hand is incorrect. I sure do hope I am wrong on that, but time will tell (once we get into the Big Ten).

  2. Doesn’t matter if Brunk can score with either hand. He’ll be a much needed positive force inside. He’ll bring maturity and high b-ball IQ. I’ve already been impressed with his awareness and how he finds openings in the paint(primarily in pick and rolls). Seems like he has very good hands as well.

    We’ll see…but I’m excited to have Brunk. His size alone will give our other inside threats more freedom to create havoc in the paint and at the glass.

    Not easy to know how he’ll do against higher level competition…but he’ll also help in the intangibles of leadership, steady work ethic and team first principles.

  3. Good analysis from Blau too….Particularly liked the quote from Green when speaking of the difference Brunk can make:

    “I mean, he’s a problem down low,” Green said. “He has such a presence and when we get it to him, it forces a double team, or just focus so much on that, everybody else, it opens up the floor.”

    The first day I heard we had acquired Brunk via grad transfer, I was hopeful and posting comments expressing many of those exact positives Green is highlighting. Good stuff. I also thought Butler never really did a great job of building confidence in Brunk and utilizing his potential(a lost opportunity which would have never occurred under Stevens).
    More fanfare came with Zeller …but Joey Brunk could end up being much more valuable in terms of a deep tournament run influence (his size is complemented by experience and seasoned maturity in his game). I believe him to be highly underrated and he’ll look much transformed by March. He’s getting challenged by very skilled size in practice and he’s being coached by a very intelligent X’s and O’s guy.

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