Hoosiers get 2nd road test at Jimmy V Classic

In the moments following an ugly loss at Wisconsin, Tuesday repeatedly came to Archie Miller’s mind.

On a Tuesday, Indiana was its best self in a win over then-No. 17 Florida State. On a Saturday in the Kohl Center, the Hoosiers were far from that.

But for every Saturday, there is a Tuesday, and vice versa. Miller wasn’t about to be too upset about one poor performance, just as he wasn’t going to be overly pleased by the triumph that preceded it.

He was thinking about the next game, on Tuesday. It was a matchup with a storied basketball program, UConn, on one of basketball’s biggest stages, Madison Square Garden, in one of college basketball’s most recognizable annual events, the Jimmy V Classic. There was plenty to look forward to.

“We have another one on Tuesday,” Miller said. “It’s going to be a great stage on Tuesday. If you are not ready to play on Tuesday, it will be the same thing. We have to be a better team on Tuesday night than we were on here.

“Just like you try to stay grounded on Tuesday (after FSU), you have to stay more grounded now.”

Looking back on a 20-point loss to Wisconsin, there was plenty to be disappointed by.

The Hoosiers (8-1) didn’t defend well. Because of that, they didn’t get in transition much. In the halfcourt, they didn’t move the ball and take great shots.

But the fact that IU is an imperfect team didn’t change between Tuesday and Saturday. A big win just made the areas where the Hoosiers lagged more palatable. A horrible loss “exposed” them a little more, as Miller put it.

But there isn’t much difference in where the Hoosiers go from here.

“A long, long year, individual players going through ups and downs as December goes,” Miller said. “Listen, let’s get back to work, let’s hone in on a couple of things that can’t happen. We have to get certain guys to do a better job in those areas and then we’ll keep moving forward, and I think we’ll be better on Tuesday.”

Miller says that because he believes, as its core, this is a coachable and selfless group of players. They are just a quiet group, as well, which poses challenges.

Once or twice, Miller saw Hoosiers blindsided by screens, because their help wasn’t talking. Junior co-captain Al Durham, who took a shot to the chin on one screen, tried his best to get his teammates engaged during timeouts.

“Somebody has to grab you by the jersey a little bit, player to player,” Miller said. “I thought Al tried there pretty hard a couple of times in the first half. There were also some guys that have never been there before. We’ll take that. Now that they’ve been there, there’s no excuses.”

There is no getting around the fact that the Hoosiers are, in some respects, an inexperienced group. Two starters, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Armaan Franklin, are freshmen. Two more rotation players, redshirt freshman Jerome Hunter and redshirt sophomore Race Thompson, are working through growing pains in their first full college seasons.

It hasn’t helped, either, that sophomore point guard Rob Phinisee hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

The captains, Durham and senior Devonte Green, tried to impress upon their younger teammates the enormity of the challenge that awaited them in the road opener at Wisconsin. But words only convey so much.

“I told them it wouldn’t be easy, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, but it’s different actually being in the moment than just saying that,” Green said.

Luckily for the Hoosiers, they don’t have to wait long for their next road test. The Huskies (6-2) are another widely known basketball brand, trying to regain program momentum in their second year under Dan Hurley.

UConn suffered an early loss to St. Joseph’s but rebounded with a win over then-No. 15 Florida. Hurley’s bunch also battled No. 23 Xavier to a double-overtime loss.

The Huskies have five players averaging double-figures scoring, led by senior guard Christian Vital. He is averaging a team-high 14.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest.

This game has intrigue for IU, especially since Green and Durham both have New York connections. Green is a Long Island native, while Durham was born there; his family moved to Georgia when he was 2.

“I’m just focused on trying to get the win, talking to my teammates, trying to learn from this, and closing this chapter here,” Durham said Saturday in Wisconsin. “Trying to get on Tuesday, bringing our hard hats, and come in with a chip on our shoulder.”

There were some raw feelings coming out of the Hoosiers’ last loss. Moving on is key.

Tuesday gives the Hoosiers a chance to do that.

“No one feels worse about it than me,” Miller said. “I have to do my part to make this team better, and I have to get them to engage each other a little bit differently at times.

“That’s hard sometimes for kids to talk … I think the camaraderie in what we are doing is fine. We are just going to have to be a lot better at it moving forward. If we are, we’ll have a better chance.”

11 comments

  1. Raw feelings….that’s intriguing. Lack of communication…interesting. How does a team move on from “raw feelings” that does not communicate well with each other? Tonight is going to be fascinating!!!

  2. Do you know how you know when you have a special point guard (or any player for that matter)? When there is no auditioning for the cameras when the lens finds you resting on the bench. You know you have something when you see a player who somehow has so much drive and love for the game that it’s more natural to remove the outside variables(the aura of McCracken, the celebrity of ESPN cameras and making it, the cheers you’ve separated into those calling for a team as opposed to calling for you) than to be consumed by them.
    I know I have a great team player …and a great point guard when he’s just as dialed into the game from the bench than if he was on the floor. He’s probing the defense from the bench…He’s seeing a weakness from an opponent he can exploit once his number is called. He’s noticing a match-up advantage he could make work to our advantage. He does all these things while on the bench awaiting his improving health…or simply awaiting a shot to make a team better. Concerned about being ‘too cool for school’ when the camera lens catches his handsome face and charming magnetic personality on the bench? Cameras? What cameras?

    I play for basketball. I am a gladiator. They will throw fierce lions of distractions upon my passions to destroy. I shall not succumb to the stardom of this stage. It is an illusion. They are here to see me perish in the moment. I shall prove otherwise. The basketball is my joy and spear. I am a Hoosier gladiator.

  3. H4h, Well, at least someone else cares! And though you are not exactly following up on my post (and there is no reason you should), it is possible that you ARE following up on my “Devonté” (accent marked added for emphasis near game time) post after the Princeton game.

    I fear (correct, that is the sentiment) that you are referring to a possible Phinisee return, but hoping (correct term) that you, as I am, are looking forward to Devonté Green showing all his considerable talent in front of his hometown fans.

    I predict Green drops 33 tonight and is simply unstoppable in a big win for IU on a neutral court.

  4. Another absolutely garbage start. Sorry, I have nothing for Brunk. Slow, lost on defense, and has no ability to finish around the basket.

    I think he was minus-double digits in the FSU win. I think Race may find his way into the starting lineup during Big Ten season.

    3 airballs on threes.

    Gotta clean up the garbage. This definitely looks like a team that hasn’t been tested much.

  5. Wow, what a difference with Phinesse in the game. He’s such a baller.

    Love Harvard’s insight about Franklin too. He’s gonna be really niiiiice. I’m thinking Al Durham might be in danger of losing minutes as the season processes sans backcourt injuries.

    Hoosiers showing heart at the Garden tonight!

  6. You got it t.

    The team with 22 TOs lost this one. If not for some timely buckets by Durham & Brunk, it wouldn’t have been enough.

  7. Man, I need to eat my first half comments. Brunk showed up big time in the 2nd half. Same with Al. This team isn’t going to pretty some nights, but dang, they fight. Nice to see us slug it out, Rocky Balboa style, and end up standing in the end.

    Not pretty….at all. But big win in The Garden.

  8. Our offense leaves a lot to be desired. Waaaaaayyyy to much dribbling 25 ft from the bucket & little movement & cutting without the ball, particularly when the balls goes into the post. And a step slow hitting someone when they are open.

  9. to a “Not Pretty Victory” but to something that has Been missing for a few years and hopefully regained….”Invictus” Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds and shall find me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.
    by William Hendley

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