It is interesting to think back now to the buzz that surrounded Devonte Green in October. There was plenty of talk of a beakout season after the first public scrimmage at Hoosier Hysteria. Green led all scorers with 14 points and several publications stated that he was the best player on the floor.
Green followed that up in IU’s first exhibition game against Marian with an eye-popping statistical line of 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He led the Hoosiers in each of those statistical categories. The buzz grew louder and many regarded him as the likely leading scorer for the season.
He appeared to be an early favorite of IU head coach Archie Miller as well, who gave Green the first “gold jersey”, which is given to the most productive player in practice each week.
EAST COAST SWAGGER
It wasn’t all flowery praise for Green from Miller in the preseason. At the media day in September, Miller insinuated that perhaps Green could focus a little less on flash and a little more on results:
“He’s definitely an East Coast guard. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself,” Miller said. “He’s got a lot of city in his game, in terms of how he maneuvers, plays. He’s got a lot of style. Now, we’ve got to take a little bit of the style and tone it down. Just to get a layup, it doesn’t need to be that pretty type of thing. Or don’t try to make the play every single time.”
That just wasn’t a stylistic preference for Miller — there was statistical evidence that Green needed to clean things up. As a freshman, the Long Island, NY native had a turnover percentage of 28.8 percent, which was the highest mark on a turnover prone team.
A SLOW START — AND A QUICK HOOK
As expected, Green was in the starting rotation to begin the season. In fact, he started five of the first six games for the Hoosiers. But the sophomore guard struggled to find a rhythm. In those first six games Green only shot 17 of 44 from the field (38.6%). Perhaps more important to his coach was his lack of ball security. Green committed 15 turnovers in those 6 games, and often those turnovers resulted in Green being sent to the bench.
15 turnovers in 6 games (2.5 per game) may not sound excessive for a starting guard, but Green was doing it in limited minutes. Despite starting those 5 games, Green only played an average of 21 minutes. He was committing nearly 5 turnovers a game when you extrapolate his numbers out to a full 40 minute game.
Beyond just the mistakes, other variables began to conspire against Green — like Josh Newkirk having a big game against Eastern Michigan, the return of Collin Hartman and the emergence of Al Durham and Zach McRoberts. After that Eastern Michigan game Green lost his starting role and he has yet to regain it.
FLASHES OF BRILLIANCE
Interestingly, the one early game that he didn’t start was against Seton Hall. We say interestingly because that was the most noteworthy early game Green had. OK, sure, there was this:
— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) November 16, 2017
But beyond that fun moment, Green had a first half against the Pirates that lived up to the preseason hype. He hit 4 of 5 of his three point attempts which gave him 12 points in the half. He was the only reason that IU was only down one at the half. But as it has seemed to go for Green this year, he cooled off in the second half and the Hoosiers lost big.
Green was also on the floor during the late surge against Notre Dame and made several key plays down the stretch. He also played well in a December Big Ten win over Iowa. There is no denying that the potential is there, and we’ve seen it in flashes. But compared to the preseason hype Green hasn’t been able to consistently deliver.
EMERGING FROM A SOPHOMORE SLUMP?
Green certainly didn’t seem to lack confidence as a freshman. He shot 43.6 percent on 3-pointers which was the highest rate on the team. Take a look at how he compares this year:
With a drop-off like that it is hard to imagine the Green has been a confident player during his sophomore year. He provided a hint on social media after the Illinois game that the rigor of the prolonged slump is wearing on him. Despite having a solid game facilitating the offense against the Illini (5 assists on 2 turnovers), his shot still wasn’t falling, and he became the center of attention after a turnover on IU’s last ditch effort to tie the game. As is often the case in sports, there was excessive focus on that final play by the media and fans alike. Green seemed to take it hard, sending out the following tweet after the game:
All my fault smh
— Devonté Green (@ChefBoyArGreen) January 25, 2018
Things only got worse against Purdue, as the former starter played only 4 minutes in perhaps the biggest game of the year. It appeared that once again, an early turnover may have resulted in a quick hook.
And then, out of nowhere, he plays 30 minutes against Ohio State, scores a career high 20 points and adds 2 assists and 2 rebounds. Perhaps more important than the points was the fact that he had no turnovers, and we couldn’t help but notice that there was maybe a little less swagger. Oh it was still there for sure. That’s part of who he is. But swagger or not, this was preseason Devonte Green. And if Indiana wants to salvage anything meaningful from this season that suddenly seems to be spiraling out of control, the Hoosiers will need preseason Devonte Green generating the buzz again.
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Photo Credit – Darron Cummings AP