IU hits the road, runs into PSU’s Stevens

Enough has transpired this season where Indiana’s Archie Miller can begin to entertain regret.

On his radio show Monday, he began the mental exercise by thinking about the Hoosiers’ 15-5 record, asking if it’s where he’d like to be at this point in the season.

“You’d probably be one over, one under,” Miller said. “I’m not real sure, but I’ll say this, there hasn’t been a game at home that we’ve lost where it hasn’t literally rotted your stomach out and saying ‘My goodness.’”

IU’s home losses to Arkansas and Maryland, both featuring late rallies by the opposing team, were difficult to swallow. As the Hoosiers take to the road tonight at Penn State, it’s hard to look at those defeats as anything but missed opportunities, especially in a conference where home teams have been so hard to knock off.

But once Miller had reminded himself of the losses, he came back to the wins. On neutral floors versus Notre Dame and UConn, the Hoosiers found ways to win when maybe they shouldn’t have. Miller’s thought experiment ended there.

“In some manner, you are what you are, and your record is what it is, but we’ve beaten good teams this year, we’ve played good basketball of late,” Miller said. “We’ve really improved in the month of January. … The question is, can we take it one more step in February as this grind sort of lays itself out? Can you now be even better each week as February goes, playing your best basketball at the end of the year? We have that chance right now.”

While the Hoosiers couldn’t quite close out their homestand as hoped in Sunday’s loss to Maryland, the feeling drawn from it is not disappointment or regret. In the larger view, IU (15-5, 5-4 Big Ten) showed it can compete with the conference’s best in a win over then-No. 11 Michigan State, just as it did — for the most part — with Maryland.

With road games at Penn State and Ohio State coming up, the question becomes whether IU can find a win and prevent a prolonged losing skid. The Nittany Lions (14-5, 4-4) seemed to have broken from a three-game slide of their own, taking wins over Ohio State and Michigan.

The latter victory came on the road, a rarity. Moreover, PSU is 10-1 at home.

“You have to go on the road now and you are going to have to absorb some serious blows against some teams that are playing as well as you and have as much at stake as you and the environments continue to be really, really hard,” Miller said. “The month of February in our league is going to be a grueling, brutal, brutal stretch, and even going to Penn State … it will be our most difficult game of the year.”

PSU senior Lamar Stevens (16.7 ppg) will be a major piece of IU’s challenge. The 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward has the quickness to stretch bigger posts but the size to bully smaller wings.

Justin Smith, the Hoosiers’ 6-7 junior, may be tasked with the largest share of the burden guarding Stevens. But with sophomore forward Race Thompson potentially out, Miller may also have to look at a lineup with freshman Jerome Hunter alongside one of the Hoosiers’ bigs.

“That maybe could help us with some foul problems and whatnot,” Miller said. “He’s a difficult cover for everybody in the league and big guys tend to really struggle with him as he faces you. But when you play a smaller guy, he’s typically strong enough that he can really pound the paint and drive it and get fouled, too.

“He’s without a doubt a major, major, major problem.”

What has only added to the challenge with Penn State is sophomore guard Myreon Jones, who is providing another 14.5 points per contest and is hitting 41.1 percent of his 3s.

Along with 6-9 senior Mike Watkins in the frontcourt, the No. 24 Lions have an especially balanced team.

“Penn State’s really good this year because Myreon Jones has really changed the complexion of their team,” Miller said. “When Myreon Jones has had big games on the perimeter shooting the ball, scoring 20-something a game, that’s given them a real lethal outside presence and he’s been a real big boost for ‘em.”

Another interesting twist to the Hoosiers’ recent contests has been the rest their opponents have received.

Michigan State and Maryland each had about a week of rest before they faced IU, and PSU and Ohio State will each get that same luxury. Miller made light of that again Monday, but he hopes IU’s lack of rest could be a benefit.

“I think, honestly, at the end of the day, some of that is overrated,” Miller said. “So much about your players now is playing in rhythm and we’re in a good rhythm playing. We are going to have to go on the road here Wednesday and keep it simple. We have to go out there and play well against a good team on the road, I know that.”

