IU still searching for winning formula on road

The outcomes at home and on the road have been so drastically different, Indiana coach Archie Miller would like to have a simpler explanation.

One fan tried to offer it Monday during the coach’s radio show, asking if there was a difference between how IU competed in practices leading up to a big win over No. 21 Iowa and then a miserable loss at Michigan.

“I wish I could have told you the Iowa practices were great and the Michigan practices were terrible,” Miller said.

But that wasn’t the case. During the week, the Hoosiers’ effort at practice was consistent, inevitably driving toward one very good result and one very bad. The consistency of IU’s inconsistency, it appears, drives deeper into the psyche.

When things go wrong, as they often can on the road, the Hoosiers just haven’t displayed the necessary resilience to fight through it. Negative moments snowball into prolonged slides. Effort level drops to worrying lows.

As the Hoosiers (16-9, 6-8 Big Ten) head back onto the road for tonight’s contest at Minnesota, Miller and his squad are still trying to solve what ails them away from Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. It’s about confidence. It’s about staying in the fight for 40 minutes.

All too often, the Hoosiers haven’t displayed those characteristics on the road. That’s been the common denominator in IU’s 1-6 record in true road contests.

“It isn’t like our road games have been we are playing chopped liver,” Miller said. “When we go on the road, we are going to have to be good. You are going to have to never question effort.”

Minnesota (12-12, 6-8) appears to be one of the more vulnerable teams the Hoosiers have faced on the road. The Gophers have lost five out of their last seven games, including a 58-55 home loss to Iowa on Sunday.

Then again, IU’s last visit to The Barn was a 21-point defeat, which came near the tail-end of a 12-of-13 losing skid in 2019. This year’s Minnesota squad boasts a trio of talented sophomores, including one of the best big men in the conference, 6-foot-10 sophomore Daniel Oturu (20.1 ppg).

Add in point guard Marcus Carr (15.7 ppg) and sharpshooter Gabe Kalscheur (11.7 ppg), and the Gophers have the pieces to punish a weary traveler.

“To me, this year, as they go, (Kalscheur) goes,” Miller said. “If he hits 3s, if he’s a guy from behind the 3-point line that’s dialing it up and getting double figures — they have a good one-two-three punch, like you need in this league to win consistently.”

In the meantime, the Hoosiers are still trying to get their leading scorer going on the road.

Freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis is coming off of a five-point effort at Michigan. Of the eight games where the 6-9 freshman has failed to reach double figures scoring, six of those have come away from Assembly Hall.

What was probably even more troubling was his two rebounds versus the Wolverines, because Jackson-Davis’ success has been fueled by his ability to attack the glass with his length and athleticism.

“Your leading scorer, your leading rebounder, your leading free-throw-attempt guy, field-goal-percentage guy, has really been a non-factor,” Miller said. “It’s not up to him at this point. It’s up to us to get him going.”

Jackson-Davis is just one piece of the puzzle, though, as the Hoosiers try to change their fortunes on the road. As a team, the Hoosiers have to get back to what they do well.

For the No. 24 team in the country in rebounding margin, pulling down 6.5 more boards per game than their opponents, their minus-seven at Ohio State and minus-16 at Michigan will not cut it. For the No. 29 team in free throw attempts, getting to the line an average of 23.4 times per game, their 6-of-12 outing at Michigan was a bad omen.

IU’s players know what has brought them success. They just have to find a way to do it on the road, without the encouragement of the home crowd to feed their confidence. They have to rely on each other.

Senior De’Ron Davis, one of the few positives at Michigan with a career-high 18 points, believes this team has matured beyond the prolonged losing skid of last season, which led the Hoosiers into The Barn for a lopsided loss.

Wednesday’s matchup is a chance to prove it.

“This year, I feel like it’s different for us, it feels like the team is together, we know what we have to do,” Davis said Monday on Miller’s radio show. “The record says we win one and we go on the road and we lose. I feel like we just have to play a lot harder and stick together.”

Despite their latest down effort, the Hoosiers are still less than a week removed from a resume-building win over Iowa. They can’t let a disappointing loss at Michigan — however much it fits a trend of poor performances away from Bloomington — play into the outcome at Minnesota.

“You can’t be great on Thursday night, Friday and Saturday feel good about your effort, then on Sunday you just let that linger for four days, five days, where that’s the only thing that matters,” Miller said.

“We dealt with that (Monday), and we have to find a way to get ready to roll against Minnesota.”

16 comments

  1. Wow…Listening to Brad Underwood mic’d up in the huddle with eleven minutes to go in 2nd half @ Penn State. Now that is a coach with some major passion. He is in each face of every guy on the roster..holding them accountable. And the crazy thing, his players love it. While he’s telling them “you can’t let this happen..” and “you can’t allow him to get inside you like that”, etc. his guys are clapping and absorbing it as if they love the harsh words. Now that is how it’s done, sports fans.

    I knew that man was a very good coach….And then Pat Chambers pretty much equally engaged and demanding.

