Rebounding must travel for the Hoosiers

As game-to-game adjustments go, Florida State to Wisconsin is quite the reversal.

When the Hoosiers visit Madison, the pressured-packed, chaos-driven style of the Seminoles will be replaced by the more methodical, smash-mouth play of the Badgers.

“It’s a complete 180 from Tuesday night,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said.

But as the non-conference schedule suddenly shifts from a Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup to the Big Ten opener — and the Hoosiers take to the road for the first time this season — they have to find ways to stay consistent.

One core tenant needs to underpin their play.

“I would hope to think that rebounding travels,” Miller said. “I would hope to think that’s something that we’re trying to really establish, regardless of where you play, what we do, it’s something we take a lot of pride in. In this league on the road, rebounding is everything.

“It will be everything on Saturday.”

Shooting doesn’t always travel. IU’s defense was at its best early in the week versus No. 17 Florida State, but it can still be improved. Rebounding, though, could be a strength the Hoosiers (8-0) can continue to lean on.

“When you work on it, you talk about it every day and you have a lot of great kind of natural rebounders like Justin (Smith) and Trayce (Jackson-Davis), you know, guys that are competitive like Race (Thompson), it just kind of becomes a part of our team,” junior forward Joey Brunk said. “Obviously, at this point, we want to make sure that travels … wherever we are in the country.”

IU won the rebounding battle over a huge Florida State team, 35-25, earning valuable second chances with 10 offensive boards. That proved the Hoosiers not only have size — they have big people that will battle for the ball.

As much has been made about the loss of Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan as scorers, they were also the Hoosiers’ top two rebounders on last year’s team. A combined 13.6 rebounds per game came off the books when they exited.

Several players have helped pick up the slack. Jackson-Davis, the 6-foot-9 freshman, is foremost among them with 9.4 rebounds per contest. His length and athleticism has shone through early in his career with four double-doubles.

Along with Smith (5.1 rpg), Brunk (4.9), and Thompson (4.8), IU’s frontcourt has paced the No. 2 team in the Big Ten in rebounding margin.

Wisconsin ranks ninth, but the Badgers’ leading scorer, Nate Reuvers, is also their top rebounder. IU can’t afford to relax on the glass Saturday.

“Without question, rebounding is something that on the road has to travel with you, as does your defense and your discipline,” Miller said. “But you’re going to deal with all kinds of elements on the road. The crowd, the officiating is never going to go your way. So you have to control what you can.”

If the Hoosiers want to pull out their first win at the Kohl Center since 1998, there is also a list of things not to do.

Turnovers will be especially key. IU’s 13.8 errors per game are tied for third-most in the conference. Wisconsin has forced just 12.1 turnovers per game, but the Badgers have, likewise, turned it over 12.1 times per contest.

“We can’t turn it over up there. It’s a different type of turnover,” Miller said. “You’re dealing with the crowd. You’re dealing with road conditions. You’re dealing with a different type of system and style that makes you turn it over in different ways. Maybe not as much pressure, but decision-making. So that’s one thing we are very concerned about is taking care of it up there. We’re going to have to do that.”

They are probably going to have to take care of the ball without sophomore guard Rob Phinisee, again. Miller said Friday the sophomore point guard is still nursing an ankle injury suffered in practice leading up to the FSU contest.

With no setbacks, Phinisee could be closer to ready by late next week. He was at practice shooting without a boot on Thursday, Miller said.

“I don’t think we’ll hesitate to play him as soon as he’s ready to go and get him back reengaged with our team,” Miller said. “That would make us hopefully fully loaded, so to speak, as we enter later in the month of December and as we go into January.”

But with this early Big Ten game, the Hoosiers have to control what they can. It means too much to let slip.

The Badgers (4-4) won’t want to let this one get away, either. Losers of three straight, they desperately need a victory to reverse the tide of their season.

“Without question, we are going to play a very ready team and a team that’s very motivated, and a team that, like us, quite frankly, regardless of what you’re doing in your non-conference, this game right here counts more,” Miller said. “This counts more towards the big scheme of things as you get into February, March, as the seeding of your league and where you’re stacked up with quality wins.”

6 comments

  1. First road test and first Big Ten competition for Archie’s team isn’t starting off real good. We’re in HUGE trouble against a mediocre Big Ten team.

  2. Maybe the team felt the energy sucked out of Archie Miller ….as Hoosier Football now becomes the focal point for IU’s biggest priorities and biggest salaries?
    It’s wrong, folks. The banners hang in McCracken. Basketball should be king at IU. It was considered king when Crean came to remind all “It’s Indiana.”

    I can assure you of one certainty; Fred Glass would have never paid a football coach more than Tom Crean.

    Interesting times….Some think we can have it all. Good luck with that.

  3. Looks like this Wisconsin game is “blow-out” city….Here’s to hoping Joey Brunk improves a lot in the coming Big Ten games….although this team beat Florida State, they are a far cry from being ready for Big Ten action/play.

  4. Hope repeat Hope repeat Hope repeat Hope repeat Hope repeat Hope…..Extend contract and give pay raise for Archie Miller larger than Tom Allen. Got to support those revenue producing sports.

  5. The ride on the band wagon didn’t last very long but the wagon is in the ditch and stuck in the mud. Fred Glass may not want to watch any U of L and Ohio State Basketball Games, their coaches we passed by in the I U Coaching selection search on his way to Dayton to hire Archie Miller

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