Mike Schumann/The Daily Hoosier

Exit Interviews: Four Things For Al Durham’s 2019-20 Season

Only seven players that saw the floor from the 2018-19 Indiana basketball team will be back for the 2019-20 campaign as of this writing. 

While formal practices have concluded, the work never stops for high major college basketball players.  Growth and development happens in the offseason, in individual workouts and permitted organized team activities.

If you could talk to each of the seven returning players about their 2018-19 season and what they need to improve going forward, what would you say? 

We play Archie for a day and give it a shot with “Exit Interviews.”


AL DURHAM, JR.

Quick 2018-19 Recap:

Durham played in 34 games for the 2018-19 season and started 30 times.  The Georgia native averaged 28.7 minutes per game.  He was 4th on the team in scoring, averaging 8.3 points per game, and he led the team in free throw shooting at 74.0%.

The 6-foot-4 guard shot 40.3% overall from the field and 34.8% from behind the three point line.  Durham averaged 1.9 rebounds per game and had 54 assists on 42 turnovers.

Primary Developmental Needs:

1. Keep the trajectory going. Head coach Archie Miller has referred to Durham as one of the hardest workers on the team.  That may in large part explain why Durham has exceeded expectations and improved his game for two straight seasons.  But now he’s an upperclassman.  And with that comes a higher standard.  We’ll get into the particulars of what can improve, but the point here is to keep working, keep exceeding, keep developing and become a player that people come to expect big things from.

2. Become the shooter Indiana needs. You could argue that Durham has already checked this box.  After shooting just 28.6% from long range for his freshman season, Durham surged north of 40% through December of his sophomore campaign.  Possibly due to a finger injury, Durham slumped down the stretch and ended up shooting 34.8% after a 9-for-34 month of March.  Whether it was due to the finger or otherwise, Durham has to prove it all over again — and he has to carry the load for an entire season.

Indiana hasn’t adequately addressed its three-point shooting deficiencies through recruiting as of this writing, placing an even greater significance on returning guys like Durham to lead the way.

Mike Schumann/The Daily Hoosier

3. Become a more impactful defender. From a fundamental perspective, Durham is sound on the defensive end.  He is typically where he is supposed to be and doesn’t get beat often.  By the same token, Durham doesn’t necessarily make life difficult on the ball, and he doesn’t make a lot of splash plays.  That can lead to possessions where Indiana eventually gets broken down late in the shot clock as the offense finds an opening after multiple rotations.  While the pack-line defense doesn’t place a heavy emphasis on steals, Durham should have more than just 16 for an entire season.

4. Continue to develop physically.  We get it — not everyone packs on muscle the same way.  But Durham appears to be at a disadvantage at times physically, to the point at times where it appears that his body is taking a beating.  Some of it is just part of his game.  Durham told us late in the season that his frequent falls to the floor are more a part of his repertoire than cause for concern.

With a free throw rate that was the 11th best in the Big Ten according to Ken Pom, Durham is effective at getting past his man and drawing fouls.  Much of that is due to a quick first step and a respectable off hand.  The next level is to turn more of those attempts into traditional three-point plays as Durham develops more strength in the paint or more assists as the defense collapses.

What Success Looks Like in 2019-20

The minutes distribution is going to be interesting next year.  With Rob Phinisee seemingly locked in as the starting point guard, it appears that the battle is on for the starting two-guard between Durham and Devonte Green.  Of course Miller could go with a three guard attack, at least in situations.

From a numbers perspective, Durham will be a valuable asset if he can play more than 25 minutes a game while shooting better than 45% from the field overall and 38% from three point-range.  Rebounds and assists of more than two a game, and pushing his steals to closer to one a game while continuing to keep his turnover numbers low would also be part of a successful formula.

Finally, Durham will need to take on more of a vocal floor leadership role as an upperclassman and become someone that the coaching staff is comfortable assigning to the opposition’s better scoring threats on the defensive end.


Previous Exit Interviews:


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