    I guess it just comes natural to some coaches…Some coaches know how to rally their teams, be demanding of players, while doing it in such a fashion you don’t witness guys sulking or thinking they’re being picked on. Wonderful lessons in coaching tonight from two of the BigTen’s finest.

  2. 100% right on, Harv!

    I saw “family” in the Illinois AND Penn State huddles. Engaged players sticking together.

    That game was pure joy to watch, and one aspect was the sheer happiness on the guy from Georgia’s face…even though he did not have a great game individually, he was so happy for his TEAM.

    And…if you noticed, that guy was out-toughed and the way that Brad Underwood talked to him was respectful and encouraging, said “you can’t let that happen” and then did not play him the rest of the game (and he STILL had a great attitude after the game).

    I really enjoy both of those teams, and fear what is going to happen to Penn State when they come into Assembly Hall and experience the referees’ bias. Whatever. We shall see.

    I hope we can beat Minnesota. Their fans seem pretty passive……

  3. Are there any barn owls at ‘The Barn?’ Gophers are no match for barn owls….Barn owls swoop in silence and with grace …Their binocular vision and magnificent satellite-type hearing make for a perfect hunter. Maybe the Gophers won’t see us coming….We’ll swoop in for this 9:00 pm late start. We’ll go all nocturnal on their ass while transforming into the lonely barn owl who’s been living in the rafters. Gophers for dinner. Gophers scurrying for cover. Owl night long…And I ain’t talkin’ the Lionel Richie song.

  4. I too was impressed by both huddles, both coaches and both teams. Dosunmu impresses me most. He’s a So. with the savvy and leadership of a Sr. He was the most vocal kid in the pack. Illinois has a lot of good kids that play super hard. But then again, Underwood’s 1st team played their asses off too despite cellar dwelling in the Big Ten. Nobody wanted to play their scrappy, nothing to lose style.

    There ARE kids out there that care, and listen and lead! How refreshing!

    I believe Archie seeks the same when recruiting and coaching his kids. But a head coach needs floor, bench and on campus leaders. Where do the younger ones learn from if the older ones don’t listen, respect and execute the right way for the coach?

    As I’ve written several times before, I would have pulled a 1st yr. Brad Underwood, or a 2020 Chris Collins on this team early. What I mean is I would’ve sat the toxins and played to the future and taken my lumps. Look at us now, we’ve taken those lumps anyway & have lost too many good minutes for the youth whom we will need when they are Sr.’s.

    An eternal optimist, I think Archie wants to win right now as bad as we do. He is $3+M for the better for it that we are but I trust his heart is in the right place. He’s too much of a competitor. But it is clear he is feeling the pressure of very high expectations to win and win now. Now he is stuck. Benching the bad seeds won’t help much now, I’m afraid. Precedent has been set in 25 games.

  5. I disagree that Archie is “too much of a competitor”. Calling a player “soft” does not build team cohesion, it makes for a thug mentality, which we’ve seen and which I cannot root for.

    I cannot imagine EITHER of those coaches last night calling a player “soft”.. BOTH huddles involved deeply committed PEOPLE who RESPECT each other striving for a goal.

    I CAN root for either of those programs, and do now. From what I’ve seen of Archie and his players’ thuggish actions, I am not rooting for the Hoosiers this season.

    But we’ll see if they can string a game together “owl night long” and come together.

    Miracles happen. I’ll be watching the game and not the debate.

    1. Hey Rock, how about one of them pushing & shoving one of his players??? Would THAT be unacceptable to you???

      Well, Chambers did it early last year or 2018 and was suspended for 1, maybe 2, games. Look it up.

      God forbid we allow honesty to count as abuse. Political correctness has made this whole country SOFT!

  6. Now come on, Rock. We all know you’re still rooting for the Hoosiers.

    And what are we going on with the “soft” allegation? There can be very minor differences in how something is said which can mean vastly different interpretations? Do we really know the announcer who overheard Archie “calling” Brunk soft gave us the accurate details of how that description was in a sentence?

    Two examples:

    1. You’re protecting yourself too much out there. Don’t worry about fouls in this game. I can’t have you playing soft.
    2. You have zero toughness. You ARE SOFT!

    Of course, I can see Bob Knight saying #2 for most his coaching career. Hell, he’d probably say it to Isiah Thomas if he thought Isiah wasn’t giving full effort or was having a lazy night.

    And we must remember, those two coaches knew they were mic[d up all night. When I first tuned into the game, it was during a timeout. I thought Fox Sports was only mic’d up for that brief instance. I didn’t realize the coaches were mic’d all (owl) night until I continued to watch (after I took my own timeout to place my compliments for how both coaches handled their squads in the huddle). But now that I know these coaches knew most of the privacy was invaded for the entire game? Maybe there was a lot of careful theatrics…and political correctness going on They knew every word they uttered could be heard and scrutinized.

