Things appear to have reached a tipping point in Bloomington.
Whether or not it translates to results on the floor remains to be seen, and at the time seems highly unlikely.
But it is clear that Indiana head coach Archie Miller has seen enough. After the game the second year leader of this floundering IU program said in no uncertain terms that this team had to recreate itself, make drastic changes, and find someone else that can help.
The trouble is, this was that game. Indiana inserted two new starters on Saturday in De’Ron Davis and Devonte Green. Both players were ineffective early, and now it isn’t clear where Miller might turn next.
There will only be a couple days to find answers.
Indiana (13-12, 4-10) hosts Purdue on Tuesday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
It would have been funny if it wasn’t so familiar. First Minnesota center Daniel Oturu hits his first career three pointer — a desperation heave as the shot clock expired. Then two Gophers banked in long range shots.
In isolation, those were moments that most teams could overcome. But for this fragile IU team, it was an all too familiar turn of events that triggered the latest meltdown.
As they have done so many times before, IU gathered itself briefly, pulling to within 30-25 late in the first half after trailing by 13. But in familiar fashion, Minnesota answered, and answered emphatically, and the game seemed to be over by halftime.
Any doubt was erased in the first three minutes of the second half, as the Gophers turned a 42-30 halftime lead into a 47-30 margin, and the rest was history. Perhaps the whole team didn’t quit at this point, but there were certainly individuals that were clearly checked out.
The Hoosiers were down 30 at one point before making things a tad more respectable on paper.
For the seventh time in the last nine games, Indiana was held to under 40% from the field. This from a team that once led the Big Ten in field goal percentage offense. The depths that this offense has sunk to are truly difficult to comprehend.
Once again, a central theme is a lack of ball movement and an inability to break down opposing defenses. On Saturday, that translated to just eight assists, which was the sixth time in the last twelve games that Indiana has had single digit assists.
Maybe there were enough good moments to not grade the offense as a complete failure, but when taking a step back and comprehensively viewing the current state of this offense, it is an undeniable failure.
Miller was too gentle when he said this, perhaps because he himself doesn’t have any answers right now:
“We continue to struggle offensively, being able to play the game together, making it easy for one another.”
One thing that absolutely does have to change is that Romeo Langford needs to get more shots. Indiana’s leading scorer and top threat on the offensive end only had six attempts from the field..
While Minnesota caught some lucky breaks on their early three point shots, this was still one of Indiana’s worst defensive efforts of the season.
The Gophers just aren’t a very talented team offensively — but you would not have known it on Saturday. From poor close-outs on perimeter shots, to just generally getting manhandled in the post, Indiana was soft, passive and slow.
Despite playing without a point guard, Minnesota was able to move freely and effectively, creating 19 assists on just 10 turnovers while shooting 48% overall and 55% from long range. The Gophers entered the game shooting a Big Ten worst 31% from behind the three-point line.
Indiana did hold Minnesota a couple offensive rebounds under their season average, but the Gophers still managed 10 on the day.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Three keys, final box score, specialty stats
- Archie Miller: “This was a Deal Breaker”
- Archie Miller post-game
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Juwan Morgan* (C) Morgan wasn’t bad in this game, but he was clearly outperformed by Jordan Murphy. The Gopher forward was more physical at times as well. Indiana’s co-captain has not recovered his early season elite offensive efficiency, and he has gone cold from long range.
- De’Ron Davis* (C-) With three turnovers and several sloppy shots, Davis didn’t provide the spark that Indiana was looking for in this game, and at times looked a step slow on defense.
- Devonte Green* (D) Green didn’t take advantage of the start, contributing to another early deficit for IU. He hit a big three-pointer to pull Indiana within five, but he was otherwise largely ineffective.
- Romeo Langford* (C) Langford is passing the ball too much, at least on the perimeter. It’s that simple. He needs to be much more aggressive with attempting to break down the first line of defense — and then pass out of that. Indiana’s offense isn’t doing enough to get him the ball — but when he does get it he needs to try to take games over. There just aren’t enough other viable scoring options at this point. The freshman guard played strong defense on Amir Coffey for most of the game.
- Al Durham* (C-) We’ve never found fault in Durham’s effort, but he is struggling to match up physically in this league right now. His numbers were inflated by two garbage time baskets.
- Rob Phinisee (D) Phinisee lost his starting job. His struggles shooting the ball landed him on the bench, and those struggles continued against Minnesota. It is reasonable to question whether his on the ball defense has regressed in league play as well.
- Justin Smith (D-) Smith also lost his starting job and really did nothing in 16 minutes of action to suggest that he wanted to fight to get it back. If he isn’t posting high level rebounding numbers and playing good defense then he isn’t a big asset. He did neither in this one, and at times appeared disinterested.
- Evan Fitzner (D-) Fitzner went 0-4 from the field and was often pushed around and slow on defense. Fitzner just isn’t providing much right now.
- Damezi Anderson (D-) Similar to Fitzner, Anderson just cannot get it going from long range — and he otherwise doesn’t provide any kind of meaningful contribution right now. There are times that he doesn’t appear to be fully engaged.
- Race Thompson (A) Yes we are inflating the grade because we were just happy to see him back and playing in his home state — but at the same time Thompson played with energy and was productive. Miller might just ride him down the stretch.
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