The Daily Hoosier spent the week down in The Bahamas in connection with IU basketball’s foreign tour and had several opportunities to see the team in action. Since nothing was televised and not everything was public, we are going to go player-by-player in jersey number order to share our thoughts on what we saw and what to expect from Indiana’s 2021-22 roster.
Miller Kopp was recruited out of the transfer portal to be a floor spacing 3-point shooter, and in 27 minutes of action in The Bahamas, he gave IU fans reason for optimism that he could be just that.
One of the headline statistics from the trip was Kopp’s 4-of-5 effort from beyond the arc. He has all the great instincts of a shooter, constantly on the move hunting for space in the defense, and he is always ready to shoot with a fast, efficient stroke that looks effortless. Kopp showed that he can shoot off the catch or dribble, and on multiple occasions he made timely shots that seemed to swing the momentum at the Atlantis.
Kopp was asked after game one what makes him a confident shooter.
“Just repetition,” he said. “I work my butt off to make shots eventually. Sometimes they’re not going to go in, but even if I miss and it hits the back of the rim, in my head I think it went in. At the end of the day some are going to go in and some aren’t, but I’m still going to do the same thing.”
The transfer from Northwestern started both games in The Bahamas, and no doubt his ability as a shooter played a major role in Kopp making the first five over his first two months in Bloomington. We’ve already stated several times now that Mike Woodson is going to place a heavy emphasis on shooters in the two through four spots, and Kopp looks ready to capitalize on that and see substantial minutes in his senior season.
We also wrote about how the offense stagnated some in game two, and after seeing how productive Kopp was in the first game as a floor spacer, his absence no doubt played a role in the game two offensive challenges. After playing three minutes in game two Kopp suffered a minor ankle injury and did not return.
Woodson acknowledged Kopp’s importance to the team after game one.
“We need shooting,” Woodson said. “That’s one of the reasons why we recruited him so hard when he declared to go into the portal.”
There was more to like about Kopp’s game than just his shot-making ability.
Kopp is very vocal on the floor and on the bench. He appears to be someone who will bring a lot of positive energy in the locker room, and he lights up when you ask him about his teammates. Kopp is an intense competitor too. He plays with fire and has the look of someone who will become a crowd favorite in Bloomington while making some enemies on the road.
The 6-foot-7 Kopp started at the three along with Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis. That is an interesting spot for the Houston product. He is a bit of a tweener as a forward, but he has more ability at the three than we expected. After corralling multiple defensive rebounds Kopp led the fast break rather than looking for a guard. On one such occasion he dribbled all the way to the top of the key and stepped into one of his made 3-pointers.
Kopp isn’t going to be able to break down his man off the bounce in the half court often when he plays the three, but he did show ability to attack with either hand. He is crafty enough to create some dribble drive opportunities depending on the matchup, and that’s important because teams will likely try to run him off the 3-point line.
Woodson has been pushing Kopp to be a more aggressive rebounder since before he committed, and Kopp did deliver five rebounds in 24 minutes in game one. Whether as a rebounder or a scorer, Kopp doesn’t have an above the rim game, but he has a good motor, he’s physical, and he is conscious about blocking out.
The IU staff made a bit of a statement when it comes to what they think about Kopp as a defender when the put him on anticipated 2022 NBA Draft lottery pick Nikola Jovic for most of game one. Kopp deserves credit for contributing to the BC Mega star scoring just one point in the first game, but Indiana was switching on defense, so in many ways the team executed a well-designed scheme.
Kopp will be interesting as a defender against high major competition. Can he guard wings? How will he fare against three-guard lineups? It won’t be a surprise to see him guarding power forwards at times, again depending on matchups. Kopp appears to have a sturdy enough lower body to do that.
The bottom line is that Kopp doesn’t have the look of an elite defender, he doesn’t move great laterally, but he isn’t necessarily a liability either as long the staff can find matchups on the floor that work. He was on the floor for a significant portion of game one when Indiana played excellent defense, and he will be a guy that does the dirty work like taking charges.
MILLER KOPP’S STATS IN THE BAHAMAS
- Game one: 24 minutes, 14 points, 5-9 FG, 3-4 3FG, 1-2 FT, 5 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 turnovers, 0 blocks, 1 steal
- Game two (injured): 3 minutes, 3 points, 1-2 FG, 1-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 turnovers, 0 blocks, 0 steals
- Averages: 13.5 minutes, 8.5 points, 54.5% FG, 80% 3 FG, 50% FT, 2.5 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 turnovers, 0 blocks, .5 steals
See also: Miller Kopp finds fit with former Big Ten rival
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