IU take-aways: Maryland 75, Indiana 59

Indiana’s offense has a long way to go.

Archie Miller’s diagnosis of the Hoosiers’ offensive struggles could be boiled down to just a few words.

“Ball’s not going in the basket,” Miller said, taking a hard pause before he became more specific.

IU’s third-year coach was clearly frustrated by his team’s results on the offensive side at Maryland. Somehow, the Hoosiers held the Terrapins to a touch under 39 percent shooting, including 25 percent from 3, and still lost by 16 points — after trailing by as many as 30.

There are a myriad of places to point the finger, and Miller outlined a few areas the Hoosiers can be better. IU’s backcourt needs to create more off the dribble, drawing the defense and opening up shots for others. The Hoosiers need to get to the line, and they need to finish through contact.

IU averages a conference-best 26.5 free throw attempts per contest but got to the line just 18 times at Maryland, making 11 of those. In terms of helping each other, the Hoosiers had just seven assists to 14 turnovers.

And more than anything, they just need to hit the shots they get.

Miller didn’t dance around how poor the Hoosiers were offensively, but he didn’t indicate a dislike with the shots his players were taking. He didn’t seem ready for a complete overhaul of IU’s approach, either.

“Step up and make it, we can do it,” Miller said. “One thing is you can’t overcomplicate it and make it harder than it is. You just gotta keep working at it.”

All eyes on the backcourt.

IU’s backcourt is finally healthy and together on the court, but their shooting stroke hasn’t quite arrived.

Devonte Green led the way with 18 points in College Park, but all but two of those points came with under four minutes left. Aside from Green, who was 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, the Hoosiers were just 1-of-11 from 3-point range.

The backcourt just isn’t providing the balance the Hoosiers need to exploit their size advantage underneath. Al Durham, Rob Phinisee, and Armaan Franklin were a combined 3-of-14 from the floor versus the Terps.

Again, Miller and Co. aren’t pushing the panic button. Franklin showed in the Notre Dame win that he can hit from 3, and he’s just a freshman. Phinisee, a sophomore, had a rocky non-conference with injuries.

The question is whether the Hoosiers are truly in an anomalous stretch or if their outputs will continue to decline in conference play.

Durham, who started the season hitting 14 of his first 18 shots, is now 3-of-13 in his last three games. Phinisee is 2-of-12 in that span, which followed a 6-of-10 outing in an overtime win over Nebraska.

“Teams change throughout the course of a season,” Miller said. “Our team is going through one right now. We have to find our way back out of it. We’ll do that.

“The league is a long season, there’s a lot of teams that are going to lose by one, lose by 20, whatever it is. You have to navigate the road, and that’s what we are trying to do right now.”

It’s a long, long Big Ten season.

To Miller’s last point, there is a long way to go from here.

Whether that’s a hopeful message or a frightening one has a lot to do with the viewpoint of the listener.

It’s possible to look at the Hoosiers’ performances in conference play, including the OT squeaker versus Nebraska and the blowout at Wisconsin, and be concerned by another thorough beating. It’s also possible to take a longer view, realizing there is still time to right the ship.

“I think we just need to stay confident in what we are working on, day in and day out,” junior forward Joey Brunk said. “We don’t need to force the issue and do things we don’t work on. That’s kind of how it works: be confident in ourselves, be confident in our teammates.

“What we have in the locker room is more than enough to win games.”

On the bright side, the loss at Wisconsin was as much defined by porous defense as a stagnant offense, and the former wasn’t as much the issue at Maryland. The offense was just really, really bad.

At home against Northwestern, the Hoosiers will have a chance to get the offense turned around on familiar nets. A win would also get them back to .500 in conference.

There are 17 games yet to play in the Big Ten. Enough has transpired for there to be legitimate concerns. But there is far too much left to call the season altogether.

What’s next?

Northwestern, 7 p.m. Wednesday, at Assembly Hall

The Wildcats came into the weekend as one of two below-.500 Big Ten squads, and the only one without a conference win.

This is a must-win for IU, but Northwestern isn’t a pushover, either. Michigan State and DePaul edged the Wildcats by five points apiece in back-to-back games. They then lost by one point to Hartford.

Northwestern ranks last in the Big Ten in scoring offense and blocks, second to last in rebounding margin, and third from the bottom in steals per contest.

5 comments

  1. If we can’t easily handle Northwestern at home, then I’d say the ship will not be righted.
    My only wish is that we had OSU next….I’d prefer to have the stronger team after the dismal performance against Maryland.

    Shoot it with confidence!….and call Virgil Sweet to ‘right’ the charity stripe!
    Virg is 92…but it’s never too late. His teams were charity stripe assassins.

  2. T. Moren could coach the guys and the landscape would change. I don’t know how many of the current men’s Hoosiers are good enough to play for T.Moren?

  3. T. Moren always says it starts with defense. Tonight IU Ladies are relentless on defense. End of first quarter faking shots and passing ball ending up with a layup with no time on clock. End of second quarter Illinois had 3 fouls to give. After fouling 3 times Illinois left 8 seconds on clock and IU Ladies end up with another layup. IU Ladies are shooting the ball well and acting like they know and have a love for one another communicating well on the floor.

  4. Throwing in the towel on A.M. These are hogwash statements to the point of a cover up for a weak pre conference schedule. IU Men’s team have always been this team. The only difference is higher competition level.

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