By Dustin Dopirak —
Armaan Franklin isn’t 100 percent, but the Indiana sophomore guard is refusing to act like he’s any less healthy than he was before spraining his ankle against Maryland on Jan. 4.
Franklin has re-aggravated the injury a few times since he suffered it initially, most notably against Rutgers on Jan. 24 when he wasn’t playing anything like himself in the second half. However, Franklin has played at least 33 minutes in every game since he returned to the lineup on Jan. 14 and is trying not to take it easy in practice either.
“I just get treatment as much as I can,” Franklin said. “It still kind of bugs me a little bit, but I’m just trying to play through it. I’m still trying to do the same things everybody else does. I don’t like sitting. I don’t like watching my teammates work without me. I just do what I can on the court and try to impact the game as much as I can.”
His impact has been lesser than it was in the games before the injury, but only slightly. He averaged 18.8 points per game in the five games before his injury in the best stretch of basketball so far in his young college career. In the four games since heading into Sunday’s noon game at Assembly Hall against No. 8 Iowa, he’s averaging 12.5 per game with two 14-point games and two 11-point games. His efficiency numbers are slightly down — he’s shooting 45.9 percent for the year but 37.8 percent in those four games — but he’s still by far the Hoosiers’ most productive guard in that stretch. The only other player on the roster who scored double figures in all four of those games is sophomore center Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Against Rutgers especially, Franklin seemed to be hobbled, but he said the injury isn’t bothering him that much in games. It’s the in-between time that is a problem.
“It’s mainly stiffness,” Franklin said. “If I sit for a long time, then try to go out there and try to do something, it takes a minute for it to warm up. But when you’re out there, you’re just so locked into the game. You don’t think about being tired. You don’t think about being injured. You’re just going out there and playing like you usually do.”
The Hoosiers need a locked-in Franklin to keep afloat in the Big Ten, but they also need more from the rest of the roster. After a painful overtime loss at home to Illinois on Tuesday, Indiana coach Archie Miller said the Hoosiers aren’t tough enough to close out games right now. Franklin didn’t dispute the assessment, and noted the Hoosiers do need to see improvement when it comes to hustle plays.
“It comes back to making the little plays at the end of the games,” Franklin said. “Five or six plays in close games that we’ve had, it turns into a different game. I think down the stretch, we have to lock in, and in overtime, to make the outcomes change.”
The Hoosiers are down to a little over a month to go to make their NCAA Tournament case, and they need to see more outcomes go their way. They are 9-8 with a 4-6 Big Ten record and just two Quad 1 wins in nine tries. They were ranked No. 47 in the NET rankings going into Saturday’s games and starting to fall out of the fields of bracketology experts in the media.
They’re running out of time and heading in the wrong direction with four losses in their last six games, which is part of the reason why Franklin sees no time to take a rest.
“In this league you can’t dwell on losses,” Franklin said. “We’re just trying to be ready for the next game.”
See also: Game day: Indiana looking for sweep of No. 8 Iowa
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