Two years into the Archie Miller era at Indiana, and there are clearly more questions than answers.
What is the team’s identity?
Does Miller need his own recruits to succeed?
Are players developing under Miller?
Where are the alphas, the dogs, and the tough guys that seemed to define the culture of Miller’s Dayton teams?
IU Director of Athletics Fred Glass made headlines when he called the IU basketball program a “serious rebuild” back in February, but he maintained that he is optimistic in a recent radio interview despite the slow start for his head coach.
“I feel great about basketball,” Glass told Kent Sterling on Indiana Sports Talk on Friday. “Last year was a disappointing year. Archie would be the first one say that.”
“It was the weirdest year that I can remember in following Indiana,” Glass continued “We get off like gangbusters to start, and have a drought like I don’t remember in the middle. Close strong, and then weren’t good in the postseason. And then you add all that up and Archie would be the first one to say it’s disappointing. But I do think there’s things to build on.”
As you would expect, Glass has opinions on how to go about the serious rebuild. What you may not have expected is that those opinions go as far as the kind of players that Miller should be recruiting.
It’s no secret that part of Miller’s appeal to Glass was more than just the obvious wins and losses. The IU graduate and attorney turned Athletics Director was looking for a head coach that could connect with in-state recruits and put a product on the floor that Indiana fans could relate to.
Whether he knew it when he hired Miller in 2017, or it has been a more recent epiphany, there are multiple attributes that Glass believes should be emphasized on the recruiting front.
“If all you want are rah rah locker room guys that can’t play, you are not going win,” Glass said.
It isn’t clear who, if anyone at all, Glass might have been referring to as a past or present Indiana player that was a rah rah guy that can’t or couldn’t play.
But that isn’t the only characteristic that Glass believes should be evaluated carefully.
“I think also if you get super talented mercenaries who don’t really care what the name is on the front their jersey, first it’s gonna be no fun, and secondly I don’t think you’re gonna win,” Glass continued.
Here again, it isn’t clear whether Glass is referring to anyone in particular. But it does bring to mind the notion that we discussed during the 2018-19 season as it relates to trying to blend a one-and-done player with veterans.
No, Glass wasn’t suggesting anything at all about Romeo Langford, who he later spoke favorably of in the interview.
Instead, Glass seems to hold the same view that many are adopting in college basketball circles — “get old and stay old” — with talented, team oriented players.
In that vein, Glass opined that it is the combination of locker room guys, that have talent, where the magic happens.
“I think you can get rah rah locker room Indiana guys who can play, and I think Archie has proven that,” Glass said.
Does a locker room guy have to be an Indiana guy? I don’t believe Glass was suggesting that, but he did continue to emphasize the significance of recruiting success in-state.
“We got Mr. Basketball last year,” Glass said. “We got Mr. Basketball this year, and that’s the first time in 25 years or something like that we got back-to-back Indiana Mr. Basketballs. Archie is getting the kids out of Indiana, and those kids ought to be the first ones that can be rah rah, I like having Indiana on the front of my jersey, and I can play, and I think that’s what he’s doing.”
Some question the importance of recruiting within the state of Indiana. IU has and can win with a roster made up of mostly out-of-state players.
But as we have highlighted here before, there are several reasons why Glass is right.
First, per capita, there is an inordinate amount of talent here in Indiana. Second, IU should and generally does have a recruiting advantage with in-state players. And finally, more often than not, those are going to be kids that are the “rah rah” guys that place significance on having Indiana across their chests.
The in-state class of 2021 is on track to be one of the best ever. Glass of course realizes this, and his mold of the ideal recruit is likely framed with that group in mind. It could certainly be a make or break recruiting class for Miller.
For now, Glass continues to be please with the direction of the program under his now third year head coach.
“I like what Archie is doing,” Glass said. “He’s doing what he said he’s going to do. He’s building it inside out. He will more and more take on his character as he gets his guys. He’s a dog, man. We’re going to get after guys. They’re going to know they’ve been in games, and this is going to be the kind of team that Indiana fans want to have and want to watch.”
And if he has his way, it is going to be the type of players that Fred Glass wants to see on the floor.
You can listen to the full interview with Glass including much more on IU football and basketball here (segment begins at the 2:00 mark) —
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