17 comments

  1. I just don’t foresee anyone attending tonight’s game out there at Penn State. Who cares? WE do, our FANS do, our NATIONAL fan base does. Basketball is seen as a 2nd tier sport out there, and their gym will be 1/2 empty and silent as our ascending team builds a big early lead which we will not relenquish even though Lamar Stevens clearly is a big, strong, effective scorer. I also think Penn State looks, as a team, stronger than our team. But they will not be able to push us around without fouling and then it becomes a basketball game in front of mystified attendees wondering about the 3 point line and why the score keeps changing (with their team falling more and more behind). I’m excited about tonight’s game as I feel this is where our team turns the corner and ascends into the top tier of the Big 10, culminating in a Final 4 berth in the BIG 10 tournament!

  2. a) Blasé crowds and sparse attendance hurts the visiting team as much as the home team. All players feed off of crowd energy whether for or against. I hope the usual “haters” of IU banners are in attendance ….We need the haters. Nothing like haters to make kids play more together and like a team. With flat crowds comes showboating and individual displays as if at a quiet audition for wealthy NBA owner at his private gym.
    b) Haven’t watched a lot of Penn State but I think they may be for real this year. I heard a rumor that they have a pretty decent post player…Is that the guy featured in this headline I soon plan on reading?
    c) I won’t throw anyone under the bus, but there are roster members on our team which function better coming off the bench…and being on the
    bench at the close of a tight game.
    d) I would be elated if we beat PSU handily. I don’t expect it to be the case. I tend to think this will be a barn-burner. The road is more brutal in this league than ever. Chambers is a quality coach.
    e) Keys are in the threes. Can we continue to improve? Will be bury timely and clutch triples? Will PSU be like just about every team we’ve played of late and heat up the nets?
    f) I’m going to enjoy a large pitcher of dirty Kool-Aid …and say Brunk bounces back from a rather frustrated Maryland outing. Brunk in double figures tonight. Brunk integral on walling up the inside.
    g) I like to think long term and advantages in defense with this rather young backcourt (what’s going to work best in March Madness)….Long term means more Franklin and Phinisee playing with our most steady veteran, Durham.
    h) We must have a big performance from Trayce Jackson-Davis tonight. Pour in 19 points, Trayce.

    Indiana: 74
    Penn State: 73

  3. We are the same team that has won only 1 road game & lost 2 home games. That IS who we are to date.

    I strongly doubt we’ll get 2 wins on the road this week & frankly I’ll settle for 1 at this point. 2 & I will be ecstatic. Both opponents are in the NET Top 30. We’re #44.

  4. Be careful with that bus, Clarion. Really starting to wonder about Archie…He keeps going to him while getting the same results. No flow when he’s in there….Would love to see something different, but it is what it is.

    We’re not going to turn corners until nearly all holdovers are gone and our backcourt grows up. I was holding out hope, but this backcourt play is brutal to watch. Young guys (and I still nearly consider Phinisee a freshman because he missed so much of last year) and veterans who play young isn’t going to cut it. This is why I was saying “more Franklin” in the first weeks of the season….I saw this coming.

  5. Joey..Joey…Joey. Why did you ruin your edge? You cut the mop. You went exactly opposite of my advice. You needed to keep the hair and go with the headband. Now you look like just another choirboy instead of our “dirty” enforcer and energizer. Man…., oh, man. I don’t even think you can get that grown out by March Madness.

    When will they listen….? When will they listen?

  6. this team is so offensively inefficient and cold they make an Iceberg look like a sand dune. Indian so cold from the field Im surprised that Penn State didn’t suffer frostbite. ABSOF**KINGLUTELY HORRENDOUS SHOOTERS. They probably played themselves out if the NCAA with the offensive showing tonight. They are so terrible they could have played in an empty gym and STILL lost.

  7. And I don’t mean to throw Anderson under the bleachers, but he’d have difficulty playing at Ball State. Damezi is an Archie bust….I haven’t seen a jump shot with such a low likelihood to get near a backboard since Jeremiah Rivers. Damezi jump shots look like a slippery bar of soap leaving his hands…

    Did I say I still love this team….? Not so much tonight.

  8. AWinAZ called it. Credit to him. This game is an embarrassment. With over 5 minutes left in the game, IU has committed 17 turnovers and is losing by double digits. And what to make of their offense?

    I think IU’s players lack mental toughness both individually and collectively. How else to explain such a feeble performance? These players are just weak, and they have no leader. Combine that with the fact that they’re just terrible shooters, at the rim, at the FT line and beyond the 3-point line, they’re putting up a terrible performance, maybe the worst performance this season.