    Don’t get me wrong…I’ve always enjoyed the spiritedness of Pat Chambers…but I highly doubt he is flawless. We don’t get to watch coaches “mic’d up” at their every practice…or in their offices, etc, etc. Thank goodness we haven’t invaded privacy to such an extent that everything is likely “fake” …or faux news. Just because something is “caught” live doesn’t mean it’s a truthful representation of a personality….Things can be scripted when in constant surveillance.
    I think you’re right about problems with respect…..I know I’ve covered that topic at length as well. But I also despise forced political correctness and the constraints we put on people which turns them more into actors than genuine participants (via constant scrutiny and digging for wrongful things said …sometimes going back decades while searching a complete historical record of a skeleton closet).

    Owl leave it at that, for nowl….We could really use a great shooter at ‘The Barn’ tonight. Hopefully, our Hoosiers will not hesitate and just gopher it. And may our backcourt drill the Gophers and the Barn’s rims like Steve Owlford.

  7. And let’s also remember both the coaches we found to be model citizens and “coaching the right way” are having very good seasons. We haven’t had the joys of listening to them mic’d up in far more frustrating years. The sad reality for many is that when things go wrong and frustration mounts, words and actions sometimes get too caught up in the strong currents of the storm; things not so classy can leap off the lips and unfairly judged as something representative of the person as a whole.

    I hated the constant ‘crucifixion’ and judgments Crean used against Sampson and ALL those he blanketed together with vicious labels.

    I don’t want us to go back to those days. We will never have a perfect coach or an entire roster of perfect kids. The beauty in sports is the chance for forgiveness and redemption. Brunk and Archie have an opportunity to see the natural flow of the river of emotions now that the dam has broke. Once things held back are on the table, a stronger relationship can grow. If we are too hard on mistakes, we close the door/dam to what can be something better in decency, understanding and brotherly effort found. Life is a river …..never straight and never constrained. The forces of nature run in all of us much the same.

  8. All it took for me was one postgame press conference to make me more a fan of Devonte Green. I went from sizing him up as selfish and not caring about the team…to realizing he may be an unfair target. I woke up and became a bigger fan of Devonte because I found some decency and humility in his heart in how he handled a completely rude and mean-spirited Indy Star reporter.

    A marvelous opportunity came about because how Devonte stepped up to the plate in a big moment. He showed maturity and constraint in an instance many of us would not…or could not. I have a feeling all his teammates embraced him and rallied around him for taking it on the chin. What that reporter did was inexcusable…..But how Devonte handled the situation showed a lot of us who have unfairly summed him up as wrong (this far too critical commenter included).

    Devonte made me proud to be a Hoosier fan in how he handled himself with class in the face of someone mirroring the antics of day all at Indiana were frolicking in the joys of witch hunting.
    I’m hoping all of our Hoosiers told Devonte they have his back…We’ll be a better team going forward because Devonte refused to get into the mud and dignify the approach of reporter serving as a mudslinger and divider. Hell, Devonte is just a kid doing his best to be a man…Some of us never do our best until the bitter end.
    But Devonte stole that ‘gotcha moment’ and made it his own. He swooped my heart along for the ride. He was more of an adult than everyone else in the room that day. All reporters in that room should have booed the Indy Star jerk out the door. Sitting calmly in his chair, Devonte stood tall in the center his other two silent teammates. What a wonderful proud moment as the dirt in the room shrunk into a field mouse.

  9. Archie, is still an unproven young basketball coach that had his status helped by his older brother’s success and a stint at a mid major basketball school, these coaches that some of the site’s posters are older guys that have been working in the basketball trenches much longer than Archie. We shall see if Archie can earn his coaching stripes and accomplish some kind of a turnaround at IU.

  10. I hope we stick with Archie…I also like his sense of humor demonstrated in some of the coaching show interviews with Don Fischer at the Bloomington Holiday Inn.

    IU needed a more youthful makeover….Crean wasn’t old but he was ‘old testament.’ He was stuffy and judgmental. He was scripted and manipulative and fed us a steady diet of what we “wanted to hear” rather than what we “needed to become” (as in introspective and imperfect).
    He was cold as ice in press conferences…and, sometimes, rather snidely and rude to reporters (some deserving rudeness… but one can always take the higher road…as Devonte Green did with an Indy Star farce).

    I’m glad we have a coach who appears to be genuine. I don’t know if he will take us to whatever expectations our candy striped rocket ship demands of a trip to the moon post decades of gloom…..but I’m strapping in for the ride. There is really no other reasonable choice. Please never bring back ‘Brillohead’ Alford…or some other entitled former Hoosier.

    Give Archie a fair shot. We gave Crean nearly 10 years…Seems like we should give Archie more than 10 months of having a team full of his own recruits before we scrub the lunar landing.

  11. Things are a chang’n…things have already changed. When have the basketball huddles from Penn State and Illinois looked at for examples of passion, family, expectations, and winning?

  12. I truly look forward to reading this website.

    Thanks to ALL, but especially you H4h.

    Could it be that that rude Indy Reporter has found a way to cause our team to stick together?

    I hope so! We’ll see tonight!!! I’m PUMPED for the game!!!!

  13. Back at you, Rock. I thoroughly enjoy your basketball insights (and your GREAT vocabulary, too!) …and ALL who make Scoop unique. I miss many of our great old names as well.

    Thanks for the kind words….Much appreciated.

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