    How did this team beat MSU and FSU? Tonight, IU made PSU look like Duke.

  9. Road life in big ten. Penn State upswing team vs IU still down in its downfall. D.A. (Said this on several occasions) watched him once in high school state finals game against Carmel on tv and stated then he was Indiana State level player and wasn’t a shooter at low 4 star. (though he averaged many points in high school due to competition level and played against others who were not as big or tall). Recruited as shooter as his strength and realisticaly he isn’t a shooter then just how was he ever going to play at big ten level except for a very mediocre big ten team which that is exactly what he is doing.
    I would say underclassmen need to stay for next year but I just don’t see high level players except for Brunk, Jackson Davis, Franklin, Phinisee, and (maybe Hunter and Thompson who are not high level factoring in injuries) Plus there is not really that high level of players coming in for next years class. It is hard to believe that IU basketball has never won the big ten championship tournament at seasons end and for most of them not even competitive. Same o same o and it’s getting old. It is old. It is what it is.

  10. How much fire does A.M. have in his belly? Glowing embers? Gentle fire? Satisfied in life fire? Perspective fire?

  11. T You hinted at the problem in the statement about DA. When CAM was introduced he claimed he wanted to recruit inside Indiana as priority. If I recall correctly DA was “Supposedly” the 3rd best player in Indiana in his class. MAYBE the INDIANA High School Talent ISNT what we think it is OR what it once was. If these kids are being awarded MULTIPLE STARS on talent but looking at DA and RP maybe they are rated to what instate talent they play against and not a “Universal talent scale”? Unfortunately you will never hear a coach say “well he is rated 4 stars but upon evaluation here (name school) we only see him as a 2 star. a Revisit and Realistic assessment of the talent pool in Indiana is needed ; perhaps the move from Classless basketball to the Class Basketball is making a difference but in the wrong direction.

  12. Multi-class h.s. basketball (the new norm after destroying our once wonderful and storied single class statewide system/tournament) makes many of these guys look a lot more talented than the reality. Gone are the days of someone like Skiles and the real proving ground of greatness at ONE state tournament.

    And in that premise may reside the flaws now existing which were not present during most our heyday and the early years of Knight. Maybe we still believe we know what we are getting when, in actuality, assessing Indiana talent is now operating in very muddied waters of confusion.

    I’ve always believed a intelligently coached roster consisting of high percentage of some of the best talent from this state was a winning formula against any program in the country. Inside-out recruiting was fine when we truly knew what we were getting….Friendship connections, AAU ball, self-promotion by those running the private basketball circuits, a dissolved/diluted high school system….has all fostered blue ribbons of untested fortitude for every perceived as high level talent.
    Where is the grit? Where is the fire? Where are the rocks in the jocks to get oneself out of a shooting slump? All these things were once tried and tested in the greatest high school tournament; a tournament serving as the sap and the syrup of a statewide love with maple and round ball. Some small school from a small town…Some nobody kid putting his team on his shoulders and somehow, someway, taking his team to regional final…or a semi-state …or a state tournament. That’s when you could look deeper into that roster and know you had a true gem of a talent. That day is gone.
    And it’s not to say you can’t find a great talent who has guided his team to a 2-A…or 3-A title. But season after season, something is being eroded. Something of the heart and fire is gone along the process. Our state tournament is no longer the “Harvard” of state basketball tournaments….It’s the Harvard for Hillbillies. It sells the small town kid short who desires nothing more than a shot at the best (no matter how long that shot)…and it sell the ‘Goliath’ kid from the huge city school short because his ego will never be kicked in the chops by the ‘David.’

    We need to be totally honest with ourselves….We have desired Archie to bring Indiana back from the “inside-out” (recruit Indiana first and then proceed outward to the Midwest, etc) without an honest recognition that the inside of Indiana has been gutted. Our SINGLE tournament was more than a test of talent…It was a test of love, determination and character. Hearts were broken more….and achievements were the stuff of legends.

  13. Ditto H4h. Indiana High School Basketball One Class tournament that was an Hoosier State institution that should had protection under National Historic Landmarks is now a classless multi class tournament. It’s another of the so called manipulation changes of institutional traditional history that 100% wrongly says “it’s good for you.”

  14. And all the class state basketball championship winners, participants, their families, and those close to them can walk around erroneously living in their fantasy Disneyland Wonderful World of Color Worlds.

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